Student-led research team-building program may help junior faculty increase productivity in competitive biomedical research environment

Marie Bragg, Joshua Arshonsky, Yrvane Pageot, Margaret Eby, Carolyn M. Tucker, Shonna Yin, Emily Goldmann, Melanie Jay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Interdisciplinary research teams can increase productivity among academic researchers, yet many junior investigators do not have the training or financial resources to build productive teams. We developed and tested the acceptability and feasibility of three low-cost services to help junior faculty build and maintain their own research teams. Methods: At an urban academic medical centre, we implemented three types of consultation services: 1) giving talks on evidence-based best practices for building teams; 2) providing easy-to-use team building resources via email; and 3) offering a year-long consultation service—co-led by students—that taught faculty to build and maintain research teams. Our primary outcome was the number of faculty who used each service. For the yearlong consultation service, we asked faculty participants to complete three online self-assessments to rate their leadership confidence, the team’s performance, and which of the consultation components were most helpful. We used descriptive statistics to evaluate faculty assessment scores at three timepoints by comparing median scores and interquartile ranges. Results: We gave 31 talks on team building to 328 faculty and postdoctoral fellows from 2014 to 2020. Separately, 26 faculty heard about our research team building expertise and requested materials via email. For the consultation service, we helped build or enhance 45 research teams from 2014 to 2020. By the end of the consultation, 100% of the faculty reported they were still maintaining their team. In the initial survey, the majority of participants (95.7%, n = 22) reported having no or few experiences in building teams. Further, when asked to rate their team’s performance at 12-months, faculty highly rated many elements of both teamwork and taskwork, specifically their team’s productivity (6/7 points), morale (6/7 points), and motivation (6/7 points). By the end of the program, faculty participants also highly rated two components of the consultation program: recruitment assistance (7/10 points) and provision of team management tools (7/10 points). Conclusions: For participating faculty, our program provided valued guidance on recruitment assistance and team management tools. The high demand for team-building resources suggests that junior faculty urgently need better training on how to develop and manage their own team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Faculty development
  • Junior faculty
  • Research teams
  • Student research assistants
  • Team-building

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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