Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Policy
The importance of formal RCR education was first explicitly recognized in the 1989 Institute of Medicine Report, The Responsible Conduct of Research in the Health Sciences, and has since been endorsed by other groups and members of the research community, including both research administration professional organizations, the Society of Research Administrators International (SRA) and the National Council of Research University Administrators (NCURA). Regular seminars, webinars, publications, and workshops have been offered over the years stressing the necessary vigilance required to assure the responsible conduct of research (RCR).
The general assumption of ethical and responsible conduct of research in the academy as the norm has been frequently thwarted by headlines trumpeting misconduct, even at the most prestigious of institutions. Regulations relating to research protections have proliferated over the past decade in response to the burgeoning cases of misconduct.
Public funds support roughly one-third of all research and development in the US and half of all basic research. The responsible and ethical conduct of research is vital for public trust in research on university campuses. Education in RCR is considered essential in preparing future scientists, engineers and educators. As a result of research trends and the need to assure a process for RCR for researchers, Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (PL 110-69) requires that ‘‘each institution that applies for financial assistance from the [National Science] Foundation (NSF) 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.” (NSF 10-1 January 2010; AAG Section IV B).
Effective Jan. 4, 2010, any institution that receives National Science Foundation (NSF) funding must certify in its grant proposals that: “…it has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research.” The institutional official must certify that the institution 1) has a plan for compliance with the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirement; and , 2) will track who has been trained.
The NSF published a revision to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) requiring that institutions must certify at the time of proposal submission that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who participate in NSF funded projects.
SUNY Fredonia Policy for the Responsible Conduct of Research
Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is a widely accepted set of ethical and professional standards for conducting research. SUNY Fredonia is committed to maintaining the integrity fundamental to research activities through the responsible and ethical conduct of its faculty, staff, and students.
The State University of New York at Fredonia promotes excellence in research and supports scholars from all fields. The commitment to student learning, as articulated in both the SUNY Fredonia Mission Statement and the Vision Statement from The Fredonia Plan clearly stresses our dedication to the highest quality education for all students and scholars. To further our commitment, SUNY Fredonia shall implement an institutional plan for the Responsible Conduct of Research benefiting all students and graduate researchers on the campus and especially those supported by external funding.
The value of research for human society, and the trust that the public places in science and the scientific and technological process, are vitally dependent on research integrity.1,2 The State University of New York (SUNY) and the Research Foundation for SUNY (RF) are committed to excellence, objectivity, accountability, professional courtesy, fairness, good stewardship, and – above all – integrity in the conduct of scholarly research. Research university systems, such as SUNY, are special places where knowledge creation through research and scholarship expands and enriches the process of knowledge dissemination through teaching and learning, each component acting together to amplify the co-benefits for people and society. It is in such institutions that the “leaders of each new generation are nurtured; it is there that boundaries to our existing knowledge are explored and crossed; it is there that unfettered thinking can thrive and unconstrained intellectual partnerships can be created. It is there, within each new class, within each new generation, that the future is forged.”
It is a privilege to be able to conduct research and scholarship at SUNY and connect these vital activities with the academic and public service missions of the system. In this light, the research process itself must be transparent and our researchers must take responsibility for assuring the trustworthiness of their research. Freedom of inquiry, openness to new ideas, a love of learning, and a commitment to rigorous study are the necessary components for first-class research and scholarship. SUNY researchers should not avoid difficult or controversial areas, since it is often in these areas that the greatest societal contributions are made. It is professional integrity that allows such new scholarship to be debated, criticized, attacked, defended, digested, and accepted by the scientific community and society, thereby adding to the corpus of human knowledge. When properly exercised, academic freedom, and the concomitant commitment to rigor and excellence, yields the knowledge base on which tomorrow’s society depends.
SUNY seeks to reaffirm and maintain its full commitment to integrity in research. This commitment will incorporate regular review and update of existing policies with the following principles in mind.
1. Integrity: Researchers and scholars should take responsibility for the integrity of their work and results. Campus and system administrators should take responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies related to research integrity.
2. Compliance with Regulations: Researchers and scholars should be aware of and comply with regulations and policies related to research.
3. Research Methods: Researchers and scholars should employ appropriate research methods, base conclusions on critical analysis of the evidence and report findings fully and objectively.
4. Transparency: Basic research should be open to review and vetting. Known potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed along with funding sources and affiliations.
5. Independence: Researchers must be free of undue outside influence when conducting or reviewing research. Many science and technology issues are closely related to and may influence a number of public policy issues and priorities, making “high quality objective scientific advice” vital and in the public interest.
6. Free and Open Communication: SUNY researchers and scholars are free to express their personal opinions in areas of particular expertise, so long as it is clear those opinions are theirs and not SUNY’s or the RF’s. This is true no matter how controversial the subject, even if there are public policy implications. When engaged in public discussions about the importance and application of their research findings, researchers should clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views. In their outside communications, employees have an obligation to indicate that they are not institutional spokespersons.
7. Authorship: Researchers and scholars must have the ability to review, comment, and amend a final version of a document or publication that relies on their research or represents their scientific opinion. Researchers should take responsibility for their contributions to all publications, funding applications, reports and other representations of their research. Lists of authors should include all those and only those who meet applicable authorship criteria. All authors must review and approve the document prior to submission. All those (including funders) who made significant contributions (but do not meet applicable authorship criteria) should be acknowledged in publications and reports.
8. Information Sharing: Sharing information and research data is a key component of the scientific process. Researchers should keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow verification and replication of their work by others. Researchers should share data and findings openly and promptly, as soon as they have had an opportunity to establish priority and ownership claims. Researcher should be aware of and comply with policies with regard to disclosures, patents and intellectual property rights.
9. Peer Review: Unbiased peer review is essential in research and provides for credibility and important quality assurance for the many stakeholders involved. Researchers should provide fair, prompt, and rigorous evaluations and respect confidentiality when reviewing others’ work. Researchers should not claim that a piece has been peer reviewed if accepted disciplinary norms and standards have not been followed.
10. External Pressure and Biases: Undue external pressure must be absent from the research process. Scientists and researchers must be protected from undue external pressures from private and public sponsors, government officials, and university administrators.
11. Conflicts of Interest: Policies and procedures governing disclosure and management of conflicts of interest must be well developed and rigorously observed. Researchers should disclose financial and other conflicts of interest that could compromise the trustworthiness of their work in research proposals, publications and public communications, as well as in all review activities.
12. Misconduct Allegations: Allegations of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research or in reporting research results must be reviewed pursuant to applicable policies. Individual whistleblowers must be protected from retaliation. When misconduct or other irresponsible research practice is confirmed, appropriate actions should be taken promptly, including correcting the research record.
13. Protecting Human Subjects and Humane Use of Animals: All researchers must protect the rights and welfare of any human research subjects and must obtain prior approval from their Institutional Review Board for such work to go forward. All research on animals must be conducted in a humane manner. Researchers planning to use live vertebrate animals for research or education must obtain prior approval from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
14. Scientific Basis for Public Policy and Discourse: When researchers or scientists have reason to believe that policy makers may utilize their research or publications as the basis of supporting or rejecting a policy initiative, researchers and the university should make every effort to present or disclose information related to the underlying research, the findings, the scientific approach and process used to develop the underlying scientific information.4
15. Research Environments: Research institutions should create and sustain environments that encourage integrity through education, clear policies, and reasonable standards for advancement, while fostering work environments that support research integrity.
16. Societal Considerations: Researchers, scholars and the SUNY institutions that support them should recognize that they bear an important ethical obligation to appropriately weigh societal benefits against risks inherent in their work. This is especially important in areas that touch on public health and safety.
Responsible Conduct in Research Training Plan
SUNY Fredonia will meet the requirements for the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR) by:
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is designated as the unit responsible for overseeing institutional compliance with the NSF Responsible Conduct of Research educational requirements. OSP is also responsible for:
» The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct - from the Office of Research Integrity
- Monitoring training verification;
- Verifying that undergraduate students or graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF research or educational projects have received training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research;
 Steneck, Nicolas H., Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, ORI, August 2007.