Expanding Responsible Conduct of Research Instruction across the University


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Abstract

During the past two decades, serious intellectual effort by governmental agencies, research institutions, professional societies, and educators has promoted education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR), defined present standards of RCR, and shaped the debate on how best to promote research integrity in the biomedical sciences. However, revisions to the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct in 2000 specifically expanded the policy’s scope to include disciplines outside the biomedical and behavioral sciences, thus creating a need for RCR education in such fields as economics, education, mathematics, and linguistics. Even as some institutions have applied the Office of Research Integrity’s (ORI) framework for RCR instruction university-wide, academic administrators and faculty from fields beyond the biomedical sciences have rightly noted that several of ORI’s nine core instructional areas are tangential or irrelevant to the many disciplines whose research practices differ substantially from those of the biomedical sciences. These disciplines can benefit from the rich history of discourse, policy making, and education in RCR in the biomedical sciences, but they must not simply apply the standards of biomedical and behavioral science to their own, quite different research. Creative leadership from these newly included disciplines is needed to define standards of ethical research in their areas, prepare relevant educational materials, and promote a multidisciplinary perspective on research integrity across the university. The authors suggest that the scope of RCR education for federally funded research in other areas be addressed on two levels: (1) the content of generally applicable RCR education, and (2) the special, discipline-specific content.

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