Creating Cross-Disciplinary Research Alliances to Advance Nursing Science

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Abstract

Purpose

To demonstrate the utility of a developmental approach to building and sustaining cross-disciplinary research alliances.

Organizing Construct

Cross-disciplinary collaborations offer great promise for advancing an evolving program of research. Funding agencies' commitment to interdisciplinary work further heightens these collaborations. Nurse researchers, however, are not necessarily equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to strategically and successfully build and maintain cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Methods

Successful strategies for forging, extending, and sustaining alliances are organized using a developmental approach and illustrated by exemplars.

Findings

The initial phase of forging alliances is focused on creating a limited network to support relatively clear-cut research goals. The cohesive cross-disciplinary team is subsequently extended beyond the initial team to strategically address broader research goals. As the team matures, emphasis shifts toward sustaining the team through shared leadership that more actively focuses on the development of the field than the development of individual programs of research.

Conclusions

The advancement of nursing science requires nurse researchers to rethink the developmental phases of building appropriate research teams. Strategic approaches for forging, extending, and sustaining cross-disciplinary alliances position nurse researchers as leaders in innovative cross-disciplinary research. The development of cross-disciplinary teams supports translational research and, by extension, the science that undergirds practice.

Clinical Relevance

Research that reflects cross-disciplinary perspectives is particularly well suited to addressing the complex health issues encountered by patients, families, and communities.

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