Evaluating Academic Scientists Collaborating in Team-Based Research: A Proposed Framework
Criteria for evaluating faculty are traditionally based on a triad of scholarship, teaching, and service. Research scholarship is often measured by first or senior authorship on peer-reviewed scientific publications and being principal investigator on extramural grants. Yet scientific innovation increasingly requires collective rather than individual creativity, which traditional measures of achievement were not designed to capture and, thus, devalue. The authors propose a simple, flexible framework for evaluating team scientists that includes both quantitative and qualitative assessments. An approach for documenting contributions of team scientists in team-based scholarship, nontraditional education, and specialized service activities is also outlined. Although biostatisticians are used for illustration, the approach is generalizable to team scientists in other disciplines.The authors offer three key recommendations to members of institutional promotion committees, department chairs, and others evaluating team scientists. First, contributions to team-based scholarship and specialized contributions to education and service need to be assessed and given appropriate and substantial weight. Second, evaluations must be founded on well-articulated criteria for assessing the stature and accomplishments of team scientists. Finally, mechanisms for collecting evaluative data must be developed and implemented at the institutional level. Without these three essentials, contributions of team scientists will continue to be undervalued in the academic environment.