We conducted qualitative interviews with over 50 research exemplars—individuals doing high-impact, federally-funded research who have a reputation for research integrity. We identified the lab leadership and management (L&M) practices that help to explain their success—practices such as holding regular meetings and expressing to lab members a commitment to rigor and integrity. Researchers who are referred for remediation training less frequently use these lab L&M practices. We are currently examining the relationship between post-docs’ perceptions of the ethical climate in a lab and specific L&M practices.
We have explored questions such as: Is compliance a professional virtue of researchers (even when rules sometimes seem overly burdensome or unnecessary)? What do workplace relationships have to do with research ethics? Why is humility important in managing conflicts of interest?
We examined empirical literature to identify strategies that lead to more effective and ethical professional decisions (such as managing emotions, testing assumptions, and seeking help). We then developed the Professional Decision-making in Research (PDR) measure and validated it with nearly 1,000 NIH-funded researchers. We used the PDR to explore predictors of good decision-making and demonstrate positive outcomes of the P.I. Program Workshop.
We developed new measures of values in scientific work and attitudes toward research compliance and integrity to identify factors associated with good decision-making in research.
Researchers share common values like an appreciation of job autonomy. However, we found differences in the values emphasized by researchers according to their nation of origin. U.S.-born researchers placed more emphasis on research ethics and non-U.S.-born researchers emphasized more strongly the social impact of research and conserving workplace relationships. Nation of origin also affects the ability to predict the views of research compliance officers and perceptions of the severity of research misconduct.
We have conducted literature reviews and meta-analyses to identify factors associated with positive outcomes from research ethics education. The P.I. Program has demonstrated significant increases in participants’ scores on professional decision-making, attitudes toward compliance, and use of good lab leadership and management practices.