Executive Director's Column

Research Ethics

The Office of Research Integrity plans a survey of faculty roles in training responsible researchers.

By Steven Breckler, PhD

News comes this week that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is planning a survey of faculty concerning their role in training responsible researchers. The survey will focus specifically on the qualities and activities of those who teach and who provide mentoring on the responsible conduct of research.

ORI provides a wealth of information and guidance on the responsible conduct of research (RCR), research misconduct, and research integrity in biomedical and behavioral research.

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an announcement about the planned ORI survey in its December 12 News Blog. Indeed, the Chronicle provides regular coverage of news relating to research ethics and scientific misbehavior.

What I find most interesting about the Chronicle's News Blog are the comments posted by readers. The first comment, posted the same day, suggested that professional and scientific organizations should take responsibility for developing research ethics standards. Another comment highlighted the need for serious training, not just shallow web-based exercises.

APA has a rich history of addressing issues of research ethics and responsible conduct of research:

The APA Committee on Animal Research Ethics (CARE) is devoted to safeguarding and promoting ethical conduct in research with animals. The Committee develops guidelines, video tapes, books, and informational brochures.

The Science Directorate's Office of Research Ethics provides support and guidance in the responsible conduct of research. Part of this effort includes a new ad hoc Committee to Advance Responsible Research.

APA President Sharon Stephens Brehm launched a special task force this year to examine the relationship between IRBs and psychological science. Chaired by Thomas Eissenberg, a summary of the task force's work is featured in this month's Monitor on Psychology.

The December issue of American Psychologist features a primer for psychologists on corporate funding and conflicts of interest. Written by Wendy Pachter, Ronald Fox, Philip Zimbardo, and David Antonuccio, the article summarizes the findings and recommendations of an earlier APA Presidential Task Force on External Funding.

The APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct provides ethical standards bearing on research ethics, publication, training, and conflicts of interest.

The APA Science Directorate is committed to developing additional support and resources for the responsible conduct of research. As a professional society, it is our responsibility to do so, and we take that responsibility very seriously.