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Core Areas of RCR Curriculum

University of Houston continually strives to maintain a research environment that promotes attention to the highest ethical standards for all sponsored and non-sponsored research. It is expected, therefore, that all researchers participate in ongoing education in all core areas that comprise a comprehensive responsible conduct of research curriculum.

These core areas include:

As a member of society, a scientist has a responsibility not only to their own research but to humanity as a whole.

A conflict of interest is a situation in which a secondary interest may improperly influence or bias a primary interest. An investigator may have an outside financial interest that could conflict or be perceived to conflict with her/his research or educational activities.  Conflicts of Interest are not inherently wrong. However, they should be properly managed in a manner that ensures the integrity of the research remains intact.

A conflict of commitment occurs when there are competing obligations between an individual’s personal interests and professional ones.  It may also occur in allocating your time and effort, or other research resources. 

**Do not confuse the DOR FCOI policy with separate, system-wide policies such as: SAM 02.A.08, Consulting and Paid Professional Services and Conflict of Interest SAM 02.A.09

The safety, health, and welfare of every person who may become a participant in research projects should be protected. In accordance with the Belmont Report, researchers should have respect for persons and the research should both do no harm as well as maximize possible benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Animals are used in research to improve knowledge in the biomedical sciences to benefit human health and animal health. Investigators are encouraged to explore alternatives before using animal subjects. Proposed research using animals must have research value and must justify the use of animals, rather than other means to answer the question. Animal studies must be conducted for a societal goal and in accordance with federal and institutional welfare policies.

Because of the nature of the agents, chemicals, and organisms used, researchers need to be aware of the potential effects that their work can have on themselves, their colleagues, and the outside community. There are multiple areas of concern, including biological safety, radiation safety, chemical safety, and proper hazardous waste storage and disposal.

Mentoring, as the social foundation of research, is a two-way, complementary and continuous relationship: a mentor should establish basic expectations, prepare mentees to become researchers through teaching and advising, provide useful criticism and proper review and supervision of mentees; a mentee/trainee should maintain clear communication with the mentor, listen to advice, take constructive criticism, and complete the assigned work in a timely fashion.

Awareness of issues related to diversity and equity, as well as prevention of discriminatory harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, disability, marital status, is essential to creating a safe and inclusive research environment.

Research collaborations are critical to the advancement of science. The most successful collaborations depend on openness, communication, and trust.  There should be a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities prior to entering into and throughout a collaboration.  Issues such as authorship, publication, conflict of interest, data management, oversight and deadlines should be considered. There might also be additional considerations when collaborating with industry and investigators and institutions in other countries. 

Peer review is the process by which experts evaluate a research protocol, manuscript, or research product produced by another researcher. Reviews need to be prompt, thorough, constructive, free from personal bias (and conflicts of interest) and respectful of the need for confidentiality.

Research should be conducted in a responsible and ethical manner that results in rigor and reproducibility. This starts with good planning and recordkeeping of all methods and data collected (i.e., laboratory notebooks), and proper training and use of tools for analyzing data (e.g., creating or working with digital images).

While conducting research, data should be maintained securely in accordance with UHS’s data security policy (SAM 07.A.08). It is important to use data ethically since data used incorrectly could have unintended consequences and cause harm.

Data integrity is vital to research and scientific advancement. Consideration should be given to the ownership, as well as the collection, storage and sharing of the data from planning stage through completion of the research.  A secure plan should be in place for the transfer and storage of the data (including metadata) for time frames required by all federal regulations and funding agencies. MAPP 08.03.01

Research misconduct means the fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting research. Fabrication is the making up of data or results and recording or reporting them; falsification is the manipulating of research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record; plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Research publications allow not only the scientific community, but also the general public, to learn about new discoveries and can be used to influence public policy. All publications should include accurate description of the work, an honest assessment of the results, proper attribution of credit and responsibility. All authors should review the manuscript, be familiar and agree with all aspects of the publication.

Federal laws and regulations operate to restrict the use of and access to controlled information, goods, and technology for reasons of national security or protection of trade. The word "export" is often misapplied, misinterpreted, and/or misunderstood causing many to ignore the restrictions to which they are subject, and that can result in costly consequences. Export control is not just about moving product, it is also about services such as consulting, training, speaking at conferences, and more. Exporting can occur inside or outside of the U.S. or its territories. An export-controlled item or activity that is released to a foreign person who is located in the U.S. is referred to as a deemed export and is subject to the same regulations as if the item were sent to the foreign person in their home country. (CITI Export Control Training)

Security is essential for free and collaborative scientific research. There are benefits of international collaborations as well as risks of foreign government interference. However, not all security risks are international. Researchers should identify risks in research security such as in the merit review system and vulnerabilities of prepublication research. (NSF Research Security Fact Sheet FY2022)