Author: Sara Burke, 2002
Contributors: Dena Plemmons and Michael Kalichman, 2005-2010
Although there are generally no actual face-to-face meetings, an Internet-based course can nevertheless provide opportunities for repeated “e-meetings” (e-mail discussions, chat rooms, bulletin boards), the assignment and discussion of homework exercises, and ample time for extended discussions. This format of instruction is not yet widely used, but can typically be structured to consist of 10-15 units, each of which might mimic a classroom-based lecture. Instruction depends on a combination of concise introductory text for each unit, web-based links to relevant resources, assigned readings (in a course textbook or other print media), and some form of electronic discussion. This approach has some of the following features:
- Trainees have an opportunity to develop a rapport and confidence (Internet-based)
- Everyone can have a voice in discussion; everyone's comments are available to all other participants
- Because comments are written, they will often be more thoughtful than the opinions rendered spontaneously in a class discussion (although conversely, such an open forum can lead to long, unfocussed responses)
- Assignments can be completed at any time
- The time between topics allows for homework assignments and continued reflection on the preceding unit
- Common principles of ethical decision-making can be part of the curriculum
A primary disadvantage is that participants may choose to read and prepare less than if faced with meeting in a classroom, and much more time is needed for participants to clarify their positions than in a face-to-face discussion.
An Internet or CD-ROM based tutorial is distinguished from a course in that no instructor involvement is required. This format is typically structured to consist of multiple topics with online readings, incorporating multiple choice questions to verify completion and/or understanding of the material. This approach has some of the following features:
- information about general research ethics topics and resources for further investigation can be easily conveyed
- assignments can be completed at any time
- certification of completion is readily documented at relatively low expense
While it can be argued that this method is less than ideal for dealing with the many ambiguous questions raised in discussions of the responsible conduct of research, tutorials can nevertheless provide the broad and specific information which is the necessary foundation for beginning to think about these issues. Used as an adjunct to seminar series or workshops, for example, tutorials can ensure that participants have the same basic knowledge base.
An Internet-Based Course in the Responsible Conduct of Research
University of California, San Diego
This course presents responsible conduct of research education over the internet, and also evaluates the effectiveness of internet-based training. For this reason, it has been offered annually since 1999 only to a limited number of graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows, and participation in the course evaluation is strongly encouraged. Designed to be completed in a standard academic quarter, student participation is self-paced and monitored by completion of assignments which include assigned readings in the required text, Scientific Integrity: An Introductory Text with Cases by Francis Macrina, recommended website readings, writing assignments, and participation in email discussion groups. Topics include research misconduct, data management, use of animal subjects, use of human subjects, conflicts of interest and commitment, authorship and publication, peer review, collaboration and mentoring, and whistleblowing. Completion of the course meets the NIH training grant requirement. The entire course is available online. Access is unrestricted, but author permission and appropriate source citation are required for use.
Michael Kalichman, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
Research Ethics Program
Office of Graduate Studies and Research, MC-0003
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0003
University of Kentucky
Designed for graduate students, this internet-based training program, first offered in 1999, focuses on guidelines for the responsible conduct of researchers. The 4-week online training program is initiated by a single, live class meeting, and the subsequent three weeks address General Principles (society and well-being, competency, laws/regulations,/policies, and conflict of interest), Professional Principles (peer review, research management/data access, credibility, mentoring/training/supervisory relationships, authorship/publication, responsibility to colleagues and peers), and Focused Principles (human subjects, animal subjects, research with native or other special populations, genetic research, environmental health and safety). Each week includes assigned readings, email case discussion sessions, and submission of position papers. In addition to readings, the site provides a case analysis model, resource list, and bibliography. An online final examination at the end of the session is required and constitutes 30% of the grade. The case discussions constitute 30%, and the case analyses papers 40% of the grade. Registration with the instructor is required. The site offers unrestricted access to the readings, case descriptions, resources, and bibliography. While developed for internal use, there are no restrictions in accessing or printing the site information, but author’s permission and appropriate source citation are required for use. There are no fees.
Gregory Brock, Ph.D.
Department of Family Studies
315 Funkhouser Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington , KY 40506-0054
Health Care Compliance Strategies, Inc. (HCCS)
Health Care Compliance Strategies (HCCS) has released a comprehensive Research Compliance software suite for institutional use in meeting regulatory compliance requirements of professional staff. The company's courseware incorporates video, audio, text, and interactive exercises. The Research Compliance Suite is organized into six courses containing over eight hours of content: Grants and Contracts, Use of Human Subjects in Research, Conflicts of Interest and Scientific Misconduct, Professional Relationships and Data Issues, Use of Animals in Research, and Laboratory Research and Special Research Issues. The courses can be easily customized to integrate an institution's code of conduct and policies and procedures. Each module includes interactive exercises to test comprehension, and quizzes are used to document completion. Participant performance data is available on the HCCS website, and reports are regularly issued to client institutions. Course content is frequently updated to keep pace with changing rules and regulations, and administrators are notified when course content is changed. The Grants and Contracts, Human Subjects, Professional Relationships and Data Issues, and Conflicts of Interest and Scientific Misconduct courses are all available for review and use. The remaining two courses are planned for release over the coming months. The course software can be installed locally and delivered to participants over the client's own intranet, or the software can be hosted by HCCS and delivered over the internet. HCCS provides completion certificates and continuing education credit. No pricing information is published, and institutions are invited to contact the company directly for quotes.
Questions about this course can be directed to:
Health Care Compliance Strategies, Inc.
30 Jericho Executive Plaza
Jericho, NY 11753-1098
877. 933.4227 (toll free)
Responsible Conduct of Research, Internet-based studies in education and research
University of Pittsburgh
This online educational program in research practice fundamentals (RPF), developed at the University of Pittsburgh for internal use by its researchers, and revised in 2006, requires successful completion of the training modules to enable participation in University of Pittsburgh research activities. There are 11 modules specifically listed under the category of Responsible Conduct of Research: Research Integrity, Human Subjects Research in Biomedical Sciences, Human Subjects Research in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Use of Laboratory Animals in Research and Education, Conflict of Interest, Human Embryonic and Fetal Stem Cell Research, Bloodborne Pathogen Training, Chemical Hygiene Training, Responsible Literature Searching, IRB Member Education, and Research with Children. Each module consists of knowledge acquisition and knowledge demonstration. Quiz questions link back to content, and certificates are awarded upon successful module completion. Although access to the content area is unrestricted, download, copying, and printing are restricted. The quiz section of the site is restricted and password protected. There are no fees.
Application Development Manager, iTarget
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System
Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI)
Forbes Tower, Suite 8084
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-7190