Aim: To explore what is meant by a 'research team' and offer practical suggestions for supporting an effective and productive, collaborative research team. Background: Collaborative research has become one of the main objectives of most higher education institutions and running effective research teams is central to achieving this aim. However, there is limited guidance in the literature about how to run or steer a research team. Data sources: Search engines/databases used: CINAHL, Nursing and Allied Health Source, Primo search, Google search and Health Collection to access research articles and publications to support this topic. Literature search was extended to the end of 2014. Review methods: Publications were reviewed for relevance to the topic via standard literature search. Discussion: Research teams vary in size and composition, however they all require effective collaboration if they are to establish successful and flexible working relationships and produce useful and trustworthy research outputs. This article offers guidance for establishing and managing successful collaborative research relationships, building trust and a positive research team culture, clarifying team member roles, setting the teams' research agenda and managing the teams' functions so that team members feel able to contribute fully to the research goals and build a culture of support and apply 'emotional intelligence' throughout the process of building and running a successful research team. Conclusion: Collaboration is a central component of establishing successful research teams and enabling productive research outputs. This article offers guidance for research teams to help them to function more effectively and allow all members to contribute fully to each team's goals. Implications for practice/research: Research teams that have established trust and a positive team culture will result in more efficient working relationships and potentially greater productivity. The advice offered reinforces the value of having research teams with diverse members from different disciplines, philosophical roots and backgrounds. Each of these members should be able to contribute skills and expertise so that the parts of the team are able to develop 'synergy' and result in more productive, positive and rewarding research experiences, as well as more effective research.