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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly – Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

Topic 3: Research integrity

A research leader is proactive in creating an environment for responsible research practices. Ideally the academic environment will allow broad-ranging discussion with your colleagues around such issues as publication, ethical clearances, research confidentiality, and the responsibility to seek ethical funding. There is an expectation that research leaders should welcome discussions which emphasise professional and personal integrity.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Hold an informed view on research integrity and ethical research
  • Describe your responsibilities for publishing and disseminating your research findings
  • Define the criteria for authorship
  • List the ethics and biosafety clearances required and the committees you engage with in your research
  • Define research misconduct and its consequences
  • Identify research issues requiring confidentiality
  • Recognise the measures for ethical funding of your research.

Topic Content

Read the following notes.
3.1 Research integrity
3.2 Publication and dissemination of research findings
3.3 Authorship
3.4 Ethics and biosafety clearances and committees
3.5 Research misconduct and questionable research practices
3.6 Research confidentiality
3.7 Ethical funding

Pursuing the topic further

Engaging with this material (and the material in other sections of the module under the same heading) is optional. However, if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the topic you may find this material useful. There are many books, articles, and commentaries on contemporary research ethics and integrity in the governance of research. In addition to the suggested online reading throughout the module, some books are suggested if you are interested in reading further. These introduce research ethics in the engineering, biomedical, and corporate context. An outline of most books can be viewed online and these books may be available from your university library. Some very contemporary high-profile cases of research misconduct are presented as published articles and editorials. These readings are included as they appeared in either Nature or Science and can be readily accessed through your university library subscription. Some Australian commentary is also included.

Barnbaum, D. R. and Byron, M. (2001). Research Ethics: Text and Readings. Prentice Hall Inc. Outline (http://www.amazon.com/Research-Ethics-Readings-Deborah-Barnbaum/dp/0130212644/ref=sr_1_1/103-9342180-7186251?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193010452&sr=8-1)

Chong, S. and Normile, D. (2006). Stem cells. How young Korean researchers helped unearth a scandal. Science 311: 2225.

Dhanda, R. K. (2002). Guiding Icarus: Merging Bioethics with Corporate Interests. Wiley-Liss. Outline (http://www.amazon.com/Guiding-Icarus-Bioethics-Corporate-Interests/dp/0471223808/ref=sr_1_1/103-9342180-7186251?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193011167&sr=1-1)

Gerber, P. (2006). What can we learn from the Hwang and Sudbo affairs? Medical Journal of Australia 184: 632635. Full Text (http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/184_12_190606/ger10184_fm.html)

Martinson, B. C., Anderson M. S. and de Vries, R. (2005). Scientists behaving badly. Nature 435: 737738.

Maher, B. (2010). Sabotage! Nature 467: 516-518.

Miller, G. (2006). A Scientist's Nightmare: Software problems lead to five retractions. Science 314: 18561857.

National Academies Press. (2002). Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct, can be read online (http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10430). Chapters 13 are of particular use when considering this topic.

Steneck, N. H. (2007). ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, can be read online (www.ori.hhs.gov/documents/rcrintro.pdf).

Van der Weyden, M. (2006). Preventing and processing research misconduct: a new Australian code for responsible research. Medical Journal of Australia 184: 430431. Full text

Whitbeck, C. and Flowers, W. C. (1998). Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research (Paperback). Cambridge University Press. Outline

The US Office of Research Integrity has funded various projects to develop education tools for raising issues with researchers. Many of these tools can be used in the Australian context and are available online.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org/) and Committee on Publication Ethics (http://publicationethics.org/) also have a range of resources for researchers interested in publication ethics.

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