Building a Responsible Conduct of Research Knowledge Base

The importance of responsible conduct in research gets a lot of headlines, mostly when the news is bad. Just in the past two months:

While it is heartening to see our field recognized as important by a wider audience, it is also concerning that the public conversation often revolves around cases of (potential) misconduct and the ways that being viewed as “ethical” may put some researchers at a career disadvantage.

The University of Southern Maine’s Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center (MeRTEC), with support from HHS’ Office of Research Integrity, is working to build capacity in the field of research integrity by expanding the community of researchers studying responsible conduct of research (RCR), drafting and building buy-in for an RCR research agenda, and enhancing what we know about RCR training. These efforts aim to enhance the RCR knowledge base and strengthen our ability to communicate the positive results of a culture of research integrity.

This is not, and cannot be, a solo endeavor; we need input from research integrity stakeholders to capture the breadth, depth, and interconnectedness of an RCR research agenda. Thus, this is the first of several instances where MeRTEC seeks your help and thoughtful response. Currently, there are two ways to provide input into the draft research agenda.

First, everyone can participate by completing this survey and encouraging both your research integrity colleagues and your institution’s researchers (professional and student) to complete the survey. The survey closes Sunday, June 25. Please share the link widely.

Second, if you are attending the Research Integrity Symposium in Maine this May, there are additional opportunities to provide input:

  • Participate in the Research on Research Integrity (RORI) workshop on Thursday, May 25.
  • Add your thoughts to the Input Wall during the Symposium
  • Spend an hour with your colleagues discussing the input and building connections between the pieces on the afternoon of Friday, May 26.

After we analyze the input we receive, we will continue to coordinate with this community as part of our process of building community and capacity around the RCR knowledge base. We are all in this together, and united we will continue to make research safer and more effective.

Ross Hickey is the Assistant Provost for Research Integrity at USM. Ross is coordinating USM’s work in the New England Ocean Cluster (NEOCH). He is an attorney and a member of the Maine Bar. He has built a nationally recognized research compliance office that serves not only USM, but institutions throughout the State of Maine. Ross is contacted on a regular basis provide technical assistance to other local institutions on regulatory compliance matters. The Research Integrity Symposium hosted by Ross attracts attendees from all over the country to learn about regulatory and ethical considerations in research.

Jennifer Karlin spent the first half of her career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where she was a professor of industrial engineering and held the Pietz professorship for entrepreneurship and economic development. She is now at the University of Southern Maine where she is a research professor of engineering and the curriculum specialist for the Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center.