Efforts to foster the growth of a department’s or school’s research mission can be informed by known correlates of research productivity, but the specific strategies to be adopted will be highly context-dependent, influenced by local, national, and discipline-specific needs and resources. The authors describe a multifaceted approach—informed by a working model of organizational research productivity—by which the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (Twin Cities campus) successfully increased its collective research productivity during a 10-year period (1997–2007) and maintained these increases over time.
Facing barriers to recruitment of faculty investigators, the department focused instead on nurturing high-potential investigators among their current faculty via a new, centrally coordinated research program, with provision of training, protected time, technical resources, mentoring, and a scholarly culture to support faculty research productivity. Success of these initiatives is documented by the following: substantial increases in the department’s external research funding, rise to a sustained top-five ranking based on National Institutes of Health funding to U.S. family medicine departments, later-stage growth in the faculty’s publishing record, increased research capacity among the faculty, and a definitive maturation of the department’s research mission. The authors offer their perspectives on three apparent drivers of success with broad applicability—namely, effective leadership, systemic culture change, and the self-awareness to adapt to changes in the local, institutional, and national research environment.