Volume 9 Issue 1 (2013)
Main Articles

Forms and Levels of Integration: Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team-Building Project

Andrea Armstrong
Utah State University
Douglas Jackson-Smith
Utah State University
Published February 4, 2013
  • science of team science,
  • interdisciplinary teams,
  • collaborative research,
  • social integration,
  • conceptual integration,
  • research evaluation
  • ...More


Team science models are frequently promoted as the best way to study complex societal and environmental problems. Despite increasing popularity, there is relatively little research on the processes and mechanisms that facilitate the emergence of integration of interdisciplinary teams. This article evaluates a suite of recent team-building and grant-writing activities designed to address water management in the Western U.S. We use qualitative methods to document the emergence of integrative capacity at the individual, group, and institutional levels, with particular attention to the role of graduate students and non-academic practitioners in a team science planning project. Our findings highlight the importance of social integration as a basis for conceptual integration and an ability to relate these concepts to real-world problems. The findings also demonstrate the value of qualitative evaluation measures of team readiness, capacity, and intellectual outputs to complement conventional evaluation indicators that rely on quantitative scientific outputs, particularly for team science projects still in the planning stages.