ORI Funds Seven Grants on Research Integrity

ORI is pleased to have awarded two research grants and five conference grants through our Research on Research Integrity program.

Research Grants: The purpose of the Phase I research grants is to foster innovative approaches to empirical research on societal, organizational, group, and individual factors that affect, both positively and negatively, integrity in research. These grants are awarded in two phases:

Phase I: The objective for Phase I is to establish project merit and feasibility and to generate preliminary data prior to seeking further support for Phase II.

Phase II: Phase II constitutes a separate competition limited to successful Phase I awardees. The objective for Phase II is to build upon results achieved in Phase I. Funding is based on success demonstrated in Phase I, the merit and feasibility of the Phase II proposal, and the availability of funds.

Conference Grants: The conference grants aim to provide an opportunity for the research community to develop multi-disciplinary networks, build on existing evidence-based research, and stimulate innovative approaches to preventing research misconduct and promoting research integrity. ORI is especially interested in supporting conferences that lead to extramural grant applications on research on research integrity and peer-reviewed publications.

Phase I Research on Research Integrity Awardees

Perceptions of Scientific Misconduct in the Natural and Social Sciences
Kristy Holtfreter, Ph.D.
Arizona State University

Abstract: This study will contribute to the body of knowledge regarding scholars’ perceptions of scientific misconduct. Specifically, the proposed study will assess scholars’ perceived frequency of a full range of forms of scientific misconduct, including fabricating research findings, falsifying research findings, plagiarism, and authorship fraud, as well as forms of resource mismanagement. Scholars’ perceptions of the seriousness of these forms of scientific misconduct (i.e., independent of their prevalence) will also be examined. Objectives: The project will generate a sample of PhD-level researchers from American universities, both from the natural and social sciences. Investigators will develop scientific misconduct measures with strong construct validity, and will assess scholars’ perceptions of the prevalence and severity of scientific misconduct in a multivariate context. These analyses will entail examining variables drawn from a number of criminological theories that have been empirically shown to be predictive of various forms of misbehavior, including unethical and fraudulent behavior. Outcomes: The study will produce an exhaustive list of survey items that will be made available in the investigators’ publications that future researchers working in this area can conveniently access. It will also contribute to the understanding of scientific misconduct by developing survey items that reflect a form of misconduct (i.e., resource mismanagement) that has yet to be empirically investigated. Finally, the development of an empirically-validated set of scientific misconduct measures will signify a clear and meaningful contribution to the research literature in this substantive area. Products: In addition to the final report required by ORI, the data obtained for this project will be used to produce several high-quality conference papers (e.g., presentations will be delivered at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting), multiple peer reviewed publications in scientific journals of general interest (e.g., Science). Study results will be disseminated to the general public via the media and shared electronically.

Bioethical Issues in Biostatistical Consulting (BIBC): A Phase I Study
Min-Qi Wang, Ph.D.
University of Maryland College Park

Abstract: The overall purpose of this proposed one-year study, conducted in collaboration with the American Statistical Association (ASA), is to investigate — for the first time — the frequency and relative severity of a broad array of bioethical violations requests that are presented to U.S. biostatisticians by investigators seeking biostatistical consults. A 35-item Bioethical Issues in Biostatistical Consulting Questionnaire (BIBC Q), developed, construct validated and pretested within an NIH/NIDR-funded Oral Health Disparities Center (U54 DE14257-08), along with a short Demographic Data Form (DDF), will be administered to a random sample of U.S. biostatisticians, data analysts and researchers. The proposed phase I study’s Specific Aims of are: 1) to establish the frequency of occurrence (i.e., prevalence) of requests to U.S. biostatisticians for 35 pre-established biostatistical consulting and data analysis practices that are in violation of bioethical standards; 2) to determine the relative severity level for each of those 35 pre-established bioethical violations; 3) to explore the patterns of responses to the bioethical violations questions across strata of investigator characteristics obtained via the Demographic Data Form (DDF), 4) to qualitatively assess the impact that any observed bioethical violation would have on research and on perception of research integrity, and, 5) to inform investigators, biostatisticians and bioethicists, as well as the regulators of this system (Institute Review Board: IRBs) and trainers of future investigators of the findings from this first exploratory study so they can know ‘the facts’ and — if needed — can modify behaviors and educational approaches to address identified areas of deviation from integrity in research. Based on the Phase I findings, Phase II will further investigate the reasons for these bioethical violations and why the statisticians are not reporting misconduct.

Research Conferences on Research Integrity

Keeping the Pool Clean: Prevention and Management of Misconduct Related Retractions
Carolyn Broccardo, Ph.D.
Colorado State University

Abstract: The goal of this conference is to provide a mechanism for collaboration and communication for the diverse set of individuals involved in research misconduct investigations and subsequent retractions. These investigations may be triggered by information shared by journal editors, co-authors, researchers, and anonymous whistleblowers. The outcome of this effort is often retraction of published manuscripts, which lacks in uniformity and rigor, and policies vary from clear to nonexistent depending on the institution and journal. The objective of this conference two-fold: 1) provide a forum to discuss the problem of retractions and address the tension and competing interests between those involved in misconduct related retractions, and 2) create a diverse interdisciplinary collaboration capable of generating a guidance document and best practices for those involved in misconduct investigations and related retractions. Specifically, guidance shall be on key issues related to misconduct-related retractions including: identification, communication, ethics, reporting to institution/government, retraction notices, database management, and other issues deemed relevant by session participants. The final product will be shared nationally and internationally, through a peer reviewed publication.

It Happens to Everyone: PUI Research Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research
Joann Waite, Ph.D.
Gonzaga University

Abstract: Ethical research training during the undergraduate experience has multiple benefits; it is valuable for the students, the graduate program the student will enter, the researcher the student will work with, and the public who will fund the research. As such, it is crucial to train the faculty, staff, and administration that are the gateway to students who will one day be the PhDs who are expected to perform continued ethical research throughout their research, professional, and scholarly careers. Titus et al. wrote, “an analysis commissioned by the ORI found in 2000 that only 29% of institutional misconduct polices explicitly obligate members to report scientific misconduct. Individuals and institutions, not the federal government, are the guardians of research integrity. Therefore, we urge action and recommend six strategies to champion integrity.” The six recommendations are: Adopt Zero Tolerance, Protect Whistleblowers, Clarify How to Report, Train the Mentors, Use Alternative Mechanisms, and Model Ethical Behavior. This proposed conference outcomes will first impact Predominately Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) across the United States where undergraduate students will be more consistently trained in research integrity processes. In addition, the PUI faculty will have the institutional support of implemented policy and procedures, research data will be readily available and usable for replication and transparency, and faculty and administrators will have a broader understanding of why misconduct happens. Finally, this conference will train a new cohort of research integrity trainers in the critical process of data management.

Sequestration Analysis: Collaborative Institutional Approaches & White Collar Concerns
Dr. John Baumann
Indiana University

Abstract: ORI has reiterated through several workshops and conferences, and is a common discussion topic amongst RIOs and staff throughout our national research community, that the sequestration process is one of the most important and vital steps to building a successful analysis of an allegation of research misconduct. Indiana University’s goal is to enhance the research integrity community’s understanding of the importance and effects of the role of sequestration in research misconduct allegations while providing practical tools and resources to successfully implement what is learned from this innovative and interactive conference, “Sequestration Analysis: Collaborative Institutional Approaches & White Collar Concerns”. This conference proposal includes a multi-disciplinary approach to involve not only national subject matter experts in each relevant area, but also to analyze the entire process from every angle so as to include the breadth of individuals such as IT forensic specialists, general counsel and legal representatives, research integrity officers and staff, compliance and safety personnel, campus security and counseling services that must be involved when completing sequestration. The outcomes will include a best practice guidance document to be disseminated to the research integrity community, along with video vignettes to further illustrate the importance and ramifications of effective versus ineffective sequestrations.

Survey Data Fabrication Workshop
Fritz Scheuren, Ph.D.
National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago

Abstract: This Workshop is intended to bring the survey community together to share our joint concerns about data fabrication or “curbstoning.” While a very old issue, curbstoning concerns have recently been growing in intensity. There is a widespread fear, supported by anecdotal evidence, that curbstoning may be getting worse. We simply do not know, and that bothers many of us even more. Wholesale fabrication of data can be seen as an attack on the credibility of all we do; hence, in this instance ignorance is not bliss. The workshop format proposed here will allow us to listen to other survey practitioners who have begun, like us, to address the dangerous fabrication concerns facing everyone in the survey industry. There are recent advances to discuss, many by us, some by others in fabrication prevention, fabrication detection and even in the repair of surveys where data have been found or thought to be fabricated. Since fabrication is a prey/predator problem it requires a process not just a product response. It is a virus ever-adapting; and, hence, to combat it we need to adapt too. Our main Workshop goal, therefore, is to move the survey research community toward a forward-looking, iterative process for continuously countering what sadly will be never ever ending concerns about curbstoning.

Research Integrity and Sensitive Populations: Best Practices for Responsible Conduct in Social Sciences Research, Gulf Coast Conference
Dr. Carla Thompson
University of West Florida

Abstract: Although Institutional Review Boards provide special clearly defined responsible conduct for the protection and welfare of vulnerable populations (such as children and minors, elderly and aging, cognitively impaired persons, ethnic minorities, prisoners, women, and others) in medical and clinical research efforts as required by federal regulations [45 CFR 46], appropriate attention to sensitive groups relative to responsible conduct and prevention of misconduct within social science research efforts has not been a strong clear focus of institutional review boards in higher education settings. Also, new sensitive research efforts, such as sports participation in schools, gender orientations, and caregiving for aging populations are examples of emerging sensitive populations/research arenas. The proposed conference will focus on research integrity and sensitive populations’ research within the context of social science research conducted in higher education settings. The proposed two-day face-to-face conference with an extended online follow-up convening effort will bring together an interdisciplinary group of higher education faculty, researchers, national experts, regional community leaders, and graduate students who represent specific aspects of social science research focused on sensitive topics and sensitive populations. The purpose of the proposed SPRING Gulf Coast Conference is to promote research integrity and prevent research misconduct by producing three educational/ informational deliverables for social science educators/researchers: (1) a protocol for implementing RCR best practices training in social science research with sensitive topics and sensitive populations, including actions and procedures for dealing with research misconduct and whistleblowing; (2) a digital portal containing FAQs for social science researchers and educators; and (3) dissemination of conference findings at the annual conference of the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Conference (AABSS) and published in the Journal of AABSS. Conference participants will serve as ambassadors for promoting the RCR training specifically focused on research involving sensitive populations and/or sensitive topics.

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