Clinical Trials Teamwork: Some Assembly Required

Clinical Researcher—September 2018 (Volume 32, Issue 8)


Gary W. Cramer

Back in the days when the bread-and-butter part of one of my former jobs was translating the findings of scholarly research articles into digestible press releases for media consumption, one of my favorite topics was organizational behavior. Even for someone with as little business acumen as myself, it didn’t take much to appreciate how insights on the eternal push-me/pull-me relationships between the management, production, and consumer sides of the goods and services triangle could be applied to other situations in life.

To me, what the business school researchers were tackling in their studies of employee dynamics in major corporations could just as easily have been about the people tied together through the work/audience environments with which I was more familiar—newspaper offices (editors/reporters, printers, subscribers), theater (backstage crew, onstage cast, patrons), and so on. To mangle more metaphors, every such environment lives and dies on the strengths of the teamwork relationships fostered between the three legs of the stool upon which it rests.

This is the lens through which I view the main articles collected in this issue of Clinical Researcher. Although on the surface, they may appear separately to focus on the discrete realms of device studies, non-clinical study staff, and principal investigators, each is really—to my way of thinking—about assembling portions of highly efficient clinical trials teams that benefit from the disparate talents of people with widely different backgrounds and perspectives.

All the Talents, All the Time

As put on display in these articles, in our clinical research enterprise, teamwork is not just something to be concerned about at the study site; it must encompass the coordinated efforts of professionals from the sponsor/vendor, site, and participant sides of the triangle to deliver high-quality results. Yes, within a single part of this equation—a busy study site, for example—teamwork is key to keeping the clinical, non-clinical, and patient gears meshing smoothly, but to ignore the “assembly guide” best practices for keeping all the benefits of good communications, training, oversight, and reporting flowing between all onsite and offsite parts of the team would be an act of sheer folly.

What “lessons learned” have you experienced from your time with clinical trials teams? What tactics, cautionary tales, or recommendations for the good of the order are bubbling up in your psyche as our clinical research environment undergoes such rapid and ongoing evolution as it has in recent years? Please consider taking the time to share your thoughts and talents with your research colleagues through the many venues offered by ACRP, whether in the pages of this journal or a contributed blog for our website, in messages to the Online Community, in a webinar, in a presentation to an ACRP Chapter or conference, in participation with our new Partners in Workforce Advancement or Mentor Match Program, or by way of many other opportunities.

As always, many thanks for the critical work you do in your role on the clinical trials team. We look forward to hearing from you, and to helping you share your expertise on assembling this great project for the good of everyone.

Gary W. Cramer ( is Managing Editor for ACRP.