Many associations represent members that conduct research. Associations can help to support this vital activity by promoting research integrity, defined by the US Office of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity as ‘the adherence to high moral principles and ethical standards.’ There are many options, both big and small, for associations to choose from when supporting their members in pursuit of research integrity.
Why promote research integrity?
The volume of research conducted on a world-wide basis is enormous. According to Battelle and R&D Magazine’s Global R&D Funding Forecast, R&D spend is likely to have accounted for more than $1.6 trillion dollars globally in 2014. This investment in research supports advancement within economic fields and job growth, and ensures industry sectors remain relevant in the face of changing technology and economic trends. Broadly speaking, research also provides the framework for higher education and training, and creates interest that draws human resources to the field – it is often a part of what makes a field a true “profession.”
Case study examples
The American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) partnered with McKinley Advisors to evaluate the myriad ways that associations and professional societies promote research integrity among members as well as internally, with any research sponsored or conducted by the organization. The results are published in a newly released ASAE report, Responsible Conduct of Research: the Roles Associations Play in Promoting Research Integrity. The report includes numerous case studies and examples of practical ways that associations can effectively support members and staff in research efforts. Case studies and examples include:
- Training: Workshops, online presentations, books/publications, and comprehensive courses designed to provide education that raises the competency of researchers in designing, conducting and publishing research.
- Guidelines and standards: Association-driven position statements, best practices and standards that provide a minimum level of assurance that research is conducted ethically and responsibly in a field. Associations may enforce standards within membership, the field as a whole or may elect to not enforce standards.
- Mentoring: Peer-based training provided or facilitated by the association. Mentoring can take the form of individual or group formats.
- Staff guidance: Dedicated association staff that provide direct support and guidance to researchers, adjudicate concerns and issues, and provide expert opinion.
- Research-on-research: Research designed to improve conventional or new research methodologies, tackle “problems in the field,” and/or advance science.
- Financial support: Grants of financial support designed to directly support research efforts, subsidize education or professional development, or even stimulate new research, such as through prize contests in targeted research areas.
- Peer review: Peer review provided through journal publications or meetings that provides expert-level scrutiny of research and ensures research quality, helps protect the reputation of the field, and provides a vehicle for sharing and the advancement of knowledge.
- External resources: Linkages to resources outside of the association (e.g., Office of Research Integrity) that provide a variety of tools and guidance to researchers.
Creating and maintaining research integrity resources may require a small or great financial and staff commitment, depending on the scope of the activities, however: they may be worth considering for associations that represent members involved in R&D or science. Whether large or small, associations will find a great range of opportunities that provides options to plan a course that allows them to grow research integrity resources for members in a financially sustainable way.