Project Background

Project Background

The Need

In a recent report in Nature, Dr. James DuBois, P.I. Program Director, and his collaborators explained why researchers were referred to remediation training. The researchers were successful investigators who had stumbled in complying with federal research rules or standards for research integrity. Many of the causes stemmed from failures in leadership, such as poor communication, inadequate training of staff, and not prioritizing compliance with research guidelines.1

In a recent study reported in the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, Dr. Alison Antes and colleagues interviewed 32 NIH-funded genetic researchers at a top-tier biomedical academic institution. They asked what skills were needed other than scientific expertise to be successful in research, and 97% stated leadership or management skills. Just 10% felt prepared for these responsibilities at the start of their careers. Although leadership is essential to good research, we know very little about it.² Quotes from those interviewed:

“…You’re taught how to be a scientist, you’re not taught how to be a lab manager.”

“If I look back…and I look at the single thing that I’ve screwed up the most it would be management … management and management practices, and execution.”

The Research Exemplar Project Details

Call for Nominations

We solicited nominations from the principal investigators of the Clinical and Translational Science Award Consortium, the directors of the NIH Office of Intramural Research, and institutional administrators at the Carnegie-classified research-intensive universities and all U.S. medical schools and schools of public health.

We sought nominations of researchers who lead labs that produce high-quality, high-impact, federally-funded research in any empirical science discipline including, but not limited to, social, natural, physical, life, or biomedical science.  These individuals could be junior, mid-career, or senior investigators in the United States. Additionally, the individuals were to have an outstanding reputation for leadership and integrity in research.

Nomination Process

The nomination form consisted of several questions about the impact of the exemplar’s research and how they demonstrate professionalism and integrity in research.

Endorsement Process 

We required each nominee to receive at least one other nomination from a subsequent colleague. These endorsements provided additional information  about each nominee’s research and integrity.

Peer Review Process

A panel of researchers in the same fields as the nominees reviewed the nomination forms and the nominee’s CVs using a common rubric.

The Broader Research Agenda

Dr. Antes’ research is funded by a career development grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute entitled ‘Fostering Integrity and Societal Impact in Genomics through Management and Leadership Practices” (K01HG008990). Her research focuses on the intersection of leading a research lab and conducting high-quality, high-impact research with integrity. She seeks to identify the leadership practices and needs of researchers, and ultimately aims to develop evidence-based, practical resources to assist researchers, with meeting the leadership and management demands of their work. Dr. DuBois serves as her mentor for this project, and they collaborate on additional research in the Professional and Social Issues Lab.

1. DuBois, J.M., Chibnall, J.T., Tait, R.C., & Vander Wal, J.S. (2016). Lessons from Researcher Rehab. Nature, 534, 173-175.
2. Antes, A.L., Mart A., & DuBois, J.M. (2016). Are Leadership and Management Essential for Good Research? An Interview Study of Genetic Researchers. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. doi: 10.1177/1556264616668775.

Washington University in St. Louis