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Has RCR Training Worked?

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Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training has been around in some format (9 core areas and now 10 or more) for over a decade.  After several years, many have wondered if RCR training has done what it was intended to do:  prevent research misconduct and promote integrity.  In the July 2012 issue of Academic Medicine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622208), Dr. Donald Kornfeld’s assessment is that the surveys done to date have not demonstrated that training has changed behavior.  

Kornfeld suggests that RCR re-focus from the training efforts to something that might have larger payoff in altering behavior.  He recommends the focus needs to be on improving mentoring.  And he suggests  specifically “that institutional policies be instituted  to improve the quality of mentorship” and that the “quality of mentoring should be made a factor in the evaluation of applications for the funding of training grants and mentors made to share responsibility  for the published work of their trainees.”

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Behavioral change should not be the goal


The question about the success of RCR training can't be answered without first deciding what counts as success. I have argued that behavioral change is not an appropriate goal.
See especially "Resisting the siren call of behavioral change," presented at the “Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Education, Instruction, and Training” meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, April 18, 2008, sponsored by the Office of Research Integrity and the Washington University School of Medicine. The paper can be found at  http://mypage.iu.edu/~pimple/Resisting_the_siren_call.pdf.
Ken Pimple
Poynter Center
Indiana University Bloomington

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