Mark Barteau, senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives, welcomes grad students and postdocs to the Responsible Conduct of Research training session.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Training session targeted to graduate students and postdocs

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8:03 a.m., Feb. 3, 2012--Although scientific research has become increasingly complex over the past several decades, its proper conduct is grounded in some of humankind’s most basic values: trust, honor, and integrity.

That was the message that some 200 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers heard at the University of Delaware on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in a daylong training session focused on responsible conduct of research.

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Mark Barteau, senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives, welcomed the group and reminded attendees that establishing UD as a premier research and graduate university is one of six strategic milestones in the Path to Prominence.

“We’re a people business, and all of you will ultimately be the product of what we do here,” he said.  “You’re part of a robust and rapidly growing research enterprise at UD.”

Barteau provided a snapshot of that research enterprise, highlighted some national trends in research, and introduced some of the many resources available to researchers at UD.

He pointed out that with the trend toward multi-investigator projects, research integrity is more important than ever. “Unethical behavior affects not just one investigator but the entire research team,” he said.

Charles Riordan, vice provost for graduate and professional education, also delivered brief welcome remarks. He emphasized the importance of diversity in research teams, pointing out that diverse approaches and diverse groups of thought lead to better research outcomes.

He also urged grad students to understand the role played by teaching in their growth as researchers. “It’s generally accepted that research informs teaching,” he said, “but we now have evidence that teaching has an effect on scholarship as well.”

Riordan encouraged the participants to present their results at grad forums as well as at professional conferences and symposia. “Those eight-minute ‘flash’ presentations will challenge you to present your work in a way that’s short and accessible to a broad audience,” he said.

William Ullman, professor of marine and geological sciences, and Mark Greene, associate professor of philosophy, delivered a comprehensive module on trust, honor, integrity, and proper conduct of research to complete the morning session.

Ullman and Greene—both fellows in UD’s Center for Science, Ethics, and Public Policy—provided an overview of the importance of trust in science, defined misconduct in science, and suggested procedures to follow when misconduct is suspected.  They also provided attendees with some case studies to consider.

Trust in science is critical because researchers build on each other’s work, and they need to have confidence that the data reported in earlier work is accurate.  It’s also critical in maintaining the public’s confidence in the scientific enterprise.

Afternoon sessions included the following: 

About the training

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training is a key element of the University of Delaware RCR program. All graduate students, post docs, and other trainees funded by NSF and NIH are required to attend. The sessions are co-sponsored by the Research Office and the Office of Graduate and Professional Education.

Visit the websites of both of these offices for more information about training, funding, professional development workshops, compliance, and other resources.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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