Training program culture and shared responsibilities

The training grant is designed to support the next generation of alcohol researchers with shared responsibilities for the following: Didactic Program

Weekly alcohol/addiction seminar

The weekly alcohol/addiction seminar is required for all pre- and post-doctoral trainees. The seminar provides: (a) an extended focus on specific topics related to emerging concepts, methodologies or findings in change research; (b) working meetings for trainees to present research ideas, present completed research studies, and to prepare for presentations at national meetings; and (c) workshops on specific professional skills such as giving presentations, reviewing manuscripts, and writing scientific papers. Seminar content is flexible and will be developed each semester. Each trainee will be responsible for leading one seminar session each year. Formats for the seminar include: Training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR)

Formal instruction in research ethics is required for all training program trainees. All predoctoral trainees will receive formal RCR training in the first-year Psychology Department Research Seminar. Post-doctoral trainees should complete a formal RCR training program. In addition, Dr. Witkiewitz will lead an RCR seminar series as part of the Addiction Seminar. The seminar will cover core areas of research ethics, including moral foundations of research ethics, ethical issues in research design, recruitment of research participants, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, research with historically disadvantaged populations, issues in data management and data sharing, authorship and intellectual property, mentor-mentee relationships, conflicts of interest, and scientific misconduct with particular application to alcohol research.

Trainees should expect to address ethical issues in their own research on a regular basis. They will obtain experience in the preparation of consent forms and human subjects protocols by preparing their own protocols for submission to the UNM Institutional Review Board.

Research design and data science

All pre-doctoral trainees must obtain two semesters of graduate level coursework in research design and statistics, the required courses in the Psychology Department. In addition, all pre-doctoral trainees will be required to complete at least one additional course in advanced statistical methods of most relevance to their area of research.

For post-doctoral trainees, the Steering Committee will review their prior training in research design, statistics, and data science, and, if necessary, recommend specific courses to assure basic competence. Post-doctoral trainees have a range of advanced statistics courses available, and you should select additional courses in conjunction with your mentor.

There are a number of excellent workshops/short courses that post-doctoral trainees also may take; these typically are offered 1-2 times per year. Short courses that we recommend include: Training in Reproducibility and Rigor

Formal instruction in principles important for enhancing research reproducibility and rigor will be required for all trainees. Pre- and post-doctoral trainees should complete the NIH Rigor and Reproducibility Training Modules and additional modules or trainings as relevant to their training and career development plan. In addition, discussions about reproducibility and rigor will be incorporated in the Addiction Seminar. The seminar will cover, at a minimum, evaluation of foundational research underlying a project (i.e., scientific premise), rigorous experimental design, consideration of relevant biological variables such as sex, authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources, data and material sharing, record keeping, and transparency in reporting with particular application to alcohol research. Trainees should expect to address rigor and reproducibility in their own research on a regular basis and are encouraged to share materials and data (when possible) via the open science framework.


Work with mentors

Each trainee must have a primary mentor, selected from among the Core faculty for the training program, and may also have a secondary mentor, selected from among the Core and affiliated faculty for the training program. Trainees will work with their mentors in their mentors' research program to develop specific research skills and to develop in-depth expertise in the scientific literature of relevance to the mentors' area of research. Trainees have opportunities to access datasets that the mentors may have and to participate in jointly authored and first authored publications from the mentors' lab.

Independent research and community-based research

Equally important to the training program is that each trainee develops their own line of research that will then serve as a basis for the trainee's early career after the completion of training. Each trainee should articulate an area of research that is unique from the specific studies being conducted in the mentor's lab. This research should form the basis for the trainee's research studies, including thesis or dissertation research and collection of preliminary data to support applications for external grant funding. Faculty of the T32 embrace community-based participatory research and team science approaches. We seek to help trainees build community and transdisciplinary collaborations, such that trainees integrate researchers from diverse disciplines, practitioners from diverse treatment settings, persons with lived experience, and community stakeholders in their research. Goals toward individual research projects, community-based participatory research, and inter- and transdisciplinary science collaborations are welcome and trainees should work with mentors to identify SMART goals for their individual contributions to larger team projects and community-based participator research.

Publications and science communication

Publication in peer-reviewed journals, as well as publication of journal chapters, monographs, and books, is the backbone of science and important to the development of an identity as a scientist in the alcohol research field. Papers may arise from the trainee's own research, current research in the mentor's lab, current research in another training grant faculty member's lab, or from existing datasets accessible to the trainee through training grant faculty or publicly archived datasets. Communicating science to broader audiences is also imperative for our field to increase dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices and processes. Trainees are encouraged to seek out creative ways of dissemination, including traditional publications and also science communication efforts. Trainees are also encouraged to collaborate with other trainees on publication opportunities. The T32 encourages open discussions and mutual agreement regarding authorship decisions, scorecards are available to determine authorship order and we also recommend the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT).

Conference presentations

Presenting papers and posters at national scientific meetings is an excellent way to disseminate your research, meet other scientists with common scholarly interests, get feedback on work in progress, and increase your visibility within the scientific community. All trainees are expected to attend the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism or the College of Problems on Drug Dependence, and to present papers or posters at that meeting. Additional presentations may be made at conferences in areas of particular interest to the trainee's research.

Research with affiliated faculty and trainees

In addition to the work with primary and secondary training grant mentors, trainees are encouraged to seek out additional research opportunities with other core or affiliated faculty and other T32 trainees. Many of them have on-going projects or datasets that are available for trainees to work with. The training program will provide some opportunities to meet the faculty, but trainees are also encouraged to seek out other research opportunities with these faculty.

Grant writing

Grant-writing seminar
CASAA hosts an annual grant writing seminar that is open to all faculty and pre- and post-doctoral trainees at the University New Mexico. All trainees are required to attend this seminar in the Fall of their first year on the training grant. The aim of this 8-week course is to provide step-by-step hands-on training in the submission of high quality NIH applications. In addition to focusing on the writing of specific sections of an NIH application, such as specific aims and preliminary studies, the course covers such topics as budget planning and preparation, projecting necessary sample size and the resources necessary to implement and sustain the study protocol, securing IRB approval, understanding the NIH review processes, and writing of biographical sketches.

As part of annual goal-setting, pre-doctoral trainees will decide what kind of grant writing experience they will obtain during the year. This experience may include: (1) learning how to identify appropriate granting opportunities, (2) applying for some form of funding (internal or external) to partially support thesis research, or (3) submitting an application, typically an Diversity Supplement, or R36, to support their dissertation research. Predoctoral trainees in their third year of graduate study or beyond are expected to submit an F31 or similar application during the training year, if submitting a grant proposal is consistent with their training goals.

Pre-doctoral trainees writing grant applications and all post-doctoral trainees, in conjunction with the grant writing seminar, will have specific assignments each week that will help them prepare their own applications. Weekly meetings will continue after the seminar concludes, to complete a step-by-step process to prepare an application. Trainees will receive feedback from each other and from the grant writing seminar leader on each component of their grant application, and will be expected to have a completed grant proposal.

Goal Setting and Individualized Training Plans

Each trainee and mentor develop an Individualized Mentoring Plan and set annual goals in the areas of competency defined by the training program: (1) broad knowledge of the scientific literature in the alcohol field; (2) data science skills and knowledge of research design and statistics; (3) professional connections and collaborations in the field; (4) oral communication skills; (5) written communication skills; (6) independent research, community-based participatory research, team science, and project management; (7) service to the T32, community, and the profession; (8) responsible conduct of research and development of skills in project management; (9) grant writing skills; (10) training in reproducibility, methods, and rigor; and (11) mentorship and leadership.

We encourage setting SMART goals, which are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-bound. Many aspects of training are continuous (e.g., we are always learning new methods, and reading the literature), and training elements can also be developed into SMART goals with clear timelines and activities that you will be engaged in as a trainee to accomplish your SMART goals.

Photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn