RCR Contact: Rachael Alaniz, Responsible Conduct of Research Officer

The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program at Ball State University is a comprehensive initiative dedicated to ensuring ethical, honest, and accountable conduct of research activities within the institution.

All universities applying for or receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) are required to establish an RCR training plan for faculty, staff, and students receiving grant-funded support. In compliance with NIH and NSF training requirements and recommendations, the RCR Program has established two in-person training programs: training for faculty researchers and staff and training for students.

In-person training is mandatory for all faculty, staff, and students receiving support from an NIH or NSF educational, training, or research grant which meets the following criteria:

  • Any NSF-funded project with a proposal submitted on or after July 31, 2023
  • Any NSF or NIH-funded project beginning after September 1, 2021, and continuing after September 1, 2024

These programs are meant to complement required Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training and are not intended to replace CITI training for those for whom it is required.

Training Programs
 

About the Training

Ball State University (BSU) strongly supports the ethical and responsible conduct of research, regardless of funding status or source through training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR).  RCR training is available to researchers through BSU’s partnership with the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) also provides in-person instruction in RCR as a supplement to CITI training. This training is open to all BSU faculty, students, and staff but is required of those researchers receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) research or educational grants.

To view Ball State University’s Office of Research Integrity Training Plan for the 2023-2024 academic year, click here.

CITI Training

CITI training is required of all investigators participating in research involving the use of human subjects, or animals. All required CITI training must be completed prior to beginning work on a project. Completion of these trainings is documented by the IRB and IACUC through the required submission of certificates of completion at the time of project proposal submission.

CITI Training consists of a series of online modules, followed by brief quizzes. A score of at least 80% must be achieved on each post-module quiz for training to be considered sufficient. Instructions for registering and taking the RCR courses can be found on page 11 of the CITI Program Manual (PDF)

Responsible Conduct of Research Training (For Faculty and Staff)

In-person training in RCR is provided to faculty and staff researchers receiving NIH or NSF-funded support through BSU’s Responsible Conduct of Research Training Program. This training program provides investigators the opportunity to further their understanding of the core values of RCR by working through complex research ethics scenarios in a collaborative learning environment.   

Training for faculty and staff researchers is offered each semester as an in-person seminar. Training must be completed by the end of the semester following the semester during which funding is made available for the project. 

Responsible Conduct of Research (Student Training Program)

In-person training in RCR is provided to student researchers receiving NIH or NSF-funded support through BSU’s Responsible Conduct of Research Student Training Program. This program is designed to familiarize student researchers with the core values of RCR. Instruction is provided using a multi-modal approach including interactive face-to-face instruction, online learning modules, and the consideration of case studies.  

For more information on this training program, including a schedule of training events, visit our RCR Student Training Program webpage.

2023 Fall Semester RCR Student training Program Schedule

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Training Requirements

The NSF requires institutions applying for or receiving NSF funding for research or educational purposes to provide training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. Training participation is required for all undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel supported by the proposed research project. 

Learn More About The NSF Training Requirements 

National Institutes of Health Training Requirement

The NIH requires institutions receiving NIH funding through a research, career development, educational, or dissertation research grant to provide RCR training to all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving NIH grant-funded support.  These training requirements aim to ensure investigators involved in NIH-funded research are knowledgeable in the ethical considerations and best practices essential for maintaining the highest standards of research conduct.  

Learn More About The NIH Training Requirements

Case Study Number One

Academic avoids jail after being found guilty of fraud for falsifying Parkinson's disease research to obtain $700,000 in research funding

Summary of misconduct

  • P.I. falsified Parkinson's research to obtain a $700,000 research grant.
  • Guilty of five charges of fraud and attempted fraud.
  • Attempted to user others' research as her own for grants and fellowship.
  • Was in a relationship with her superior who asked for the assistance.

Discussion

What implications does this have?

Case Study Number Two

Leading scientist suspended amid 'research misconduct' investigation

Summary of Misconduct

  • P.I. is under investigation for falsifying data (using rotated and reflected images in his papers)
  • Received about $12 million in funding for research of Cystic Fibrosis
  • Collaborated with universities across the world that are now having their credibility questioned

Discussion

Are researchers basing new research off of these findings?

Authorship on a scientific publication and/or creative project is both a reward and a responsibility. The completion and signing on this agreement (Word) aids in the avoidance of conflicts on who should and will be included as an author on scholarly work. For specific rules and recommendations regarding who (in general) qualifies for authorship, please refer to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Research Integrity’s policy on authorship and publication or the Ball State General Authorship Guidelines.

All BSU researchers are encouraged to share their scholarly findings in the form accepted by the university. This web page serves as a general guideline for consideration of the important issues and questions surrounding authorship and publication.

  • Author: An individual who has made substantial intellectual contributions to a scientific investigation, usually through participation in drafting, reviewing, and/or revising the manuscript for intellectual content.
  • Authorship: The ability to publicly take responsibility for the contents of the project (e.g., being sufficiently knowledgeable about the project to be able to present it in a formal forum).
  • Collaborative Research: Equal partnership between two academic faculty members who are pursing mutually interesting and beneficial research, or ii. research involving investigators of differing stature, funding status, and types of organizations or institutions.
  • Data: Information collected for reference and analysis.
  • Data Ownership: Refers to both the possession of and responsibility for information.
  • Plagiarism: To steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own; literary theft.
  • Presentation: A demonstration or display of a project and project findings.
  • Publication: A structured and controlled means of communicating research results.

Lead Author

  • Assumes overall responsibility for the manuscript and often serves as the managerial and corresponding author.
  • Is not necessarily the primary investigator.

Co-Authors

Authors included in the project that are not the lead author.

Acknowledgements

Individual(s) who may have made some contribution to a publication, but who do not meet the criteria for authorship, including:

  • Staff
  • Editorial Assistants
  • Medical Writers
  • Others

The order of authorship should be based on the degree of importance of each author’s contribution to the project. This is a collective decision among the authors in a group.

Generally, examples of substantive contributions of authors include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Aiding in the conceptualization of the hypotheses.
  • Designing the methodology of the investigation.
  • Significantly contributing to the writing of the manuscript.

These activities are not (alone) sufficient grounds for authorship:

  • Entering information into databases.
  • Collecting data (running subjects, collecting specimens, distributing and collecting questionnaires.)

Faculty-student collaborations should follow the same criteria to establish authorship. Mentors must exercise great care to neither award authorship to students who contributions do not merit it, nor deny authorship and due credit to the word of students.

Forms of unacceptable authorship include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Ghost Authorship: occurs when a written work fails to identify individuals who made significant contributions to the research and writing of that work.
  • Guest Authorship: granted out of the appreciation of respect of an individual, or in the belief that expert standing of the guest will increase the likelihood of publication, credibility, or status of the work.
  • Gift Authorship: credit offered from a sense of obligation, tribute, or dependence, within the context of an anticipated benefit, to an individual who has not contributed to the work; also known as honorary authorship.

In the case of an authorship dispute (i.e. disagreement over authorship and order of authors), it is the responsibility of the group to resolve the problem. If a resolution cannot be reached, any concerned party from the group is encouraged to contact the Office of Research Integrity.

It is best practice to complete a mentorship agreement to describe the roles, responsibilities, and goals of the mentor-mentee relationship for the research project. This contract (Word) will be referred to in the case of mentorship disagreement/dispute.

All BSU researchers are encouraged to utilize mentorship as a means of both professional development and responsible conduction of research. This web page serves as a general guideline for consideration of the important issues and questions surrounding mentorship.

  • Mentor: An experienced and trusted advisor.
  • Mentee: An individual who is advised, trained, or counseled by a mentor.
  • Mentorship: A relationship in which a person with experience and expertise in a field guides the learning of a person with less experience and expertise.
  • Development of clear expectations of substantive learning/skills to be achieved.
  • Maintenance of a mutually respectful mentorship.
  • Identification of a focus for research.
  • Development of a timeline to achieve educational and research goals.
  • Dedication to honesty and the respect of all ethical standards.
  • Pursuit of regular feedback to improve scientific work.
  • Knowledge of policies, deadlines, and requirements of research in the university.
  • Conduct frequent team meetings with the mentee.
  • Development of clear expectations of substantive learning/skills to be achieved by the mentee.
  • Facilitation of the training and professional development of the mentee.
  • Maintenance of a mutually respectful mentorship.
  • Encouragement of a progressive level of independence and responsibility of the mentee in research.
  • Promotion of all ethical standards for conducting research and engaging in scholarly endeavors.
  • Provision of sufficient opportunities and resources to the mentee to increase level of expertise.
  • Commitment of being a supportive colleague to the mentee.
  • Provision of adequate guidance to the mentee.
  • Commitment to giving appropriate credit to the mentee in any publications resulting from the project.

Positive Mentorships

Positive mentorships are characterized by the following:

  • Provision of instruction on conducting research responsibly and encouraging the incorporation of a sound code of research behavior.
  • Improvement mentee’s self-confidence.
  • Critique and support of mentee’s research.
  • Definition of clear research focus.
  • Assistance in defining and achieving career goals.
  • Socialization of mentee into a profession.
  • Assistance in development of extensive collegial networks.
  • Advisement on how to balance work and personal life.
  • Teaching of more efficient utilization of resources.
  • Assistance in the developments of future colleagues.

Negative Mentorships

Negative mentorships are characterized by:

  • Mismatch of values, workstyle, and/or personality.
  • Disagreement in research objectives and/or protocol.
  • Lack of mentor expertise.
  • Bad attitudes.
  • Personal problems.
  • Neglect of mentorship.
  • Exploitation.
  • Inappropriate delegation of work.
  • Inappropriate distribution of credit.
  • Harassment.
  • Coercion.
  • Threats.
  • Conflicts of interest.

Negative mentorships result in:

  • Higher levels of work stress.
  • Lower levels of self-esteem.
  • A lesser likelihood of future mentorships.
  • Professional mistrust.
  • The University of California, San Francisco Faculty Mentoring Program Toolkit.
  • The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Research Integrity - RCR Mentoring.