Private and public funding of research and scholarship has brought increased scrutiny and greater demands for accountability from the university community. It is generally accepted that research must be conducted morally and in accordance with certain federal mandates initiated by the Office of Research Integrity. In order to comply with these standards, WKU has the responsibility and obligation to train members of its research community in the areas relevant to their activities and to certify compliance with research policies.
The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program at Western Kentucky University is
part of the educational and outreach activities of the Office of Compliance. The program
is designed increase the knowledge of and coordinates the practice of responsible
and ethical research to Western Kentucky University researchers.
The RCR program at WKU is divided into 9 categories. Complete review of this curriculum is a minimum requirement for WKU researchers that conduct both funded and unfunded research. These 9 elements outlined by Public Health Services form a basic foundation and should be used to encourage consistency in coverage of important ethical issues through undergraduate and graduate programs and through faculty and staff development programs. It is expect that each educational unit within the University will adapt these basic materials to their specific needs.
The following list encompasses elements that have been outlined as core instructional areas by the Public Health Services and WKU:
- Data acquisition & management, sharing and ownership
- Conflict of interest and commitment
- Human subjects
- Animal welfare
- Research misconduct
- Publication practices and responsible authorship
- Mentor/trainee responsibilities
- Peer review
- Collaborative science
- Intellectual Property
see also: Conflict of Interest Examples
see also: Research Misconduct Policy
Individual integrity in science, research, and scholarly activities is an important
component of a viable and energetic academic community. Federal regulations require
that Western Kentucky University assume primary responsibility for prevention, detection,
and investigation of research misconduct and take action to ensure the integrity of
research, the protection of the rights of research subjects and the public, and the
observance of legal requirements related to federal research funding. Individual agency
regulations differ in wording and emphasis. Information about the policies of particular
federal agencies is available from the appropriate research administrators in the
Office of Compliance.
University policies establish standards of ethical behavior for all members of the University community and prescribe procedures for due process and discipline for deviation from those standards. The policy and procedures on Research Misconduct, attached, deal with violations of a subset of these standards and apply to prohibited conduct in proposing, carrying out and reporting research. Specifically, Research Misconduct procedures are invoked when allegations are reported of:
- Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results;
- Failure to comply with requirements for the protection of human or animal subjects
Principal Investigators have primary responsibility for the design, execution and management of research projects they direct, and must be vigilant in seeing that the standards of professional and ethical conduct are maintained in all phases of their projects. In order to protect both the integrity and the autonomy of the University, it is crucial that researchers assume these high standards and that in the event of allegations of misconduct the campus administer a fair system of review. Suspected violations of ethical standards should be reported immediately. If extramural funds are suspected to be involved, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Office of Compliance must be informed immediately to assure timely compliance with sponsor regulations.