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Research Climate

The Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) is committed to supporting equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) in research, on our campus, and in our community to promote a dynamic, innovative, and robust research and entrepreneurial workforce. Along with three new funding mechanisms in 2020-2021 that will facilitate inclusive excellence in the University of Utah (UU) research community and provide grant writing support services to investigators experiencing hardship, the VPR office will be implementing One U EDI processes that ensure accountability in the research climate.

These processes, which are under development or being refined with community input, will be fully implemented by July 1, 2021. The processes include:

(1) measure and track campus-wide and unit commitments to diversity in research; 

(2) provide training in implicit bias for researchers; and

(3) augment research education to

(a) address issues related to EDI for new faculty and staff and
(b) mandate refresher courses for anti-racism, anti-discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, microaggressions, bystander training and responsible conduct of research for the entire research community.

The goals of these programs are to (1) improve the research climate of our institution to support an EDI environment for researchers and participants at the UU, (2) heighten the integrity of the research process, and (3) ensure that the research enterprise is accessible to current and prospective investigators and participants of all backgrounds.

The three new internal mechanisms to support EDI-related activities in research are as follows:

1. Demographic Analytics that Assess EDI in the Research Community

There is clear evidence to demonstrate that diversity of the scientific community facilitates problem solving and enhances innovative discoveries. Accordingly, the VPR will assess EDI and its relationship to campus-wide and unit level research. These data will serve as a baseline for the development and strengthening of plans that promote an EDI environment. Specifically, the VPR office will:

  • Track the relationship of gender, race/ethnicity, and class to research outcomes, as initially measured by awards and proposals*. Baseline data will serve as a benchmark to create actionable goals that are focused on improving diversity of research at the college-level, addressing pay equity, and mandating participation in research education EDI training. The data will be annually evaluated as part of F&A distributions to qualifying units.
    • Correlations between diversity and productivity will also be assessed to determine if diversity in research is associated with heightened research productivity at the UU.

  • Support infrastructure to increase and measure the diversity of research participants for all approved human subject protocols and clinical trials conducted at the UU. Working with the Research Participant Advocacy office informed consent forms will be translated into other languages and community outreach for recruitment will be improved by providing information about research opportunities to more diverse and representative participant populations and individuals. Training in how to recruit and retain diverse participants will be provided.  Baseline data will be obtained and reviewed every year to track progress.

*Data analysis requires receiving demographic data from OBIA and linking to the research portal.

2. Implicit Bias Training for UU Researchers

To promote an EDI environment in research, understanding systematic bias in the review of grant applications and toward applicants is necessary. However, most research investigators/staff have never engaged in implicit bias training. Accordingly, the VPR office will implement the following:

  • Incorporate Implicit Bias training into the Research Education (REd) training series. This training will include videos, groups discussions, case studies, and a certification of completion. All new investigators (e.g., faculty, post-doctoral fellows, pre-doctoral fellows, etc.) and research staff will participate in this REd training series where they will receive Implicit Bias training.  Refresher Implicit Bias training will be offered to seasoned investigative teams.
  • Provide Implicit Bias Training for all new internal seed grant awardees. New extramurally funded awardees will be encouraged to participate in Implicit Bias Training.
  • Provide Implicit Bias Training for internal seed grant reviewers, and recommend this training for reviewers who participate in NIH, NSF, and other federal review committees.

3. Improve the Integrity of the Research Climate

One-time attendance in educational offerings about EDI and other issues related to EDI (i.e., responsible conduct of research (RCR), bullying, sexual harassment, research misconduct, discrimination, etc.) is not sufficient to improve our institutional research climate.  Continuous engagement with education/training to promote an EDI environment and research integrity needs to be part of our day-to-day research operations.  The VPR office is:

  • Partnering with the Graduate School to require RCR training for all graduate students. 4 hours of RCR training is now part of the official transcript for graduation.
  • Collaborating with the Department of Philosophy and CCTS to (a) teach research ethics for graduate students and faculty and (b) offer a new Research Ethics Consultation service through the Office of Research Integrity & Compliance. (These courses will be another option to existing research ethic courses.) The research ethics consults will be led by a tenure-track Associate Professor from the Department of Philosophy who was hired on July 1, 2020.
  • Providing training through REd on in RCR, bullying, sexual harassment, research misconduct, discrimination, racism, and other emerging areas as new faculty and staff are who engage in research are on-boarded. Refresher courses will also be offered and encouraged for all existing faculty and staff with active research programs.
  • Working with the university community to develop institution-wide policies in the research context to address authorship, professional misconduct (i.e., sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying), and research misconduct.
  • Require all internal grant proposals to include an EDI section plan for their proposal. This could include statements that their personnel have completed required EDI trainings above and other efforts/measure they will take that would ensure that the project/proposal is consistent with the institutions EDI vision.
Last Updated: 6/8/22