Attributes of Interdisciplinary Research Teams: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature

Jahan Lakhani, Karen Benzies, K. Alix Hayden


Purpose: To solve large complex health-related problems, there has been a progressive movement towards interdisciplinary research teams; however, there has been minimal investigation into the attributes of successful teams. The purpose of this literature review was to examine the attributes that are important for the effective functioning of these teams.

Method: Literature from medicine, nursing and psychology databases, published between 1990 and 2010, was reviewed.

Principal findings: Thematic organization of the findings identified seven attributes important to effective interdisciplinary research teams: team purpose, goals, leadership, communication, cohesion, mutual respect and reflection. These attributes are described in depth.

Conclusion: Identification of these attributes could form the basis of a new measure to monitor interdisciplinary research team effectiveness, identify weaknesses and promote team development.

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