Page 89 - Winter 2020
P. 89

  What Is Responsible Conduct of Research?
Robert J. Dooling and Melissa A. Thompson
   What Is the Responsible Conduct of Research and Why Does It Matter?
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA), like most comparable groups in other disciplines, has developed strong ethical principles for conducting and publishing research (see The purpose of this essay is to emphasize the importance of the ASA ethical principles and describe their relevance in a broader context that should be useful for every member oftheASA,nomattertheenvironmentinwhichtheywork.
Anyone engaged in scientific research today, whether in the academy, government research agency, industry, or not-for-profit setting, has heard about RCR, short for
“responsible conduct of research.” But what exactly does this mean and why do we need to care more about it?
RCR refers to a set of principles for conducting scientific research with the utmost integrity. Initially focused on classroom instruction of students, it is now clear that everyone engaged in the research endeavor, researchers, staff, and administrators, should be involved. The emergence of specific RCR training requirements from funding agencies has resulted in institutional and organizational policies that represent a fairly focused, homogeneous view of what RCR involves. Most importantly, RCR is about more than just “compliance” with specific policies or regulations; rather, it now entails a full range of ethical research behavior and incentives for research and represents a call to arms to protect the integrity that is the essential basis of unimpeachable scientific investigation (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017).
To paraphrase remarks by the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman (Feynman, 1998) in his address at the California Institute of Technology 1974 commencement,
“...scientific integrity can be defined as principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards. If you
©2020 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.
are doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it... Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given... You must present all of the facts that disagree with it, as well as all that agree with your hypothesis... You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it...”
The suite of specific topics in RCR range from those centering on compliance with regulatory requirements accompanying federal funding, such as those addressing research misconduct, the use of human subjects and animals in research, conflicts of interest (COIs), and intellectual property resulting from research, to other more general behaviors and best practices. These other practices might best be described as emerging principles for the ethical conduct of science and do not typically involve entanglements with federal regulations. But they are receiving increased attention from funding agencies, and researchers are increasingly asked to address these elementsofscientificintegrityintheirgrantapplications: mentoring; authorship; peer review; collaborative research; data acquisition, management, sharing, and ownership; and rigor and reproducibility.
The Big One: Research Misconduct
RCR emerged to prevent problematic behaviors that directly impact the integrity of the research product, the most direct, serious, and damaging of which is research misconduct. Research misconduct is specifically defined as fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP). The definition also typically includes statements that honest error or differences of opinion do not constitute misconduct and that the misconduct must be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly (e.g., deliberately changing data).
The actual incidence of research misconduct is relatively rare compared with the huge number of scientific publications every year, but it is also increasing (Fang et
 Volume 16, issue 4 | Winter 2020 • Acoustics Today 89

   87   88   89   90   91