BACKGROUND |  The New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (NM-INBRE) is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH Grant Number P20GM1103451). The NM INBRE strengthens biomedical research at New Mexico’s universities and prepares faculty and students for participation in research programs of the NIH. For more information on the NM INBRE visit www.nminbre.org.

The program’s mission is to create supportive research and training environments, facilitate communication and collaborations among participants. Participating NM institutions must have signed the Institutional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Participants are required to sign the Participant MOU.  The Mountain West Research Consortium (MWRC) provides additional opportunities and access to resources within western region IDeA states: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. For more information on the MWRC visit: www.mountainwestconsortium.org.

The NM-INBRE grant is under the direction of Shelley Lusetti, Ph.D., NMSU, who serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) on the grant application, and as Director of the Administrative Core. The NM-INBRE is governed and overseen by a Steering Committee (SC), which includes Institutional Liaisons, and External Advisory Committee (EAC) consisting of individuals with scientific expertise germane to the NM-INBRE Developmental Research Project Program.

The SC is charged with establishment of the policies and operating procedures of both itself and the NM-INBRE that are consistent with NIH guidelines, rules, and regulations, and develops strategies and policies for interaction with the EAC. The SC oversees program activities, reviews applications for new/replacement projects, and evaluates the progress and professional development of individual faculty investigators and collaborative teams. The SC is responsible for the formal resolution of disputes, whenever these may occur. This policy applies to all investigators, mentors, post-doctoral fellows, graduate/undergraduate students, and staff supported by the NM-INBRE. This policy is not intended to supersede the individual’s institutional conflict resolution policy.

The NM INBRE program provides funding for varying numbers of developmental pilot research projects within the State following the agency specified requirements and expectations of the award mechanism (PAR-12-205), and described in detail in the NM-INBRE proposal. All funded awards are subject to annual progress evaluation, and renewal/continuation of awards is dependent on SC approval. Policies and procedures that avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest are in place to protect all parties. The best practice is to prevent conflicts or to prevent escalation of disagreements to conflicts.


Recommended behaviors to reduce disagreements and prevent conflicts involve: 

Routine communication between partners. 

  • True appreciation of each partner’s contribution to the project. 
  • Recognition and respect of the role of the partner at his/her home institution and therefore, patience for competing demands on his/her time. 
  • Communication at the first twinge or suspicion of a misunderstanding on any issue or a sense of non-alignment with the research/programs goals and objectives. 
  • Revisiting the proposal to review what was proposed; this document should be used to guide the communication between parties.

Situations where conflicts or disagreements could arise might involve:

  • Authorship on manuscripts or patents or other intellectual property claims. 
  • Expectations of who is responsible for project activities, or experimental results 
  • Expectations of who is responsible for project reports or presentations. 
  • Decisions involving funding and budgeting.

To prevent these types of misunderstandings from escalating into disagreements and conflicts, please remember to communicate with all parties and negotiate fair distribution of credit and effort before work is completed.

 

Informal and Formal Resolution of Conflicts

I. The NM-INBRE encourages the active resolution of conflicts in order to maintain and promote a fair and productive environment for all participants. Participants are encouraged to maintain and utilize open communications to promote and maintain a civil and humane resolution of any and all conflicts. The NM-INBRE encourages the resolution of conflict at the earliest opportunity, or the lowest step in whatever dispute resolution process is used. Both formal procedures and informal conflict resolution mechanisms are provided. Participants are encouraged to use informal resolution whenever appropriate. Together, the resources listed below are intended to provide fair, thoughtful, and effective means to manage and/or resolve conflict situations.

II. We define conflict as a disagreement through which the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.

IIIInformal Resolution of Conflicts

We recognize that resolving a conflict requires personal integrity on the part of all parties involved. It takes courage to honestly and clearly articulate needs and to sit down and listen to alternative/adversarial perspectives. It takes courage to look at one’s own role in the dispute, and to approach others with a sense of empathy, openness, and respect for their perspective. In some cases where disagreements occur between investigators at the same institution, the SC Member/Institutional Liaison may be able to contribute to the informal resolution process. The following general suggestions may help to informally resolve conflicts with co-workers, collaborators, and/or students constructively and respectfully.

A. Treat the other person with respect

Although respecting the other person during a conflict is challenging, one must try. Words of disrespect block communication.

B. Confront the problem

A time and place to discuss the conflict with the other person should be identified. The best time is when the parties are not arguing or angry. The place should be comfortable and away from either party's “turf.”

C. Define the conflict

The conflict should be described in clear, concrete terms. Specificity of the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the situation should occur. Identify the problems for discussion, without focusing on the individuals. Behaviors, feelings, consequences, and desired changes should be discussed.

D. Communicate understanding

Listening to understand the other person's feelings, needs, and so forth is needed. The parties should be encouraged to step back and try to imagine how the other person sees things. After discussing the issues, the parties should explain how they see the problem after discussion. It is especially important to discuss any changes in how the parties feel about the issues.

E. Explore alternative solutions

Alternative solutions should be offered. The consequences of each solution should be examined.

F. Agree on the most workable solution

A solution that all parties involved can understand and can live with should be adopted. Win-win solutions are most appropriate. Commitment to resolving the conflict is required.

G. Evaluate after time

After a certain time has passed, the parties should evaluate how well the solution is working. Adjustment of the resolution should occur if and when necessary.

IV. Formal Resolution of Conflicts

When informal conflict resolution is ineffective, formal mechanisms to resolution may be required. These steps will be used to formally resolve conflicts.

A. Program Director/ SC Chair

The PI/PD will form the first point of contact in the formal conflict resolution process. Written statements describing the conflict issues will be collected from all participants. The PI/SC Chair will suggest possible strategies for resolution.

B. Steering Committee

Conflicts that cannot be resolved among the affected participants through the program director will be referred to the SC. The committee will consider the documentation, discuss the issues with the participants either separately or jointly, and may initiate other inquiries or request additional information to facilitate comprehension of the situation and identify recommendations for resolution. The SC will discuss the issues with the participants either separately or jointly and will make a recommendation for resolution. The SC recommendation will be considered binding for the participants involved in the conflict.