LSA Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship

Overview

The Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) is part of the America Competes Act and requires that any student or postdoctoral fellow receive training on the responsible conduct of research and scholarship if they are funded on research, training grants, or federally-funded fellowships.

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) decided to meet the RCRS requirement by folding the training into an academic course along with other discipline-specific research topics. This approach allows us to leverage university systems already in place, namely Wolverine Access, to help organize training by offering courses using our University Course division (designated with a "UC" prefix), in addition to department-specific courses. Using a course approach instead of stand-alone workshops or other training methods allows students to sign up for the course in a way that is already familiar to them and makes for less record-keeping work by staff in departments. Students must be re-trained at every level of educational training: undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellow. Courses cover the key areas of responsible conduct of research, including avoiding plagiarism, ownership of data, authorship practices, conflicts of interest, and other topics relevant to research and scholarship. Each UC course is one credit and is offered either as a full semester course, or over a half-term. If a student is doing research in another area of the University, they may either take a course in LSA, or they may follow the training developed by the unit where the funding is based. 

For questions about LSA's Responsible Conduct of Research program, please contact Paula Hathaway at ptrail@umich.edu.

What is the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship about?

NIH and NSF are satisfying the American COMPETES Act by asking students and postdoctoral fellows supported by research or training grants to complete instruction in the responsible conduct of research. This must be in the form of small, interactive, face-to-face meetings, which units on the UM campus are handling in different ways. LSA has decided to meet the requirement through classroom instruction.

Undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs working on NSF and NIH grants submitted after January 4, 2010 are required to participate in training.

Who needs training?

Currently, students and post-docs supported by NIH and NSF on research or training grants, though we expect other agencies will move in this direction. Students on fellowships such as the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIG) should be part of the training.

Students on USDA NIFA grants must take the PEERRS online module, "Foundations of Good Research Practices" to satisfy the requirement. We will have them do our RCRS requirements.

How are students identified for training?

ITS has developed an automated process that identifies students and post-docs who require training. Currently, temp hourly appointments are not part of the query to identify training needs. The LSA Dean's Office sends information to departments on a bi-monthly basis to communicate the names of students who need training.

What topics are covered in the training?

  • appropriate citation of sources and avoiding plagiarism
  • authorship and publication practices and responsibilities
  • acquisition, management, ownership and sharing of data
  • research misconduct, including data fabrication and falsification
  • personal, professional and financial conflicts of interest
  • supervisory and mentoring relationships and responsibilities
  • responsibilities of collaborative research
  • protection of human beings and welfare of laboratory animals when research involves human participants and animal subjects

How did LSA design training?

LSA decided to leverage the Wolverine Access system and offer courses, so that the normal tracking mechanism (course registration, grades, service indicators) can help with record keeping. We developed University Course UC 415 (for natural sciences) and UC 416 (for social sciences) to satisfy the training requirement. These one-credit courses allow departments to offer a section of the course, if they do not already have a course that covers the topics.

Are there other courses that satisfy the requirement?

Some departments teach their own course that covers the RCRS topics. Currently Chemistry, Economics, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Political Science, Psychology, and Statistics have a course that satisfies the requirement. Some other LSA departments (MCDB, Biophysics) ask students to take PIBS 503 as part of their regular program requirements.

If a department wants to have a course reviewed to offer as an RCRS course, please send the syllabus to Paula Hathaway (ptrail@umich.edu).

How long is training?

While the policy requires at least 8 hours of face-to-face instruction in small groups, the 1-credit UC 415/416 course requires 14 hours. This can be offered as a full-term or half-term course.

How do post-docs register for training?

Since post-docs are not able to register in Wolverine Access as a student, they must let the instructor know that they are participating in the course. Once the post-doc successfully completes the course, the instructor (or department staff) must send the name, emplid, and uniqname to Paula Hathaway so a "training completed" service indicator can be manually added in Wolverine Access.

What happens when grad students taking a 995 "free course" need to register?

Taking an RCRS course along with the "free" course that is part of any 995 registration sometimes generates a higher tuition bill for a student. Since this is a federal mandate, we decided to accommodate this small number of students the same way as post-docs; they must identify themselves as participating in the course and they will get credit for taking the training upon successful completion of the course. The students' name, emplid, and uniqname need to be reported in the same way as the post-doc example above.

Once training is complete, how is it captured?

ITS has been notified of the courses in LSA that fulfill the requirement. Once a course is completed and the instructor enters a grade, a "training completed" service indicator (RCF) is added to the student or post-doc record in Wolverine Access.

What about students on grants in ISR or other units?

The funding unit is the key determinant in where the training should take place. For example, LSA students who are funded on a grant in ISR are the responsibility of ISR; however, they may do training in LSA if they choose. 

Who is managing this program in LSA?

Associate Dean Myron Campbell (myron@umich.edu) and Paula Hathaway (ptrail@umich.edu) are the contacts for questions about the RCRS implementation in LSA. 

For Additional Information

In CTools, please check for the "LSA Scholarly Integrity" site, where we have added sample course descriptions and syllabi, as well as course materials that can be used in planning the curriculum for RCRS courses. This is a joinable site. Please contact Paula Hathaway (ptrail@umich.edu) if you need help joining the site. Also, Rackham has a CTools site that outlines each school or college's plan for meeting the training requirement and other related information. That CTools site name is RCRS@UM.

Resources

College Implementation of RCRS Requirement

UM Guidelines for Teaching RCRS

Responsible Conduct of Research Statement

Course Materials from PIBS 503

Case studies for the following subjects are available on CTools: "LSA Scholarly Integrity":

  • Fraud, Fabrication and Plagiarism
  • Data Storage and Ownership
  • Animal Use and Care
  • Human Subjects Research and IRBs
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Research in the Global Workplace
  • Dual Use Issues
Sample Courses and Syllabi from LSA Departments

Courses eligible for RCRS credit

GeoSci 531

Physics UC415

Psych 605/805

Stats 810

Chemistry UC415

UC 415 and UC 416

UC 415 Natural Science Course Description

UC 416 Social Science Course Description

Other Resources

Do Research Institutions Meet Federal Mandates?

Education in RCRS at UM FY12

FAQs for LSA Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship

Interactive Video: "The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct"

Office of Research Integrity: "Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research"

Online Ethics Center

Resources from the Department of Health & Human Services Office of Research Integrity


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