Team science

This project sought to understand the current incentives and disincentives for individual researchers participating in ‘team science’, and how to improve reward and recognition for their contributions.



'Team science’ is becoming increasingly common across all fields of research. Teams spanning different specialties/disciplines and geographical centres are often needed to tackle contemporary research questions in biomedical science. It is therefore important to facilitate researchers to gain maximum benefit from their participation in ‘team science’. However, current recognition frameworks do not always adequately capture or celebrate individuals’ contributions to ‘team science’ projects.

The project aimed to understand the current incentives and disincentives for researchers participating – or considering participation – in ‘team science’. As part of this process, we looked at how individuals can be appropriately rewarded and recognised for their contributions when working as part of a team.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has conducted an independent study into these issues to inform future policy within and beyond the UK.

This study was led by an expert Working Group, and particularly engaged with researchers, publishers, employers and funders – including those funders undertaking research assessment exercises.

The Working Group collected written evidence in late 2014 and engaged with a wide range of stakeholder groups to develop the project's conclusions and policy recommendations. 

Although the report is now complete, we welcome contact from interested parties: please send an email to or contact the Lead Secretariat, Dr Mehwaesh Islam on +44 (0)20 3176 2187.

  • To define the drivers of, and barriers to, the growth of ‘team science’.*  
  • To explore and define the benefits and challenges to individual biomedical researchers and to the wider research community of participating in ‘team science’.
  • To explore how reward and recognition is allocated for individual biomedical researchers participating in ‘team science’, particularly amongst earlier career researchers, and to define any barriers to sufficient recognition.
  • To make recommendations that address these challenges and barriers.
  • The recommendations will aim to catalyse the development and establishment of processes to generate and use evidence of individual researchers’ contributions to team science projects, particularly with regards to their career progression. This will involve influencing the behaviour of researchers themselves, as well as the policy and practice in publishers, employers and funders – including those funders undertaking research assessment exercises.

* For the purposes of this project, 'team science' is defined as any team-based research involving two or more research groups (even if they are all within the same institution) that aims to result in an academic publication or other research output.

Working Group Members

Professor Anne Ridley FMedSci (Chair) Professor of Cell Biology, King's College London

Dr Mark Bass Lecturer, University of Sheffield

Professor Buzz Baum Professor of Cell Biology, University College London

Professor Robert Burgoyne FMedSci Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool 

Professor David Dunger FMedSci Professor of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge 

Professor John Fisher CBE FREng FMedSci Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering, University of Leeds

Dr Amy Foulkes MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, University of Manchester (until mid 2015)

Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci Dean of Postgraduate Research in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh 

Professor Caroline Savage FMedSci VP and Head Experimental Medicine Unit, Immuno-Inflammation Therapeutic Area, GlaxoSmithKline

Professor Eleftheria Zeggini Group leader - Analytical genomics of complex traits, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge

Reflecting on the growing debate around the contribution of team science towards ensuring progress in the biomedical sciences, and its translation into health and wealth benefits, a roundtable discussion was convened at the Academy in March 2012.

Their discussions have been combined with relevant background information and perspectives raised by the Academy’s Fellows, and published in a discussion paper. The proposals outlined in the paper aim to encourage a culture that is more supportive of trans-disciplinary teams and to ensure that researchers have the skills and resources required to support functional team-working.

We are exploring the implications of this report in the context of our careers policy work and engaging with those organisations developing new ways of recording the contribution of authors to scientific publications.



Sir John Tooke PMedSci (Chair) President, Academy of Medical Sciences

Professor Graham Burton FMedSci Professor of Reproductive Biology, University of Cambridge

Dr Philip Campbell Editor-in-Chief, Nature Publishing Group

Dame Sally Davies FMedSci Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, Department of Health

Professor Raymond Hill FMedSci Visiting Professor of Pharmacology, Imperial College

Professor Nic Jones FMedSci Director of the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, University of Manchester; Chief Scientist, Cancer Research UK

Sir Alan Langlands FRSE FMedSci Chief Executive, Higher Education Funding Council for England

Professor Anne Mills CBE FMedSci Vice Director & Professor of Health Economics and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Caroline Savage FMedSci Vice President and Head of Discovery Medicine, GlaxoSmithKline

Professor Karen Steel FRS FMedSci Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Professor Paul Stewart FMedSci Dean of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Birmingham; Chair, MRC Training and Career Development Board

Professor Lionel Tarassenko CBE FREng Chair of Electrical Engineering, Oxford University; Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Panel, Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dame Jean Thomas DBE FRS FMedSci Professor of Macromolecular Biochemistry, University of Cambridge; Biological Secretary, Royal Society

Sir Mark Walport FRS FMedSci Director, Wellcome Trust

Professor Michael West Professor of Organisational Psychology, Lancaster University Management School


To celebrate the launch of the project, we wanted to know what team science looks like. We wondered  – can we be more creative in the way that we visually represent a research team?

We hosted an image competition asking researchers to create and send us their best image representing their research team using Twitter (#MyTeamScience), for a chance to win £1000 of Virgin Experience vouchers to treat their team to some quality team-building fun.

The winning image, which is available to view on the right, was from the Modernising Medical Microbiology group at the University of Oxford. 


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