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Research at Boston College

Responsible Conduct of Research

program for adminstrative staff

Administrators and The Responsible Conduct of Research

The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program at Boston College is part of the educational and outreach activities of the Office for Research Compliance. Our goal is to develop and make available to the Boston College community programs and materials that will increase the knowledge of and facilitate the practice of responsible research.

Administrative staff function in an environment governed by regulations and policies. They also must abide by a core of ethical principles in order to do their jobs properly. Boston College has a set of Principles that generally apply to those directly involved in research. Administrative staff, however, should also abide by principles that pertain directly to their responsibilities. The National Council of University Research Administrators has published a set of principles that is appropriate to quote in its entirety:

NCURA STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

  1. We recognize our responsibilities to our faculties to protect their professional and academic rights, and to keep them apprised of regulations, policies and procedures which affect the conduct of their research programs.
  2. We recognize our responsibilities to our institutions to represent them fairly and accurately in all negotiations and communications, with careful attention to issues of academic freedom, rights in intellectual property, and policies regarding the appropriate stewardship of external funds supporting research and scholarship.
  3. We recognize our responsibilities to our research sponsors to enunciate clearly our institutions' policies and practices, and to accept only those terms and conditions with which we can assure compliance.
  4. We recognize our responsibility to our local communities to address the health and safety aspects of our research programs.
  5. We adhere to the principles, policies and procedures of our institutions and promote understanding of same among our faculties and staffs.
  6. We understand the importance of recognizing the potential for, or appearance of, conflicts of interest in the performance of our duties and resolving such according to our institutions' policies.

Understandably, virtually all Responsible Conduct of Research programs are directed toward faculty and other researchers. This approach has left a gap in RCR education by omitting administrative staff members. Although not directly involved in research, administrators play an important part in promoting the integrity of the research enterprise. Frequently, administrators encounter ethical decisions in an environment of competing obligations and responsibilities. Administrative staff need to develop the skills to 1) identify when situations present ethical conflicts, 2) reason among possible courses of action, and 3) effectively implement their best solution to the problem. The RCR materials and program we have developed are designed to fill this gap in RCR education and to enhance the environment of research integrity at Boston College.

In February 2004, we applied for and were awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity under its Resource Development Program. That contract funded the creation of a tutorial comprised of educational modules in five instructional areas: conflict of interest, financial management, mentor-trainee responsibilities, collaborative research, and data management. Over time we will be expanding the number of modules to cover other areas such as research misconduct, intellectual property, research involving human participants, and research involving animals.

We hope you enjoy the program and find it informative and useful.

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Stephen Erickson, Ph.D.
Director
Office for Research Compliance