. "4 Institutional Approaches to Fostering Integrity in Research." Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.
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Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment that Promotes Responsible Conduct
sources for the training of faculty evaluators and the operation of review committees are required at multiple levels within research institutions, including individual departments, research centers, and general administrations. Turnovers in personnel, a lack of familiarity with review and assessment procedures, and changes in the standards that are used as the basis for self-assessment and evaluation can further complicate the cumbersome nature of the assessment process.
At this time, an obvious limitation to the self-assessment approach as a means to foster integrity in research is the need to develop and validate evaluation instruments and measures. Further research on methods and measure and elements of the research environment (as described in Chapter 7) should eliminate this limitation. Examples of relevant assessment tools that might be adapted to the research environment are described in Appendix B.
Evaluations of activities within research institutions occur in diverse forms and are influenced by different approaches that may consist of voluntary or mandatory elements and that may rely upon professional or volunteer reviewers. The committee has not found research evidence that suggests that any particular approach produces significant differences in measurable outcomes.
Each approach has certain strengths as well as limitations. The regulatory compliance approach may be more desirable when professional standards are clear and when measurable indicators can be developed to assess levels of compliance with selected processes and rules in different research settings. However, this approach often fosters attention to minimal standards (the lowest-common-denominator approach) rather than encouraging institutions to determine what is right for their situation and to invest in the efforts necessary to foster more desirable outcomes.
Although benchmarks are not yet available to support performance monitoring in the area of research integrity, they could be developed through educational programs and consensus building efforts. The adoption of a performance-based approach enables institutions to move beyond procedural compliance mechanisms as a self-regulatory device (e.g., certifying that they have adopted certain policies, procedures, and educational training efforts) in favor of a framework that fosters greater individuality but still adheres to certain performance standards that reflect basic peer and community values.
The institutional self-assessment approach is frequently overlooked in policy debates about research oversight. This approach is commonly associated with highly specialized efforts, such as the accreditation of