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Klimoski and Colleagues Receive a Grant from the HHS Office of Research Integrity

Building upon their studies of multidisciplinary teams, Rich Klimoski, Steve Zaccaro (Psychology) and Aurali Dade (Mason AVP for Development, Research, and Integrity) have been awarded a grant by the HHS Office of Research Integrity to research multidisciplinary teams’ integrity challenges.

Concerns around research integrity have grown exponentially in the last ten years. The issues extend beyond examples of data fabrication and plagiarism to include more nuanced cases including failure for scientists to perform as promised, disputed claims to intellectual property ownership, the inability to replicate findings or statistical standards for research quality. It has been recognized that such issues are frequently faced by scientists participating in what are conventionally described as multidisciplinary teams. But the challenges of managing integrity threats are exacerbated in scientific collective research where scientists are part of multiteam systems (MTSs). MTSs are made up of groups of teams, often themselves interdisciplinary in nature, that are brought together to solve problems that are significant in scale and scope.

Rich Klimoski, Steve Zaccaro, and Aurali Dade have developed a framework based on theories and models of Multi Team Systems describing how and why those charged with leading large scale science initiatives should be prepared to expect have to deal with threats to research integrity. The research grant recently awarded by the Office of Research Integrity, part of the Department of Health and Human Services will allow them to build out concrete examples of such challenges and how they have been dealt with at the time of their occurrence.

As Klimoski points out with such concrete examples at hand those responsible for administrating research at government agencies, proprietary labs or at universities would be better able to provide training or other forms of assistance to scientists-as-leaders so that they are better prepared to promote research integrity. The grant money will be used to conduct an archival study of cases documenting lapses of research integrity among multi-discipline science teams working on the same project. It will also be used to host a workshop on campus. This daylong event will bring together scientists who will be asked to identify research integrity challenges they have experienced. They will also share insights gained from leading multi-discipline, multi-team science initiatives which would have value in helping others to reduce the likelihood of integrity lapses arising or in limiting their potential negative impact on a scientific enterprise.

But there is a back-story here as well. Klimoski and Zaccaro became interested in this aspect of “big science” as a result of their own research conducted over the last 2 years at Mason on a set of multi-disciplinary science teams (of teams) funded by the Provost’s office. The Provost’s initiative was designed to stimulate research collaboration across disciplines and administrative units here at Mason. Qualitative data gathered on more than 24 of these science based “joint ventures” revealed some of the challenges associated with initially bringing the parties together to pursue a partnership in research. Their study also was able to document the kind of leadership required to effectively manage the teams of scientists coming from different disciplines, separate colleges, or business units.

Klimoski also reflects that there is some “sweet symmetry” to all of this. In effect, Klimoski and his colleagues had already been working as a multi-disciplinary team even while they were studying the Mason-based multi-disciplinary teams of teams. And now their federal grant will support their group as they function as a multi-disciplinary team (Business, Psychology, Research Administration) and as they study research integrity issues involving a larger set of MTS science initiatives across the US.

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Christina Batcheler

Christina Batcheler is a Program Operations & Public Relations Specialist with Research Partnerships & Grants Initiative, School of Business and Center for Assurance Research and Engineering (CARE), Volgenau School of Engineering, George Mason University. If you are a member of the media, please contact me at: cbatchel@gmu.edu. http://business.gmu.edu/partnerships-grants/ http://care.vse.gmu.edu/ Follow our tweets at: https://twitter.com/masoncyber

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