Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Responsibly Conducting Research

I went to a seminar on Responsible Conduct of Research this morning (RCR). It was required by my funding (National Institute of Health) because they want to make sure we act responsibly while we conduct our research. As a responsible researcher, it took me three years to go to this thing, and I missed the first two I signed up for. When I finally made it, they taught what I had already learned from reading a recent Nature article (CSI: Cell Biology Nature 2005 434:952). Bottom line: the experts don't seem to know what "responsible research" is. If the experts don't know, no wonder we don't either! According to the Nature article, 20% of accepted manuscripts are considered not acceptible because of unethical modifications to figures, and the vast majority of these are innocent mistakes that are easily fixed. So the University has us go to a 6-hr workshop to prevent this, where they, like Nature, never actually define what is unnacceptible. What we need is for one of the editors of a journal to send over the guy who decides what's acceptible so he can tell us what that is. Until I get that, i refuse to take liability for "responsible research"!

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