Boise State’s mission is to be a “public, metropolitan research university providing leadership in academics, research and civic engagement” and notes that “research, creative activity and graduate programs … advance new knowledge and benefit the community, the state and the community.”
In line with this mission, Boise State’s Standards of Conduct include a “scholarly activity” standard which says that “all members of the University community engaged in research are expected to conduct their scholarly activity with integrity and intellectual honesty at all times and with appropriate regard for human and animal subjects.” Graduate students are likely to be involved in research or other types of creative or scholarly activity. This might include work done for a class project or independent study, as part of a laboratory or research group, or for a thesis or dissertation. It is, therefore, important to understand the obligations related to the responsible conduct of research.
What is “responsible” research? According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, responsible research is research that is guided by the “ethical and scientific standards and the legal and institutional rules in the conduct of research” (Resnick, 2015). Along the same lines, Boise State policy #5060, describes research misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.”
At Boise State, the “legal and institutional rules” are the responsibility of the Office of Research Compliance (ORC). The OPC’s mission is to “provide assistance to faculty, staff and students in conducting research in compliance with federal, state and local regulations.” With this mission, the ORC is an invaluable resource and all Boise State researchers, including graduate students, should be familiar with the information available through the ORC website. The ORC is divided into three committees:
- Institutional Review Board (IRB) – established to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects recruited to participate in research activities
- Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) – established to oversee the university’s animal program, facilities and research projects involving the use of animals
- Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) – established to oversee funded and unfunded research and academic activities involving biohazardous materials
Each committee has established policies and guidelines for researchers. Each committee also has forms that are required as a way of documenting that a research project is conducted ethically. Work done as a Boise State researcher is likely to fall under the purview of one or more of these committees. Information about each committee can be found on the ORC website at:
- Institutional Review Board (IRB)
- Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
- Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
The responsible conduct of research imposes two practical requirements. One is completion of CITI training. This refers to the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, a web-based training program hosted by the University of Miami to inform researchers about a variety of issues related to the responsible conduct of research. CITI training is required for all Boise State researchers, including graduate students, in part because it fulfills the university’s commitment to promote the responsible conduct of all research, whether that research is funded or unfunded. For more information about CITI training, refer to the OCR website – the CITI Training FAQs page.
A second practical requirement is making sure the required ORC approvals have been obtained prior to beginning the research. Related to this, a completed and bound thesis or dissertation must include a page that contains the research protocol number and a statement that the protocol has been approved by the appropriate ORC committee – Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), or Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).
Resnick, D. B. (2015). Glossary of Commonly Used Terms in Research Ethics. Retrieved February 2, 2017 from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/glossary/index.cfm