The MATRICx: Measuring motivation in science teams

By Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano

gaetano-lotrecchiano
Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano (biography)

What motivates scientists to work in teams? How can we measure motivation? Why should we be concerned about motivation in science teams?

Six domains of motivation for collaboration

Scientists and science stakeholders draw on different motivations to collaborate. The literature has discussed these motivations in different ways:

1. Advancing Science: Motivations to contribute to an agenda or the progression of research and science.

2. Building Relationships: Motivations to utilize resources and/or knowledge to establish or expand connections and one’s network of collaborators.

3. Knowledge Transfer: Motivations to organize, exchange, acquire, and/or disseminate knowledge.

4. Resource Acquisition: Motivations to access, acquire, and/or deploy human, tangible, and intellectual resources.

5. Maintenance of Beliefs: Motivations to establish, protect, or build the value of science and scholarship.

6. Recognition and Reward: Motivations to access mechanisms and methods by which human and intellectual resources are recognized.

A tool to measure motivations for collaboration

The Motivation Assessment for Team Readiness Integration and Collaboration (MATRICx) is an assessment tool (available as a phone app) to measure motivations to collaborate.

The survey items listed below are representative of the motivation domains provided earlier. Responses measure the degree to which an individual can endorse each statement.

  1. Others’ ideas enhance my work
  2. Collaboration is an opportunity for me to be mentored
  3. Collaboration enhances my respect of other disciplines
  4. Collaboration on projects provides me with intellectual stimulation
  5. I enjoy working with other people on projects
  6. Collaboration requires shared project resources
  7. Collaboration enhances my understanding of what other disciplines do
  8. Collaboration enables scholarly problems to be solved more quickly
  9. Collaborating helps me learn new skills
  10. Working collaboratively on projects is fun
  11. I have data/materials/resources others could benefit from
  12. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for solving problems with others
  13. Collaboration helps me build networks
  14. Collaboration is an opportunity for me to mentor others
  15. Differing world views among collaborators are fundamental for collaboration
  16. Collaboration is necessary for innovation
  17. My past experiences with collaboration have been very successful.

The MATRICx is free to use and downloadable through the Apple Store and Google Play (for more information see http://matricx.net/downloads). The application contains definitions, individual, team, and composite outputs, as well as instructions and the basis for analysis.

lotrecchiano_MATRICx_phone-screen-examples
Two screenshots from the MATRICx Android phone app (Source: Gaetano Lotrecchiano)

Benefits of using the MATRICx

Understanding the motivations of individuals on a team can prepare leaders and other team members to be active agents in satisfying individuals’ needs as well as meeting team scientific goals.

The MATRICx can also be used as a pre-test/post-test tool after a team science training, or some other intervention geared to promoting readiness or developing interest in working on teams.

The MATRICx also provides a means for individuals and leaders to gauge how their motivations might be maximized in teams leading to higher work performance and satisfaction.

Conclusion

Motivation can change over the course of a career. Students may focus on, one day, having their name on a paper, working in the laboratory of an admired mentor, or maybe even having access to data otherwise not available. As researchers grow in seniority their motivations may include building professional relationships, choosing to work on a pet project, or even having the opportunity to advance science in a way unachievable earlier in a career.

For leaders, educators, scientists, facilitators, and all of those charged with the success of scientific teams, understanding what motivates individuals and how motivation should be considered in shaping roles and responsibilities, experiences and exposure, and goal setting is more likely to lead to success if we understand what will engage an individual more deeply and more intently within a team.

Although the tool was developed for biomedical and health professionals, it is likely to be more widely useful.

Do these ideas resonate with what motivates you to work in teams? If you are a team leader, what have you found useful to assess motivations in your team?

To find out more about the MATRICx and motivation domains:

See: http://matricx.net/

Lotrecchiano, G., Mallinson, T., Leblanc-Beaudoin, T., Schwartz, L., Lazar, D. and Falk-Krzesinski, H. (2016). Motivation and threat indicators for collaboration readiness in knowledge generating teams (KPTs): A scoping review and domain analysis. Heliyon, 2, 5.

Mallinson, T., Lotrecchiano, G., Schwartz, L., Furniss, J., Leblanc-Beaudoin, T., Lazar, D. and Falk-Krzesinski, H. (2016). Pilot analysis of the Motivation Assessment for Team Readiness, Integration, and Collaboration (MATRICx) using Rasch analysis. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 64, 7: 1186-1193.

Lotrecchiano, G., Schwartz, L. and Falk-Krzesinski, H. (2020). Measuring motivation for team science collaboration in health teams. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science. 5, e84: 1–6. (Online) (DOI): https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/cts.2020.567

Biography: Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano PhD studies teams and strives to advance team and collaboration science. He is the lead Principal Investigator in the MATRICx Project. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Research and Leadership, and University Associate Dean for Innovative and Collaborative Pedagogy at the George Washington University in Washington DC, USA.

7 thoughts on “The MATRICx: Measuring motivation in science teams”

  1. Hi, Gaetano, I also appreciated the six domains of motivation you outlined. I often find the first domain, to advance science, as the foundation. For team science that tackles wicked problem of modern society (per Vladimir), it is hard to imagine any team member not being motivated by advancing science, because there are simply easier projects scientists can get involved in that can express other domains of motivation more conveniently. Similarly, when teams get stuck, getting in touch with this foundational motivation of advancing science helps everyone to connect with their original intention. What have your experiences been?

    Reply
    • What propelled our work from its inception was that different motivations are more or less critical based on one’s career development and experiences with teams. The domain you are referring to is one of the domains that crosses experiential and developmental boundaries (refer to Lotrecchiano, Schwartz, and Falk-Kresisinski, 2020). Advancing science is a motivator that has been found in the novice and senior collaborator unlike other domains that are more suited for the less experienced (like resource acquisition) and those with more experience (like maintenance of beliefs or relationship building). The interesting thing is that the fit of these items proved validated over and over in our pilot research leading the the hierarchy of items shown in the MATRICx survey

      Reply
      • Thank you for the confirmation! It is comforting to know that what I know intuitively is also supported by your quantitative research.

        Reply
  2. Dear Gaetano, the results of your research have wide practical applications. I often quote your articles in my research. However, I think that two more domains can be added to the existing list of domains of motivation for collaboration. These domains will allow you to logically designate the entire space of motivation for cooperation:

    7. Gaining practical significance: Motivations to effectively solve the wicked problems of modern society.

    8. Elimination of the limitations of world perception: Motivations to access to the relevant horizons of the scientific worldview.

    Thus, these domains will allow us to identify scientists who are motivated, first of all, to feel their practical usefulness and have access to the incredible.

    Reply
    • Vladimir
      Thank you for your kinds words and interest. You make an interesting point in suggesting this two extra domains. When we first developed the MATRICx items we were working from what was found in the literature from social psychology, anthropology, management, leadership and behavioral sciences (1950-2013). The coding process that organized this huge body of literature seeked to cluster codes into themes that lead us to the 6 that were decided on in the end. While your point is well appreciated, effectively solving wicked problems could be an attribute of the the advancing science domain. I could also see the the motivation to access to the relevant horizons of the scientific world view as part of the maintenance of beliefs domain. This stated, I like this suggestion and wonder if their addition would be more appropriate in a synthesis more specific to cross-disciplinary team. Again, thanks for the suggestions and thank you for expressing your interest in the MATRICx.

      Reply

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