Why Data Matters in Research Integrity

Sunday, 15 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21E (San Jose Convention Center)
Brian C. Martinson, HealthPartners Research Foundation, Minneapolis, MN
At least since the 2002 Institute of medicine report, “Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct,” the importance of local research environments as factors influencing behaviors in research has been recognized. Yet until recently, there have been no gold standard measures of local organizational environments and therefore little data has been available to help guide efforts at developing and sustaining local institutional environments that support research integrity.

The recent creation and validation of the Survey of Organizational Research Climates (SOuRCe) has made it possible for the first time to implement a reporting and feedback process that can be used as an integral part of efforts on the part of research organizations to build and sustain organizational climates that foster research integrity. Separate from approaches based on regulation and accreditation or on use of financial incentives (carrots or sticks), the reporting and feedback approach uses data generated from the local environment to inform local leaders of the quality and variability of their local organizational climates.

While some threats to research integrity operate at a systemic level affecting many research organizations in similar ways, other threats are unique to the local situation and are better identified through process of organizational introspection. The SOuRCe provides organizational leaders a self-assessment tool to gauge member perceptions of the local structures, processes and events defining the current state of an organization’s research climate. Through providing organizational leaders with such baseline assessments and metrics of organizational features that can be targeted for organizational change efforts, locally tailored initiatives to support and sustain research integrity become possible. Such efforts are in keeping with a self-regulatory ethos, and by speaking to the specifics of the local situation should yield greater efficiency and precision in local efforts to support research integrity.