groups » The Zambian Clinical Research Forum » What are some of the expectations and challenges of working in a research team?
On tackling repetitive research challenges, it is good to figure out why the same problems keep arising. Sometimes, it could be that a certain member of the team does not keep deadlines or record things timely etc. Working in this part of the world poses its own challenges especially in the area of laboratory capacity. A study may be dependent on an outside laboratory that runs out reagents sometimes, or has individuals whose competence may be less than what you expect.
One of the role of the mentee is to identify mentors who are available and interested in mentoring. Sometimes, those mentors may be outside the research team.
Its interesting to note that we have all brought up the idea of understanding what research is and what is expected of each member of the research team before embarking on research. Possibly this might be what we need to focus on, in order to understand the roles of different members of the team and work together to build the capacity of the whole team.
With the help of those who have had an experience of working in a research team, it would be vital to explore how this approach may also serve as feedback for previous studies so that we can be able to tackle repetitive research challenges.
What do we understand by mentorship? Should it just be focused on Principal investigators or Research leaders providing guidance to the junior members of the team? Or should it be a two way process of sharing knowledge and experience as well as understanding the needs of other team members?
I have always felt that before any research team gets down to the core business, house rules should be clearly set. I expect that the structural organization of the research team should be clearly defined. By this I mean there should be a research team leader and the hierarchy should be well established. Secondly, I expect that each member should clearly understand the role they will be playing. The best research teams are those which will be composed of members from different disciplines (multi-disciplinary). Respect for each member and discipline, as well as the roles to fulfilled is very important. Lack of discipline and understanding of the roles played by other members is most likely to be the source of conflict. Conflicts among research team members is likely to present a huge challenge to successful completion of the project. Therefore, I expect that there should be a well defined way of resolving conflicts should they arise. Lastly, I also expect that the activities that falls on the critical path should be identified and milestones clearly defined to ensure the research project is done within the stipulated period.
I have belonged to quite a few research teams before. The fundamentals of research were quite similar, but certain aspects, important aspects, differed. My expectations of belonging to a research team among other things are to gain knew knowledge, sharpen my skills including research skills, and identify further potential research questions. Working in a research team can however be challenging. One particular problem I had encountered in one team was that terms of reference were changed along the way and this led to vehement disagreement during the course of the study. The study could have actually been pulled off. It is important to clearly document what each member should expect from others and vice versa right from the start, regarding things like work schedule, remuneration, reports, etc..
i think before we embark on research we should be very conversant with what we expect to get out of it with upholding ethics.
To me the main challenges are working together, managing time and ability to tolerate the so many queries which keep on coming especially after every audit. some of these queries maybe very time consuming and maybe repetitive. I experienced this in a trial I was working on recently and the lesson I learnt was that we need to understand the protocol very well and be very tolerant.
On the issue of mentorship, this is very critical and every PI in my opinion should be a mentor and should understand the protocol very well infact more than other members of the research team. This will make him to be well respected and be a real mentor indeed!
Working in a research team helps in building capacity of not only the individual members but also the whole team. We all have different skills and these are strengthened when they are combined. Team work most times leads to better outputs, and of course, sharing responsibilities mean increased efficiency. The challenges of course are related to managing resources that are available at the time, including; financial, time, human resource and not forgetting the responsibility of being accountable to the research activity itself. The researchers in the team have to have a common goal to achieve and if everyone understands that and act in an ethical and professional manner, there is more to gain as a team!
Okay what if I look at this question on a different perspective, lets say the research team is new or it has just been formed the challenge will be knowing members well and who take up which positions in the team. But after all that is sorted out of course our expectations will be high in that after knowing each other well, we will know who in the team to ask for what task to be done.
I have experience of working in research teams, because of that, I can confidently point out to say that people have the eager to deliver quality work, but most research teams fail to achieve this factor. The reason been is poor management by top officers in the team. For instance, the programme may be well funded, everyone in the programme is accounted for properly. But what managers will do is to cut on there subordinates pay on the expense of them paying themselves heft salaries . Do you know what the effects of doing this will have on the output? when they cut on payments, it means that they also have cut on the input of every member on the team and what suffers is the output of the organization.
Titus you have raised very good points of working together as team to share ideas and tackle problems beforehand and you have also brought in the aspect of mentorship. What do other members think about embracing these concepts as some of the ways that we can deal with the challenges of research in Zambia?
This a good debate question. My expectation are that, work will be simplified, easier and in most cases such teams have quality results. This is because as a team you are able to share work and ideas and come up with the best solution to a problem before you consider it for a result. Its from team members were we source the best skills which are utilized to the maximum.
As much as the research team may have its high expectations, challenges also follow. Running a research team also comes with its own cost, the bigger the research team the more funding it will require to pay its member and also run other logistics for the research programme. As we all know paying individual with knowledge can be a huge cost.
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