Page 91 - Winter 2020
P. 91

come from plain common sense: trust, communication and accountability, and an upfront, clear agreement on expectations, such as authorship credit.
RCR Topics and the Law:
Compliance Committees
Today, state and federal regulatory requirements attached to both funded and nonfunded basic research represent an enormous compliance burden for both researchers and research institution staff. For example, the federal government mandates that institutions accepting federal funding have “assurance” or compliance committees in place, staffed by research administrators and researchers intimately familiar with the research programs and culture of the institution, and fulfill reporting requirements that assure the federal government that its researchers are complying with federal guidelines. The purview of these committees covers data acquisition and management, intellectual property, COIs, human subjects, animal subjects, and biohazards and biosafety. Most universities and many other research institutions have detailed websites explaining the exact scope and role of these compliance activities.
There isn’t complete unanimity across the globe on these matters. Although the definition of research misconduct is almost universally accepted, the other aspects of research that require compliance committees can vary somewhat across different cultures and countries. For instance, ownership of intellectual property in the United States is directly tied to wording in the US Constitution, a document not pertinent in other countries. Regulations regarding human subject research are fairly similar across the world, whereas regulations regarding animal research are more varied.
A rising sense of the vulnerability of research integrity has led federal granting agencies to sometimes require applicants and institutions to describe the exact procedures by which data will be collected, managed, and shared with the public, requirements almost unheard of several decades ago. Moreover, journals and funding agencies are increasingly requiring researchers to share the data that underlie publications for public inspection. Although the burden on institutions and researchers is great, the federal government and research institutions routinely work together to try and minimize the burden (e.g., the Council on Governmental Relations [see] and the Federal Demonstration Partnership [see]).
The Next Big One: Conflicts of Interest
COIs go right to the core of research integrity and objectivity in the generation of new knowledge. COIs represent a serious threat to research integrity at all types of research institutions. Universities, for instance, are coming under pressure to justify their value, in part, by how many patents and industrial relationships they can claim and how many start-up companies are spun off from university laboratories and academic research every year. Some large companies are seeking dual- employment strategies (e.g., 50% in the university and 50% in the company). It is becoming more common for university researchers to share authorship on publications with scientists at corporate entities that are funding the research, an arrangement demanding considerable scrutiny.
A Google search reveals COI threats that have emerged from foreign entanglements, with instances of students, postdocs, and faculty in research institutions actively working with foreign entities to inappropriately transfer intellectual property. Although universities and other research institutions may have been casual in how they have dealt with COIs in the past, that time has now passed. They must take seriously this increasing threat to research integrity and be aggressive in developing ways to maintain productive collaborative relationships across institutions, countries, and cultures while protecting the core essence of scientific integrity, as described by Richard Feynman.
The Road Forward
For the last 25 years, progress in promoting RCR has been slow but relentless. It is now quite clear that rewarding scientific innovation is important but so too is rewarding reproducibility (e.g., Moher et al., 2017). Universities and other research institutions are now proactively sharing best practices and learned lessons. For instance, research office personnel from members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, a US consortium of major research universities, participate in monthly meetings on how to promote RCR education and foster an environment of research integrity on their campuses. Common sense principles are beginning to emerge, such as:
(1) RCR is more than about compliance; it encompasses a larger suite of behaviors and attitudes that must be respected and embraced;
  Winter 2020 • Acoustics Today 91

   89   90   91   92   93