Recognizing the instrumental role that societies play in establishing and upholding normative standards of research professionalism, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and ORI entered into a cooperative agreement in 2002 to encourage academic societies to provide leadership to the research community through initiatives designed to promote the responsible conduct of research. The overarching goal of the program is to assist academic societies to develop, and mainstream or institutionalize RCR infrastructure, activities, and educational programs into the culture of the societies and disciplines. All academic societies with headquarters in the U.S., whose mission includes advancing biomedical and behavioral research, or medical education are eligible for this program.
Reports by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) have recommended that academic societies play a greater role in promoting the responsible conduct of research. In Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process, the NAS recommended that “scientific societies and scientific journals should continue to provide and expand resources and forums to foster responsible research practices and to address misconduct in science and questionable research practices.”
In The Responsible Conduct of Research in the Health Sciences, the IOM recommended that scientific organizations should “develop educational and training activities and materials to improve the integrity of research…assist universities in identifying substandard research and training practices that compromise the integrity or quality of research…develop policies to promote responsible authorship practices, including procedures for responding to allegations or indications of misconduct in published research or reports submitted for publication.”
Awards for the program are provided to fund academic societies to specifically address some, or all, of the nine core components of the responsible conduct of research: (1) data acquisition, management, sharing, and ownership (2) mentor/trainee responsibilities (3) publication practices and responsible authorship (4) peer review (5) collaborative science (6) human subjects (7) research involving animals (8) research misconduct, and (9) conflicts of interest and commitment. Of special interest are projects focused on developing guidelines, standards, policies, publications (including RCR articles in journals, newsletters, and on society web sites), committees, annual conferences, core competencies, curricula, and other instructional resources related to the core RCR components.
Since the fall of 2002, ORI funded 39 responsible conduct of research projects with 33 academic societies. ORI and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) believe that “academic societies should play a crucial role in defining and promoting standards for the responsible conduct of research in their respective disciplines.” Funding for the program ended in 2006.