We conducted semi-structured, telephone interviews with 52 federally funded researchers nominated as exemplars for their integrity and professional conduct, and their scientific achievements. The aim was to identify the practices they report utilizing to build respectful relationships in their teams. We found four practices, holding meetings, providing supervision and guidance, encouraging shared ownership, and expressing values, which were also important to performing high-quality, compliant research, were essential to fostering relationships. The most common practice described for building relationships was actively and deliberately cultivating a positive team environment. Additionally, exemplars described the need to lead by example, tailor their approach to the needs of individuals, address interpersonal conflict, and hire team members cautiously. We also identified practices the exemplars reported as important to managing the demands of their work and found that encouraging shared ownership and tailoring to individuals supported this goal. Additional strategies related to prioritization and planning, seeking advice, engaging in self-care, and managing emotional reactions. Finally, we identified priorities guiding the exemplars’ practices. Key priorities included providing outstanding mentoring, building collaborations and relationships, and engaging in discovery and innovation. Investigators require exceptional leadership skills but receive limited systematic leadership training. Addressing this gap would advance research excellence and integrity.
- research environment
- research integrity
- responsible conduct of research