, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 541-558

Group mentoring to foster the responsible conduct of research

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This article reports on a method of group mentoring to strengthen responsible research conduct. A key feature of this approach is joint exploration of the issues by trainees and their faculty research supervisors. These interactions not only help participants learn about current ethical norms for research practice, but also draw on the accumulated experience of faculty and staff about practical problems of research conduct, and help to make faculty more articulate about responsible research conduct and so better able to guide their trainees. By working with departments or laboratories as a whole the method facilitates the formulation of specific norms appropriate to particular research situations and to strengthen the group’s ability to support appropriate behavior and deal with new issues as they arise. It also gives students more ways to ask questions about research practice and to benefit from the experience of all members of their department or group as well as their own research supervisors.

The method is well tested and has been well received by a wide variety of departments and research groups. It provides the means for a constructive and enjoyable response to the Public Health Service’s (PHS) new Policy on Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) that requires education in the responsible conduct of research for all those funded by PHS funds, including faculty and staff as well as trainees.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at a National Science Foundation sponsored conference on Mentoring and Research Values: Students as Vital Human Resources, Chicago, IL, USA, March 1995.