Conflict Resolution

Learn how to resolve interpersonal, external, or legal conflicts

Revised January 2013

1.   Policy Scope

This policy applies to three types of conflict resolution:

  1. Conflicts based on a client’s belief that work performed by the Research Technologies Division (RT) of UITS (a Cyberinfrastructure and Service Center of the Pervasive Technology Institute), including the Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core (ABITC), was done inadequately, incompletely, or incorrectly, or that the Research Technologies staff member providing service did not provide excellent customer service in keeping with the OVPIT, UITS, PTI, or Research Technologies missions.
  2. Conflicts based on interpersonal interactions that are deemed ‘conflict’ because they violate norms of interpersonal interaction within the University, IU policies, or civil laws of the State of Indiana or the United States.
  3. Conflicts based on violation of criminal law or federal research policies.

These policies are described in more detail below

2.   Policy based conflicts in which a client’s believes that work performed was done inadequately, incompletely, or incorrectly, or that the Research Technologies staff member providing service did not provide excellent customer service.

In the case of situations in which a client of Research Technologies (including the Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core) provides service that is deemed in some way as inadequate, the path to conflict resolution is to proceed up the chain of command to the Associate Dean, diverting off to a report to the UITS Ombudsman at any point the client becomes dissatisfied with that pathway and/or if communication with the Associate Dean for Research Technologies are unsuccessful in creating a suitable solution acceptable to the client.

 Complaint Chain

3.   Conflicts based on interpersonal interactions that are deemed ‘conflict’ because they violate norms of interpersonal interaction within the University, IU policies, or civil laws of the State of Indiana or the United States. 

Background for this issue comes directly from IU President McRobbie, who wrote in “The Principles of Excellence” that “Indiana University strives to achieve full diversity, and to maintain friendly, collegial, and humane environments, with a strong commitment to academic freedom.”

All Research Technologies staff are expected to be respectful, collegial, and maintain an excellent client service demeanor at all times when interacting with members of the IU community.

At no point will RT staff participate in violating IU policies, civil laws of the State of Indiana, civil laws of the United States, or generally accepted standards of interpersonal interactions. Research Technologies staff are required to comply with the Indiana University Employee handbook (http://www.indiana.edu/~uhrs/handbook/index.html), and in regards to matters related to discrimination, sexual harassment, and employment policies are directed to pursue the paths to remedy conflicts based on these sorts of matters via the guidance provided in that handbook. This policy and/or Indiana State Law require the reporting of certain policy violations – e.g. the unauthorized possession of a firearm on campus by a staff member.

As a matter of professional and collegial interaction, RT staff will in general not to be asked to compensate for a failure of IU researchers to adhere to policies of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) or units reporting to OVPR, particularly OVPR policies on timing and processing of grant proposals.

RT staff members are instructed that they are not to tolerate verbal abuse. Some verbal abuse is obvious, some is not. In an institution dedicated to a humane environment and friendly, collegial interactions, the yelling of obscenities and the extension of clear or veiled threats of physical or professional retribution from a person in a position of authority (e.g. a faculty member) to a staff member at the “individual performer level” is to be considered suspected verbal abuse. If a Research Technologies staff member is subjected to clear or suspected verbal abuse, they are required to terminate communication with the abuser, and send an email message within 4 hours to the Associate Dean of Research Technologies and the OVPIT Human Resources Officer. Those two together will review the situation and take actions as appropriate.

4.   Conflicts based on violation of criminal law or federal research policies.

Staff of Research Technologies are required to report suspected violation of State or Federal law to the IU Police Department, promptly (immediately or as soon as is physically practicable). Per communication from IU President McRobbie, suspected child abuse is to be reported directly to him if a person has reported child abuse to the Police and feels that inadequate attention is being given the report.

While some criminal behavior is obvious, some is less so. Unwelcome physical touching (grabbing, punching, poking, groping, etc.) is for purposes of this policy considered suspected assault and is to be reported directly to IU Police Department.

RT staff will abide by, and expect the researchers with whom they are collaborating to abide by, the highest standards of scientific ethics. Materials included in IU policies online, particularly the University-wide Research Education - CITI  site will be considered the first source of guidance on such matters. Each RT staff member – full time, part time, hourly, and those on “no-pay” adjunct or visiting appointments, are required to complete two CITI courses per year – one on research ethics generally, and one on human subjects research.

RT staff will abide by, and expect the researchers with whom they are collaborating to abide by, the policies particular to funding agencies that have funded research that RT staff are supporting. In general, RT staff are advised to report suspected research ethics violations (or other ethics violations) viahttps://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=17361 . As stated on that web page, “University policy prohibits the taking of any retaliatory action against individuals who make a good faith disclosure of suspected financial or other misconduct, or violations of policy, etc.”  However, there may be circumstances in which an individual staff member feels it appropriate to make an anonymous report directly to the relevant authorities within a federal funding agency. As stated at http://www.nsf.gov/oig/, “Each federal agency has an Office of Inspector General (OIG) that provides independent oversight of the agency’s programs and operations. The office is responsible for promoting efficiency and effectiveness in agency programs and for preventing and detecting fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Information about a few of the federal funding agency Offices of Inspector General follows:

As painful as it may be to report suspected misconduct, recent events have made it amply clear that it is far better for individuals and for the institutions of which they are a part to report misconduct than to stand silent. Research Technologies staff are professionals of the highest scientific and ethical standards, and as members of the Indiana University community are expected to serve that Institution, the State of Indiana, and the United States, and not put misguided concern for any individual of any stature over the best interests of our fellow humans as a whole and the University.

5.   Relationship to Empowering People

This policy supports achievement of the following Empowering People Actions:

  • Recommendation A1
    • Action 4: Cyberinfrastructure. IU should continue to advance its local cyberinfrastructure, participation in national cyberinfrastructure, and its efforts to win federal funding of cyberinfrastructure programs that enhance IU’s research capabilities. (RT leads)
    • Action 5: Philosophy of abundance. IU should pursue strategies that approximate a philosophy of abundance, within reason, towards unmetered availability of basic IT services, support, and infrastructure for creative activity, storage, computation, communication, and other activities fundamental to the work of the university via any appropriate sourcing strategy. (EI leads; RT supporting)
    • Action 6: Leveraging partnerships. IU should continue its highly successful program of relationships with hardware, software, and services vendors, and seek additional partnerships and creative exchanges that provide mutual benefits. (S leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A4
    • Action 16: External funding. OVPIT should continue to lead and expand its efforts to effectively partner with academic units, campuses, administrative units, or individual investigators for external funding opportunities. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A7
    • Action 25: Research into IT. IU should support and pursue research into information technology itself. IT professionals and faculty should seek partnership opportunities for scholarly publication and invention disclosure that document meritorious research and discovery. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation C13
    • Action 59: Health care data confidentiality. IU should develop rigorous policies and procedures to ensure that confidential health information, the most sensitive of all personal information, is reliably protected during transport, while in use, and at rest in storage. (IUSM CIO leads; RT supporting)
    • Action 61: Healthcare data access. IU should assertively engage with and through its partners to provide both the infrastructure and the services necessary to support the advancement of innovative activities, including access to electronic health records via health information exchange networks, telehealth consult services to underserved communities, and the education of our health sciences students. (CTSI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation C15
    • Action 70: IT-enabled research. IU should purposefully select areas of great and timely promise for strategic development of IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. (PTI leads)
    • Action 71: IT-enabled research resources. IU should identify a base of resources to provide both initial and sustained investments in selected areas for IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. This may include reallocating current resources and developing new ones, including endowments, grants, and/or additional fees. (RT leads)

6. Policy by

Craig A. Stewart, Associate Dean, Research Technologies

Revised 1/2013