Collaborative research networks are often touted as a solution for enhancing the translation of knowledge, but questions remain about how to evaluate their impact on health service delivery. This pragmatic scoping study explored the enabling factors for developing and supporting a collaborative imaging network in a metropolitan university in Australia.Methods
An advisory group was established to provide governance and to identify key informants and participants. Focus group discussions (n = 2) and semi-structured interviews (n = 22) were facilitated with representatives from a broad range of disciplines. In addition, a survey, a review of relevant websites (n = 15) and a broad review of the literature were undertaken to elicit information on collaborative research networks and perceived needs and factors that would support their involvement in a multi-disciplinary collaborative research network. Findings were de-identified and broad themes were identified.Results
Participants identified human factors as having priority for developing and sustaining a collaborative research network. In particular, leadership, a shared vision and a communication plan that includes social media were identified as crucial for sustaining an imaging network in health research. It is important to develop metrics that map relationships between network members and the role that communication tools can contribute to this process.Conclusions
This study confirms that human factors remain significant across a range of collaborative endeavours. The use of focus group discussions, interviews, and literature and website reviews means we can now strongly recommend the primacy of human factors. More work is needed to identify how the network operates and what specific indicators or metrics help build the capacity of clinicians and scientists to participate in translational research.