Introduction: Early team experiences can influence the professional trajectories of early-career investigators profoundly, yet they remain underexplored in the team science literature, which has focused primarily on large, multisite teams led by established researchers. To better understand the unique challenges of teams led by early-career investigators, we conducted a qualitative pilot study.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with the principal investigator and members of 5 teams led by KL2 and K12 scholars at the University of Pittsburgh. A code book was developed and thematic analysis was conducted.
Results: Seven distinct themes emerged. Interview subjects reported a high level of trust and strong communication patterns on their teams; however, the data also suggested underlying tensions that have the potential to escalate into larger problems if unaddressed.
Conclusions: This study yields a deeper understanding of teams led by early-career investigators, which can help us provide appropriately targeted training and support.