Institutional policies

ORI Introduction to RCR: Chapter 1. Rules of the Road    

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Research institutions (universities, hospitals, private research companies, and so on) are required by law to have policies that cover various aspects of their research programs if they accept Federal funds. They must have committees to review human and animal research (discussed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4). They must have procedures for investigating and reporting research misconduct (Chapter 2) and conflicts of interest (Chapter 5). They must approve and manage all research budgets, ensure that laboratory safety rules are followed, and follow established practices for the responsible use of hazardous substances in research. They must also provide training for researchers who use animal or human subjects in their research and for individuals supported on NIH training grants.

To help manage their responsibilities, most research institutions have research offices/officers and institutional research policies. Both provide excellent sources of guidance for responsible conduct in research, since both are the products of the institution’s efforts to clarify its own responsibilities. In addition, institutional policies are often more comprehensive than Federal and state policies since they must encompass the full panoply of institutional responsibilities. So, for example, many research institutions have more comprehensive definitions of research misconduct than the Federal Government to cover other practices that can undermine the integrity of research, such as the deliberate violation of research regulations, abuses of confidentiality, and even the failure to report misconduct (discussed in Chapter 2). Most also require institutional review for more human subjects research than is required by Federal regulation.

Large research institutions usually have Web sites that contain some or all of the following information:

  • copies of institutional research policies,
  • links to state and Federal policies,
  • required forms and instructions for completing them,
  • responsible conduct of research training programs, and
  • lists of key personnel.

here is, of course, little or no coordination across different research institutions, so the information on an institution’s Web site pertains only to that institution. But if you are looking for a comprehensive set of rules of the road for responsible research, check your home institution’s research administration Web site or one from a comparable institution.

Stanford Research Policy Handbook


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