The persistent underrepresentation of Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans in the ranks of Ph.D.-level researchers in the biomedical fields has long been recognized as a problem for our nation. The National Institutes of Health have sponsored extensive minority-target training programs under the Minority Opportunity in Research (MORE) program. Although some evaluations have found that students in MORE programs are more likely than other students to pursue research careers, the results are not unequivocal. Moreover, very little high-quality research has addressed the question of how such programs work, i.e., the processes by which the programs have their effects. Reliable information on positive and negative aspects of the enrichment process would permit the development of guidelines for optimally effective programs and would provide opportunities for scaling up for a larger number of trainees. To attain valid information about MORE program effects, NIH-GMS launched an RO1 initiative for """"""""Research on the Efficacy of Interventions that Promote Research Careers"""""""" in 2003. At a recent (May 2007) workshop sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, it was acknowledged that there has been a dearth of high-quality proposals for the initiative. Although many of the proposals come from individuals with great understanding of and insight into the programs (e.g., natural scientists or medical educators), the proposals lack expertise and sophistication in the social and behavioral science research that is necessary to answer the proposed questions and suffer from insufficient theoretical grounding, weak designs, and/or weak or inappropriate data analysis strategies. The current proposal seeks funding to offer conferences/workshops to introduce previously unsuccessful or potential proposal writers to (a) the basic logic of social and behavioral science research, (b) appropriate research designs and analyses, and (c) strategies for the composition of interdisciplinary teams. Taught by knowledgeable and experienced social and behavioral scientists, the workshops will employ lectures, demonstrations, problem sets, and small group sessions to allow participants to address the necessary topics. The goal of the workshop is not to make participants experts in social science research, but rather to increase their capabilities to organize and manage highly effective research teams.
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