Responsible Conduct of Research is a crucial component of the education provided to students and trainees involved in Cornell research. The following topics are covered as a part of Cornell’s RCR educational offerings.
(Adapted from The HHS Office of Research Integrity: Authorship)
The names that appear at the beginning of a paper let others know who conducted and should be credited for the research. This is important in case there are questions about methods, data, and the interpretation of results. It is also important because researchers are often promoted in accordance with the quality and quantity of their publications. The named authors and byline order should be discussed with all participants as earlier on as possible, in order to avoid disputes later on.
Collaborative research happens when researchers team up with colleagues who have the expertise or resources needed to carry out a particular project. Collaborations can be as simple as one researcher sharing techniques or materials with another researcher, or as complex as multi-centered projects that involve academic research centers, government laboratories, and for-profit companies working under a single project.
A conflict of interest arises whenever a researcher’s relationship with organization affects or gives the appearance of affecting, his or her ability to be objective in the conduct of their research. Some conflicts of interest are unavoidable, and having a conflict of interest is not in itself unethical. However, even the perception of a conflict can damage the public’s trust in research. To mitigate these situations, guidelines for managing them are necessary.
Data management is a critical component of most scientific research studies. Oversight of data management represents a significant investment of time and effort by the PI, and for oversight to be thorough and correct, PIs must understand the basic concepts of data management and ensure that every member of their research team is involved in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of data management policies and procedures.
Mentor-trainee relationships begin when an experienced and an inexperienced researcher agree to work together. In any successful mentor-trainee relationship, each person brings something valuable to the table. The experienced researcher has knowledge and skills that the inexperienced researcher needs to learn and may also provide support for the trainee’s research and education. Inexperienced researchers, whether graduate students, postdocs, or research staff, provide labor and fresh ideas. Under a productive relationship, the two work together to advance knowledge and put ideas to work.
Grant proposals and manuscripts submitted for publication are routinely reviewed by peers, that is, by other researchers with expertise on the topic being addressed and the methods used. Peer reviews must be objective and should be based solely on scientific evaluation of the material under review and within the context of published information. These reviews should not be influenced by scientific information that is not publicly available.
Animal research not only plays an essential role in improving human health but in many cases benefits the care and treatment of the animals themselves. When proposing to use animals in research there must be appropriate scientific support to justify the experiments. This analysis is conducted by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). At Cornell, the IACUC reviews all proposed projects involving animals to ensure that they meet scientific and humane standards, including those determined by the NIH.
Research involving human participants entails a rigorous responsibility for the well-being of the research subjects. Human participants make an important contribution to science, and this commitment must invite in return the utmost respect and diligence from the researcher. Respect and diligence should include planning studies so that the potential benefits (to both the subject and society) outweigh any risks. In addition, steps must be taken to ensure that subjects are selected equitably and that they make an informed decision when consenting to participate in the study. Informed consent requires that patients be fully informed of the risks and benefits of the research, be competent to evaluate this information, and make a decision free from coercion and other inappropriate influences.
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Research misconduct does not include honest errors or differences of opinion.
- Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
- Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
- Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
- Cornell University: 2022 RCR Symposium Case Studies
- The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) RCR Casebook: Were These Slides Falsified?
- The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) RCR Casebook: Haven’t I Seen that Protocol Before?
- The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) RCR Casebook: Accusations of Falsifying Data
- The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) RCR Casebook: Research Misconduct Struggling to Understand Plagiarism
(Adapted from The NIH: Rigor and Reproducibility)
Scientific rigor and reproducibility are essential components for science advancement. According to the NIH, scientific rigor is ‘the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results. This includes full transparency in reporting experimental details so that others may reproduce and extend the findings.
- Human Research Participant Protection IRB Online Training
- Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research Online Training
- The Appropriate Care and Use of Animals in Research IACUC Online Training
- The Use of Bloodborne Pathogens in Research Online Training
- Export Control in Research and Education Resources