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The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program at Oregon State University has been designed to meet the requirements outlined in Section 7009 of the America COMPETES Act, which mandates training in the responsible conduct of research for all proposals sumitted on or due after January 4, 2010. As a recipient of National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, OSU’s plan is designed to make available programs and materials that will increase the knowledge of and facilitate the practice of responsible research. This effort is undertaken in cooperation with other offices at OSU, including the Office of Research Integrity and the Graduate School.
The OSU RCR program provides a basic education in the responsible conduct of research, that is, an introduction to understanding ethical issues that may be encountered during the research process. This program is multi-tiered, and provides a framework to help participants recognize ethical situations, define an appropriate standard of behavior, and assist in identifying resources if problems or issues arise.
Initially, Principal Investigators on NSF funded projects will have the annual responsibility of engaging all students, both undergraduate and graduate, and post-doctoral fellows in discussions about the responsible conduct of research. Undergraduate students involved on a project for one month or less are exempted from the training requirements. Topics to be considered for discussion, as pertinent to the particular discipline, could potentially include: publication practices and responsible authorship; mentorship/trainee responsibilities; data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership; peer review; and collaborative research and working on a research team. Resources, both internally prepared and as made available by federal agencies such as NSF or HHS, will be readily accessible to faculty to assist them preparing for and conducting these discussions.
In addition, all NSF-funded graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will be expected to complete an on-line training program on the Responsible Conduct of Research. OSU has engaged the University of Miami’s CITI program, which offers several different RCR discipline-focused programs. This program provides an electronic verification of those who have completed the program.
Additional topic-specific forums are now (and will remain) available to the OSU community. These forums provide a focus on understanding of areas of research involving humans or vertebrate animals; biological safety; conflicts of interest and commitment; and laboratory safety.
One of the emerging challenges facing students, postdoctoral researchers, and others is working within the diversity of cultures that intersect in collaborative research: differing research cultures, differing ethnic cultures, differing organizational cultures. This approach prepares participants for managing ethics issues in their careers and more broadly for living in a global society.
The program includes two formal levels of training, in addition to other resources available to all OSU faculty, staff and students:
Students and post-docs supported by NSF funds will meet with their NSF PI to discuss the RCR-applicable topics. Specifically, the requirements are:
This web-based course broadly covers responsible conduct of research topics. This course provides a foundation of information and will serve as a basis for more in-depth discussions about research integrity. The web-based course is accessible at no charge through any OSU computer.
The Director of Sponsored Programs, the Authorized Organizational Representative, will oversee compliance for awards that must meet the NSF RCR training requirement.
The Office of Sponsored Programs will require annual certification by the faculty member, to be requested in July of each year. Principal Investigators will be required to provide a written report of who received training and a brief description of what was discussed. This annual certification can be done electronically and will be placed in the Grant file. If a faculty member does not complete the report within 60 days of the request, the faculty member’s unit head and Dean will be contacted and informed that the faculty member is not conducting their project in accordance with the award’s terms and conditions; appropriate action will ensue.
The Office of Sponsored Programs will also include language in subawards on NSF awards that will ensure that OSU is receiving certifications from subrecipients.
The Office of Sponsored Programs, in collaboration with the Office of Post Award Administration, will perform random verifications of the annual certifications. The Office of Research Integrity will provide access to all certificates of completion generated from the web-based training program.