SOURCE: Research Climate Measure

The Survey of Organizational Research Climate (SOURCE) is the only validated instrument specifically designed to measure empirically the climate of research integrity in academic organizations. It collects confidential responses from participants; responses have been shown to correlate with self-reported behavior in the conduct of research, so the SOURCE provides a snapshot of program and unit microclimates through the aggregated perspectives of their members. Its use also contributes to the overall climate for research integrity by contributing de-identified data to a national comparison database. For an insight into how SOURCE results relate to institutional research integrity, please see this Nature article on the subject. For our newest white paper on developing academic leaders, see Academic Leadership Development, Critical Capabilities at the Department Level.

Results can help individual academic and research institutions:

  • characterize and compare departmental research integrity climates,
  • assess the efficacy of educational and mentoring approaches,
  • detect where research policies or practices (e.g., concerning data management, etc.) might need attention through responsible conduct of research (RCR) instruction,
  • document and demonstrate for research sponsors institutional commitment to research integrity and RCR education,
  • and justify enhanced efforts to foster a climate of integrity education and quality research.

Running the SOURCE at intervals of two to four years will demonstrate a commitment to improving the research integrity climate and provide data to assess its effectiveness over time.

The survey contains 32 items (5 point Likert scales) plus classification information about respondents (rank, departmental affiliation, type of highest degree). It takes 10-15 minutes to complete online.

In addition to enabling confidential institution-specific reports on units and the campus as a whole, de-identified data will be compiled in a national comparison database so that the community as a whole may benefit. The norming initiative will permit home institution departments to be appropriately assessed with respect to other comparable units in the same discipline or endeavors.

How can you and your university run the SOURCE?

An organization that wishes to run the SOURCE can make arrangements to do so with the University of Illinois’ National Center for Professional and Research Ethics (NCPRE). The license fee is based on the number of proposed organizational units and level of support desired in interpretation and analysis.

Once the license with NCPRE is in place, an institution provides emails and names of participants with departmental affiliations and status (graduate student, post-doc, faculty member). NCPRE manages the survey administration.

The NCPRE SOURCE team sends emails via institutional email addresses seeking survey participation and follows up with reminders over a 4 week period.  Response rates during previous studies have ranged from 15-50%.

The NCPRE SOURCE team provides analyses used to generate the summary reports for the contracting institution. As part of building a national “norming” database for providing comparative data, NCPRE retains de-identified information with limited demographics for comparison and benchmark purposes.

For more detailed information on the procedures involved in implementing SOURCE at your institution, please contact us at: or 217-333-1416.