Elephant in the Lab

Sabine Müller

On creating a good research environment

31 March 2021 | doi:10.5281/zenodo.463628 | 1 Comment

On creating a good research environment

Sabine Müller on the hierarchical system of German academia and why it could be a problem for the wellbeing of young academics and Ph.D. candidates. She compares it to her experiences at Oxford University and sheds light on the differences between the two research cultures.

how to make a research environment

“Researchers say that their working culture is best when it is collaborative, inclusive, supportive and creative, when researchers are given time to focus on their research priorities, when leadership is transparent and open, and when individuals have a sense of safety and security. But too often research culture is not at its best.” [“What researchers think about the culture they work in”, Wellcome Trust and Shift Learning (London 2020), p. 3 (subsequently referred to as “What researchers think”)] The executive summary of the 2020 Wellcome Trust study on research culture goes on to describe how “many [researchers] are often missing out on critical aspects of good management … [a]nd worse, many have experienced exploitation, discrimination, harassment and bullying.” Notably, members of minority groups more often experience the latter. These results echo those of previous surveys, such as those conducted by Advance HE or the journal Nature in the UK – and which illustrate that these issues are on the radar of public debate. (Woolston, 2019) The situation in Germany is hardly any different, though of course data in Germany is scarce and hardly sufficient to make any reliable statements about early career researchers’ emotional situation. (Most notably, the German Centre for High Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) runs a National Academics Panel Study since 2017 which promises to give further data on the condition and well-being of doctoral researchers.) Notably, existing studies are frequently a reaction to incidents that reached public attention (Albott, 2019), or rely on surveys by the concerned group such as by the networks of doctoral researchers of non-university research organisations. Accordingly, the existence of guidelines for managing power abuse or mental health are confined to institutions which have struggled with cases. Otherwise the silence on the topic by reputable research organisations such as the DFG or the academies is overwhelming . The reasons for this gap may be manifold. German academia is not immune to the complex range of problems such as non-transparent leadership, a lack of inclusiveness, harassment or mental health issues which resist a positive research culture. Each of these issues by themselves has numerous causes, but all of them are amplified by a system which lays “an excessive focus on measuring performance” as well as institutional structures such as the accumulation of responsibilities and decision making as well as steep hierarchies. (Shore & Wright, 1999) It is the latter aspects which I would like to focus on as crucial elements required in order to foster a cultural change for a positive research environment, and which, compared to the bigger systemic issues could be rather easily fixed.

As a career development adviser in Germany, I was frequently confronted with the following “argument” during discussions with senior researchers about the working conditions of early career researchers: “It was like this when I did my PhD, so why should that not work nowadays?” I always wondered what exactly this was meant to say? Unpacking this claim to myself it seems to implicitly suggest 1) the person, too, did not attain their PhD in good conditions, 2) but the fact that they succeeded makes them think that it was not so bad after all. Is the rationale behind this that a “rough school” toughens people up to prepare them for academic life? In fact, I often also heard that doctoral researchers today are not only too sensitive but too demanding. But is the consequence that only people who are willing to toughen up stay in academia? Besides the questionable psychological rationale, I wonder whether we really think that this is what academia needs: tough personalities? Putting aside the universe of unconscious biases which is touched by such a question, shouldn’t academic work and life not be guided – even more than any other branches of the labour market – by the principle of reason, multiperspectivity, openness, integrity and such, rather than of the dull workings of unconscious bias and self-perpetuation? And should the system not aim to do everything for those qualities to be able to unfold and thrive? Responding to such a statement from my own personal experience, I often felt awkward since I did not share this experience. And this difference in the culture of dealing with issues such as discrimination, mental health, diversity and welfare, as well as power abuse has struck me most notably upon my return to Germany after I had spent eight years at the University of Oxford taking up a position in career development in a research organisation. My experience during my doctoral and postdoctoral research was a very positive one – in many respects, I had the time of my life – and I felt that encouraging people to create an environment for such a good experience would be crucial. In the following piece, I focus on some landmarks of this positive (!) experience in my academic career in order to point to how a fundamental change of culture needs to be human centered, and attend to individual experience. 

I was granted a first memorable insight into a different mind-set before I left for my one year Master’s, which led to my doctoral research at the University of Oxford. I was confronted with the choice between 32 colleges. I was inclined to apply at the college to which my future supervisor was affiliated – a thought which very much agreed with the logic of the German system I was socialized in where doctoral researchers are frequently not only naturally affiliated with the “Lehrstuhl” of their supervisors but also seem to enter into a sort of patronship relation expressed in the still prevalent German term “Doktorvater/-mutter”. However, my supervisor asked me to consider that in case of disagreement or conflict, it would be advantageous to be able to have an independent college adviser to turn to. The sense of responsibility expressed in this thoughtfulness with respect to providing an environment to my advantage profoundly shaped my own actions along the subsequent years as doctoral and postdoctoral researcher, as senior subject tutor and lecturer at Oxford University and beyond. Supervision training might help, but can only partly address the care at work here. The ambition to promote your doctoral researcher, so that s/he can realise her/his potential is connected to a sense of duty to pay attention to the welfare of your supervisee. This attention is promoted and aided by structural aspects. Beside my supervisor – who I am lucky to say was a most conscious and inspiring researcher with whom I met every other week, and who conscientiously read every essay, chapter or anything else I ever submitted – I was then assigned a college adviser. In my case this person was an éminence grise in my field who, as tradition would have it, invited me to a talk at the fireplace and imparted his wisdom to me – and, last but not least, a faculty adviser who was there to offer further opportunities to talk about the programme of my thesis and to whom both my supervisor and I had to submit a progress report by the end of each term. Moreover, the degree at Oxford has a clear milestone system in which supervision and assessment are separated from each other: the vivas for the transfer of status as “Probationer Research Student” to DPhil Candidate after one year into your degree as well as the confirmation of status after two years is taken by two faculty members. The assessment of the submitted final dissertation lies in the hands of an internal and external examiner. This way of organization ensures that the role of the supervisor is focused to act as adviser and to support their supervisee as best as they can. Of course, this means some control for the supervision process: Failure to bring your supervisee to successfully finish their degree will not have consequences for any academic but is not as easily obscured by the possibility to drag the doctoral research on or by marking the thesis accordingly. At the same time, the shared roles opened the opportunity for me, as the supervisee to connect and frankly discuss with other senior academics who took my work seriously. 

Thus, the transparency of a clear milestone system, which details what is expected from the student as well as the separation of the roles of supervision, monitoring and assessment, has the potential to minimise the risk of power abuse and lifts the weight from the relation between supervisors from the start. It affords the supervisee the opportunity to discuss her or his work throughout the process with various researchers, to gain more perspectives and develop an independence of thought and a network from the get-go. Combined with the opportunity to frequently share your intellectual thoughts with established experts in your field and beyond made doctoral and postdoctoral research particularly worthwhile.

I would like to add that as a senior subject tutor for German Studies I experienced the advantages of this disentanglement of examination and supervision for myself: the faculty assigns a committee which designs the end of year exams. Marking and assessment were organised anonymously in an annual rotating system of examiners. Both procedures entail multiple advantages: not only do they limit the power of tutor or supervisor but they also relieve both from that burden of power. Not being the examiner, you can truly fulfil the role as adviser, coach and teacher and accompany your students along their development. Reaching out to your tutor or supervisor is easier, if you do not have to fear any repercussion on your performance. In this context, I also learned to appreciate the carefully built college and university community which provided a network to support students and lecturers alike. It ranges from the so-called common rooms with their mentor for freshers and trained peer advisers to college and university counsellors as well support staff for people of various religious and ethnical background on campus. Coming from a German university, this amount of attention and care which unloaded over my head was at first rather overwhelming and I confess I thought it unnecessary. But over the years, I learned to appreciate this culture which aspired to keep people well and enable them to enjoy their time at the university. Especially later, as a senior subject tutor, when my contract stated in no uncertain terms that tasks comprised the welfare of my students, this community recognised the limits of my competencies and acknowledged the need for welfare offers. 

Another major landmark remains the handling of admission and application procedures. Perhaps it is worth explaining that student admissions at Oxford is a highly professional and formal process which stretches over two weeks in December after the autumn term. Not only are we dealing with standardised applications which aim to highlight the potential of each candidate. Each applicant invited to interviews has the right to get at least two interviews with different academics to assess their performance. In fact, it is a very intricate system with the objective to select students with high potential, no matter their background. In my first year, I was asked to write the protocol for admission interviews and even for that rather small task, I had to complete an online course on legal liabilities, correct interview methods, harassment, discrimination and the mechanism of unconscious bias. As senior subject tutor responsible for admissions in your subject area, I had to take another, more extensive course with on- and offline elements. These courses were a necessary eye-opener to topics which had never been addressed, even in the student council of my German university. It set my expectations of what I consider to be a professional application procedure and to this day I find it hard to accept that none of this type of elementary interview training, which raises awareness of everyone’s unconscious blind spots concerning bias and awareness, is a required standard at German universities or research organisations. It would be easy to implement part of a structured onboarding for each and every academic at the university and at least make the recruiting procedure a bit fairer. 

To sum up, I would like to make clear that I am aware that problems prevail in the UK, as the quoted Wellcome Trust study illustrates. I also want to point out that reason why welfare at Oxford and Cambridge is paid such attention is not entirely altruistic: for a long time, these Universities had to deal with the reproach of higher suicide rates – a critique which cannot be sustained (Hawton et al., 2012).  In addition, it is often pointed out that these institutions are only accessible to elites, which, at an undergraduate level, is very true. At the same time, Oxbridge institutions  understand that in order to attract the best academics they have to cater to people’s wellbeing as human beings in every aspect. So strategic deliberations and monetary concerns are certainly central drivers for the implementation. However, this does not devalue the learnings from such an experience: a collaborative, open, transparent and overall friendly environment relies on the mind-set of the academics who acknowledge the responsibility for their supervisees. This mind-set is supported by structures that foster transparency, independence and exchange by clearly laying out the demands and milestones of a doctoral course (without the need to make people go back to school) by separating the roles of supervision, monitoring and assessment, by carefully building a community with low-threshold support structures catering to various backgrounds as well as training to raise awareness to biases, harassment, stress symptoms etc. None of these suggestions are new but maybe not enough people have experienced how powerful they can be in their small workings and, thus, not enough people can or want to pass on this kind of experience.

Albott, Alison: Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society investigates new allegations of abuse, in Nature (online) (9 July 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05668-y / doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-05668-y

Hawton K., Bergen H et.al : University Students over a 30-years period, in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemology 47 (2012), p.43-51, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-010-0310-3 (a summary is provided: https://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/publications/168323 ). Further information can be obtained at the Office for National statistics :

Shore, C., & Wright, S. (1999). Audit Culture and Anthropology: Neo-Liberalism in British Higher Education. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5(4), 557-575. doi: 10.2307/2661148 See also:  “A cry for help”, in Nature 575 (14 November 2019), p.257-258: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03489-1

Woolston, Cristof: PhDs: torturous truths, in Nature 575 (13 November 2019), p.403-406 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03459-7

Obviously Anonymous

Thanks for this, Sabine. You very well present the PhD scholar’s perspective. From a professor’s or supervisor’s perspective it is in my view even worse. I remember one of my first PhD examinations in Germany – not as a supervisor. I thought the PhD was really poor and wanted to be nice and make it pass but give it a very bad mark. I talk to a colleagues about this and she adviced me “Are you crazy, you cannot do that!! His supervisor will interpret this as an open war”. I learnt that the assessment of a PhD candidate is also assessment of the supervisor, so if you want to punish a colleague who has not supported you in another situation, you can do it by marking his candidate poorly. The other way around as well, of course: you’ll give high marks to the the PhD candidates of your friends. You can imagine yourself what kind of informal “economy” that goes on among supervisors/professors. I have been part of many PhD examinations, and I tell you that there is no system at all of good candidates getting good marks and bad candidates getting bad marks. What is negotiated at a PhD examination is very much the standing of the professors and their interrelations. A feudal system.

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Sabine Müller is currently Adviser for Education and Participation in the Digital World at Wikimedia Deutschland. Before, she was a research consultant for humanities and educational research as well as career development at the head office of the Leibniz Association. She holds a DPhil from Oxford University where she also worked as senior subject tutor for German Studies at St John’s and Magdalen College as well as affiliate postdoc on embodied cognition and narration.

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  • What Is a Research Design | Types, Guide & Examples

What Is a Research Design | Types, Guide & Examples

Published on June 7, 2021 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023 by Pritha Bhandari.

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question  using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about:

  • Your overall research objectives and approach
  • Whether you’ll rely on primary research or secondary research
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods
  • The procedures you’ll follow to collect data
  • Your data analysis methods

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research objectives and that you use the right kind of analysis for your data.

Table of contents

Step 1: consider your aims and approach, step 2: choose a type of research design, step 3: identify your population and sampling method, step 4: choose your data collection methods, step 5: plan your data collection procedures, step 6: decide on your data analysis strategies, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research design.

  • Introduction

Before you can start designing your research, you should already have a clear idea of the research question you want to investigate.

There are many different ways you could go about answering this question. Your research design choices should be driven by your aims and priorities—start by thinking carefully about what you want to achieve.

The first choice you need to make is whether you’ll take a qualitative or quantitative approach.

Qualitative approach Quantitative approach
and describe frequencies, averages, and correlations about relationships between variables

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible and inductive , allowing you to adjust your approach based on what you find throughout the research process.

Quantitative research designs tend to be more fixed and deductive , with variables and hypotheses clearly defined in advance of data collection.

It’s also possible to use a mixed-methods design that integrates aspects of both approaches. By combining qualitative and quantitative insights, you can gain a more complete picture of the problem you’re studying and strengthen the credibility of your conclusions.

Practical and ethical considerations when designing research

As well as scientific considerations, you need to think practically when designing your research. If your research involves people or animals, you also need to consider research ethics .

  • How much time do you have to collect data and write up the research?
  • Will you be able to gain access to the data you need (e.g., by travelling to a specific location or contacting specific people)?
  • Do you have the necessary research skills (e.g., statistical analysis or interview techniques)?
  • Will you need ethical approval ?

At each stage of the research design process, make sure that your choices are practically feasible.

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Within both qualitative and quantitative approaches, there are several types of research design to choose from. Each type provides a framework for the overall shape of your research.

Types of quantitative research designs

Quantitative designs can be split into four main types.

  • Experimental and   quasi-experimental designs allow you to test cause-and-effect relationships
  • Descriptive and correlational designs allow you to measure variables and describe relationships between them.
Type of design Purpose and characteristics
Experimental relationships effect on a
Quasi-experimental )

With descriptive and correlational designs, you can get a clear picture of characteristics, trends and relationships as they exist in the real world. However, you can’t draw conclusions about cause and effect (because correlation doesn’t imply causation ).

Experiments are the strongest way to test cause-and-effect relationships without the risk of other variables influencing the results. However, their controlled conditions may not always reflect how things work in the real world. They’re often also more difficult and expensive to implement.

Types of qualitative research designs

Qualitative designs are less strictly defined. This approach is about gaining a rich, detailed understanding of a specific context or phenomenon, and you can often be more creative and flexible in designing your research.

The table below shows some common types of qualitative design. They often have similar approaches in terms of data collection, but focus on different aspects when analyzing the data.

Type of design Purpose and characteristics
Grounded theory

Your research design should clearly define who or what your research will focus on, and how you’ll go about choosing your participants or subjects.

In research, a population is the entire group that you want to draw conclusions about, while a sample is the smaller group of individuals you’ll actually collect data from.

Defining the population

A population can be made up of anything you want to study—plants, animals, organizations, texts, countries, etc. In the social sciences, it most often refers to a group of people.

For example, will you focus on people from a specific demographic, region or background? Are you interested in people with a certain job or medical condition, or users of a particular product?

The more precisely you define your population, the easier it will be to gather a representative sample.

  • Sampling methods

Even with a narrowly defined population, it’s rarely possible to collect data from every individual. Instead, you’ll collect data from a sample.

To select a sample, there are two main approaches: probability sampling and non-probability sampling . The sampling method you use affects how confidently you can generalize your results to the population as a whole.

Probability sampling Non-probability sampling

Probability sampling is the most statistically valid option, but it’s often difficult to achieve unless you’re dealing with a very small and accessible population.

For practical reasons, many studies use non-probability sampling, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations and carefully consider potential biases. You should always make an effort to gather a sample that’s as representative as possible of the population.

Case selection in qualitative research

In some types of qualitative designs, sampling may not be relevant.

For example, in an ethnography or a case study , your aim is to deeply understand a specific context, not to generalize to a population. Instead of sampling, you may simply aim to collect as much data as possible about the context you are studying.

In these types of design, you still have to carefully consider your choice of case or community. You should have a clear rationale for why this particular case is suitable for answering your research question .

For example, you might choose a case study that reveals an unusual or neglected aspect of your research problem, or you might choose several very similar or very different cases in order to compare them.

Data collection methods are ways of directly measuring variables and gathering information. They allow you to gain first-hand knowledge and original insights into your research problem.

You can choose just one data collection method, or use several methods in the same study.

Survey methods

Surveys allow you to collect data about opinions, behaviors, experiences, and characteristics by asking people directly. There are two main survey methods to choose from: questionnaires and interviews .

Questionnaires Interviews

Observation methods

Observational studies allow you to collect data unobtrusively, observing characteristics, behaviors or social interactions without relying on self-reporting.

Observations may be conducted in real time, taking notes as you observe, or you might make audiovisual recordings for later analysis. They can be qualitative or quantitative.

Quantitative observation

Other methods of data collection

There are many other ways you might collect data depending on your field and topic.

Field Examples of data collection methods
Media & communication Collecting a sample of texts (e.g., speeches, articles, or social media posts) for data on cultural norms and narratives
Psychology Using technologies like neuroimaging, eye-tracking, or computer-based tasks to collect data on things like attention, emotional response, or reaction time
Education Using tests or assignments to collect data on knowledge and skills
Physical sciences Using scientific instruments to collect data on things like weight, blood pressure, or chemical composition

If you’re not sure which methods will work best for your research design, try reading some papers in your field to see what kinds of data collection methods they used.

Secondary data

If you don’t have the time or resources to collect data from the population you’re interested in, you can also choose to use secondary data that other researchers already collected—for example, datasets from government surveys or previous studies on your topic.

With this raw data, you can do your own analysis to answer new research questions that weren’t addressed by the original study.

Using secondary data can expand the scope of your research, as you may be able to access much larger and more varied samples than you could collect yourself.

However, it also means you don’t have any control over which variables to measure or how to measure them, so the conclusions you can draw may be limited.

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As well as deciding on your methods, you need to plan exactly how you’ll use these methods to collect data that’s consistent, accurate, and unbiased.

Planning systematic procedures is especially important in quantitative research, where you need to precisely define your variables and ensure your measurements are high in reliability and validity.


Some variables, like height or age, are easily measured. But often you’ll be dealing with more abstract concepts, like satisfaction, anxiety, or competence. Operationalization means turning these fuzzy ideas into measurable indicators.

If you’re using observations , which events or actions will you count?

If you’re using surveys , which questions will you ask and what range of responses will be offered?

You may also choose to use or adapt existing materials designed to measure the concept you’re interested in—for example, questionnaires or inventories whose reliability and validity has already been established.

Reliability and validity

Reliability means your results can be consistently reproduced, while validity means that you’re actually measuring the concept you’re interested in.

Reliability Validity
) )

For valid and reliable results, your measurement materials should be thoroughly researched and carefully designed. Plan your procedures to make sure you carry out the same steps in the same way for each participant.

If you’re developing a new questionnaire or other instrument to measure a specific concept, running a pilot study allows you to check its validity and reliability in advance.

Sampling procedures

As well as choosing an appropriate sampling method , you need a concrete plan for how you’ll actually contact and recruit your selected sample.

That means making decisions about things like:

  • How many participants do you need for an adequate sample size?
  • What inclusion and exclusion criteria will you use to identify eligible participants?
  • How will you contact your sample—by mail, online, by phone, or in person?

If you’re using a probability sampling method , it’s important that everyone who is randomly selected actually participates in the study. How will you ensure a high response rate?

If you’re using a non-probability method , how will you avoid research bias and ensure a representative sample?

Data management

It’s also important to create a data management plan for organizing and storing your data.

Will you need to transcribe interviews or perform data entry for observations? You should anonymize and safeguard any sensitive data, and make sure it’s backed up regularly.

Keeping your data well-organized will save time when it comes to analyzing it. It can also help other researchers validate and add to your findings (high replicability ).

On its own, raw data can’t answer your research question. The last step of designing your research is planning how you’ll analyze the data.

Quantitative data analysis

In quantitative research, you’ll most likely use some form of statistical analysis . With statistics, you can summarize your sample data, make estimates, and test hypotheses.

Using descriptive statistics , you can summarize your sample data in terms of:

  • The distribution of the data (e.g., the frequency of each score on a test)
  • The central tendency of the data (e.g., the mean to describe the average score)
  • The variability of the data (e.g., the standard deviation to describe how spread out the scores are)

The specific calculations you can do depend on the level of measurement of your variables.

Using inferential statistics , you can:

  • Make estimates about the population based on your sample data.
  • Test hypotheses about a relationship between variables.

Regression and correlation tests look for associations between two or more variables, while comparison tests (such as t tests and ANOVAs ) look for differences in the outcomes of different groups.

Your choice of statistical test depends on various aspects of your research design, including the types of variables you’re dealing with and the distribution of your data.

Qualitative data analysis

In qualitative research, your data will usually be very dense with information and ideas. Instead of summing it up in numbers, you’ll need to comb through the data in detail, interpret its meanings, identify patterns, and extract the parts that are most relevant to your research question.

Two of the most common approaches to doing this are thematic analysis and discourse analysis .

Approach Characteristics
Thematic analysis
Discourse analysis

There are many other ways of analyzing qualitative data depending on the aims of your research. To get a sense of potential approaches, try reading some qualitative research papers in your field.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question . It defines your overall approach and determines how you will collect and analyze data.

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources . This allows you to draw valid , trustworthy conclusions.

Quantitative research designs can be divided into two main categories:

  • Correlational and descriptive designs are used to investigate characteristics, averages, trends, and associations between variables.
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs are used to test causal relationships .

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible. Common types of qualitative design include case study , ethnography , and grounded theory designs.

The priorities of a research design can vary depending on the field, but you usually have to specify:

  • Your research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Your overall approach (e.g., qualitative or quantitative )
  • The type of design you’re using (e.g., a survey , experiment , or case study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires , observations)
  • Your data collection procedures (e.g., operationalization , timing and data management)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical tests  or thematic analysis )

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.

For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioral avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.

Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalize the variables that you want to measure.

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

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  • 16 May 2018

How to grow a healthy lab

If you find a bad apple, check the barrel. Research-integrity specialists say that focusing too much on individual bad actors deflects attention from the environments that promote bad behaviour. The idea applies just as much to researchers who are unproductive, frustrated or unhappy — they could be indicative of deeper problems.

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how to make a research environment

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Dallas, Texas (US)

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern Medical Center)

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Goethe University (GU) Frankfurt am Main - Institute of Molecular Systems Medicine

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National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Assessing Integrity in Research Environments. Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2002.

Cover of Integrity in Scientific Research

Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct.

  • Hardcopy Version at National Academies Press

3 The Research Environment and Its Impact on Integrity in Research

To provide a scientific basis for describing and defining the research environment and its impact on integrity in research, it is necessary to articulate a conceptual framework that delineates the various components of this environment and the relationships between these factors. In this chapter, the committee proposes such a framework based on an opensystems model, which is often used to describe social organizations and the interrelationships between and among the component parts. This model offers a general framework that can be used to guide the specification of factors both internal and external to the research organization that is relevant to understanding integrity in research.

After its review of the literature, the committee found that there is little empirical research to guide the development of hypotheses regarding the relationships between environmental factors and the responsible conduct of research. Thus, the committee drew on more general theoretical and research literature to inform its discussion. Relevant literature was found in the areas of organizational behavior and processes, ethical cultures and climates, moral development, adult learning and educational practices, and professional socialization. 1


The open-systems model depicts the various elements of a social organization; these elements include the external environment, the organizational divisions or departments, the individuals comprising those divisions, and the reciprocal influences between the various organizational elements and the external environment (Ashforth, 1985; Beer, 1980; Daft, 1992; Harrison, 1994; Katz and Kahn, 1978; Schneider and Reichers, 1983). The underlying assumptions of the open-systems model and its various elements are as follows (Harrison, 1994):

External conditions influence the inputs into an organization, affect the reception of outputs from an organization's activities, and directly affect an organization's internal operations.

All system elements and their subcomponent parts are interrelated and influence one another in a multidirectional fashion (rather than through simple linear relationships).

Any element or part of an organization can be viewed as a system in and of itself.

There is a feedback loop whereby the system outputs and outcomes are used as system inputs over time, with continual change occurring in the organization.

Organizational structure and processes are in part determined by the external environment and are influenced by the dynamics between and among organizational members.

An organization's success depends on its ability to adapt to its environment, to tie individual members to their roles and responsibilities within the organization, to conduct its processes, and to manage its operations over time.


Figure 3-1 shows the application of the open-systems model to the research environment, which can include public and private institutions, such as research universities, medical schools, and independent research organizations. As noted above, any element or part of an organization can be viewed as a system in and of itself. For research organizations, then, this includes not only the institution itself, but also any of its departments, divisions, research groups, and so on. Figure 3-1 illustrates the research environment as a system that functions within an external environment, whereas Figure 3-2 depicts the specific factors within the external environment and their influence on the research organization. These factors within the external environment are discussed later in this section.

Open-systems model of the research organization. This model depicts the internal environmental elements of a research organization (white oval), showing the relationships among the inputs that provide resources for organizational functions, the structures (more...)

Environmental influences on integrity in research that are external to research organizations. The external-task environment includes all of the organizations and conditions that are directly related to an organization's main operations and technologies. (more...)

An organization's internal environment consists of a number of key elements—specifically, the inputs that provide resources for organizational functions, the organizational structure and processes that define an organization's setup and operations, and the outputs and outcomes that are the results of an organization's activities. The system is dynamic, and, as indicated by the feedback arrow in Figure 3-1 , outputs and outcomes affect future inputs and resources. However, all of these components exist within the context of an organization's culture and specific climate dimensions—that is, the prevailing norms and values that inform individuals within the organization about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. With respect to the committee's focus on integrity in research, the ethical dimension of the organizational culture and climate is very important.

Structurally, organizations are compartmentalized into various subunits, including work groups or divisions (the research group or team), along with other defined sets of organizational activities and responsibilities (e.g., programs that educate members about the responsible conduct of research, institutional review boards [IRBs], and mechanisms for disclosing and managing conflicts of interest). The operation of these programs and their overall effectiveness influence researchers' perceptions of the organization's ethical climate. Individuals within an organization exist both within and across these defined groups and sets of activities. Given this, it is important to differentiate between an organizational level of analysis (e.g., the research university, medical school, and independent research organization) vis-à-vis the group level of analysis (e.g., the research group or team) and the individual level of analysis (e.g., the individual scientist or researcher).

Inputs and Resources

In its examination of research environments, the committee focused on two input and resource factors of importance: the levels and sources of funding for scientific research, and the characteristics of human resources. These inputs and resources are obtained from an organization's external environment and are used in the production of an organization's outputs.

The research funding that an organization receives is distributed to research groups or teams and to individual scientists. Funding levels may increase and decrease over the years, both for the organization as a whole and for individual research groups. Just as the overall level of funding available for research within society affects the scientific enterprise as a whole, the level of funding coming into a particular research organization or research team also affects behavior.

The impacts that the level of funding and the competition over funding have on the responsible conduct of research are not clearly understood. There is some limited evidence that in highly competitive environments, individuals with a high “competitive achievement striving” are at risk for engaging in misconduct, particularly when they are faced with situations in which their expectations for success cannot be reached by exerting additional effort (Heitman, 2000; Perry et al., 1990). Encouraging a high level of individual integrity in research, despite vigorous competition for funding, presents a significant challenge for research organizations.

Human Resources

The human resources available to a research organization are also important to the analysis of integrity in research. The background characteristics of scientists coming into a research organization influence its structure and processes as well as its overall culture and climate, and these factors, in turn, influence the responsible conduct of research by individual scientists. Scientists (whether they are trainees, junior researchers, or senior researchers) entering into a research organization will have competing professional demands (e.g., research, teaching, practice, and professional service), and thus there are likely to be conflicting commitments. The dynamics of these competing demands and conflicting commitments change as individual scientists become integrated into the research organization, taking on specific roles and responsibilities.

Also, scientists enter into an organization with various educational and cultural backgrounds. They have different conceptions of the collaborative and competitive roles of the scientist, different abilities to interpret the moral dimensions of problems, and different capacities to reason about and effectively resolve ethical problems. These individual differences will influence organizational behavior, in general, and research conduct, in particular, in complex and dynamic ways.

Given this variation in human resource input into the research organization, it is particularly important for institutions to socialize newcomers and provide them with an understanding of the organization and how to act within it. As in any organization, newcomers must learn the logistics of their organization, the general expectations of their roles by peers, the formal and informal norms governing behavior, the status and power structures, the reward and communication systems, various organizational policies, and so on (Katz, 1980). Within research organizations, individual differences are complicated by the international nature of the scientific workforce and the corresponding sociocultural differences. Therefore, it is particularly important for research institutions to create an environment in which scientists are able to gain an awareness of the responsible conduct of research as it is defined within the culture, to understand the importance of professional norms, to acquire the capacity to resolve ethical dilemmas, and to recognize and be able to address conflicting standards of research conduct.

Organizational Structure and Processes

To better understand the impact of the research environment on integrity in research, it is important to focus on the organizational elements that characterize its structure—those elements that are more enduring and less prone to change on a day-to-day basis. These elements include an organization's policies and procedures; the roles and responsibilities of members of the organization; decision-making practices; mission, goals and objectives, including the strategies and plans of the organization; and technology.

Policies, Procedures, and Codes The formalization of policies and practices to support the responsible conduct of research is important in the analysis of research environments and their influence on integrity in research. Chapter 2 identified a number of the practices that are essential to the research environment. Specifically, a research organization should have explicit (versus implicit or nonexistent) procedures and systems in place to fairly (1) monitor and evaluate research performance, (2) distribute the resources needed for research, and (3) reward achievement. These policies and procedures should include criteria related to the responsible conduct of research that are applied consistently. Furthermore, research organizations support integrity in research when they have efficient and effective systems in place to review research involving humans and animals, manage conflicts of interest, respond to misconduct, and socialize trainees and other scientists into responsible research practices. The specification of these policies and procedures helps to regulate and maintain group control and reduce uncertainty about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors (Hamner and Organ, 1978).

Research has shown that strongly implemented and embedded ethical codes of conduct within organizations are associated with ethical behavior in the workplace. McCabe and Pavela (1998) describe the University of Maryland at College Park as one example where implementation of a strong “modified” 2 honor code has proven to be a successful strategy for creating a culture where cheating is viewed as socially unacceptable. Major elements of the Maryland model include (1) involving students in educating their peers and resolving academic dishonesty allegations, (2) treating academic integrity as a moral issue, and (3) promoting enhanced student-faculty contact and better teaching. The mere presence of an honor code, however, is generally not sufficient. Rather, the honor code is used as a vehicle to create a shared understanding and acceptance of the policies on academic integrity among both faculty and students (McCabe and Trevino, 1993).

Corporate codes have a similar effect in the workplace. An original study by McCabe demonstrated that self-reported unethical behavior was lower for survey respondents who worked in a company with a corporate code of conduct (McCabe et al., 1996). Self-reported unethical behavior was inversely correlated with the degree to which the codes were embedded in corporate philosophy and the strength with which the code was implemented (determined by survey questionnaire of employee perceptions).

Roles and Responsibilities The specification of roles and responsibilities within various research groups and teams and relevant research programs (e.g., education in the responsible conduct of research, IRBs, and conflict-of-interest review committees) provides a blueprint for researcher behavior. It is particularly important to clearly define researchers' responsibilities related to the responsible conduct of research. Furthermore, the relative positions of these responsibilities within the organizational hierarchy and the status of persons who operate them will send a clear message to the research community about the importance of such endeavors. For example, if a highly respected scientist with high status spearheads the program of education in the responsible conduct of research, and sufficient resources (in terms of both staff and financial resources) are available to carry out the program's work, then there is a greater likelihood that its efforts will be taken seriously. Again, these factors have great symbolic value within the organization and provide compelling images of the organization's ethical culture, which affects the degree to which members of the organization will internalize the norms associated with the responsible conduct of research (Pfeffer, 1981; Siehl and Martin, 1984).

Decision-Making Practices How an organization reaches decisions and formulates policies will affect individuals' perceptions of these policies and their behavioral compliance with them. Individuals are more likely to accept and adhere to policies and practices when they have played a role in their development and implementation. Hence, scientists are more likely to buy into various research policy decisions that are reached through a collaborative process among key stakeholder groups, rather than being imposed by a top-level centralized authority (Anderson et al., 1995, Saraph et al., 1989). Organizational research that focuses on the pursuit of quality and that explicitly values cooperation and collaboration to achieve maximum effectiveness leads to better decisions, higher quality, and higher morale within an organization (NIST, 1999). Classically, faculty and administrators both have governing roles in academic institutions, and this shared responsibility facilitates the bottom-up establishment of rules of research behavior.

Missions, Goals and Objectives, and Strategies and Plans The mission and goals of an organization specify its desired end states (e.g., becoming a “best-practice” site in terms of the protection of human research subjects). Objectives are the specific targets and indicators of goal attainment (e.g., becoming an accredited program and receiving recognitions and awards through scientific associations). Strategies and plans are the overall routes and specific courses of action (e.g., allocating the resources to comply with the standards for accreditation and ensuring that the program has leadership support) to the achievement of goals. If the responsible conduct of research is a prominent part of the mission and goals of a research organization, along with associated objectives, strategies, and plans, then the prominence of this issue sets the tone for the organization's ethical climate and sends a message to scientists that the responsible conduct of research is important. Research has shown that the most successful organizations are those that have a vision and goals that are clearly defined, consistent, and shared among their members (Anderson et al., 1995; Deming, 1986; Freuberg, 1986; Hackman and Wageman, 1995).

Technology An organization's technology offers the methods for transforming system resources into system outputs. It consists of such aspects of an organization's infrastructure as facilities, tools and equipment, and techniques. These aspects can be mental and social, mechanical, chemical, physical, or electronic. Research environments not only need the necessary tools and equipment for their respective types of scientific research, but they must also establish technologies (e.g., accounting systems and library and information retrieval systems) within the organization for the effective and efficient operation of the research. There may be competition within an organization to acquire the various forms of technology that are of sufficient quantity and quality to facilitate research production. The availability of this technology may, in turn, attract highly skilled scientists who hope to carry out research at the cutting edge of technology. As already mentioned, the effective management of competition—in this case, for technologies—is an important element of promoting the responsible conduct of research.

Organizational processes, as opposed to an organization's more stable and enduring structural elements, are the patterned forms of interaction between and among groups or individuals within an organization. Processes represent the dynamic aspects of an organization. The processes that characterize organizational dynamics are too numerous to mention here. However, in the committee's examination of research organizations, the processes of most interest consist of (1) leadership, (2) competition, (3) supervision, (4) communication, (5) socialization, and (6) organizational learning.

Leadership The level of support for high ethical standards by the leadership of an organization or research group can vary; leaders can be extremely supportive, can show ambivalence, or can be nonsupportive. Leaders at every level serve as role models for organizational members and set the tone for an organization's ethical climate (Ashforth, 1985; OGE, 2000; Treviño et al., 1996). Therefore, when leaders support high ethical standards, pay attention to responsible conduct of research, and are openly and strongly committed to integrity in research, they send a clear message about the importance of adhering to responsible research practices (Wimbush and Shepard, 1994). Considerable evidence from the organizational research literature supports the relationship between supervisor behavior and the ethical conduct of the members of an organization (Posner and Schmidt, 1982, 1984; Walker et al., 1979). Supervisors provide a model for how subordinates should act in an organization. Furthermore, supervisors have a primary influence over their subordinates, an influence that is greater than that of an ethics policy. Even if a company or profession has an ethics policy or code of conduct, subordinates follow the leads of their supervisors (Andrews, 1989).

Competition The extent to which the organization is highly competitive, along with the extent to which its rewards (e.g., funding, recognition, access to quality trainees, and power and influence over others) are based on extramural funding and short-term research production, may have negative impacts on integrity in research. Evidence from organizational research indicates that reward systems based on self-interest and commitment only to self rather than to coworkers and the organization are negatively associated with ethical conduct (Kurland, 1996; Treviño et al., 1996). In addition, the level of unethical behavior increases in organizations where there is a high degree of competitiveness among workers (Hegarty and Sims, 1978, 1979). Given these facts, one might expect that a research environment in which competition for resources is fierce and rewards accrue to those who produce the most over the short term sends a wrong message, a message that says “produce at all costs.”

Creating a reward system and policies that promote being the “best” within the scientific enterprise, and within a context that encourages the responsible conduct of research, represents a challenge in research environments.

Supervision The extent to which research behavior is monitored and quality control systems are operational will affect the level of adherence to ethical standards. Scientists need to see that policies about responsible research behavior are not just window dressing and that the organization has implemented practices that follow up stated policies. Consistency between words and deeds encourages the members of an organization to take policies seriously. Organizations vary widely in terms of their efforts to communicate codes of conduct to members, as well as to implement mechanisms to ensure compliance. When implementation is forceful and the policies and practices become deeply embedded in an organization's culture, there is a greater likelihood that they will be effective in preventing unethical behavior (McCabe and Treviño, 1993; Treviño, 1990; OGE, 2000).

Communication Communication among members of a research organization or research group that is frequent and open, versus infrequent and closed, should have a positive influence on integrity in research. A positive ethical climate is supported by open discussions about ethical issues (Jendrek, 1992; OGE, 2000). Frequent and open communication enhances awareness of issues, encourages individuals to seek advice when faced with ethical dilemmas, and establishes the importance of resolving issues before they become something to be hidden.

Socialization Mentoring relationships between research trainees and their advisers are important in the socialization of young scientists (Anderson et al., 2001; Swazey and Anderson, 1998). These relationships can be characterized by a variety of factors, including the level of trust, communication patterns, and the fulfillment of responsibilities as a mentor or trainee. In addition to mentoring relationships, education in research and professional ethics is an aspect of socialization (Anderson, 1996; Anderson and Louis, 1994; Anderson et al., 1994; Louis et al., 1995; Swazey et al., 1993). Socialization practices can be formal or informal, but they are essential to helping individuals internalize the norms and values associated with the responsible conduct of research. Research that examines the effect of more formalized methods of socialization—for example, education—reveals that interactive techniques (e.g., case discussion, roleplaying, and hands-on practice sessions) are generally more effective in producing behavioral change than are activities with minimal participant interaction or discussion (e.g., lectures or presentations [Davis et al., 1999]). Furthermore, sequenced education has a greater impact than single educational sessions (Davis et al., 1999; OGE, 2000). These findings substantiate the principles of adult education; these principles describe successful practices as being learner-centered, active rather than passive, relevant to the learner's needs, engaging, and reinforcing (Brookfield, 1986; Cross, 1981; Knowles, 1970) ( Chapter 5 ).

Organizational Learning Organizations that learn from their operations and that continuously seek to improve their performance are better able to adapt to a changing environment (Anderson et al., 1994; Deming, 1986; Hackman and Wageman, 1995; Schön, 1983). All organizations change over time, but for some this can be an excruciating and painful process if it comes about through reaction to a crisis situation. For example, when a research subject dies or a researcher is accused of data fabrication, the organization should respond immediately. However, this response is focused on crisis intervention rather than prevention. On the other hand, organizations that have mechanisms in place to continuously evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs and activities are more likely to build a preventive maintenance system (Fiol and Lyles, 1985; Schön, 1983). Furthermore, if the members of an organization have a voice in the design and implementation of such systems, then they are more likely to accept and be cooperative with the continual evaluative processes.

Culture and Climate

All of the enduring elements and features of an organization's structure and its more dynamic processes exist within the context of an organization's culture and climate. In fact, an organization's structure and processes help to create the culture and climate inasmuch as they are shaped by them (Ashforth, 1985). An organization's culture consists of the set of shared norms, values, beliefs, and assumptions, along with the behavior and other artifacts (e.g., symbols, rituals, stories, and language) that express these orientations.. Culture and climate factors are characteristics of an organization that guide members' thoughts and actions (Schneider, 1975).

The ethical (or moral) climate is one component of an organization's culture and is particularly relevant in the analysis of integrity in research (Victor and Cullen, 1988). This climate is defined as the prevailing moral beliefs (i.e., the prescribed behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes within the community and the sanctions expressed) that provide the context for conduct. The stable, psychologically meaningful, and shared perceptions of the members of an organization are used as indicators of ethical climate, which may exist both at the organizational level and at the research group or team level (Schneider, 1975; Schneider and Reichers, 1983).

An ethical climate that supports the responsible conduct of research is created when scientists perceive that adherence to ethical standards takes precedence and that sanctions for ethical violation are consistently applied. Research in this area has established that the factors within an organization that are most strongly related to ethical behavior are attention to ethics by supervisors and organizational leadership, consistency between policies and practices, open discussions about ethics, and followup of reports of ethics concerns (OGE, 2000). These features of an organization can help establish an ethical climate in which organizational members perceive that the responsible conduct of research is central to the organization's practice and that it is not something to be worked around. It creates an environment in which a code of conduct is strongly implemented and deeply embedded in the community's culture (Treviño, 1990).

Outputs and Outcomes

The outputs of research organizations are produced at all levels—the organizational level, the research group or team level, and the individual scientist level. The outputs are the products produced, the services delivered, and the ideas developed and tested. The most obvious outputs are the number and quality of research projects completed, reports written, publications produced, patents filed, and students graduated.

For the committee's purposes, however, it is important to focus on the outputs of activities or programs related to integrity in research—for example, institutional review boards, conflict-of-interest review committees, and programs that provide education in the responsible conduct of research. Outputs from these programs are generally measured in terms of the quantity and the quality of activities—for example, the number of workshops and seminars offered, the number of scientists who participate, and the number of research proposals reviewed by IRBs and the dispositions of those proposals. Research organizations that design and implement high-quality activities related to integrity in research—and in a quantity that is sufficient to meet their needs—are more likely to achieve the outcomes that they seek (e.g., adherence to responsible research practices). Although these activities will not be the sole factors that determine the responsible conduct of research, their implementation becomes a symbol for the members of an organization, serving as an indicator of the leadership's commitment to the establishment of a culture and a climate that supports the responsible conduct of research.

The outcomes of organizational activities refer to the specific results that reflect the achievement of goals and objectives. As with organizational outputs, outcomes can be associated with the organization as a whole, the research group, or the individual scientist. However, the committee's primary interest is in the individual scientist's level of integrity in research. As discussed in Chapter 2 , the committee defines integrity in research as the individual scientist's adherence to a number of normative practices for the responsible conduct of research.

Adherence to these practices provides a set of behavioral indicators of an individual's integrity in research. However, behavioral compliance is assumed to be associated with an understanding of the norms, rules, and practices of science. In addition, judgments about an individual's integrity are based on the extent to which intellectual honesty, accuracy, fairness, and collegiality consistently characterize the dispositions and attitudes reflected in a researcher's practice. Judgments about a person's integrity are less about strict adherence to the rules of practice and are more about the disposition to be intellectually honest, accurate, and fair in the practice of science (i.e., in the willingness to admit and correct one's errors and shortcomings).

The committee resisted defining integrity in terms of (1) adherence to the normative practices listed in Chapter 2 , (2) the knowledge and awareness of the practices of responsible research, and (3) the attitudes and orientation toward the practices of responsible research (i.e., the degree to which individuals agree with the practices, the level of importance that they attach to them, and the extent to which they are subject to conflicting sets of practices), as has been common in the social sciences. 3 These three conceptually distinct categories of outcomes fail to capture the complexity of the process through which individuals interact with their environment and make ethical decisions. One simply cannot assume that as scientists gain awareness of standards of practice, they will be positively oriented to them or will be more likely to adhere to the behavioral requirements. The committee recognizes that although researchers might be well intentioned, there is truth in what psychologists (Rest, 1983) have observed: that everyone is capable of missing a moral issue (moral blindness); developing elaborate and internally persuasive arguments to justify questionable actions (defective reasoning); failing to prioritize a moral value over a personal one (lack of motivation or commitment); being ineffectual, devious, or careless (character or personality defects, often implied when someone is referred to as “a jerk”); or having ineffectual skills at problem solving or interpersonal communication (incompetence).

For this reason, focusing on the processes that give rise to the responsible conduct of research are important individual-level outcomes of organizational activities within the research environment. Components of the process of ethical decision making include ethical sensitivity, reasoning, moral motivation and commitment, and character and competence (Bebeau, 2001). Educational programs that train scientists in the responsible conduct of research are often premised on the assumption that these essential capacities for ethical decision making are well developed by the time individuals begin their research education, and that one simply needs to teach the rules of the responsible conduct of research. Research on ethical development in the professions demonstrates that even mature professionals show considerable variability on performance assessments that measure ethical sensitivity, moral reasoning and judgment, professional role orientation, and appropriate character and competence to implement action plans effectively.

Therefore, if a research environment implements educational programs to foster integrity in research, then these programs should promote sensitivity to issues that are likely to arise in the research setting by building a capacity for reasoning carefully about conflicts inherent in proposing, conducting, and reporting research; by developing a sense of personal identity that incorporates the norms and values of the research culture; and by building competence in problem solving and interpersonal communication (see Chapter 5 for further discussion).

External Environment

The external environment of a research organization consists of both an external-task environment and a general environment ( Figure 3-2 ). The external-task environment includes all the organizations and conditions that are directly related to an organization's main operations and its technologies. The systems and subsystems of the external-task environment are embedded within the larger sociocultural, political, and economic environment and have a more indirect impact on an organization. It is important to recognize that relationships also exist between and among all elements within the external environment. For example, government policies and regulations can affect the areas and levels of funding. Journal policies can be affected by decisions made within scientific associations, and these decisions can be driven by government regulation (or pending regulation).

External-Task Environment

A number of factors within the external-task environment have a significant impact on scientists' responsible conduct of research. These factors include government regulation, funding for scientific work, job opportunities for trainees and researchers, journal policies and practices, and the policies and practices of scientific societies.

Government Regulation Governmental bodies, particularly at the federal level, have been promulgating regulations concerning the conduct of research for many years. Most widely known and recognized are the regulations regarding the protection of human research subjects (45 C.F.R. § 46, 1999; 21 C.F.R. § 50 and 56, 1998) and the protection of animals in research (7 U.S.C. §§ 2131, 1966, et seq.). Furthermore, regulations have been promulgated regarding the evaluation of allegations and the reporting of scientific misconduct (42 C.F.R. § 50, §§A, 1989; Federal Register , 2000) and the handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals in the laboratory (29 C.F.R. § 1910.1450, 1996), to name just two. As these government regulations come into force, they have direct impacts on a research organization and individual scientists. Specifically, organizations and individuals must be in compliance with the regulations or face sanctions.

Funding for Scientific Work Research organizations are directly affected by both the level and the source of funding that is available for scientific work (e.g., they are affected by the balances between government and corporate support and between industry and foundation support). Most funding sources provide support for specific research proposals rather than particular investigators. Although proposals are usually ranked on a relative scale, more typically they are funded in an all-or-none fashion. At the same time, funding needs always outpace funding opportunities. For instance, only one in three investigator-initiated grant proposals (see http://silk.nih.gov/public/[email protected]. dsncc ) to the National Institutes of Health is successful. In this situation, even investigators who succeed in their research sometimes lose funding, a fate that threatens the very existence of their projects and often threatens their personal incomes.

The task for research organizations is to develop structures that help their scientists deal with this competitive research situation while maintaining the responsible conduct of research. Similarly, when corporate or industry funds are involved, research organizations should require strategies for the management and disclosure of conflicts of interest to reduce problems related to publication rights, ownership of intellectual property, and research involving human subjects.

Job Opportunities When the job market is tight and there is more competition for every research position, researchers will be pressured to achieve higher levels of productivity and recognition. This situation challenges scientists to be the best while maintaining the highest levels of integrity in research. Similarly, research programs must compete for students and postdoctoral fellows, who, in turn, enhance a program's accomplishments and overall status. The ability of researchers to gain recognition often is believed to be the best path to attracting high-quality trainees to a program. The organizational challenge is to help researchers develop competitive programs while maintaining a high level of commitment to integrity in research.

Journal Policies and Practices Journal editors can be more or less rigorous in their implementation of the review process and the extent to which they insist on high levels of adherence to scientific standards. Furthermore, journals may have specific policies in such areas as authorship practices, disclosure of conflicts of interest, duplicate publication, and reporting of research methodologies. The scientific community receives an important message about integrity in research when journal policies and practices regarding these practices are clear and are required as a condition of publication—and when the most prestigious journals adopt such practices. For example, members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors recently revised their submission policies related to industry-sponsored research. Authors are now required to sign a statement accepting full responsibility for the conduct of a clinical trial, and they must confirm that they had access to the original data and had full control over the decision to publish (Davidoff et al., 2001).

Policies and Practices of Scientific Societies Scientific societies are in a position to influence the behaviors of their members in ways that could promote integrity in research 4 (AAAS, 2000). The societies vary extensively, however, in their development of codes of conduct, their enforcement of such codes, and their socialization of members with regard to these standards of behavior. To aid in this process, the Association of American Medical Colleges has published a guide to help societies in the development of ethical codes (AAMC, 1997). Other associations develop standards for accreditation—for example, standards for science education programs, research laboratories, and programs for the protection of human and animal research subjects. These accreditation standards generally have specific statements regarding the responsible conduct of research and stipulate the structures within the organization that must be in place to ensure compliance with the standards. Scientists who are part of such accredited programs will be subject to the influences of these external controls.

General Environment

The general environment has an indirect impact on an organization. This environment includes all of the conditions and institutions that have sustained or infrequent impacts on the organization and its functions (Harrison, 1994). Included are the state or conditions of major social institutions (e.g., the economy, political system, educational system, science and technology system, and legal system) as well as the local, national, and international cultures within which an organization operates. The general public, and more specifically the effects of public trust in the research enterprise, are also important components of the general environment. As reflected in Figure 3-2 , the organizations and conditions of the external-task environment (unshaded circles) are embedded within this larger environment (shaded area).

An example of how the broader environment can affect the conduct of research is the recent national debate over embryonic stem cell research; this debate reflects a clash of values that affect the characterization of ethical or unethical research (NAS, 2001; National Bioethics Advisory Commission, 1999). In another instance, the new rules governing the privacy of health records that are part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act are being challenged by scientists as too restrictive in providing access to identifiable data for research (AAMC, 2001; Annas, 2002). Also, society places a high premium on human rights and the protection of vulnerable persons, values that have been translated into federal regulations for the protection of human research subjects (45 C.F.R. § 46, 1993, and 21 C.F.R. § 50 and 56, 1981).

Other social institutions also have an indirect impact on research environments. Educational systems produce scientists, and these systems affect not only their quantity but also their quality and how well they have been socialized into professional standards of conduct. The technology systems determine the availability of equipment and the methods used to carry out various types of research, factors that may raise questions about the propriety of certain research endeavors. Ethical conflicts are often created when the development of new technologies requires an answer to the question of whether what can be done should be done. Finally, the legal system and the propensity in the United States to resort to litigation may bring about situations in which scientists are caught between the responsible conduct of research and subpoenas for confidential data. These examples are by no means exhaustive, but they reflect the ways in which major social institutions and cultural values can affect research organizations and a scientist's practice of research.

The committee found no comprehensive body of research or writing that can guide the development of hypotheses regarding the relationships between the research environment and the responsible conduct of research. However, viewing the research environment as an open-systems model, which is often used in general organizational and administrative theory, makes it possible to hypothesize how various components affect integrity in research. Inputs of funds and other resources can influence behavior both positively and negatively. The organizational structure and processes that typify the mission and activities of an organization can either promote or detract from the responsible conduct of research. The culture and climate that are unique to an organization both promote and perpetuate certain behaviors. Finally, the external environment, over which individuals and, often, institutions have little control, can affect behavior and alter institutional integrity for better or for worse.

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For general references on organizational behavior and processes, see Donabedian (1980), Hamner and Organ (1978), Harrison (1994), Katz (1980), Katz and Kahn (1978), Peters (1978), Peters and Waterman (1982), and Pfeffer (1981). For general references on ethical cultures and climate see Ashforth (1985), Schneider and Reichers (1983), and Victor and Cullen (1988). For general references on moral development, see Kohlberg (1984), Rest (1983), and Rest et al. (1999). For general references on adult learning and educational practices, see Brookfield (1986), Cross (1981), and Knowles (1970). For general references on professional socialization, see Schein (1968), Siehl and Martin (1984), Van Maanen and Schein (1979), and Wanous (1980).

Traditional honor codes generally include a pledge that students sign attesting to the integrity of their work, a strong, often exclusive role for students in the judicial process that addresses dishonesty allegations, and provisions such as unproctored exams. Some also require students to report any cheating observed. Modified honor codes generally include a strong or exclusive role for students in the academic judicial system, but do not usually require unproctored exams or that students sign a pledge. Modified codes do place a strong campus focus on the issue of academic integrity and students are reminded frequently that their institution places a high value on integrity (McCabe, 2000).

A recent review of approaches to the study of morality (Bebeau et al., 1999) has challenged the usefulness of the usual tripartite view that assumes that the elements to be studied and assessed are attitudes, knowledge, and behavior. When researchers have studied the connections among these elements, they usually do not find significant connections and are left with the conclusion that attitudes do not have much to do with knowing and behavior is often devoid of feeling and thinking. A more profitable approach is to assume that many types of cognitions, many types of affects, and many kinds of observable behaviors are involved in morality or integrity. All behavior is the result of cognitive-affective processes. Instead of studying cognitions, affects, and behaviors as separate elements, psychologists suggest that researchers study functional processes that must arise to produce moral behavior (Rest, 1983).

See Chapter 6 for further discussion of the role professional and scientific societies can play in fostering an environment that promotes integrity in research.

  • Cite this Page National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Assessing Integrity in Research Environments. Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2002. 3, The Research Environment and Its Impact on Integrity in Research.
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Open Access

Ten simple rules to make your research more sustainable

Contributed equally to this work with: Anne-Laure Ligozat, Aurélie Névéol

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LIMSI, Orsay, France, ENSIIE, Evry-Courcouronnes, France

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Affiliation Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LIMSI, Orsay, France

  • Anne-Laure Ligozat, 
  • Aurélie Névéol, 
  • Bénédicte Daly, 
  • Emmanuelle Frenoux


Published: September 24, 2020

  • https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008148
  • Reader Comments

Fig 1

Citation: Ligozat A-L, Névéol A, Daly B, Frenoux E (2020) Ten simple rules to make your research more sustainable. PLoS Comput Biol 16(9): e1008148. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008148

Editor: Russell Schwartz, Carnegie Mellon University, UNITED STATES

Copyright: © 2020 Ligozat et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This work was supported by CNRS, ENSIIE, and Université Paris Saclay. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Sustainable development can be defined as a principle that regulates human activity without causing irreparable damage to the Earth's natural system. It also aims to preserve resources so that future generations can benefit from them as much as present generations. To address the global challenges today's world faces to manage the impact of human activity on the environment, the United Nations have defined a set of sustainable development goals to be achieved in the next decade [ 1 ].

The climate changes induced by human activities have been accelerating alarmingly as reported by scientists since 1979 [ 2 ]. Scientists can observe an increase in pollution (e.g., depletion of oxygen in water, eutrophication), natural resource scarcity, and a significant and accelerated loss of biodiversity. All these changes have led geologists to propose the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch, reflecting the impact of human activities on Earth's ecosystems[ 3 ].

To mitigate this effect, a paradigmatic shift represented by sustainable development is needed in all fields of human activities, including research. As individuals and researchers, we are concerned with these challenges and deeply aware of the necessity to be more sustainable. But in practice, what does this entail? How can a researcher's activity be “sustainable,” and how do we integrate sustainable practices into research projects? Where do we start?

There is currently no global policy from French research institutes to federate collective action of the scientific community towards sustainable development goals, but working groups focusing on sustainable development have published recommendations [ 4 ]. There are also examples of good practice in the United Kingdom (S-Labs [ 5 ], Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework [ 6 ]) and the United States (International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories [ 7 ], My Green Lab [ 8 ]).

Taking action to address the emergency situation is not only a moral responsibility we have as citizens but also a necessary contribution to gathering an understanding of the impact of research activities on the environment and how to make them more sustainable.

This article is the result of the work carried out by the "sustainable development" committee created at the French Laboratoire d'informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur (LIMSI) [ 9 ] in 2019 to bring together researchers interested in addressing these questions in the context of the activities of our laboratory, which conducts theoretical and experimental research in a diversity of scientific fields, including fluid mechanics, energetics, human language technology, human machine interaction, medical informatics, and augmented and virtual reality.

The first task of the committee was to assess the carbon footprint of research activities over the year 2018 [ 10 ]. The next task is to analyze the results of this study and draw a roadmap towards reducing the carbon footprint and, more generally, the environmental impact [ 11 ] of our research activities in subsequent years.

Herein, we propose a list of actionable rules to facilitate the contribution of anyone in the community towards sustainable research. We selected a set of rules that address a variety of topics with different levels of potential impact with the goal of illustrating the breadth of possible actions.

Rule 1: Cherry-picking is allowed

Why does it matter.

It can be daunting to think about all you should be doing to strive towards sustainability. However, in the words of popular wisdom, Rome wasn't built in a day, and every little thing helps. We want to acknowledge here that integrating sustainability into our research is a big step for many of us and that this change may need to be gradual, according to behavioral theory [ 12 ]

How to address it?

You can start your path towards sustainable research today by picking only one of the suggestions below and committing to it. Depending on your particular field of research or interests, some rules may be easier to implement than others.

Rule 2: Be informed

Information is the foundation of sustainable action. According to the Paris Agreement [ 13 ], we have a global goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050 and halving current carbon emissions by 2030. Drastically reducing the carbon footprint of human activities can only be achieved if we are well aware of the specific impact of the different carbon-emitting activities.

Research institutes should ensure that their staff receive some training on environmental issues related to energy, climate and biodiversity. Training courses are available on this subject, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) through popular platform such as Université Virtuelle Environnement et Développement Durable (UVED) [ 14 ] in French and Coursera [ 15 ] in English. The sustainability literacy test [ 16 ] is a tool approved by the United Nations for learning general knowledge relating to the environment that could also be used to enhance workers’ and students’ knowledge. In addition, general public documents such as summaries of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports or reports from think tanks such as the The Shift Project or the Green Alliance can also be used as information material, as well as documents from environmental nongovernmental organizations such as 350.org or Greenpeace. Awareness of these issues will facilitate their inclusion in lab operations and scientific work.

Evaluating the carbon footprint of your lab/institute is an excellent start. An information search for reports of carbon footprint assessments conducted by laboratories or institutes in the same field can also help identify major trends. Typically, for research labs, travel accounts for a significant portion of carbon emissions. Other major sources of carbon emissions include electricity used for building operations as well as computer power. In France, the labos1point5 [ 17 ] collective is offering support to labs interested in assessing their carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint assessment can also be done at the scale of specific research activities. Researchers can apply their knowledge of how to evaluate and compare the impacts of two alternatives. For example, from an environmental point of view, is it better to continue using legacy equipment that may require more power or to invest in new equipment that will require less power but incur environmental construction costs [ 18 ]? Which videoconference system incurs the lowest energy consumption [ 19 ]?

Although these questions may be hard to answer, some of them can be addressed using widely recognized methodologies, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCA enables the assessment of environmental impacts of a service or product by taking into account all the stages of its life cycle according to different criteria, including but not limited to carbon dioxide CO 2 measurement. This again requires that research staff be trained on these methodologies, in order to apply them properly. The results obtained may differ substantially on a case-by-case basis because the assessment is dependent on the location and specific set-up. For example, whether the electricity used comes from low-carbon sources will have an impact. In some cases, the LCA will nevertheless remain difficult if key relevant data (e.g., electric power provenance) is not available.

Rule 3: Prefer train over plane

The main source of global CO 2 equivalent emissions in several research institutes is travel. For example, at LIMSI, in 2018, travel accounted for 50% of the total emissions [ 10 ], including about 35% for transportation to attend scientific meetings or conduct field work and an additional 15% for employees’ commutes. Other case studies at two academic institutions in Switzerland and in the US also found travel to account for a large share of their carbon footprint, with air travel alone accounting for 30% of all CO 2 emissions [ 20 , 21 ].

Fig 1 presents a sample comparison between plane and train travel for two sample itineraries to illustrate the CO 2 emission gain offered by train travel for medium range journeys: one international journey within Europe (Paris–Turin, 584 kilometers/363 miles) and one domestic journey withing the US (New York, New York–Washington, DC, 474 kilometers/295 miles).


  • PPT PowerPoint slide
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Plane emissions were calculated with the https://co2.myclimate.org/en/flight_calculators/newmyclimate flight calculator. Flight durations are estimated using https://www.expedia.fr/expedia . Train emissions and durations come from oui.sncf/SNCF for the Paris–Turin journey and from https://www.virail.frvirail for the New York, New York–Washington, DC journey.


This data shows that carbon emissions associated with train travel represent a mere fraction of those associated with plane travel (9.2% for New York/Washington and 1% for Paris/Turin), while travel duration increases by about 2 hours (precisely 2 hours 12 minutes for New York/Washington and 2 hours 21 minutes for Paris/Turin), which is arguably equivalent to the time associated with air travel formalities, including city/airport commute and airport security procedures.

This data shows that traveling by train instead of plane can massively reduce the footprint of academic travel. While travel is perceived as essential to a researcher's activity [ 22 ], it was also shown that air travel has a limited influence on academic professional success [ 23 ] for senior researchers. Therefore, train travel should be favored whenever possible. We also encourage researchers to reduce their travel footprint by favoring attendance to scientific meetings in locations that can be reached by train and to limit their conference travel, which scientists seem willing to do [ 24 , 25 ].

This rule applies mainly for short distance travel, which only accounts for a fraction of academic travel. Typically, the train is not an option for traveling from Paris (France) to San Franciso, California (US). The impact of a Paris–San Francisco round-trip flight in terms of CO 2 emissions (2.9 tons according to myclimate) is roughly equivalent to 10 times that of a domestic Paris–Toulouse round trip (314 kg according to myclimate). Favoring train over plane will not reduce emissions related to long-distance trips and thereby may have limited impact over global travel-related emissions if long-distance travel accounts for the majority of travel. As a result, it is necessary to limit long-distance travel by assessing the need for travel, encouraging local collaboration, and adopting publication methods that restrict travel, such as journal publications or domestic conferences.

Rule 4: Take advantage of remote participation

As discussed above, it is necessary to limit long distance travels because they incur a high level of carbon emissions within the overall travel category, which is a major source of emissions for research institutions.

Remote participation in conferences and webinars can be encouraged and facilitated.

Pioneer events showed that entirely remote conferences can be organized to the satisfaction of an overwhelming majority of participants: 10 years ago, computational biologists published a set of guidelines for organizing such events as an effective low-cost educational strategy [ 26 ]. More recently, the University of California at Santa Barbara also devised a plan to organize remote conferences [ 21 ] in which conference participants were invited to record their talks ahead of the event; the videos were then made available on the conference website, and direct interaction with the authors was supported by message forum within the conference timeline. A similar set-up was used for the Cochrane Colloquium 2019 after the event had to be cancelled due to local political events [ 27 ]. A more complete list of conferences aiming to limit their carbon emissions is available at https://www.appropedia.org/List_of_low-carbon_conferences , and recent guidelines provide support for organizing non–real-time events [ 28 ]. The recent global public health crisis due to the COVID-19 outbreak is providing additional motivation for organizing remote events[ 29 ].

These events show that it is technically feasible to engineer fully remote participation in conferences. However, one of the benefits of conference participation is the networking and personal interactions between colleagues occurring during coffee breaks and social events. For this reason, the scientific community may want to continue fostering in-person meetings. To support this middle-ground solution, remote participation can be promoted as a systematically available option for all conferences and meetings [ 30 ]. This way, researchers may balance their conference attendance between in-person and remote attendance.

Another option that can help reduce the carbon footprint of conferences is to create small groups of participants that can meet in person in a local venue to attend a remote event. The 2010 "Signs of Change" conference was organized according to this model and offered five locations throughout New Zealand for participants to meet [ 31 ].

Rule 5: Work collectively and reproducibly

Many of the resources allocated to research activities—including resources that have an impact on the environment—are wasted due to a multiplicity of factors related to the organization, planning, and evaluation of research [ 32 ].

For example, the inadequate use of statistical methods or the fact that novelty is valued more than reproducibility results in waste that could be otherwise avoided. The practice of sharing protocols, research material such as code, and results contributes to collective work and avoids waste in the form of duplicate efforts.

Applying the classic scientific method is particularly useful here. First, do a thorough literature search to identify useful related work to a new project. If existing systems or models addressing the task at hand are identified, they should be reused. Novelty and originality does not necessarily come from new methods; an existing method can be novel if applied to a new context or used differently from usual practice. Furthermore, reusing existing material can also bring added value by demonstrating its reproducibility, documenting a reuse case from the perspective of users with a different background or experimental set-up [ 33 , 34 ].

If a thorough literature search does not uncover readily usable solutions, it makes sense to develop new methods or tools. In this case, working reproducibly will help researchers make the most of their work, by documenting protocols and sharing material. In fact, the value of reproducibility is increasingly promoted by "reproducibility challenges" that seek to reproduce prominent work and gather information about the process. The events Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) 2019 Reproducibility challenge [ 35 ] and the Shared Task on the Reproduction of Research Results in Science and Technology of Language,"REPROLANG 2020" [ 36 ] are examples of reproducibility tasks in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. In 2020, the Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) conference added reproducibility criteria during the submission process about the description of experimental results, parameters, and datasets, based on [ 37 ] and [ 38 ], which is also a good way to promote reproducibility of research work.

Rule 6: Encourage bottom-up sustainable initiatives

Engaging the community on the topic of sustainability will create interest in the topic and in how it is addressed within the community. Empowering members of the community will contribute to the emergence of solutions that are tailored to the community culture and that will find stronger support within the community [ 39 ].

Researchers are creative. Let them implement ideas towards more sustainable practice.

Typically, many of the initiatives cited in this manuscript came from researchers themselves and have been widely adopted. Methods for organizing remote conferences are one example which has shown increased popularity with the recent pandemic.

Supporting this type of initiative (environmental impact of research operation/policy) as a research question will help with researching and adopting some of these ideas. There are many ways this support can translate into actionable policies for a variety of actors in higher education and research: by funding researchers' work in this area, even if it is outside of their main expertise, e.g., labs could fund researchers experiments towards addressing these questions, journals could waive publication fees for this type of work, and institutes could recognize this type of contribution in staff evaluation or provide special allowance to allocate a portion of their time working on these issues.

Rule 7: Evaluate the impact of your research practices

Like all human activities, research has an environmental impact that we need to be aware of (see Rule 2). Until now, we have mainly discussed the impact of the research environment rather than research activities in and of themselves. The raising awareness for environmental issues combined with the increasing energy needed for implementing modern machine learning algorithms has brought about the emerging field of so-called "green" artificial intelligence, which seeks to reconcile powerful computing with environment friendly research [ 40 ].

When conducting research, factor in the direct, indirect, and structural environmental impacts of your research. Direct impact covers the carbon footprint of the operational conduct of the research. For example, it includes the carbon footprint of overall research practice and can be taken into account by addressing questions such as the following: When two methods are otherwise equivalent in performance, which one has the smaller carbon footprint? Did you take computational cost and its environmental impact in your method evaluation/reporting [ 38 , 41 ]?

Indirect and structural impact covers the consequences of the new knowledge or findings obtained as a result of the research. For example, improving the energy efficiency of a learning algorithm could lead to increased experimentation, which, in the long run, does not reduce energy use (this typical rebound effect is described in [ 18 ]). Indirect and structural impact can be taken into account by addressing questions such as the following: What are the consequences of the discoveries we make? Do they contribute to a more sustainable world or, on the contrary, to a runaway machine, even indirectly?

Rule 8: Ask sustainability research questions

Rule 2 and others have highlighted how information is key to address sustainability. Research aims to create new knowledge and therefore can have a contribution to our information on sustainability issues and how to address them.

Computer science (CS) is well positioned for offering analysis of problems using predictive models, simulation and visualization methods that can be applied to a large range of sustainability problems. The National Research Council Committee on Computing Research for Environmental and Societal Sustainability has suggested that "[s]marter energy grids, sustainable agriculture, and resilient infrastructure provide three concrete and important examples of the potential role of IT innovation and CS research in sustainability." [ 42 ]

However, the benefit of work on sustainability research questions must be balanced with the impact of such research (see Rule 7). For example, although information and communication technologies are often considered as a means for reducing energy demands and emissions, a recent study [ 43 ] showed that digitalization actually increases energy consumption. Standard methodologies can be used here, such as attributional LCA (see Rule 2), which takes into account the direct environmental impacts. The more general and long-term impact of research work can be difficult to anticipate or predict. Typically, researchers investigating electricity in the 17th and 18th century may not have foreseen the climate crisis we are facing today due to CO 2 emissions generated by electricity-powered technology. In order to assess research impact at a global level, consequential LCA can also be used. It goes beyond the direct impacts and may require multidisciplinary work involving economists, sociologists, philosophers, etc.

Furthermore, researchers can be encouraged to think about research questions outside of their main expertise (see Rule 6). For example, several French groups with an interest in advancing sustainability policies [ 17 ] drafted incentive and coercive plans to reduce airplane travel in research labs. The incentive measure consists in making it mandatory to compensate the carbon emissions linked to travel by funding compensating projects. The coercive measure consists in banning travel as soon as the yearly carbon quota defined either per lab or per researcher has been reached. They are suggesting enforcing these policies in pilot institutes as a scientific experiment to test adherence and impact.

Rule 9: Transfer ecofriendly gestures from home to the lab

Studies show that individual actions towards sustainability in the form of ecofriendly gestures can contribute towards achieving up to 45% of the carbon footprint reduction that needs to be achieved collectively by 2050 [ 44 ].

Ecofriendly gestures practiced at home by many are also relevant in a professional setting and can have a significant impact. These ecofriendly gestures are not necessarily trivial to implement in the workplace because individuals are not directly involved in the global administration of the infrastructure. Typically, for security and logistical reasons, electric facilities cannot be openly accessible to all. Nonetheless, based on recommendations for carbon reduction [ 44 ] and our own example of carbon emissions at LIMSI [ 10 ], the following points can be brought to the attention of infrastructure management officials within an institute:

  • Limit the use of (plastic) disposable material [ 45 ].
  • Practice printing sobriety: think before you print and collect printed documents.
  • Encourage employees to use soft modes of transport for local commutes (see also Rules 3 and 4).
  • Favor local, seasonal, and vegetarian food when organizing events.
  • Practice digital sobriety: use less material, make it last as long as possible, and consider donations when research use of otherwise-functioning equipment is no longer appropriate.
  • Organize trash collection to encourage or facilitate recycling.
  • Consider the feasibility of switching off lights and servers during off–peak-use periods.

Rule 10: Raise awareness

Sustainable actions have an impact both at the individual and collective level. The strength of the impact directly depends on the support of many individuals. As a result, it is important to raise awareness to convince and gain the support of others.

Communication officers at research institutes are in charge of internal communication using diverse means including custom visual tools and social media. They are excellent assets to support an awareness campaign on sustainability issues. For example, the contribution of LIMSI's communication director to the sustainable development committee includes the creation of a series of handouts around the theme of "Mon labo écolo" (My green lab). Fig 2 presents sample handouts produced by the LIMSI communication officer to raise awareness of lab members on major issues such as power use ( Fig 2A ) and travel ( Fig 2B ).


(A) Translation of hand-out content into English: “My Green Lab—BUILDINGS—(electricity) 90,000 € pa, 2/3 for server room (heat) 26,000 € pa (action) Switch off servers, computers, screens, lights when not in use. Open window? Radiator off!” (B) Translation of hand-out content into English: “My Green Lab—TRAVEL—(map) travel is responsible for half of the lab’s carbon footprint, with plane travel accounting for 99% of the travel footprint (action) prefer train over plane; question the necessity of travel.” Text and design by Bénédicte Daly .


These documents are used at LIMSI to promote sustainable action around the lab and can be used/customized as desired.

The goal of this article is to provide researchers with guidance for integrating sustainable practices into their activities. These 10 rules are positioned in the paradigm of science as it is conducted today. We posit that modern environmental and public health issues suggest the need for a massive paradigm shift. Calls to this effect have already been issued within the scientific community [ 46 ], such as the "slow science manifesto" [ 47 ].

In this situation, we stress the importance of cherry-picking and easing into change step by step to avoid being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task.

A major step towards achieving sustainable research requires being informed about the impact of our activities as well as the impact of the simple choices we can make, as outlined by this set of 10 rules.


The authors thank Gabriel Illouz, Mathilde Véron, and members of the sustainable development committee at LIMSI for fruitful conversations during the preliminary stages of preparing this manuscript. Portions of this article were written by post-editing text that was translated from French into English with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).

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Two technicians wearing masks and lab coats pipette antibodies at a long desk in a laboratory.

Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Technicians conduct Covid-19 antibody neutralisation testing in a laboratory at the African Health Research Institute (AHRI) in Durban, South Africa.

Research environment: people, culture and openness

Research to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone depends on thriving research environments that are open, engaged, equitable, ethical and efficient.

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We believe that excellent research happens in environments where people from all backgrounds are treated with respect, supported and enabled to thrive.  

Solving the planet’s most urgent health challenges requires creative and high-quality ideas, that must be open and accessible to everyone, to achieve the greatest impact and save lives more quickly. It also requires ethically sound research that is engaged with the needs of the communities it is addressing.  

We see these as fundamental and necessary changes to the way that research usually happens and they are at the heart of the positive and inclusive research cultures we want to encourage. Only when these approaches are considered can we say that the research we fund is truly for the health challenges facing everyone.

By taking a holistic view of the environmental factors that impact research outcomes, Wellcome can achieve its ambition to be an inclusive funder of research to improve health for everyone.

how to make a research environment

Hannah Hope

Open Research Lead

What we're doing  

Our work cuts across Wellcome’s funding teams, supporting them to deliver their programmes of work on discovery research , climate and health , infectious disease  and mental health . 

Our ambition is that the research we fund and the processes by which we do this are open, engaged, ethical and efficient.  

In addition to our internally focused work, we aim to contribute to the wider research ecosystem to ensure that Wellcome researchers have access to the tools and skills to maximise the impact of their work. This includes convening community events, policy work, supporting infrastructure and occasionally, offering funding for relevant activities.

What do we mean by 'research environment'?

Typically, the strength of a ‘research environment’ is judged by the excellence of the infrastructure it provides for the research taking place.

Wellcome’s definition of the research environment goes beyond this to consider the culture and behaviours that create excellent research practice. For us, this includes research that is inclusive in design and practice, ethical and engaged with relevant community stakeholders. An open and transparent research process is a tool to enable these practices and to enable the outputs of the research to have the maximum impact.

Examples of our work  

  • Europe PMC (PubMed Central) – an online database offering free access to published biomedical research
  • Investigating the effects of open sharing commitments
  • Global Infectious Disease Ethics Collaborative (GLIDE) – a platform for identifying and analysing ethical issues in infectious disease
  • Emerging Cultures – a grant for a sociological and anthropological study of emerging research cultures in Wellcome’s 4-Year PhD Programmes
  • In2Research – a social mobility programme that supports people from low socio-economic backgrounds to progress to postgraduate research

How this applies to your research  

As part of our goal to become a more inclusive funder and support research that is inclusive in design and practice, we made commitments to foster positive and inclusive research cultures as part of the application criteria on most of our awards.  

As part of this, our Discovery Award applications feature elements of the Resume for Research and Innovation (R4RI) , otherwise known as the Narrative CV. This gives researchers more flexibility in how they demonstrate their diverse skills and contributions to research.  

Wellcome has a number of research policies related to open and ethical research and we recommend that researchers consult these when designing funding applications and delivering successful awards. 

Appropriate engagement with key stakeholders throughout the research lifecycle supports the production of high-quality research that is rooted within the needs of those most affected. Wellcome will consider the costs of delivering engaged research within funding applications.

Looking for research funding?

Wellcome does not have a Research Environment funding scheme, however, it is a theme within all research grant funding and may be a criterion within other procurement processes.

how to make a research environment

Dan O’Connor

Head of Research Environment

how to make a research environment

Carleigh Krubiner

Bioethics Lead

how to make a research environment

Shomari Lewis-Wilson

Senior Manager, Research Culture and Communities

If you have general enquiries or ideas related to our Research Environment work, please contact us on

[email protected]

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ANA Design Studio Pvt. Ltd.

9 ways to create a functionally efficient research environment.

Gather the relevant data.

Before beginning the design of a research facility, it is necessary to collect, organise and analyse the project requirements. What type of spaces are required? How are the different functions divided and connected? What are the site specific requirements? Are there any department specific requirements? Are there any process specific requirements? It is of utmost necessity to collect as much information as possible which can ultimately be useful for design decisions. Consider the peak conditions when preparing these requirements. Understand what all equipment will be accommodated, what all activities or processes will be performed in the facility. Without the relevant data, no project can proceed to design.

Plan for Safety and Well-Being

Research laboratories are prone to potential hazards and accidents. These accidents can occur out of human-error or malfunction of equipment. They can also be caused by improper design of spaces and low-quality engineering systems. There has been a growing demand and awareness of safety, health and well-being among building users. Researchers spend two-thirds of their daily lives working in their labs. Some probably even more. If they’re doubtful about the safety and health standards of their surroundings, they won’t be able to focus on their work. The escape routes and suppression systems in case of accidents, the quality of healthcare facilities, and the fume extraction systems should be designed to ensure maximum safety.

Consider the Contingencies

What happens if harmful gases spread across one region and the smoke extraction system fails? What if there are gas leaks or pathogen leaks? What happens if the primary electrical supply fails thereby disrupting the ventilation system? What happens if fire breaks out in a certain region of the facility out of human error during experiments? What if a couple of research projects are declared redundant after a change in management? What happens to the spaces once used for those discontinued projects? What if certain hazardous equipment or chemicals are later added on in the facility? One should always plan for contingencies while dealing with the unforeseen complexities and risks involved with the operations of a research and development center.

Prioritise Functional Efficiency

Unlike commercial real estate or residential projects, the success of a research facility lies solely in its functional efficiency. If the project is not functionally responsive to the needs of the research and related activities, no amount of aesthetics or sustainable solutions can make the project useful. Here, it is important that the equipment can be well accommodated, the internal environment is well modulated, and ultimately, the researchers are able to perform their tasks with maximum productivity. Circulation of lab equipment and harmful substances should be well planned to avoid any obstructions. Researchers should be able to work and circulate without any trouble. All functional spaces should be arranged as a cohesive whole.

Empathize with Individual Needs

A research facility is constructed as complex sum of individual research projects divided into individual departments or teams. Every project and department has its own specific requirements and aspirations. Some have different privacy requirements. Some have different equipment requirements. Some have different storage requirements. Certain chemicals need to be stored under specific temperature control. Certain tools need a sterile environment. Certain activities need to be conducted under acoustic control. There are certain fine tasks that require lighting control. With the diversity of activities, it becomes necessary to understand the individual needs of users and their activities thereby incorporating them in the design of their environments.

Invest in Building Management Systems

When we’re dealing with a large complex project, it becomes practically impossible to manually manage the building services, and monitor the energy consumption. Building Management Systems (BMS) can effectively control the different systems of HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire-fighting, ICT, Lighting, etc. It can enhance lifecycle of utilities. It can decrease energy operating costs and consumption. It can ensure efficiency of building systems. It ensures thermal comfort for the building users. It can raise alarms by notifying the management about a malfunction, breakdown or a life-threatening hazard well before the accident. Because of the complexities of a research facility, BMS is required to ensure safety and sustainability.

Break the Physical Boundaries

We’re moving away from the conventional concept of private isolated spaces. Years after the industrial revolution, our ways of working are transforming from defined individual tasks to collaborative team work. We’ve realised that in the modern age of knowledge capital and abundance of information, team capabilities are more fruitful than individual effort. With a changing lifestyle and an innate social need to work with other people, our spaces need to get to rid of boundaries. A hybrid of semi-private and open flexible spaces allow researchers to communicate better with their colleagues. Researchers can overhear interesting conversations in an open environment and contribute to the discussions. Recreational spaces can flow within workspaces. Boundaries between outdoor landscapes and indoors can be blurred.

Plan for Future Expansion

As a research facility grows, it needs to accommodate more lab equipment and researchers. It is possible that certain departments which are relatively younger will expand in the future. The facility should be designed in such a manner that allows for such accommodations without major transformations in the existing facilities. A strategy for such an expansion scenario should be well thought out in the initial stages of design discussions. An increase in occupants and equipment also means an increase in provision for building engineering services. If such discussions are not taken seriously right from the beginning, they’ll lead to unanticipated situations. Situations which will either need extra capital expenditure or unavoidable compromises.

Ensure Optimal Acoustics & Lighting

Unlike commercial office workplaces, spaces within a research facility need to cater to the acoustic and lighting requirements of special scientific activities. Loud noise from the running of particular equipment needs to be isolated. We need to make sure this noise doesn’t travel to places where researchers need silence for their high-focus work. Appropriate building materials with high insulation capabilities are to be used. Large volumes of spaces need to have acoustic control to prevent uncomfortable reverberation of sound. Similarly, sufficient lighting with optimal lux levels in each space is required for maximum productivity. Proper lighting also contributes to the health and well-being of researchers immersed in their work.

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Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research

Tips for Writing about Your Research Experience (Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any)

If you’re someone who hasn’t yet done formal research in a university setting, one of the most intimidating parts of the process can be simply getting your foot in the door. Just like the way your options can seem very limited when applying for your first job, asking for a research position when you have no “experience” can seem discouraging — maybe even to the point of causing you to question whether you should apply in the first place. With that being said, there are some simple tips you can employ when applying for research positions to highlight the link between your existing interests and the work of the position for which you are applying.

Illustrated resume on a desk being held by anthropomorphic tiger paws/hands. Tiger is wearing a suit. Desk is covered in writing/working items like pens, reading glasses, and coffee.

First things first: tailor not just your cover letter (for applications that ask for it) but your resume to the position for which you are applying. Even if you’re just sending a casual email to a professor to ask about the research that they’re doing, as a rule, it never hurts to attach your resume. I also like to think that submitting a resume even without being asked to shows that you’re serious about doing research, and have taken the time to put together a thoughtful inquiry into a position. If you’ve never written a cover letter or resume before, don’t fret. The Center for Career Development has some great online resources to help you create one from scratch. If you are looking for more individualized help, you can also schedule an appointment to get one-on-one feedback on your application at any stage in the writing process.

One of the things that I’ve found, however, is that the single-page format of a resume often isn’t enough space to include all of the information about every single thing you’ve ever done. Rather than trying to jam as many impressive accomplishments as you can onto a page, your goal should be to create a resume that gives a cumulative sense of your interests and experiences as they relate to the position for which you are applying. One of my favorite ways to do this is to create a “Research” section. “But Kate, what if I don’t have any research experience?,” you ask. Remember that paper you wrote about a painting by Monet in your favorite class last semester? Write the title down, or even a sentence or two that summarizes your main argument. The art museum you’re hoping to do research at will love knowing that your interest in their current exhibition on Impressionism is rooted in classes you’ve taken and the projects you’ve done in them, no matter how new you may be to a topic. Your interest in a specific research position has to come from somewhere, and your resume is an important part of demonstrating this to others.

What I would like to reassure you of is that it’s normal to be an undergraduate with very little research experience. The people reading your application —whether it be for an official program or even if it’s just a friendly email with a few questions— know that you are a student and will probably be excited to offer you guidance on how to get involved with more specific research projects even if all you have to offer at this point is enthusiasm for the topic. Working in a lab or with a professor on a research project is an opportunity designed to help you learn above all else, so it’s ok if you don’t know what you’re doing! It goes without saying that having little experience will make the final result of your research experience all the more worthwhile because of the potential to gain knowledge in ways you haven’t even imagined.

— Kate Weseley-Jones, Humanities Correspondent

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Students as co-explorers: how to build a synergistic research environment

Working with and for postgraduate students towards the goal of improved well-being and thriving in their future careers is the basis for successful research teams. Soo Downe offers tips based on her experience in midwifery studies

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Actively building synergy between students looking for dissertation topics and research-active staff has led to a vibrant research, postgraduate and postdoctoral community in the field of midwifery. This expansion has taken time. In the early 2000s, there were taught master’s programmes with research dissertation components; midwifery has only begun to develop an active research portfolio in the past 20 years.

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This short piece sets out the link between encouraging and supporting research students and building a research team. It presents our experience at the University of Central Lancashire and covers the four areas that have been critical to this achievement.

Build on passion, not (just) fashion

It is important to foster students who have a passion for their subject, and whose passion links with that of the research team. Funded doctoral research opportunities can sometimes be driven by what is at the top of the political agenda at the time. This is a perfectly respectable route. However, it does mean that some postdoctoral researchers have to start again if they want to pursue the topic that really excites them. The alternative (or additional) approach is for a research team to have a broad vision for the field of enquiry that they want to progress together. Then, within that vision, the team can provide opportunities for doctoral students to pursue the topic that they passionately want to spend three or (part-time) six years investigating and which might be a strong launch pad for them for the rest of their research career.

Be realistic with potential students about what is involved

In applied disciplines such as healthcare, many master’s and doctoral students also work part time. Some potential PhD students in this position seem to believe that the step change between an undergraduate degree and a master’s is about the same as that from a master’s degree to a PhD, and that doctoral studies can therefore be fitted into the interstitial spaces of their busy clinical and home life.

It is critical to set out very clearly to intending part-time students that, in fact, the difference in scale of work and concentration required is significant. Being realistic at the beginning gives space for students to think about how they might manage their PhD in the months and years to come. Even for fully funded PhD students, there are times when they feel they just can’t do it any more.

Letting intending students know that this will happen and, at the beginning, helping them to think through ways they could overcome potential blocks and barriers might reduce the likelihood of difficulties happening. It will, in turn, enable students to recognise and deal with these issues when they do arise.

Foster engagement with the research community

PhD students can feel very isolated in their studies, particularly if they are off campus and particularly if they are part-time students also struggling with a professional workload. Building in opportunities for them to come together, with each other and with the broader research community, is critical.

Several of our doctoral students have set up an early career researcher group. The group meets on Teams, given that many are off campus. They have a small annual allowance, which they can spend on anything they feel will enable their community to grow and flourish. We have a biannual postgraduate seminar day, attended by 20 to 30 people. It provides a safe space where the students can present whatever they feel is relevant to the current stage of their work for discussion among peers, the research team and others, in a constructively critical and supportive environment. All attendees are invited to an evening meal to enable students and staff to meet and chat informally.

Students attached to large funded projects are invited to project working groups to see how such projects are managed and to gain confidence in procedures they may encounter later in their careers.

Build delight in gaining and spreading knowledge

The postdoctoral journey includes many times when things are difficult, when it’s really hard to get over a particular hurdle, and when it doesn’t seem that it’s worth it. Those are the moments when it’s important for the research community to foster delight among students. Delight and excitement are reciprocal. If we make the space for students to experience relief and pleasure in completing a difficult experiment successfully, or in carrying out an interview that is uplifting or devastating but really insightful, or in realising that something they have discovered hasn’t been written about before, then we gain a sense of joy and delight in synergy with them. Students who are regularly delighted in their work are likely to flourish (even when the work is difficult), and enthused students stay in research for the longer term.

In conclusion, seeing research students as co-explorers in the overarching research endeavour of improved well-being and thriving in the world is the basis for building successful research teams. Such research teams create virtuous circles for students that then build the basis for positive research and supervision careers into the longer term. This ensures the continuation and expansion of the research endeavour into the future.

Soo Downe is professor of midwifery studies and co-director of the Thrive Centre, which focuses on the first 1,000 days of life, in the School of Community Health and Midwifery at the University of Central Lancashire.

She has been shortlisted for Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2022 . A full list of shortlisted candidates can be  found here .

If you found this interesting and want advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week,  sign up for the THE Campus newsletter .

In this short video, I’m going to share four areas that we have used in our team to grow a research team alongside our research students. Midwifery research is quite new. Over the last 10 or 20 years, it’s been really expanding, and we have used these principles to work with initially our master’s students, building on their dissertations, through to now a situation where we have pre-doctoral, doctoral and postdoctoral students all working together in synergy.

So, the first issue that I want to raise is this idea of building on passion, not just fashion. So, we all know that research tends to go in fashions, and that often the money goes with where the particular area that, for example, the government or a research funder is interested in investing. But we have found that although we have to have a broad vision in our group, actually getting the students to come with their ideas and fashioning or creating a space within our overall vision to allow students to expand on the thing that really excites them means that they build up the capacity to take that idea forward into the future. So, this idea of student passion is extremely important to us.

But alongside that, there’s this notion that we have to be realistic with potential students about what is involved, especially because in our area and many others, where there is a professional link, many students who come to us come part time, because they continue with their professional career alongside their research career. And they often think that the step change between undergraduate and master’s is the same or similar to the step change between master’s and a PhD. But we all know that’s not true.

So, one thing that we think is critical is to be really realistic with potential students about what’s involved and also about the kinds of black holes they’re going to fall into throughout their progression through their degree, which everybody always encounters. So that they can have the opportunity to start doing “if, then” planning, even at the early stages, about how they’re going to make sure they’ve got enough time and space in their day and their week and their year to do their project effectively, and enough support when things begin to feel like it’s impossible to progress.

The other issue that we’ve been very keen to engage with the whole way through is to make sure that all our research students are fully engaged with our research community. For example, we do have a postgraduate seminar day twice a year, in fact two days, and we make sure that all the students are invited. We expect them to come at least once on those two occasions to present their work. And we invite their supervisors, but also other researchers in the group and beyond, clinical staff and undergraduates.

And the idea is that the postgraduate students can present elements of their work that they want support with, and the whole group is supportive. It’s a safe space in which they can have a discussion about the things that they are really enjoying doing, the things they’re really excited about, but also the kinds of areas they want support with.

And we also provide funding to our early career researchers group, which was set up by some of our PhD students, so they can use that any way they like in the year to help with this engagement with the wider research community, so they can see how their work might progress into the future beyond their PhD.

And finally, we think it’s really, really important to catalyse delight, catalyse delight in the students, so that they really have a sense of huge enjoyment and pleasure in the periods of time when they’re not obviously feeling that things are very difficult. But that basically the underlying sense they get is this enjoyment of doing their research, this sense of achievement at each step of the way, and that feeds reciprocally into the research team as well, so that we also feel that sense of delight and enjoyment and progression.

And ultimately, if we can instil that in our students, then they can actually see how valuable it is to them and to society and everybody else to continue with the research career into the long run and to keep enjoying it, and, in their turn, to instil that joy and delight into the students that come after them. So, these just seem to be four of the many, many characteristics, many, many approaches that have been incredibly helpful in helping us to build our team into the future.

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University home > Academic Quality and Policy Office > Postgraduate Education > Regulations and code of practice for research degree programmes > Area D: PGR skills development and the research environment

PGR skills development and the research environment

The regulations in this section set out the requirements for supporting PGR students in developing their skills and having access to an appropriate research environment.

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Support for pgr student development, minimum requirements for skills development, expectations on access to the research environment.

The policy on PGR personal and professional development also relates to this section.

8.1. The University recognises the importance of training and development opportunities for PGR students within a high-quality research environment. These opportunities can enhance a PGR student’s effectiveness as a researcher and can underpin their subsequent career.

8.2. A PGR student’s training and development opportunities must be tailored to their needs, and will include activities provided by schools, faculties, and the personal and professional development programme . Some training and development opportunities might be provided by external sources.

8.3. Supervisors must provide guidance and support for PGR students on training and development opportunities with the expectation that the student will progressively take ownership of their own personal and professional development.

8.4. A PGR student must have access to relevant training and development opportunities in research skills and techniques, as well as in wider personal and professional development.

8.5. Supervisors must consider their PGR student’s training and development needs and assist them in identifying relevant activities at the beginning of the student’s period of study. Supervisors and the student must regularly review the student’s training and development needs.

8.6. Funded PGR students must complete any specific training required by their funder. The supervisors and student must ensure that any funder requirements for training are met within an appropriate timeframe.

8.7. The University provides a high-quality research environment in which PGR students develop their skills and conduct work on their research projects.

8.8. Schools and faculties must ensure that PGR students have access to an appropriate research environment, including the following:

8.8.1. Opportunities to interact with research-active staff in the student’s research area within the University and more widely.

8.8.2. Opportunities to experience and contribute to research activities within the school and faculty, such as presenting research at school seminars.

8.8.3. Access to any necessary facilities or resources to support the student’s work. PGR students who are working remotely must retain access to any required facilities or resources.

8.8.4. Access to any external facilities, resources, or expertise that is required for the student’s work and that cannot be provided from within the University.

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How to do Research on Environment

Academic Writing Service

Besides the interaction of human activities that contribute to these ecological and environmental concerns, many other key factors or disciplines play a direct role in the study and research of environmental science topics, including biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, and physics, as well as economics, politics, psychology, and sociology. Thus, your research paper on environmental science subjects most likely will entail not only investigating your primary sources, described in this article, but also crossing over into other disciplines.

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Get 10% off with 24start discount code, selected subject headings.

Listed below is a sample of a few broad Library of Congress subject headings—made up of one word or more representing concepts under which all library holdings are divided and subdivided by subject—which you can search under and use as subject terms when searching online library catalogs for preliminary and/or additional research, such as books, audio and video recordings, and other references, related to your research paper topic. When researching materials on your topic, subject heading searching may be more productive than searching using simple keywords. However, keyword searching when using the right search method (Boolean, etc.) and combination of words can be equally effective in finding materials more closely relevant to your topic.

Suggested Topics for Ecology and Environment Research

  • Air Pollution
  • Air Quality Management
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Deforestation
  • Environmental Health
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Law, International
  • Environmental Protection
  • Fishery Law and Legislation
  • Hazardous Waste Sites
  • Medical Wastes
  • Refuse and Refuse Disposal
  • Renewable Natural Resources
  • Soil Pollution
  • Sustainable Development
  • Water Pollution

Selected Keyword Search Strategies and Guides

Most online library indexes and abstracts and full-text article databases offer basic and advanced “keyword” searching of virtually every subject. In this case, combine keyword terms that best define your thesis question or topic using the Boolean search method (employing “and” or “or”) to find research most suitable to your topic.

If your topic is “global warming and renewable natural resources,” for example, enter “global warming” and “renewable natural resources” with “and” on the same line to locate sources directly compatible with the primary focus of your research paper. To find research on more specific aspects of your topic, alternate one new keyword at a time with the primary keyword of your topic with “and” in between them (for example, “global warming and causes,” “global warming and health,” “global warming and pollution,” “global warming and solutions,” etc.).

For additional help with keyword searching, navigation or user guides for online indexes and databases by many leading providers—including Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, EBSCO, H.W. Wilson, OCLC, Ovid Technologies, ProQuest, and Thomson Gale—are posted with direct links on library Web sites to guides providing specific instruction to using whichever database you want to search. They provide additional guidance on how to customize and maximize your search, including advanced searching techniques and grouping of words and phrases using the Boolean search method—of your topic, of bibliographic records, and of full-text articles, and other documents related to your subject.

Selected Source and Subject Guides

Ecology & Environment Research Guide 2

Encyclopedia of Environmental Information Sources: A Subject Guide to about 34,000 Print and Other Sources of Information on All Aspects of the Environment , edited by Sarojini Balachandran, 1,813 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1993)

Environmental Education: A Guide to Information Sources , by William B. Stapp and Mary Dawn Liston, 225 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1975)

In addition to these sources of research, most college and university libraries offer online subject guides arranged by subject on the library’s Web page; others also list searchable course-related “LibGuides” by subject. Each guide lists more recommended published and Web sources—including books and references, journal, newspaper and magazines indexes, full-text article databases, Web sites, and even research tutorials—that you can access to expand your research on more specific issues and relevant to your subject.

Selected Books and References

Atlases and almanacs.

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment , by Paul Harrison and Fred Pearce; foreword by Peter H. Raven, 216 pages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)

This atlas colorfully illustrates the relationship between the environment and the world population and is an excellent source of statistical data. Includes an index by topic.

Earth Almanac: An Annual Geophysical Review of the State of the Planet , 2nd ed., 576 pages (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 2001)

Arranged by subject area, entries offer a treasure trove of statistical environmental information. Appendixes provide additional worthwhile information, such as abbreviations, conversion formulas, Earth facts, a geologic time line, a glossary of terms, international and national scientific programs, and treaties and laws.

Environmental Engineering Dictionary , 4th ed., edited by C.C. Lee, 968 pages (Rockville, Md.: Government Institutes, 2005)

Seemingly every technical and regulatory engineering term used in environmental science—more than 14,000 in all—is defined and explained in this dictionary. Definitions conform to the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements for statutes, regulations, and environmental science terms. Reference sources used for most definitions are also listed. An appendix features an extensive list of environmental acronyms.


Encyclopedia of Environmental Science , edited by David E. Alexander and Rhodes W. Fairbridge, 786 pages (Dordrecht, Netherlands, and Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999)

More than 1,000 entries, arranged in alphabetical order, highlight this encyclopedic volume covering key environmental terms and topics. Most entries include a list of references, including useful print and Web resources. Also provided is a series of useful appendixes, including a directory of environmental organizations, listings of endangered species by state, a timeline of environmental history, and Web sites by subject.

Encyclopedia of Global Change: Environmental Change and Human Society , edited by Andrew S. Goudie and David J. Cuff, 2 vols., 1,424 pages (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003)

This authoritative guide features 320 essay-length articles, listed from A to Z, covering natural and artificial changes to the Earth’s biological, chemical, and physical systems. Highlighting the text are graphs, maps, and photos. Also included is a bibliography of sources.

Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change , edited by Ted Munn, 5 vols. (New York: Wiley, 2002)

Five-volume set featuring 500 in-depth articles, 100 biographies, and 150 definitions. Articles are arranged by subject and contain abstracts, bibliographies, photos, and diagrams. Each volume includes an alphabetical list of articles in the back. This well-researched and well-written reference series is divided as follows: volume 1, The Earth System: Physical and Chemical Dimensions of Global Environmental Change; volume 2, The Earth System: Biological and Ecological Dimensions of Global Environmental Change; volume 3, Causes and Consequences of Global Environmental Change; volume 4, Responding to Global Environmental Change; and volume 5, Social and Economic Dimensions of Global Environmental Change.

Environmental Encyclopedia , 3rd ed., edited by Marci Bortman et al., 1,641 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Thomson-Gale, 2002)

Available in print and online via Gale Virtual Reference Library, this fully revised and updated edition includes many well-written, nontechnical articles offering critical analysis, current status, and possible solutions to the gamut of environmental issues facing the world today.

International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics , edited by John Barry and E. Gene Frankland, 544 pages (London and New York: Routledge, 2001)

This A–Z encyclopedia covers environmental political issues around the world through more than 500 insightful entries that include a list of sources for further reading. Also provided is an index of entries arranged by major themes.

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy , edited by John Zumerchik, 3 vols. (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000)

Covers the broad spectrum of energy topics with more than 250 illustrated articles written by academic scholars and experts. Detailed biographies of key figures in the science and energy fields are also included. An electronic version of the entire contents of this three-volume set is available online via Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Macmillan Encyclopedia of the Environment , edited by Stephen R. Kellert, 6 vols. (New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA; London: Simon & Schuster and Prentice Hall International, 1997)

This full-color, beautifully illustrated six-volume reference series provides coverage of virtually everything about the environment, from basic information to recent developments. Detailed entries focus on such topics as biology, chemistry, climate and weather, ecology, endangered species, disasters, evolution, genetics, land use, natural resources, pollution, population growth, waste management, and more.

Pollution A to Z , edited by Richard Stapleton, 2 vols., 757 pages (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003)

Approximately 264 in-depth articles, written by leading scientists, educators, professionals, and other experts, covering all areas of pollution—air, land, space, and water—make up this important volume. Entries are wide ranging in scope, discussing current issues, key concepts, research, and legislation. Many topical issues are likewise critically examined, including asbestos and carbon monoxide and CFC pollution, among others. Also reviewed are social movements and organizations leading the fight against pollution, such as Earth First and the Green Party. This volume is also available by subscription online via Gale Virtual Reference Library.

The Wiley Encyclopedia of Energy and the Environment , edited by Attilio Bisio and Sharon Boots, 1,592 pages (New York: Wiley, 1997)

This acclaimed encyclopedia covers a wide range of energy and environmental topics, arranged alphabetically with lengthy entries illustrated by diagrams and photos. Bibliographies are listed at the end of each entry for further research in the respective subject area.

Global Environment Outlook , 4th ed., 576 pages (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Region-by-region coverage of current environmental conditions around the globe is contained in this important reference source. Policy responses, future recommendations, and perspectives on many key environmental issues are discussed. Statistical data as it applies to the global environmental conditions are included, along with an index by topic.

The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment , by Robert Prescott-Allen, in cooperation with International Development Research Centre et al., 342 pages (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001)

Highlighting this 342-page volume is recent data on the quality of life and the environment in 180 countries worldwide. Indicators examined include air quality, energy use, global atmosphere, land health, protected areas, water quality, and resource pressures, among others, of each country. Included in the first section of the book are maps and charts and, in the second half, detailed data tables and methodologies used in the assessment of each country.

World Resources 2000–2001: People and Ecosystems, the Fraying Web of Life , 400 pages (Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute, 2001)

Published by the World Resources Institute, this printed edition, also available online, reviews global environmental trends as they relate to the world’s population, food and water supply, consumption and waste, energy use, climate changes, and well-being of humans. Entries are arranged by ecosystem and include key environmental and social indicators for more than 150 countries. An index offers easy access to specific topics.

Selected Full-Text Article Databases

Academic Search Elite  (Ipswich, Mass.: EBSCO Publishing, EBSCOHost, indexing/abstracting: 1984– , full text: 1990– )

Indexing a wide range of subjects, this premier academic database also includes general environment and environment-related journals, including Audubon, Ecology, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Science and Technology, Environment, Journal of Environmental Health, Oceanus, and Sierra.

Annual Reviews  (Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Reviews, 1932– )

Current collection of critical reviews written by leading scientists, published yearly. Subjects explored include energy and the environment, ecology and systematics, genetics, and many more.

Biological and Agricultural Index Plus  (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Co., indexing: 1983– , full text: 1997– )

More than 225 peer-reviewed journals in agriculture and the life sciences are abstracted and indexed, including full-text articles, from such disciplines as ecology, environmental science, and forestry via WilsonWeb.

Environmental Issues on File CD-ROM  (New York: Facts On File, Inc.)

Offers current environmental facts, figures, and information in full text with maps, charts, numerical data, and detailed diagrams on a wide range of environmental and ecological issues and subjects, including atmospheric pollution, catastrophic weather events, environmental disasters, land and sea pollution, and more.

Expanded Academic ASAP  (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale InfoTrac, 1980– )

Like Academic Source Elite, this popular InfoTrac library database also indexes articles published in many leading general environment and environment-related journals, including some of the same titles, such as Audubon, Ecology, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Science and Technology, Environment, Journal of Environmental Health, Oceanus, and Sierra.

JSTOR  (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Journal Storage Project, 1996– )

Full-text journal collection that offers direct access to numerous ecology reference sources, including the Journal of Ecology, the Journal of Animal Ecology, and Ecology.

LexisNexis Environmental  (Dayton, Ohio: LexisNexis, 1970– )

Contains abstracts and full-text news from a large variety of sources, including scholarly and professional journals, conference papers and proceedings, federal and state government reports, major daily newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, newsletters, law reviews, administrative codes, case law, regulatory agency decisions, waste sites, and hazardous material data.

Wilson Select Plu s (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Co., 1994– )

Web accessible through OCLC FirstSearch, this searchable collection includes abstracts and full-text articles from more than 1,300 publications. Includes selected full-text articles from H.W. Wilson’s Business Abstracts, General Sciences Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Readers’ Guide, and Social Sciences Abstracts online databases.

Selected Periodicals

Audubon Magazine  (New York: National Audubon Society, 1899– , bimonthly)

Published by the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest and largest conservation societies in the United States, this bimonthly magazine covers a broad spectrum of conservation and environmental topics in each issue. The magazine is beautifully photographed and illustrated, and the primary focus of articles is on birds and wildlife and their habitats. Available electronically in full text from Expanded Academic ASAP (1997– ).

The Ecologist  (Wadebridge, U.K.: Ecosystems Ltd., 1970– , monthly)

Possibly the most widely read environment magazine, The Ecologist, read by some 200,000 subscribers in 150 countries, features authoritative articles on issues related to the environment. It examines such major environmental challenges as rain forest destruction, climatic changes, and environmental and political agendas around the world.

Ecology  (Washington, D.C.: Ecological Society of America, etc., 1920– , annually)

Published annually since 1920 by the Ecological Society of America, a Washington, D.C.–based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of scientists, Ecology magazine pays particular attention to all aspects of ecology in its wide-ranging articles. Included are statistical reports, features, articles, notes, comments, and data papers covering new concepts, and analytical, experimental, historical, and theoretical approaches applicable to species, populations, communities, or ecosystems. Offered in print and electronic form, full-text articles from past issues are accessible through JSTOR from the first volume through 1998.

Electronic Green Journal  (Moscow, Idaho: Electronic Green Journal, 1994– , biannual)

Web-based ( http://escholarship.org/uc/uclalib_egj ) peer-reviewed professional journal devoted to international environmental topics. Subjects covered include assessment, conservation, development, disposal, education, hazards, pollution, resources, technology, and treatment in the fields of ecology and environmental sciences.

Environmental Science and Technology  (Easton, Pa.: American Chemical Society, 1967– , annual)

Published by one of the oldest scientific associations in the world, Environmental Science and Technology delivers authoritative and comprehensive articles about the latest technological advances, regulations, policies, and scientific research in the environmental arena. Topics in past issues have included everything from air quality modeling, to risk from fine particles, to dioxin risk assessment, to recycled wastewater.

EPA Journal  (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Protection Agency, 1975–95, bimonthly)

First published in 1975, this bimonthly journal, published by the Environmental Protection agency (EPA), offered a national and global perspective on key environmental issues. Articles focused on work within the EPA and federal government and private sector to solve environmental problems. Publication was discontinued with the winter 1995 issue. Full-text articles are available of past journals through WilsonWeb beginning with the September/October 1982 issue.

National Wildlife  (Washington, D.C.: National Wildlife Federation, 1962– , monthly)

Since publication of its first issue in December 1962, this monthly magazine has covered such topics as nature and the environment for conservation-minded readers. Issues feature natural history and outdoor adventure articles, ecological news items, and full-color photo galleries. Content for back issues from the June–July 2005 issue to the present can be viewed at  http://www.nwf.org/Home/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife.aspx .

Sierra  (San Francisco, Calif.: Sierra Club, 1893– , bimonthly)

One of the oldest environmental journals in the United States, this award-winning, general-interest environmental magazine, published by the Sierra Club, a San Francisco–based nonprofit group, celebrates the wonders of nature through expertly written and strikingly photographed adventure and travel features. Showcased in each issue are travel destinations in natural settings, products, services, lists of Sierra-sponsored trips, and much more.

Worldwatch  (Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1988– , bimonthly)

Published by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit environmental advocacy group, this bimonthly magazine focuses on current developments in many related areas. Issues contain articles discussing current environmental trends worldwide, such as climate change, deforestation, population growth, species extinction, and economic and environmental policies.

Selected Web Sites

EnviroLink Network  ( http://envirolink.org/ )

This site, developed by the nonprofit organization EnviroLink, is one of the most comprehensive resources on the Web on the subject of the environment. Access is provided to literally thousands of online environmental resources.

Environmental Defense  ( http://www.edf.org/ )

Founded to “protect human health, restore our oceans and ecosystems, and curb global warming,” this New York–based nonprofit environmental group offers current information on environmental topics.

Environmental News Network  ( http://www.enn.com/ )

Online newspaper featuring environmental news stories, in-depth accounts, press releases, and other information.

Environmental Quality Statistics  (http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/reports/statistics/)

Features statistical tables created by the U.S. Department of Energy and published in its annual report of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Global Warming: Early Warning Signs  ( http://www.climatehotmap.org/ )

This online map illustrates the consequences of global warming and climate changes. Maps are available by region, and the site includes various indicators, references, and teaching resources on the subject.

Know Your Environment  ( http://www.ansp.org/ )

Published by the Environmental Associates in association with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, this published series offers direct access to articles about natural resources, human influence, public policy, and technology and environment.

MapCruzin.com  ( http://www.mapcruzin.com/index.html )

The home page of the Clary Meuser Research Network, this site provides tools and resources devoted to improving social and environmental conditions.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions formerly Pew Center on Global Climate Change  ( http://www.c2es.org/ )

Established in 1998 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent organization to address global climate change, the Pew Center offers news, basic information, and in-depth reports about global warming and related environmental issues.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  ( http://www.epa.gov/ )

This official home page of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an abundance of resources, including an excellent data source called EnviroFacts ( http://www.epa.gov/enviro/index.html ).

Water Quality Information Center  ( http://wqic.nal.usda.gov/ )

The National Library of Agriculture Water Quality Information Center page provides electronic access to information about water and agriculture. The site includes links to bibliographies, databases, discussion lists, environmental news, and much more.

World Resource Institute  ( http://www.wri.org/ )

This Web page provides links to topical environmental research facts and figures, special reports, and comprehensive data on a broad array of environmental, economic and social issues.

The World’s Water  ( http://www.worldwater.org/ )

Developed and maintained by the Pacific Institute for Studies in Environment, Development and Security, this Web page presents current information and data on the world’s freshwater resources. Includes links to many organizations, institutions, and individuals working on a wide range of global freshwater problems and solutions.


how to make a research environment


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7 Tips to Create the Perfect Study Environment

how to make a research environment

Many essential factors, both good and bad, contribute to a person’s academic success. However, looking at all the possible things that could go wrong won’t do you any good. You will create doubts and demotivate yourself.

Instead of thinking about things that could go wrong, be proactive in setting yourself up for success. The best way anyone can do this is to create an environment where they thrive as learners without any distractions.

People often overlook their study environment, but it can make a huge difference in how well you perform.

Stay organized

Being organized is crucial when it comes to studying. We’re not talking about the learning process itself. Sometimes it’s random, and you can learn with different techniques.

Start with cleaning up the clutter. Set the time when you will start learning and make sure that you don’t have any other obligations. Ensure you won’t be bothered by using headphones if you’re studying in a library or public place, or letting your roommates know not to disturb you.

Make your study environment optimal and organized. If you’re using a computer, consider getting different types of power cords that can help you hide all the wires and make your work area neat. Keep all your learning materials in a single place, and be prepared to start learning at any time.

Find a suitable study location

People study in all kinds of different places. No matter where you are studying, you need to feel comfortable without distractions. Consider studying in your bedroom, office, the library, a coffee shop, or a co-working space.

Some people can also learn in shared learning spaces, so think about these options as well. Once you find a spot you like, stick with it and create your routine around it. And remember, switching up your learning location can also be a good thing from time to time.

Keep your phone away

One of the biggest distractions today is the smartphone. Nearly everyone is used to being on their phones at any given moment during the day. We have a habit of looking at phones while drinking coffee, in bed, on the toilet, and so on.

It’s a very negative habit when it comes to studying. Reaching for your smartphone can not only disrupt your current learning process, but it will also likely occupy your mind with irrelevant information. Turn your phone to silent mode and if you have to, move it into another room. If you get notifications on your laptop or smart watch, remember to mute those as well!

There are many studies that explore the effects of music on our brains. Music can help us in so many different ways, and some people can even learn better with music. They use it as a tool to keep things fun and go through their lessons more easily.

Let’s face it when you’re doing something while having fun – it’s a lot easier. Many people say that music helps them, but there is also research that confirms the benefits of music for studying. Classical or jazz music can be nice to listen to when you’re in a good study zone. If you could handle lyrics and changing beats while you’re studying, try another genre!

Make it comfortable

Taking care of practical things like noise, distractions, and clutter is essential. However, the visual experience of your study environment is also significant. Decorating your learning space with pictures, flowers, lighting, furniture, and comfy pillows can make learning easier.

At the same time, make sure to get a comfortable chair and desk so you feel more inclined to use it. Studying from your bed or couch may sound nice at first, but it might be a little too comfortable and make you sleepy.

Avoid spending time in that space when you’re not studying

When you’re spending too much time in one room, you can start to feel drained, even when you’re not studying. Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially when they’ve been studying for several hours. If you want to feel comfortable in your environment, get out of it whenever you can.

Even while you’re studying, make sure to get up, stretch, and walk to your other room or even go outside. Getting the blood flowing even for a few minutes every 30 to 90 minutes can do a lot of good.

Get inspired

What are your goals, and what motivates you to study? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Once you’ve figured that out, make sure to add posters, photos, desktop backgrounds, quotes, or anything else that inspires you to your study room. When you’re lacking drive or motivation, you can look at these inspirations in your study room and move forward.

With these seven tips, you can easily create a more enjoyable work environment where your knowledge will grow. However, don’t make it too comfortable so that you fall asleep while studying – it’s still a learning environment, not a gaming room.

BIO: Rebecca Grey is a passionate writer & guest blogger. She loves writing and sharing her knowledge mostly in the technology industry.

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New report highlights ways to protect, preserve NH’s freshwater resources

View of the Androscoggin River in NH

New Hampshire has over 800 lakes and ponds and over 19,000 miles of rivers and streams. This freshwater provides drinking water, sustains local wildlife, and fuels a significant portion of the state’s tourism and recreation industry, according to University of New Hampshire researchers.

Scientists at UNH have been figuring out how to best protect and preserve that resource for generations to come. Their research, which ranges from concerns about cyanobacteria in local lakes to investigations about the use of duckweed as a water pollution mitigation tool, is part of the latest INSPIRED report .

Eleven research briefs focused on water quality and management from UNH researchers are included in the report.

Anton Bekkerman, director of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, said these reports attempt to make UNH’s scientific research accessible to a broader audience.

“It’s getting that science to those professionals that can make the difference on the ground,” he said.

Researchers emphasized how crucial it is to monitor waterways over extended periods of time to document the effects of climate change. One of the studies featured in the report tracked rising levels of nitrate in the Lamprey River over 20 years, which researchers said is likely caused by increased suburbanization in the region. Nitrate can be harmful to ecological and human health.

“As more people move to New Hampshire, as that landscape changes, that water quality reflects those changes within the landscape,” said Adam Wymore, a professor at UNH who helped lead the research.

He said collecting data long-term – like he and his colleagues have been doing at the Lamprey River Hydrological Observatory – is crucial for seeing the impacts of climate change, which can be missed in more short-term data sets.

Wymore’s research underscored the interconnectedness of New Hampshire’s waterways, documenting how the Lamprey River’s conditions impact the Great Bay estuary, which it flows into.

“Streams and rivers are the great integrators of the landscape,” he said. “They show all the change, and they are impacted significantly by what happens on the landscape.”

At the 39 Beech Street Engagement Center in Manchester, a fire department truck provides air conditioning for the usually non-air conditioned space.

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Make mine medium-rare: Men really do eat more meat than women, study says


A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)


Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women. But a study of over 28,000 people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures, and that the gap is wider in more developed countries. (AP Video: Joshua A. Bickel)


A man eats a chicken wing, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

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Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A cook prepares pork rib tips, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

A line cook carries a pulled pork sandwich Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. Psychologists have known for years now that men tend to eat more meat than women, but a study of people around the world now reveals that that’s true across cultures. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)


CHICAGO (AP) — Vacationing in Chicago this week from Europe, Jelle den Burger and Nirusa Naguleswaran grabbed a bite at the Dog House Grill: a classic Italian beef sandwich for him, grilled cheese for her.

Both think the way their genders lined up with their food choices was no coincidence. Women, said Naguleswaran, are simply more likely to ditch meat, and to care about how their diet affects the environment and other people.

“I don’t want to put it in the wrong way, that male people feel attacked,” said Naguleswaran, of Netherlands, laughing. She said she used to love eating meat, but giving it up for climate reasons was more important to her. “We just have it in our nature to care about others.”

Now, scientists can say more confidently than ever that gender and meat-eating preferences are linked. A paper out in Nature Scientific Reports this week shows that the difference is nearly universal across cultures — and that it’s even more pronounced in countries that are more developed.

Researchers already knew men in some countries ate more meat than women did. And they knew that people in wealthier countries ate more meat overall. But the latest findings suggest that when men and women have the social and financial freedom to make choices about their diets, they diverge from each other even more, with men eating more meat and women eating less.

That’s important because about 20% of planet-warming global greenhouse gas emissions come from animal-based food products, according to earlier research from the University of Illinois. The researchers behind the new report think their findings could fine-tune efforts to persuade people to eat less meat and dairy.


Chicken wings sit in a pan before frying, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

“Anything that one could do to reduce meat consumption in men would have a greater impact, on average, than among women,” said Christopher Hopwood, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich and one of the authors of the paper. The work was funded by Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit dedicated to ending animal agriculture. Hopwood said he is not affiliated with the organization and is not an advocate.

AP AUDIO: It’s not your imagination. Men really do eat more meat than women, study says

AP correspondent Ed Donahue reports on gender preferences when it comes to eating.

The researchers asked over 28,000 people in 23 countries on four continents how much of various types of food they ate every day, then calculated the average land animal consumption by gender identity in each country. They used the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures health, education and standard of living, to rank how “developed” each country was, and also looked at the Global Gender Gap Index, a scale of gender equality published by the World Economic Forum.


They found that, with three exceptions — China, India and Indonesia — gender differences in meat consumption were higher in countries with higher development and gender equality scores.

The large number and cultural diversity of people surveyed is “a real strength of this,” said Daniel Rosenfeld, a social psychologist at UCLA who studies eating behavior and moral psychology and was not involved in the study.


A line cook slices beef brisket, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

The study did not answer the question of why men tend to eat more meat, but scientists have some theories. One is that evolutionarily, women may have been hormonally hardwired to avoid meat that could possibly have been contaminated, affecting pregnancy, whereas men may have sought out meat proteins given their history as hunters in some societies.

But even the idea of men as hunters is intertwined with culture, Rosenfeld said. That’s a good example of another theory, which is that societal norms shape gender identity from an early age and thus how people decide to fill their plates.

Rosenfeld, who said he stopped eating meat about 10 years ago, said his own experience hanging out in college “as a guy hanging out with other guy friends” illustrated the cultural pressure for men to eat meat. “If they’re all eating meats and I decide not to,” he said, “it can disrupt the natural flow of social situations.”

The same cultural factors that shape gender influence how people respond to new information, said Carolyn Semmler, a professor of psychology at the University of Adelaide in Australia who also studies meat eating and social factors like gender. Semmler was not involved in this study. In some of her past work, she’s studied cognitive dissonance around eating meat.


A line cook places chicken wings into a bowl before serving, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

In those cases, she said women presented with information about poor animal welfare in the livestock industry were more likely to say they would reduce their meat consumption. But men tended to go the other direction, she said.

“One participant said to me, ‘I think you guys are trying to get me to eat less meat, so I’m going to eat more,’” she said.

Semmler said meat can be important to masculine identity, noting for example the popular notion of men at the grill. And she said presenting eating less meat as a moral cause can be a sensitive issue. Still, she said, people should be aware of how their food choices affect the planet.

But she and Hopwood acknowledged how difficult it is to change behavior.

“Men are a tough nut to crack,” Hopwood said.

Jose Lopez, another diner at the Dog House Grill, said he thought men should eat less meat but said that in general he has observed otherwise.

“We’re carnivores. Men eat like savages,” he said.


A line cook carries a pulled pork sandwich Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Follow Melina Walling on X: @MelinaWalling.

The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org .


The Use of Big Data Analysis in Digital Empowerment of Sustainable Technological Innovation Management of Ecological Enterprises

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  • Published: 25 June 2024

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how to make a research environment

  • Jianing Yu 1 &
  • Siyu Chen 1  

With the social economy's rapid progress and the popularization of environmental awareness, ecological enterprises have gradually become a crucial trend in the development of modern enterprises. This work intends to promote the development of ecological enterprises to a higher level. This work first analyzes the management mode of ecological enterprises in the context of big data in China. Then, it establishes various indicators to analyze the role of sustainable technological innovation in enterprise development and the impact of digital empowerment on enterprise development. Finally, this work takes China's manufacturing industry and ecological enterprises in Hubei Province as examples to summarize the digital empowerment of sustainable technological innovation management of ecological enterprises under the background of big data. The final result indicates that sustainable technological innovation significantly reduces ecological enterprises' resource consumption and waste emissions. Additionally, it has a significant positive effect on improving enterprise output value and economic benefits. The digital empowerment of enterprises has a significant driving effect on sustainable technological innovation, with a digital driving coefficient of 26. This work provides a feasible scheme for the specific application of big data analysis in the technology innovation management of ecological enterprises, including market demand analysis, environmental monitoring and governance, technology assessment and risk management. This work expounds the role of big data analysis technology in improving decision-making efficiency, optimizing resource allocation and enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises in the digital empowerment of ecological enterprises.

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This work was supported by the Pingdingshan University Doctoral Science Research Foundation. ( Project No.PXY-BSQD-2023037).

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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This role is a new function at MSCI and is an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic self-starter to create an industry leading ESG ratings offering for the Indian capital markets.

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  1. Research Environment template ( DOC 44k)

    how to make a research environment

  2. Creating a thriving research environment

    how to make a research environment

  3. Creating a thriving research environment

    how to make a research environment

  4. Creating a thriving research environment

    how to make a research environment

  5. How to do research: Environment

    how to make a research environment

  6. 15 Types of Research Methods (2024)

    how to make a research environment


  1. Research Setting or Study Area

  2. How to avoid Toxic PhD Labs: Strategies for Research Success #phd #research #drjyotibala

  3. Building the optimal research environment

  4. Professional Behaviors in the Research Environment

  5. The Australian Artificial Intelligence Institute: Research Environment Introduction

  6. Aspects of the School Environment


  1. What really matters for successful research environments? A realist synthesis

    Introduction. Research environments matter. Environmental considerations such as robust cultures of research quality and support for researchers are thought to be the most influential predictors of research productivity.1, 2 Over 25 years ago, Bland and Ruffin1 identified 12 characteristics of research‐favourable environments in the international academic medicine literature spanning the ...

  2. (PDF) Research Environment

    1. Research Environment. Lana Bara ć. Abstract. Successful research environment requires joint effort by indi vidual researchers, research groups and the organization. This chapter describes the ...

  3. 7 ways to promote better research culture

    Here are seven things that could help you promote good research integrity, and contribute to improving research culture, in your organization: 1. Small steps can make a big difference. Facilitating open discussions can help foster a more collaborative environment, by giving researchers the chance to share their experiences of not only their ...

  4. Research Environment

    Successful research environment requires joint effort by individual researchers, research groups and the organization. This chapter describes the basic principles and good research practices in the context of the research environment and serves as a guide to good, responsible research for research newcomers - researchers at the beginning of their scientific career.

  5. On creating a good research environment · Elephant in the Lab

    Sabine Müller. "Researchers say that their working culture is best when it is collaborative, inclusive, supportive and creative, when researchers are given time to focus on their research priorities, when leadership is transparent and open, and when individuals have a sense of safety and security. But too often research culture is not at its ...

  6. What Is a Research Design

    A research design is a strategy for answering your research question using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about: Your overall research objectives and approach. Whether you'll rely on primary research or secondary research. Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects. Your data collection methods.

  7. How to grow a healthy lab

    Research-integrity specialists say that focusing too much on individual bad actors deflects attention from the environments that promote bad behaviour. The idea applies just as much to researchers ...

  8. Eight ways your university can make research culture more open

    Here are eight key actions your university can take to stimulate that process. 1. Join or establish a national reproducibility network. Since the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) was founded, national reproducibility networks have been established in Australia, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland, and the community is expanding.

  9. How to Create a Productive Research Environment

    A productive research environment also encourages creativity and innovation, by providing the space and resources for researchers to explore new ideas, methods, and solutions.

  10. The Research Environment and Its Impact on Integrity in Research

    THE OPEN-SYSTEMS MODEL OF RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONS. Figure 3-1 shows the application of the open-systems model to the research environment, which can include public and private institutions, such as research universities, medical schools, and independent research organizations. As noted above, any element or part of an organization can be viewed as a system in and of itself.

  11. Ten simple rules to make your research more sustainable

    Limit the use of (plastic) disposable material [ 45 ]. Practice printing sobriety: think before you print and collect printed documents. Encourage employees to use soft modes of transport for local commutes (see also Rules 3 and 4). Favor local, seasonal, and vegetarian food when organizing events.

  12. How to Create a (truly) Collaborative Research Environment

    Scientific Leadership. Combining Hard and Soft Skills is the Key to a Collaborative Research Environment The research environment is a source of discoveries and innovations that positively impact ...

  13. Research environment

    Wellcome's definition of the research environment goes beyond this to consider the culture and behaviours that create excellent research practice. For us, this includes research that is inclusive in design and practice, ethical and engaged with relevant community stakeholders. An open and transparent research process is a tool to enable these ...

  14. 9 ways to create a functionally efficient research environment

    If the project is not functionally responsive to the needs of the research and related activities, no amount of aesthetics or sustainable solutions can make the project useful. Here, it is important that the equipment can be well accommodated, the internal environment is well modulated, and ultimately, the researchers are able to perform their ...

  15. Creating the right research environment

    Emma Boulton. 3.3K Followers. Research Leadership, Research Ops, Design, Tech. Currently @Meta, previously @Babylon Health. I've written previously about what the research landscape looked like ...

  16. Research Environment

    Gaining competitive advantage will also result in a number of rewards. Firstly, research results made public as scientific information, if accepted by the research environment, contribute to scientific knowledge. Secondly, the research environment offers recognised researchers rewards like scientific position, tenure, research projects ...

  17. Tips for Writing about Your Research Experience (Even if You Don't

    If you're someone who hasn't yet done formal research in a university setting, one of the most intimidating parts of the process can be simply getting your foot in the door. Just like the way your options can seem very limited when applying for your first job, asking for a research position when you have no "experience" can seem ...

  18. How to create synergy and delight in research

    Actively building synergy between students looking for dissertation topics and research-active staff has led to a vibrant research, postgraduate and postdoctoral community in the field of midwifery. This expansion has taken time. In the early 2000s, there were taught master's programmes with research dissertation components; midwifery has ...

  19. Writing the Research Environment, Research Respondents ...

    This video contains information about how to write the research environment and respondents of the study sections in a research proposal. Different probabili...

  20. PGR skills development and the research environment

    Expectations on access to the research environment. 8.7. The University provides a high-quality research environment in which PGR students develop their skills and conduct work on their research projects. 8.8. Schools and faculties must ensure that PGR students have access to an appropriate research environment, including the following: 8.8.1.

  21. How to do Research on Environment

    To find research on more specific aspects of your topic, alternate one new keyword at a time with the primary keyword of your topic with "and" in between them (for example, "global warming and causes," "global warming and health," "global warming and pollution," "global warming and solutions," etc.). For additional help with ...

  22. 7 Tips to Create the Perfect Study Environment

    However, the visual experience of your study environment is also significant. Decorating your learning space with pictures, flowers, lighting, furniture, and comfy pillows can make learning easier. At the same time, make sure to get a comfortable chair and desk so you feel more inclined to use it.

  23. All Around the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Farmers Are Losing Access to

    Sometimes things happen and it's not related to the pipeline, but you got to go out and do some research." Since the Mountain Valley Pipeline was first proposed in 2014, community groups, scientists, and environmental advocates have been warning of the potential dangers of building a large natural gas pipeline through the mountains of West ...

  24. New report highlights ways to protect, preserve NH's freshwater

    Wymore's research underscored the interconnectedness of New Hampshire's waterways, documenting how the Lamprey River's conditions impact the Great Bay estuary, which it flows into.

  25. Make mine medium-rare: Men really do eat more meat than women, study

    That's important because about 20% of planet-warming global greenhouse gas emissions come from animal-based food products, according to earlier research from the University of Illinois. The researchers behind the new report think their findings could fine-tune efforts to persuade people to eat less meat and dairy.

  26. The Use of Big Data Analysis in Digital Empowerment of ...

    With the social economy's rapid progress and the popularization of environmental awareness, ecological enterprises have gradually become a crucial trend in the development of modern enterprises. This work intends to promote the development of ecological enterprises to a higher level. This work first analyzes the management mode of ecological enterprises in the context of big data in China ...

  27. Understanding sustainable software testing

    Embracing these practices supports environmental responsibility and enhances software products' overall quality and longevity. Sustainable testing is essential for creating a greener digital world, ensuring that software development and testing processes are efficient, responsible and aligned with long term sustainability objectives.

  28. What really matters for successful research environments? A realist

    Introduction. Research environments matter. Environmental considerations such as robust cultures of research quality and support for researchers are thought to be the most influential predictors of research productivity. 1, 2 Over 25 years ago, Bland and Ruffin 1 identified 12 characteristics of research-favourable environments in the international academic medicine literature spanning the ...

  29. Head of MSCI India ESG Ratings & Research » Mumbai

    o Work with ESG Research to ensure that the ratings process meets regulatory and internal control requirements. Note that the Head of ESG Ratings & Research Private Limited - India will not be a rating analyst or responsible for developing the rating methodology but will ensure that the rating process meets internal standards.