SOURCE Frequently Asked Questions

Can I review the actual items before deciding to contract with NCPRE to use the survey?

The SOURCE is a copyrighted tool that requires permission for use by contracting with NCPRE or via license from the survey authors.  Individuals may not use the survey items without permission, but a sample of the types of survey items asked on the SOURCE can be viewed by reading the article, table 2:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3594655/

Can I license a paper and pencil version of the SOURCE that organizations can administer/analyze themselves?

If you are interested in using the SOURCE at your organization, but would prefer to conduct the survey fielding, data cleaning, analysis, summarization and report generation internally, the SOURCE can be licensed independently of NCPRE. If you are interested in pursuing such licensing, please contact Dr. Carol R. Thrush at: thrushcarolr@uams.edu.

Can I add or modify question items?

The developers of the survey recognize that some contracting organizations may want to add descriptive or classifying questions that will allow them to subset survey responses along meaningful dimensions.  Such classification items may be placed in the survey prior to the research integrity climate measures themselves.

The addition of up to 10 items is allowed within the standard license.

Changes to the wording or phrasing of any SOURCE items are not permitted without written consent. In some cases, users may also wish to add one or more substantive question items about their organizational climates which will be placed after the SOURCE items.

Should we survey a sample of organizational members or the entire universe of members?

The SOURCE is most appropriate to use with organizational members who are engaged in research.  Because the survey is intended to provide results for discrete organizational units, sampling may reduce the data below the number necessary to protect confidentiality.  Therefore, in most organizations assessing the universe of research participants is recommended.  In fielding the survey, one should be cognizant of the size and distribution of organizational units to be included.  It is our experience that the climate of integrity inheres in small, face-to-face work groups that have common physical proximity, goals, or supervision.  The more closely one can measure the climate in these small units, the better one will be able to use the SOURCE to improve overall research integrity and consistency across the institution.  Averaging scores across an entire institution or large division may mix and muddle smaller units with varying climates.  It would be difficult in such circumstances to use the SOURCE results for quality improvement.  Beyond this, in some places where there may be meaningful subunits more granular than the department level, to further understand such nuances may require alternative qualitative or other methods.

Is the SOURCE appropriate for use with undergraduate as well as graduate students and faculty?

The SOURCE is not recommended for populations such as undergraduate students who are not engaged in research or some graduate students (e.g., those in course-based masters programs, where the direct experience of research climates is unlikely). Experience shows that they will exhibit a high tendency to choose “No Basis for Judging” responses.

Do I need to get IRB approval before contracting with NCPRE to administer the SOURCE at my organization?

If you are not conducting the SOURCE for research purposes but for internal quality improvement only, and you never plan to publish any of your results then IRB approval may not be required.  However, it is always a good idea to check with an IRB representative at your institution if you have any questions.  If you plan to use the SOURCE for research purposes, you will need to pursue IRB review or exemption at your organization.

Are there other Institutional Review Board (IRB) considerations?

The SOURCE was originally designed to be used in settings where institutions have a commitment to follow through on research integrity regulations and policies governing research activities.  Typically, such organizations will have requirements for review of proposed research such as by Institutional Review Boards, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, Institutional Biosafety Committees, Stem-Cell Research Oversight Committees and the like.  Additionally, these institutions will have made a commitment to training and outreach surrounding responsible conduct of research more generally.

How do you protect our data and participants’ privacy?

When contracting with NCPRE to administer the survey for your organization, NCPRE receives names and e-mail addresses of its Customers and of intended Survey Participants for the purposes of administering the Survey and for providing the Customer/Administrator with survey reports.  Beyond the NCPRE team, this information is not shared with anyone other than the Customer.

NCPRE will report only aggregated results of the survey, with no individual information provided to the contracting institution; all responses are aggregated at the department or similar organization level. As each response is submitted, the NCPRE SOURCE system will separate individual answers from any of the identifying information and the identifying information will be permanently deleted. No individual responses or data will ever be reported and no group with fewer than five people responding will be reported. The very low risk of breach of confidentiality is protected against by removing identifiers and only reporting aggregated data. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary.

Because the SOURCE administration and data analysis occurs at NCPRE, participating institutions are blinded to which of their members have or have not responded to the survey.

Because no individually-identifiable data is ever associated with the results, retained by NCPRE or provided to the home institution, survey reports are not human subject research. All SOURCE administration procedures have been reviewed and approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board.

Aggregated, de-identified data are retained by NCPRE and are owned by the contracting organization. All reports with aggregated information, belong to contracting institution; identifying data is discarded as part of survey administration process. NCPRE retains rights to use the aggregated, de-identified data in the future for unanticipated purposes.

What standard reporting is available?

Mean values for SOURCE scales and items are, by default, reported at the following levels, for the institution as a whole, for departments/work units (defined by institution) but with comparisons by standardized taxonomy; for work roles reported by aggregated groupings. Standard aggregation output will include the equivalent of an Excel workbook in which each worksheet will mean values of survey items for a given departmental unit/work group. The columns of each such worksheet will represent work-role categories, the rows represent individual SOURCE items, and the cell values for each row by cell combination will contain the mean value of the question item based on all valid data from respondents in a given work-role category. Cells in which the mean value would be based on fewer than five valid responses will be redacted throughout this workbook.

Can I get additional analyses beyond those in the standard report?

Additional summary analyses beyond the standard reports may be desired, for instance to obtain scale or item means for standard SOURCE measures grouped by classification variables other than work-group and work-role, or for substantive items that the contracting organization may have requested to be added to the survey.  NCPRE is able to conduct such analyses, but some additional costs beyond those covered by the contract will likely be incurred to cover the staff time required.

Can the instrument be translated from English into another language?

The developers of the SOURCE welcome discussion about translating the tool.  The most obvious issue might appear to be whether the tool could be translated from English into some native language.  However, we encourage potential users to also consider the question of whether the content of the SOURCE covers all of the appropriate domains of concern for the particular system of science in a specific country and the applicability and translatability of language and concepts or language may not be applicable in other countries. Governmental oversight bodies of research differ by country (human subjects’ protection entities).  Other governmental regulations or restrictions may also need to be considered.  Import and export rules regarding exchange of data may also need to be considered by the user.

How much does it cost?

Please contact NCPRE at ncpre-source@illinois.edu for costs.  NCPRE sets pricing to cover costs only, and these levels vary somewhat as our assessment of costs continues.


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