Serious and continuing research noncompliance and integrity violations undermine the quality of research and trust in science. When researchers engage in these behaviors, institutional officials (IOs) often develop corrective action plans. Ideally, such plans address the root causes so noncompliance or research integrity violations discontinue. The aim of this study was to identify what IOs perceive as causes and action plan activities typically prescribed. We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 47 IOs at research institutions across the U.S. including: institutional review board and institutional animal care and use committee chairs and directors, chief research officers, research compliance and integrity officers, and institutional conflicts of interest chairs and directors. The most common root causes identified were: 1) lack of knowledge or training, 2) failure to provide research team supervision, and 3) researcher attitudes toward compliance. The most common action plan activities include: 1) retraining in compliance or research integrity, 2) follow-up and hands-on involvement with the researcher, and 3) mandated oversight or mentoring. Because the most commonly identified action plan activities fail to adequately address the majority of root causes, our findings suggest a need for IOs to rethink existing approaches to action plan development to more effectively target root causes.
- Corrective action plans
- research integrity violations
- research noncompliance
- researcher remediation