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As noted above, universities that have applied for NIH or AD-AMHA training grants must develop educational programs to foster broad discussions of responsible research practices. The NIH has convened several workshops to examine the strengths and limitations of various approaches to fulfilling the training grant requirement. Some departments and universities have sponsored forums and seminars that offer students the benefit of learning from watching faculty grapple seriously with issues involving responsible practice.

Real or hypothetical case studies are also useful devices for examining selected research practices. Relevant instruction and the message that responsibility in research is to be taken seriously can also be given in orientation programs for new graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. Interdisciplinary training workshops may improve the quality of instruction and curriculum materials for teaching ethics in scientific research.

After a period of years, and when a significant number of schools have developed curricula on research ethics, it could be useful to review and to improve as necessary the quality of teaching and of the curriculum materials used for instruction in research ethics.

Even though most research institutions do not have written guidelines for the conduct of research, their faculty usually act individually and.

A Guide to the Ethics of Federally Funded Science Research

The normative rules and monitoring requirements scattered throughout university policies and documents relating to science and engineering research are an important first step for promoting the responsible conduct of research. In defining what is illegal, unethical, and irresponsible, these rules suggest what is legal, ethical, and responsible.

This statement could be interpreted as a guideline for responsible behavior in research, since it encourages the proper assignment of credit for research performance and urges authors to include the names of co-authors only with their permission. Therefore, although most research institutions do not have comprehensive codes of conduct for science and engineering research, they do provide ethical and policy guidance to researchers.

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If these policies are considered along with the various federal regulations, statements of professional societies about professional conduct in research, and other literature prepared by professional and scientific societies such as the National Academy of Sciences' essay On Being a Scientist and Sigma Xi's essay Honor in Science , the total package provides a strong foundation for describing what is responsible and irresponsible in the conduct of research.

However, the currently existing set of normative rules designed to foster responsibility in science has limitations. Research policies are often disjointed and piecemeal, they may be administered by different academic units, and they may vary substantially among institutions. It is difficult for researchers to comprehend and consider all the legal and professional responsibilities raised by modern science and engineering.

Yet integrating rules and resolving contradictions. The use of examples or case studies that deal with difficult rather than obvious issues is a valuable method of interpreting and explaining policy statements about normative or ideal conduct. Few doubt that manufacturing data or forging experimental results is wrong. Most normative rules provide important general principles but leave significant questions unanswered.


This void has prompted some universities to take additional steps to foster responsible conduct in research, such as developing guidelines for the conduct of research. Some institutions have guidelines that focus on a single topic, such as authorship, whereas others adopt a more comprehensive approach. The guidelines may be voluntary or compulsory, and they are administered through a variety of organizational units.

Several major research institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health for its intramural research program , Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, and the University of Michigan Medical School, have formulated comprehensive guidelines for the conduct of research.

One study of medical institutions indicated that 17 13 percent had such guidelines and that 25 19 percent were considering developing guidelines, while 91 68 percent were not Nobel, Guidelines for the conduct of research differ from institutional policies that are designed to address misconduct in science or conflict of interest or that, in response to regulatory requirements, govern research involving human subjects, hazardous materials, or recombinant DNA. However, although there are positive advantages associated with the adoption of such guidelines, this approach, by itself, may not be effective in fostering responsible research conduct.

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The imposition of guidelines also carries certain risks and limitations in the collegial academic environment. Research conduct guidelines represent an important, but not necessarily the best, means by which research institutions can demonstrate awareness of and support for principles of good research practice. Properly constructed and used, research guidelines can help articulate and strengthen the fundamental values of scientists, especially in an increasingly diverse and changing research environment.

In principle, research conduct guidelines can help scientists to understand the criteria that should be considered in, for example, making decisions about how long research data should be retained. Government agencies already require research institutions to play a stronger role in fostering responsible research practices, and it is possible that such guidelines may one day be required as a condition of governmental funding. Thus it may be wiser to have research conduct guidelines developed internally by faculty and research scientists who are most familiar with their own institutional research environment than to have them imposed by higher authorities to fulfill funding or regulatory requirements.

Guidelines may help inform members of a research institution about what constitutes questionable practices or misconduct in science in an academic research environment. For example, by issuing guidelines that state the criteria for authorship, universities can fulfill a due process obligation to provide notice to their members of the unacceptable authorship practices, such as plagiarism, that may constitute grounds for disciplinary actions.

Many scientists believe that research conduct guidelines are unnecessary and ineffective, and they point out that research practices are often too complex and too varied to be governed by a few general.

Moreover, adopting such principles is a time-consuming process that requires the efforts of active researchers who are already burdened by other obligations. Some are concerned that focusing on guidelines diverts attention from the consideration of complex ethical issues and genuine dilemmas in the research environment. The concept of research guidelines cuts against faculty autonomy and other values associated with academic freedom as ideals of the academic environment. In the past, steps that might restrict scholarly or scientific independence were taken only when there was clear evidence that inappropriate behaviors or hazardous situations might persist in the absence of institutional policies.

Some institutional officers are also concerned that guidelines that describe appropriate research conduct will expose them to additional litigation and administrative vexations Nobel, Many scientists believe that explicit guidelines can add little of substance to the material already included in publications such as On Being A Scientist and Honor in Science.

Others think that guidelines may not be necessary because the norms of science are self-evident and because existing policies provide abundant advice to determine how to conduct research responsibly. Another drawback is the effort needed to bring to the attention of faculty and students any research conduct guidelines that have been adopted. In considering the advantages and disadvantages of guidelines for research conduct, the panel concluded the following:.

Guidelines that are relevant and appropriate to research may be widely disparate depending on the research field, the nature of the work, and other factors. Written guidelines are unlikely to influence academic research behavior if they are imposed from above or from outside. The process of formulating guidelines may be extremely valuable for those who participate; however, efforts will need to be made to ensure that the final statements express the fundamental ideas and potential conflicts inherent in such guidelines.

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To be effective, guidelines must be incorporated into the process of research and education and become an operational part of day-to-day activities. If faculty desire to develop guidelines for the conduct of research, such policies should be formulated by those who will be directly affected and should be adapted to specific research fields and protocols. Institutional guidelines are likely to be less effective than ones formulated at the group or laboratory level. However, research institutions may wish to adopt an overarching set of general principles for their members to provide a common frame of reference.

The panel recognizes that the formulation of written guidelines is an exacting task that requires substantial time and effort. Guidelines may help clarify the professional obligations of faculty and research staff, but the panel believes that the development of such guidelines should be left to the discretion and initiative of individual faculty and research institutions. In any case, care should be taken to avoid adopting constraints that could be damaging to the research process. The panel has identified a set of subjects that should be considered in any efforts aimed at developing educational discussions or guidelines for the conduct of scientific research.

Examples of selected guidelines are paraphrased below to illustrate ways in which different institutions have addressed these topics. Data management. Acquisition and maintenance of research data should be addressed since they provide the foundation for scientific discovery and experimentation. Research data include detailed experimental protocols, primary data from laboratory instruments, and the procedures applied to reduce and analyze primary data.

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Research data, including the primary experimental results, should be retained for a sufficient period to allow analysis and repetition by others of published material from those data. NIH, Custody of all original primary laboratory data must be retained by the unit in which they are generated. Harvard University Faculty of Medicine, All primary data are to be entered into a notebook provided by the institute for this purpose. The investigator is responsible for all data entries. The notebook will contain lined, numbered pages; no pages are to be removed or made illegible.

Entries must be dated and signed. Dana—Farber Cancer Institute, All data, even from observations and experiments not leading directly to publication, should be treated comparably.

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Research data should always be immediately available to scientific collaborators and supervisors for review. In collaborative projects involving different units, all investigators should know the status of all contributing data and have direct access to them. Publication practices. Science is a cumulative activity in which each scientist builds on the work of others. Publication of results is an integral and essential component of research because it enables others to gain access to each scientist's contribution.

Certain practices make it difficult for reviewer and reader to follow a complete experimental sequence.