Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and Training Plan
Research at Lewis & Clark College
Lewis & Clark College is committed to the highest standards of excellence and integrity in all research and scholarly endeavors. Individuals involved in research should have adequate training in the responsible conduct of research and scientific ethics. In addition to the technical and fiscal management of sponsored projects, Principal Investigators (PIs) are obligated to use all resources effectively and efficiently, and are responsible for the direction of research and scholarly activities and the training of students, laboratory staff, and postdoctoral scholars. This includes participating in and introducing students and lab members to the appropriate standards of the Responsible Conduct of Research, and ensuring compliance with institutional policy, federal and state regulations, guidelines, and sponsor requirements.
Why is the Responsible Conduct of Research important?
To maintain confidence and trust in academic research, researchers must protect the empirical objectivity of research, the unbiased reporting of results, and the open sharing of information. On August 9, 2007, Public Law 100-69, otherwise known as the AMERICA COMPETES ACT, was passed. Section 7009 specifically addresses the Responsible Conduct of Research and reads as follows:
The [NSF] Director shall require that each institution that applies for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project.
Although issues can vary slightly depending on the academic discipline and individual program of research, topics that fall under the broader topic of “research integrity” include the following:
- environmental health & safety
- use and protection of human subjects and lab animals
- safe and responsible use of biological materials
- conflicts of interest – financial and otherwise
- publication, intellectual property and data management
- error, negligence or misconduct
- fabrication, falsification, and/or plagiarism
- response to violations of ethical standards
- responsible authorship
- mentor/trainee relationships
- peer review
- collaborative science
What are we doing about it?
The College of Arts & Sciences’ plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research applies to faculty mentors, undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who are working on a funded research project; all will complete educational training in issues surrounding research integrity. With support from Lewis & Clark College’s General Counsel and Sponsored Research Office, this program is overseen by the College’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO). The following components are included:
1. Teaching and Training
Discussions of the responsible conduct of research are regularly woven into class instruction, and first year seminars typically address plagiarism. As part of their registration process every incoming undergraduate student is required to complete a tutorial on avoiding plagiarism and review and agree to Lewis & Clark’s Academic Integrity Policy.
It is expected that faculty members teaching courses involving research will educate students in the responsible and ethical conduct of research; many departments have their own customized introductions to the principles of responsible research that ground every discipline at the College. For example, the Biology department has an “Honesty in Science” information sheet available here. All biology majors are exposed to this information in Bio 141, and faculty members refer to this document in the syllabi of other courses. In addition, CAS psychology courses such as the 300-level Psychology Methodology course require students to follow ethical guidelines and learn Institutional Review Board procedures when they conduct their own research projects. By the time students take senior-level courses, they are expected to reason and act morally in both classroom and “real-world” situations.
Human Subjects: The Lewis & Clark Committee on Human Subjects Research (for federal purposes: Institutional Review Board) reviews all research protocols involving human subjects to ensure compliance with federal guidelines and professional and ethical standards. Federal regulations mandate that research involving human subjects must be reviewed, approved and be subject to continuing review by the IRB. The IRB is responsible for providing guidance and oversight for the human participant protection program and for helping to maintain compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
Vertebrate Animals: The Lewis & Clark Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees Lewis & Clark’s animal programs, facilities and procedures ensuring the appropriate care, use and humane treatments of animals being used for research, testing and education. The IACUC reviews all research protocols involving vertebrate animals to ensure compliance with guidelines and professional and ethical standards. The IACUC is responsible for providing guidance and oversight for the animal care and use program and for helping to maintain compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
Recombinant DNA and Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules: All research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules conducted at or sponsored by Lewis & Clark must be conducted in compliance with current federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Lewis & Clark’s Institutional Biosafety Committee reviews all research involving recombinant DNA and synthetic nucleic acid molecules.
As part of our institutional support for the discussion of ethical issues in the conduct of research, the CAS Sponsored Research Office distributes the publication On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research (Third edition) to Department chairs and principal investigators in the sciences at College of Arts & Sciences. In addition, Lewis & Clark subscribes to online training modules, which are available to anyone affiliated with L&C. The Research Integrity Officer will facilitate an annual responsible conduct of research workshop on campus, which supplements the designated online training tools.
2. Completion of Web-based Protocols
L&C requires the following additional training for individuals working on funded research projects:
A. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers working on a funded research project must complete and pass a designated online training course. Faculty members supervising these individuals must complete and pass the same online training course. Online training materials can be accessed here.
B. Early in each term (September, January, June), the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) or his/her designee will solicit names of researchers from funded faculty mentors in the College of Arts & Sciences. Each faculty member will respond promptly with names of undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who are working on funded projects. Each faculty mentor will notify the RIO or his/her designee if a new individual joins his/her laboratory mid-term. Once the researchers’ names are provided to the RIO or his/her designee, researchers will receive an invitation and instructions to complete the required online training and must do so within two weeks.
C. The RIO and/or faculty mentors may require completion of additional online RCR or other related training modules, including but not limited to Institutional Animal Care and Use and/or Human Subjects-specific training. The faculty mentor will notify the RIO or his/her designee if additional training is required for members of his/her research team.
D. Certification: Once an undergraduate student completes the required online RCR training it is valid until they graduate from Lewis & Clark. Individuals who remain at Lewis & Clark beyond the expiration date of their certification and/or individuals who provide evidence of having already completed RCR training may be required to complete additional training, , including but not limited to a “refresher” course in the responsible conduct of research. Faculty mentors will only be required to complete the training once.
Evidence of Training
The PI is responsible for making sure members of his or her research team comply with training protocols. The RIO or his/her designee will track completion of training modules, keep institutional records updated, and if necessary, provide the PI with periodic updates regarding the compliance status for those under their mentorship.
PIs must complete and sign an internal review form prior to submission of an external grant application. This form requires that the PI:
- confirm their review of the College’s Research Integrity Policy,
- agree complete the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research training required by L&C, and
- ensure that researchers working on their funded project also complete the required training.
3. Consequences of Not Completing Required Training
If a researcher does not complete the required training in a timely manner, his or her compensation may be withheld until s/he has successfully completed the course and the RIO or his/her designee has received appropriate certification.
Relevant Policies and Resources:
- Financial Conflict of Interest
- Conflict of Interest
- Intellectual Property Policy
- Research Involving Human Subjects
- Institutional Biosafety Policy
- Institutional Animal Care and Use Policy
- Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance Office