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Responsible Conduct of Research

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Responsible Conduct in Research Training. The training program in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) has three major educational components: web-based training, program literature, and small group discussion workshops.  Participation in all phases of the training program is mandatory for all graduate students in the Biomedical Graduate Studies programs. The training program begins with a brief faculty presentation to incoming students at the BGS new student orientation, which provides an overview of responsible conduct of research and appropriate behavior in the classroom and lab.  New students are also given a copy of the Cold Spring Harbor publication, At the Bench (Kathy Barker, au.) which covers some aspects of RCR.

The program is introduced through on-line RCR training available on the BGS website.  The training is designed to provide all participants with an introduction to RCR, particularly in biomedical research.  The topics covered are: Research Misconduct; Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership; Mentoring; Collaboration; Conflicts of Interest; Publication Practices, Responsible Authorship and Peer Review; Human Subjects and Animal Welfare.

All first-year graduate students must complete the introductory web-based training and pass the web-based quiz (http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu/).  In addition to the topic presentations, there are several RCR case studies on the web site. These are good introductions to the case study method that is the basis of RCR training for graduate students beyond the first year.

The document, RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH: A Handbook for Biomedical Graduate Studies Students, Biomedical Graduates Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2010 is the primary resource for the case study portion of the training program and can be downloaded from: http://www.med.upenn.edu/bgs/user_docs/4thEditionRCRHandbook.pdf.  It was originally written as a companion to ON BEING A SCIENTIST: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research, third edition (published by the National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2009).  That document is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12192.html.  These documents utilize a case study approach to inform, stimulate discussion among and thereby educate program participants.  The BGS Handbook includes a number of topics that are not included in ON BEING A SCIENTIST but that are important to the training of graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. The BGS Handbook includes a practical guide to acquaint students with the guidelines and procedures regarding misconduct at the University of Pennsylvania and to define the appropriate sources for contact when questions arise.  Copies of these booklets are available through links on the BGS web site.  More detailed reference material is also available in the BGS office (160 BRB II/III, 215-898-1030).

The final component of the training program for second, third and fourth year BGS students is topic-specific, on-line training, using the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), Responsible Conduct of Research Program, followed by small group discussions using a case-based study approach.  Small group workshops of ~12 students are organized with two faculty preceptors each.  The workshops meet for a minimum of one and one-half hours.  During these workshops, students and faculty become engaged in a process of discovery together.  With respect to research integrity, this includes not only learning facts, but recognizing potential ambiguities in the responsible conduct of research.  The small group workshops also reveal the instructors' and students’ own attitudes and prejudices, and recognition of conflicting ethical principles.  This method also provides the opportunity to directly illustrate the avoidance of misconduct through good laboratory practice.  The participation of active investigators is essential in this exercise.  Their involvement lends credibility to the process and may even influence the investigator's own practices.

Graduate students are expected to move through a progression of case studies that consider a specific set of topics.  Second year students consider research misconduct, plagiarism, data management and lab notebooks.  Third year students consider issues relating to mentoring and lab supervision, collaboration, animals and human subjects.  Fourth year students discuss issues of publication practices, authorship, peer review and conflicts of interest.  All students are given a copy of the article “What’s in a Picture? The temptation of image manipulation.”, from the Journal of Cell Biology (166:11-15; 2004).

Graduate students in years five and beyond have different choices for fulfilling their requirement, which may include attending University bioethics seminars, courses or symposia such as those sponsored by the Center for Bioethics (see http://www.bioethics.upenn.edu/).  Attendance at these events must be registered with the BGS office.  Another option for upper level students is to co-facilitate a workshop for the second, third or fourth year students along with a faculty facilitator.  This can be arranged through the BGS office.

Faculty and RCR Lab Meetings

In parallel with the required RCR training plan described above, Faculty must dedicate at least two lab meetings (1-2 hr each) per year to RCR training.  To this end, Faculty have access to the aforementioned case studies to use as discussion pieces, in addition to their own resources or examples from their own experience.  The expectation is for these events to be interactive discussions that ideally include all laboratory personnel, but minimally explicitly include all graduate students who work in that lab.  After each such event, the Faculty member is expected to fill out the online form found here: http://www.med.upenn.edu/bgs/RCR_FORM.shtml

Below are links that may be useful with this training:

* Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research:A Handbook for Biomedical Graduate Studies Students
* On Being A Scientist
* Teaching the Responsible Conduct of Research Through A Case Study Approach
* Scientific Integrity
* ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
* RCR Casebook:Statistics About Researchers Worth Discussing

Students typically undertake ~28 hours of RCR Training during their PhD career, as summarized below:

Student Year

Activity

Hours Spent (Minimum)

1st year

RCR intro talk at Convocation

0.5

Reading RCR-related topics in “At the Bench”

0.5

Online Intro Training - slides and quiz

1

2nd year

Online CITI Training

1

Readings in BGS Handbook prior to workshop

1.5

Small Group Workshop

1.5

Lab Meeting on RCR Topics (2x/yr, 1.5 hr ea.)

3

3rd year

Online CITI Training

1

Readings in BGS Handbook prior to workshop

1.5

Small Group Workshop

1.5

Lab Meeting on RCR Topics (2x/yr, 1.5 hr ea.)

3

4th year

Online CITI Training

1

Readings in BGS Handbook prior to workshop

1.5

Small Group Workshop

1.5

Lab Meeting on RCR Topics (2x/yr, 1.5 hr ea.)

3

5th year

RCR Elective

2

Lab Meeting on RCR Topics (2x/yr, 1.5 hr ea.)

3

TOTAL

28