Research Topic

How to Play the Science Game: Insights on Scientific Teams

About this Research Topic

An often-cited rationale for the growing reliance on teamwork in science is the ‘burden of knowledge’ i.e. the ever-accumulating knowledge base that must be mastered to push the scientific frontier forward. Given their growing importance, recent studies have addressed scientific teams from various perspectives, such as team composition and the relation with grant applications, learning and productivity effects that take place among co-applicants, or the organization of research within teams. Despite this progress, many of the micro-mechanisms underlying the workings of scientific teams are not well understood, including whether teams are the optimal form of organization in different settings. For example, while cost and productivity are often considered as the main drivers of decisions for organizing and managing research, other factors may also be at play, such as the desire for social interaction. Getting a better understanding of the role and purpose of teams and how they affect the organization of science is therefore crucial.

The aim of this Research Topic is to further our understanding of the mechanisms at work in scientific teams and their relation to the context in which scientists operate. Examples include how teams are formed, how they evolve, and how they affect researchers’ learning, productivity, careers, and success in acquisition of research funding and the role of team leaders in shaping team dynamics and outcomes. We also welcome theoretical contributions that help to explain phenomena such as ‘quid pro quo’ collaborations among team members (drawing on social exchange theory) or ‘fast track’ versus ‘late-beginner’ career trajectories (drawing on labor market theory). Finally, we look forward to studies that help us to understand why scientists organize themselves differently across scientific domains, in terms of their reliance on teamwork and the characteristics of teams.

• Both quantitative and qualitative, as well as conceptual articles are welcome. We highly welcome contributions addressing empirical challenges in the analysis of team composition and their impact on scientific output.
• Of particular interest are contributions that take a behavioral perspective on scientific teams, in which scientists weigh the benefits of collaboration against the costs in terms of coordination and sharing of credit, and contributions that further our understanding of the team processes behind widening engagement, participation, and performance in research.
• Topical perspectives include the trend towards larger teams, interdisciplinarity and the associated distribution of reputation effects, virtual research teams and their increased prevalence due to external shocks like the COVID-19 crisis, diversity in teams, etc.


Keywords: scientific teams, research organization, team formation, scientific productivity, scientific collaboration


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

An often-cited rationale for the growing reliance on teamwork in science is the ‘burden of knowledge’ i.e. the ever-accumulating knowledge base that must be mastered to push the scientific frontier forward. Given their growing importance, recent studies have addressed scientific teams from various perspectives, such as team composition and the relation with grant applications, learning and productivity effects that take place among co-applicants, or the organization of research within teams. Despite this progress, many of the micro-mechanisms underlying the workings of scientific teams are not well understood, including whether teams are the optimal form of organization in different settings. For example, while cost and productivity are often considered as the main drivers of decisions for organizing and managing research, other factors may also be at play, such as the desire for social interaction. Getting a better understanding of the role and purpose of teams and how they affect the organization of science is therefore crucial.

The aim of this Research Topic is to further our understanding of the mechanisms at work in scientific teams and their relation to the context in which scientists operate. Examples include how teams are formed, how they evolve, and how they affect researchers’ learning, productivity, careers, and success in acquisition of research funding and the role of team leaders in shaping team dynamics and outcomes. We also welcome theoretical contributions that help to explain phenomena such as ‘quid pro quo’ collaborations among team members (drawing on social exchange theory) or ‘fast track’ versus ‘late-beginner’ career trajectories (drawing on labor market theory). Finally, we look forward to studies that help us to understand why scientists organize themselves differently across scientific domains, in terms of their reliance on teamwork and the characteristics of teams.

• Both quantitative and qualitative, as well as conceptual articles are welcome. We highly welcome contributions addressing empirical challenges in the analysis of team composition and their impact on scientific output.
• Of particular interest are contributions that take a behavioral perspective on scientific teams, in which scientists weigh the benefits of collaboration against the costs in terms of coordination and sharing of credit, and contributions that further our understanding of the team processes behind widening engagement, participation, and performance in research.
• Topical perspectives include the trend towards larger teams, interdisciplinarity and the associated distribution of reputation effects, virtual research teams and their increased prevalence due to external shocks like the COVID-19 crisis, diversity in teams, etc.


Keywords: scientific teams, research organization, team formation, scientific productivity, scientific collaboration


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 October 2020 Abstract
01 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 October 2020 Abstract
01 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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