Proven Practices


Solid relationships depend on effective communication. A culture of responsibility and integrity is only as strong as the trust among its constituents. Communication that flows in all directions throughout an institution, builds trust, capacity, ownership of ideals, and support. When the messages people perceive and internalize are about fundamental research integrity and compliance issues, it becomes even more important to get the message right… and for the right reasons.

Proven Practices

Two way communication

  • Make it clear in all communications (written and oral) that you invite and welcome feedback
  • Create a safe space to have difficult conversations
  • Encourage open dialogue about research integrity/compliance within your department/office
  • Communicate often – look for places to initiate conversations
  • Share news stories
    • Google Alerts and Retraction Watch can be good resources for current news items

Show interest in the research your position supports

  • Ask faculty about the focus of their research
    • Attend seminars and research presentations
    • Invite faculty and/or research staff to your office for a brief presentation
    • Show that you respect the work that you support
    • By understanding their day-to-day you can better manage compliance expectations and processes

Be available to assist when questions and concerns come up

  • Be sure to follow up – if you do not know the answer, direct them to someone who does
  • Reach out to subject matter experts when needed to understand a situation
    • Find institutional compliance partners – who are the information keepers:
      • IRB – Institutional Review Board – Human Research Protection
      • PB – Privacy Board - HIPAA
      • IACUC – Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee – Animal Welfare
      • IBC – Institutional Biosafety Committee – rDNA and research with biohazards
      • EHS – Environmental Health and Safety – Chemicals, Fire, Bloodborne Pathogens, PPE – Protective Personal Equipment
      • RSC – Radiation Safety Committee
      • ESCRO – Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight – hESC, hSPC, Gametes, Human Embryos
      • FCOI – Financial Conflicts of Interest
      • RIO – Research Integrity Officer – for allegations of research misconduct
      • Internal Audit
      • Legal Counsel
      • Human Resources – employee code of conduct, respect in the workplace
      • Information Security – Cloud Storage, International travel with devices

Senior leadership should be communicating expectations about research integrity issues regularly and with a consistent message

Provide resources and helpful information about research integrity (See Education)

Be transparent and inclusive about programs and initiatives

Being proactive, instead of always reactive helps build trust

  • Focus on transparency and solving potential problems before they become problems

Offer high quality research integrity promotional material (See Education)

Use a variety of communication strategies to deliver information and to strengthen relationships – know your audience (See Education)

Don’t discount one-on-one meetings for relationship building

  • Acknowledge the complexity of requirements that faculty are asked to manage
  • Engage in relationships with faculty who are likely to have complex ethical issues arise with their research

Highlight the importance of underlying regulations and sponsor requirements

Identify research integrity champions who can help to spread the message

  • Dedicated research integrity website, bulletin, face-to-face meetings, social media strategy

Use positive focus on research integrity and how it supports research, rather than negative voice and examples in communications

Go to leadership with a vision, focusing on positive outcomes of research integrity programs and bring solutions (not just problems)

  • Yet, do not shield leadership from real issues – make sure they are aware and update them often about research integrity/compliance allegations and violations
  • Request resources when needed

Walk the talk – make sure your behavior is aligned with the expectations you are communicating

Identify synergies and reduce burden whenever possible

An Research Integrity and Compliance implementation plan is discussed at research and governing committees

Take appropriate actions (accountability), communicate why those actions were taken and use this as a learning example where appropriate

Use specific examples from elsewhere to highlight the importance of research integrity (See Education)

Make regular reports to the Audit Committee on research integrity/compliance issues

Provide engaging presentations, make your point and ask for audience participation (See Education)

Be clear and concise in email communications, make sure to use a relevant subject line and ask for a pre-review prior to sending important messages

Preserve the record when necessary using appropriate safeguards for security and respect for confidentiality, have less formal conversations to encourage openness when needed

Use active listening techniques

  • Don’t make assumptions, paraphrase, and ask for clarification when needed
  • Even when skeptical provide consistent advice – maintain composure, do not jump to conclusions, practice neutral body language, and tone of voice

Work together to find appropriate solutions to problems that arise – “Problem-Solving Approach”

Reports and forms are also communication vehicles – make sure that the appropriate questions are being asked, they are being carefully reviewed, and the finished products are properly stored and safeguarded