iREDS

Affiliated institutions: University of California Riverside

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Description: The University of California, Riverside (UCR) proposes a new campus initiative for the cultivation of ethical climates and practices in STEM research, using a novel online communications platform combined with a project-based training designed to be compatible with that platform. We plan to deploy and evaluate a campus-wide interdisciplinary project, Institutional Re-engineering Ethical Discourse in STEM (iREDS), by examining the effects of two randomized interventions, separately and combined, and in comparison with a fourth control group receiving the standard ethics training that currently exists on campus. The overarching goal is to re-engineer ethical discourse in STEM research at the university. The project's methods use a randomized control trial (RCT) two factor design that enables both between-lab comparison among randomly assigned intervention groups and within-lab comparison over time. iREDS will introduce to selected groups of labs a free, web-based scientific communication platform, the Open Science Framework (OSF), as an everyday part of lab project workflows. The standard OSF training and its use in practice should foster more fluent communication within research groups, enhancing research methods transparency. Two other groups of labs will engage in project-based, peer-delivered ethics training, either as stand-alone or as an integrated supplement to the OSF. The peer-delivered ethics training engages lab personnel in deliberations on the ethical dimensions of the federally-funded projects in which they are engaged. Effects of the full treatment, project-based training as part of the OSF platform will be compared with OSF-only training (no project-based supplement), the stand alone project-training (no OSF presence), and a group of labs exposed to neither. We will combine quantitative comparisons of outcomes between these groups with an in-depth ethnographic study of representative labs; the ethnographic study will provide insights into the lab-level determinants of ethical climate and into the sources of heterogeneous responses to our interventions.

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