MBTP PLAN FOR INSTRUCTION IN RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH
Formal training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) for Vanderbilt MBTP students consists of two parts. First, there is an initial day-long exposure to RCR during the first week of the graduate training in August. This is followed by a second day-long RCR event in May the following year. In addition, the MBTP holds hour-long sessions at regular intervals and on an ongoing basis throughout graduate training.
Formal Institutional RCR Training
Formal RCR training is now required of all biomedical trainees at Vanderbilt. It includes the nine core areas identified in the NIH guidelines and required by the Office of Research Integrity. The first day-long session of formal training in August covers five areas: 1) mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships; 2) research misconduct and polices for handling misconduct; 3) responsible authorship and publication; 4) peer review of grant applications and manuscripts; and 5) data acquisition, including data management, sharing, and ownership. This training is offered in four 2-hour sessions and uses a combination of lectures, case studies, and small-group discussions. Faculty members are involved in this training. In this phase of RCR training, students are provided with reading assignments and supplemental materials for future reference.
The one-day, 6-hour session in May covers the following areas: 1) policies regarding human subjects and vertebrate animals in research; 2) conflict of interest (personal, professional, and financial), 3) collaborative research and team science; and 4) responsibilities of the scientist in society and contemporary ethical issues. This training uses lectures, case studies, and small-group discussions. Again, faculty members are directly involved.
After each phase of the formal institutional training, trainees are asked to evaluate the RCR curriculum using an on-line survey. This feedback is carefully considered and used to incorporate improvements for subsequent training sessions. The surveys have been overwhelmingly positive with many students commenting that the fast-moving pace of instruction and the continuous introduction of questions, case studies, and discussion allayed initial concerns about the delivery of the RCR content.
MBTP RCR Sessions
An MBTP-specific RCR curriculum was designed by our Program Director Walter Chazin and consists of RCR sessions six times through the year as part of the MBTP seminar series. Participation in these RCR sessions is required of all students and their faculty preceptors. The Training Faculty are required to lead one such session at least once every two years as a pre-requisite of remaining in good standing. These dedicated RCR sessions involve formal presentation of a specific topic (e.g. data presentation and manipulation of figures) by MBTP preceptors followed by open round table discussion.
Continuing RCR Training
The MBTP is committed to RCR instruction as an ongoing educational process that continues throughout the training period. Besides the on-going hour-long RCR sessions, a variety of additional venues to introduce and reinforce RCR content have been implemented. One occurs at thesis committee meetings, which are required at least once per year. These meetings provide opportunities for faculty to ask questions and initiate discussions about RCR topics. Themes discussed in these meetings might include those covered in the formal training or other ethical or professional issues. After each thesis committee meeting, the Graduate School requires a report be generated that includes scoring on satisfactory performance in RCR as one of the major categories. The Graduate Seminar in Molecular Biophysics (BCHM349, CPBP349) incorporates a discussion of a minimum of one aspect of RCR as part of each weekly presentation. Additional RCR training opportunities are provided by attendance at RCR events organized by Ph.D. degree granting departments and programs. These opportunities include formal instruction as well as informal discussions at departmental/program gatherings. Finally, we note that our trainees are advised to seek advice from the MBTP Director, other senior faculty, or the BRET Office in the event of any unresolved issues relating to RCR.