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Policy on the Responsible Conduct of Research

BACKGROUND

The College of Charleston is dedicated to truth in pursuit of knowledge through research and to the transmission of knowledge through teaching.   A spirit of mutual respect and a broad trust that all faculty members, students and staff share this dedication to the truth is essential to the functioning of the College. 

All members of the research community, including faculty, research staff, students, adjunct faculty, and visiting researchers, are expected to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards as they pursue research activities, complying with all legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements established by the College, regulatory bodies, funding sources and professional organizations.  The Code of Professional Conduct and Statement of Professional Ethics (Faculty and Administration Manual) prescribes standards of work performance and ethical conduct expected of all persons engaged in teaching and research. 

While expectations of ethical conduct are high, education in the responsible conduct of research has historically been uneven at best. Many researchers have received little to no training in conducting and mentoring research beyond those specific to their own disciplines.  In contrast, the risks of research misconduct can be both personally and institutionally great. 

The Office of Research Integrity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, encourages researchers to make a special effort to understand, discuss, and teach others about the responsible conduct of research.  It is understood that responsible conduct of research can be taught and learned in many ways and that the standards can vary from discipline to discipline.  Therefore, this policy represents the College of Charleston’s commitment to promoting and fostering the responsible conduct of research through educational opportunities for students, faculty, and staff.

POLICY

Recognizing that responsible conduct of research is essential for promoting public trust in research and in the College, programs and materials that will increase the knowledge of and facilitate the practice of responsible research will be made available to the College community.  Following the Office of Research Integrity’s recommended instructional areas, the following topics will be covered in educational programs and guidance materials provided through the Graduate School Office and the Office of Research and Grants Administration with sensitivity to variations in practices within particular disciplines.

  1. Conflicts of Interest and Commitment – appropriately disclosing any relationships, financial or personal, that might be perceived to compromise one's scholarly judgment.
  2. Human Participants, Live Vertebrate Animal Subjects, and Safe Laboratory Practices – understanding policies, regulations, and protections.
  3. Mentor/Trainee Responsibilities – facilitating the training and development of students and other junior members of the community; insuring that they have the opportunity to achieve their full potential; demonstrating respect, protecting their rights and welfare.
  4. Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership – understanding proper and ethical data collection, representation and retention of data.
  5. Peer Review – treating all members of the research community with impartiality, respect and fairness..
  6. Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship – giving appropriate credit and acknowledgments, citations, co-authorship, description of methods, representing accurately and honestly the actual observations and findings in whatever medium they are presented; using statistics and other methods of data analysis and evaluation in an appropriate and responsible manner
  7. Collaborative Research – facilitating the exchange of knowledge among researchers at all levels of experience by encouraging a climate of intellectual collaboration and trust; communicating clearly.
  8. Fiscal Responsibility and Stewardship of Resources -  demonstrating stewardship of resources by appropriate use of research funds, care and maintenance of equipment and other research materials, and compliance with  all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and guidelines for the use and disposal of hazardous substances.
  9. Research Misconduct – understanding consequences of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism; policies for handling misconduct.
  10. The Scientist as a Responsible Member of Society – understanding contemporary ethical issues in research and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.
July 28, 2008
Updated - September 5, 2016