Spurred by a growing belief in the importance of science
and technology, public support for research increased dramatically over
the course of the 20th century. A century ago, research did not play
a major role in the average person’s life. Today, few aspects
of life are not touched in one way or another by the information and
technologies generated through research.
With growing public support for research
has come an understandableconcern about the way it is conducted. Public
funds support roughly one-third of all research and development (R&D)
in the U.S. and half of all basic research. Many researchers, therefore,
spend a significant portion of their time working for the public. As
public servants and also professionals, researchers have clear obligations
to conduct their research in a responsible manner.
In general terms, responsible conduct
in research is simply good citizenship applied to professional life.
Researchers who report their work honestly, accurately, efficiently,
and objectively are on the right road when it comes to responsible conduct.
Anyone who is dishonest, knowingly reports inaccurate results, wastes
funds, or allows personal bias to influence scientific findings is not.
However, the specifics of good citizenship
in research can be a challenge to understand and put into practice.
Research is not an organized profession in the same way as law or medicine.
Researchers learn best practices in a number of ways and in different
settings. The norms for responsible conduct can vary from field to field.
Add to this the growing body of local, state, and Federal regulations
and you have a situation that can test the professional savvy of any
The ORI Introduction to the Responsible
Conduct of Research has been written primarily for researchers and research
staff engaged in research supported by the Public Health Service but
is applicable to scholarly research in general. As an “introduction,”
it seeks to provide a practical overview of the rules, regulations,
and professional practices that define the responsible conduct of research.
The coverage is not exhaustive and leaves room for continued reading
and discussion in the laboratory and classroom, at professional meetings,
and in any other setting where researchers gather to discuss their work.
The content is organized around two ways
of thinking about research. The main sections follow the normal flow
of research, from a consideration of shared values to planning, conducting,
reporting, and reviewing. The chapters within the main sections cover
nine core instructional areas that have been widely recognized as central
to the responsible conduct of research. An opening chapter on rules
of the road and a brief epilogue on responsible research round out the
Although designed to follow the normal
flow of research, the chapters in this volume are all more-or-less self-contained
and can be read in any order. Each opens with a short
case in which students and researchers are faced with
making decisions about the responsible conduct of research. Throughout
the chapters, important points are summarized in bulleted
lists. Each chapter ends with a set of closing questions
for further discussion and resources
for reference and additional reading. The Web addresses given for the
resources and elsewhere in this work were current at the time of printing.
While written with all researchers in
mind, special consideration has been given to the needs of students,
postdocs, and researchers who do not have easy access to responsible
conduct of research materials or to colleagues who can explain the intricacies
of responsible conduct in research to them. Two or three hours with
this book should provide anyone in this position with a better understanding
of the reasons for and the scope of the most important responsibilities
Many colleagues have generously provided
comments on parts or all of this work as it took shape over several
drafts, including Ruth Bulger, Tony Demsey, Carolyn Fassi, Peggy Fischer,
Mark Frankel, Nelson Garnett, Shirley Hicks, Erich Jensen, Mike Kalichman
and his students, Nell Kriesberg, John Krueger, Tony Mazzaschi, Judy
Nowack, Chris Pascal, Ken Pimple, Larry Rhoades, Fran Sanden, Mary Scheetz,
Joan Schwartz, David Shore, Peggy Sundermeyer, and Carol Wigglesworth.
Co-creator, artist David Zinn, patiently produced multiple versions
of his drawings as we worked together to turn serious dilemmas into
lighter but thought-provoking illustrations. ORI Director, Chris Pascal,
and Associate Director, Larry Rhoades, deserve credit for initiating
and carrying through on this project. If through promoting integrity
and responsible conduct in research this work helps preserve the place
of research in society today, it will have been a project well worth
||Nicholas H. Steneck
Ann Arbor, MI
In general terms, responsible
conduct in research is simply good citizenship applied to professional
Researchers learn best practices
in a number of ways and in different settings. The norms for responsible
conduct can vary from field to field.