'nerveimPulse': a DCDI Demographic and Sentiment Survey

nerveimPulse logo


The Departmental Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DCDI) in the Department of Neurobiology invites you to participate in the inaugural DCDI In-reach pulse survey called nerveimPulse

Members of the DCDI In-reach subcommittee designed this ‘pulse’ survey in partnership with the HMS Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Partnership office. By sharing your perspective, you can help make our HMS Neurobiology community a place where everyone can thrive.  Your input will help guide priorities, practices and policies in the months and years to come. Our overarching goal is to have a robust mechanism for regular self-assessment of DCDI progress, and nerveimPulse will serve as a critical tool to measure the impact of our work.

Be a part of history! As scientists, we know that data speak. Please respond to our inaugural nerveimPulse and help shape DCDI’s work and goals for years to come. We need your partnership to help enact impactful and meaningful change in our Department. We are aiming for at least 95% of the Department to respond. Please help us as we pursue our DEI goals by responding to nerveimPulse! 


How will my identity be protected? How will the data be stored?

Given the size of our Department, we were very careful that the backend data analysis would yield sufficient information without violating privacy or providing any identifiable information. The approximate number of people who are receiving the survey is ~400.  Despite our best efforts to design a completely anonymous survey, we recognize that some of the self-identification demographic categories pertain to fewer people and that there may be some concern that your anonymity might be compromised-- but some respondents may still prefer to provide this information.  The choice is yours to select it, skip it or to select the, “I do not wish to respond” option. 

All of the data will be stored on protected servers and never shared with anyone outside of the Department of Neurobiology. We will only share analyzed, summary data with the community.

How is this survey different than other surveys at Harvard?

HMS  has already released and analyzed a ‘Pulse’ survey soliciting demographic data on all HMS staff, students, trainees, and employees (within graduate research, graduate and medical education, central administration), and so does not capture the unique ways the DEI sphere impacts the research sector, graduate education, or the postdoctoral fellow experience. Moreover, each HMS Department has a unique culture and is rather siloed in its DEI efforts and needs, and so the HMS Pulse survey does not have the granularity or resolution essential to yield transformative changes the DCDI seeks to make in the Department of Neurobiology. For these reasons, we created a custom survey for our Department that will be used iteratively over the years to provide longitudinal assessment of the impact of our DCDI activities, as well as attitudes and opinions on DEI issues.

What will you do with the data?

DCDI will analyze the data with support from the DICP office. We will share the analyzed and summary data with the community as well as Department leadership. The data will provide us with essential baseline data of department member demographics that we can track over the years. Together with other resources, nerveimPulse data will provide an essential snapshot of the impact of DCDI activities. 

For example, we can determine whether our DCDI’s Outreach subcommittee activities have had an impact on recruitment of trainees to our Department by monitoring the trend of nerveimPulse demographic data. Another example of how the data will be used pertains to what extent respondents feel like the Department values their voices, or sentiments related to belonging and inclusion. Our goal is to see an rising trend in positive feelings of belonging, and if we do not see such a positive slope in nerveimPulse data, we will know that DCDI activities need to prioritize events and efforts in this space. 

These are but a few examples of the powerful ways in which your response to nerveimPulse will have an impact on our DEI efforts in the Department of Neurobiology for years to come. 

Who should I contact if I have questions about the survey?

Please contact neurosurvey@hms.harvard.edu with any questions, comments, or feedback related to the survey. You can also reach out to Soha Ashrafi (soha_ashrafi@hms.harvard.edu), Director of Research in the Department of Neurobiology.