As noted in our earlier discussion of street versus classroom RCR (responsible conduct of research) training, The Scientist has a refreshing piece by two non-biomedical scientists — C. Neal Stewart, Jr., professor and Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence in Plant Molecular Genetics, and J. Lannett Edwards, associate professor and graduate director in the Department of Animal Science (UTenn, Knoxville) — on their adventure in teaching research ethics (inspired by personal encounters with less than ethical behavior). Their tips and syllabus get right to the heart of the matter. Nothing pretentious or holier than thou business here. Sounds like everyone learned along the way:
“The first homework assignment was to find plagiarism. They did. They found gratuitous cases, and some not so black and white. Here we parsed through what is acceptable and not acceptable from a scientific standpoint. More importantly, we discussed, rather than lectured, about best practices and what happens when shortcuts are taken. So it went for the entire semester.”
I’m glad to see they use online resources (dynamic/regularly updated and freely available – and available for ready checking from any computer anywhere should a dilemma arise in daily lab life). Plus, students can check additional topics not covered by Drs. Stewart & Edwards that are recommended by ORI and required for PHS-funded trainees:
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
Conflict of Interest and Commitment
Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
Mentor / Trainee Responsibilities
And on a related topic, the Committee on Research Integrity and Publication Practices of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has issued Guidelines for the Responsible Conduct of Research: Ethics and the Publication Process.