Team Science & Open Science

When we began to formally design and build the LAGOS Research Platform in 2010, we knew that our end goal was a fully-integrated, interoperable, open-access, and extensible research platform that would enable the kinds of data-intensive broad-scaled ecological research that is needed to address many current environmental grand challenges. We had much ecological theory to draw on to identify the needed data to study such problems. However, at the time, there were few available models for HOW to do it. We knew it would take a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary approach with individuals with varied background, career stages, and career needs. But, we had few answers to the questions such as how to ensure that the team would work effectively together? How to provide sufficient opportunities for individuals to get enough credit for their work on the large, integrated project to allow career advancement? How to assign credit to those who collect data versus those who manage, clean, and integrate the data? And, could we expect everyone to share their data?

We quickly realized that we would have to figure the answers out to a lot of these questions on our own. Our primary strategy was to use evidence-based approaches based on literature from organizational psychology, the science of team science, education, open science, and others. In consulting the literature from these varied sources, we compiled our strategies and also identified research questions that had not been sufficiently answered in any field. Therefore, we spent part of our time conducting this research and publishing in the hopes that future research teams could learn from what we had gleaned from the literature and from our experiences. In this section, we share the publications and policies that we have written from over a decade of work that we have done on team and open science, including the branching off of a couple of projects in collaboration with experts who study science teams (see the Funding and History page). Our LAGOS work has greatly benefited from these broader collaborations and we share some of those results below.  

For example, one of the first efforts that we embarked on was to develop our overall approach to managing relatively large science teams (~15 – 25 people). We quickly learned that there is a solid foundation of research that shows that high-performing collaborative research teams are not born fully formed, but carefully built and maintained. We summarized our findings in Cheruvelil et al. (2014) and also provided specific teamwork exercises to develop effective and high-functioning science teams. Another early effort was the recognition that not all researchers were fully willing to share their data, as well as the lack of discussion of the ethical obligations of data sharing, particularly for natural resource agencies and scientists. Our article on that topic is Soranno et al. (2015). Finally, after several years experience working both on LAGOS and these other efforts, we realized the effective synergies among team science and open science, to catalyze data-intensive science; that article is Cheruvelil and Soranno (2018). We provide links to these and other topics in the area of Team and Open Science below that we hope will provide valuable guides for other researchers conducting this type of research.


Figure 1. [Figure 2 from Cheruveli and Soranno 2018]. The synergies resulting from the combined use of data-intensive, open, and team science to answer 21st century ecological questions.