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Research Integrity and Ethics

Research Integrity and Ethics

Research Integrity and Research Misconduct 

University of Illinois students, faculty, and staff are expected to assure quality and integrity in their research and publications by self-regulation and adherence to individual ethical codes and professional standards. Individuals in leadership or supervisory positions have a special obligation to foster academic integrity in their relationships and in their work.

Violations of professional standards are a matter for peer review and censure; in some instances, they may be grounds for university disciplinary action. Most problems can be handled by informal mediation at the organizational level closest to the individuals involved.

The university has policies and procedures for responding to incidents of academic misconduct that cannot be handled by informal or mediational procedures. These are outlined in Policy and Procedures on Integrity in Research and Publication provided by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

For further information contact:

Kyle Galbraith
Research Integrity Officer
601 E. John Street, Fourth Floor
(217) 265-6551
rsofficer@illinois.edu

What is Research Misconduct? 

As noted in the Policy and Procedures on Integrity in Research and Publication, research misconduct includes fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
  • Research Misconduct does not include honest error or difference of opinion.

Research Misconduct also includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Intentionally misleading or deliberately false reporting of credentials and related information;
  • Abuse of confidentiality with respect to unpublished materials;
  • Misappropriation of research materials;
  • Evasion, or intentional failure to comply after notice with research regulations, such as those governing conflict of interest/commitment, human subjects, laboratory animals, new drugs, radioactive materials, genetically altered organisms, and safety; and,
  • Any other conduct that constitutes a serious deviation from accepted ethical guidelines and professional standards in scholarship and research.

 

Responsible Conduct of Research Training 

Principal Investigators (PIs) of certain Federal grants must ensure that research personnel who are paid from those funds are trained in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). It is important to note that each funding agency has its own specific training requirements. See below for an overview of each agency’s respective requirements as well as resources for helping you fulfill this important obligation.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) RCR Training

Who needs RCR training? 

NIH requires RCR training for all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant.

Which specific NIH grant types require RCR training for researchers?

NIH requires RCR training for researchers supported by the following grant types: D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R. The RCR training obligation also applies to any other NIH-funded programs that include instruction in RCR as a requirement in its respective funding opportunity announcement.

When should RCR training take place?

NIH encourages RCR instruction at every stage of a researcher’s career and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. NIH also highly encourages that initial RCR training for predoctoral researchers take place as early as possible in graduate school.

What topics should RCR training cover?

NIH acknowledges that the following research integrity topics are included in most acceptable RCR training programs:

  • Conflicts of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  • Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • Peer review
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing, and ownership
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.

How should RCR training be delivered?

NIH guidelines indicate that online training alone is insufficient—RCR training must include a face-to-face component. Faculty participation in the face-to-face training is highly encouraged. NIH also notes that acceptable RCR training programs generally involve at least eight contact hours.

How should RCR training be documented?

PIs are responsible for maintaining documentation of the RCR training their personnel receive. This training should be documented in the OVCR Researcher Training Portal. PIs will receive an annual reminder about this obligation, but we encourage you to document this training as it is completed.

For more information

For more information about NIH requirements concerning RCR training, please see the November 24, 2009 NIH Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research.

National Science Foundation (NSF) RCR Training

Who needs RCR training? 

NSF requires RCR training for all undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers included on all full proposals submitted or due on or after January 4, 2010.

When should RCR training take place?

NSF requires that an individual complete RCR training within 60 days of their start date on these awards. NSF allows an institution to determine the frequency of RCR training. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this training is valid for three years.

What topics should RCR training cover?

You may wish to consider providing training in the following research integrity topics identified by NIH:

  • Conflicts of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  • Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • Peer review
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing, and ownership
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.

Keep in mind that while these nine areas of interest may be relevant to your NSF-funded research, you are not required to provide training in these specific areas. You may identify other research integrity-related issues that are more relevant to the work of your trainees.

How should RCR training be delivered?

Unlike NIH, NSF does not specify any required RCR training methods. This training can be delivered in a face-to-face setting (such as group or lab meetings, seminars, or courses), or through online resources, such as those linked elsewhere on the OVCR Responsible Conduct of Research page. NSF does not specify a required duration for RCR training, but they recognize that training needs may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the research or needs of the students.

How should RCR training be documented?

PIs are responsible for maintaining documentation of the RCR training their personnel receive. This training should be documented in the OVCR Researcher Training Portal. PIs will receive an annual reminder about this obligation, but we strongly encourage you to document this training as it is completed and within 90 days of the NSF award.

For more information

For more information about NSF requirements concerning RCR training, please see the NSF’s Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) RCR Training

Who needs RCR training? 

For awards subject to February 2013 Research Terms and Conditions and those awards issued subsequently, program directors, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project must receive training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

When should RCR training take place?

USDA-NIFA does not specify a timeframe within which RCR training must be completed. You are encouraged to provide the training shortly after receiving your grant.

What topics should RCR training cover?

USDA-NIFA expects RCR training to cover, at a minimum, issues related to authorship and plagiarism, data and research integration, and reporting misconduct. You may find it beneficial to include other topics in your RCR training, including the nine NIH core areas that are generally acceptable for training programs:

  • Conflicts of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  • Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • Peer review
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing, and ownership
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.

Keep in mind that while these nine areas of interest may be relevant to your USDA-NIFA-funded research, you are not required to provide training on each of these topics. You may identify other research integrity-related issues that are more relevant to the work of your trainees.

How should RCR training be delivered?

Unlike NIH, USDA-NIFA does not specify any required RCR training methods. This training can be delivered in a face-to-face setting (such as group or lab meetings, seminars, or courses), or through online resources, such as those linked elsewhere on the OVCR Responsible Conduct of Research page. USDA-NIFA does not specify a required duration for RCR training, though it is expected that the training will meet the content requirements above and will be sufficient enough to meet the needs of the individuals taking the training.

How should RCR training be documented?

PIs are responsible for maintaining documentation of the RCR training their personnel receive. This training should be documented in the OVCR Researcher Training Portal. PIs will receive an annual reminder about this obligation, but we encourage you to document this training as it is completed.

For more information:

For more information about USDA-NIFA requirements concerning RCR training, please see the USDA's Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research.

Resources for RCR Training

The sites listed below provide resources to help Principal Investigators fulfill their obligation to provide training in the Responsible Conduct of Research for their students, fellows, and staff. Please contact the Research Integrity Officer (rsofficer@illinois.edu) if you have any questions.

Note regarding face-to-face training: NIH requires a face-to-face component for RCR training, though researchers who are not funded by NIH may also wish to provide face-to-face training for their trainees and support staff. This in-person training may take a variety of forms:

  • A formal course in the responsible conduct of research (check your department’s course catalog);
  • Departmental seminar(s) focusing on research integrity-related issues;
  • Including research integrity topics in the syllabi of already-scheduled courses (such as courses in research methods); or
  • Incorporating research integrity discussions into regularly scheduled laboratory or departmental meetings.

You are encouraged to use the online resources below when developing in-person RCR training.

Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society
An interdisciplinary institute associated with the College of Business, the Center promotes a national vision that articulates societal expectations of a professional's responsibility and accountability at both the individual and organizational level.

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)
All employees and students have access to research ethics training through CITI. To access the specific University of Illinois training modules, go to citiprogram.org and click the "Register" button under "Create an Account." Set the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as your institutional affiliation and follow the prompts to create your account and register for training modules.  CITI keeps track of your progress, and you can leave and return to training at any time.

Ethics CORE (Collaborative Online Resource Environment) 
This national, online ethics library contains courses, reference materials, and links to scholarly and research literature. The site also has an interactive community where users can publish and share scholarship, discuss ethics-related issues, and develop and share new course offerings. The Ethics CORE is maintained by the National Center for Professional & Research Ethics (NCPRE), which is funded by the  National Science Foundation and is an initiative of the University of Illinois Coordinated Science Laboratory and Howard University with support from other partners.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
ORI oversees research integrity activities for the Public Health Service (PHS), including investigations into research misconduct in research supported by PHS. Their site includes general RCR resources, as well as topic-specific resources for the nine core areas of research integrity identified by NIH. Materials include interactive videos, case studies, web modules, and relevant publications. This site may be of particular relevance to those investigators who are supported by NIH funds. See especially the ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research by Nicholas H. Steneck (illustrations by David Zinn).

On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research (3rd ed.)
This text has been developed by National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institution of Medicine. On Being a Scientist is designed to supplement informal ethics training provided to graduate students and beginning researchers by their mentors and includes discussions of research misconduct, handling violations of professional standards, laboratory safety, intellectual property, and the researcher in society.

Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
The Online Ethics Center (OEC) is maintained by the Center for Engineering Ethics and Society (CEES) at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  The OEC provides case studies, multimedia, codes of ethics, instructor materials, and other resources that are of particular relevant to engineers and those in physical sciences. The OEC is funded by NSF.

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