Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Grant to Foster Integrity in Scholarship and Research

Research ethics and integrity will be the focus of a new program in development at Emory Graduate School. The program is one of five projects nationwide to receive a Project for Scholarly Integrity grant as part of a federal initiative to advance the scope and quality of graduate education in the ethical and responsible conduct of research.

The grants were awarded by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), with funding from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity. Amid heightened concerns about academic research misconduct, CGS’s Project for Scholarly Integrity seeks to better inform students, researchers and faculty about the ethical responsibilities and complexities of research in the 21st century.

One of the challenges in graduate education is to prepare students with the skills in ethical reasoning to deal with never-before-encountered situations says Lisa Tedesco, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for academic affairs at Emory University.

“We have responsibilities to educate our doctoral students in the most up-to-date ways about the complexities in their research environment,” says Tedesco. “Our program will seek to harness the critical thinking and analysis skills that they use every day in their research to engage more deeply into research ethics and the responsible conduct of research.”

Tedesco says critical reflection will be a major component of the program, including learning various “approaches to asking challenging questions and getting people comfortable with those difficult conversations.”

Since evidence suggests that many students fear judgment in addressing ethical problems in research, the Graduate School's process-oriented program seeks to build contexts in which ethical dilemmas can be candidly discussed. The program will focus on a student’s development as a responsible researcher, supporting that development with three distinct goals:

• Program integration: Education in research ethics and integrity must be integrated into the curriculum of the student’s program.

• Skills of critical reflection: Students need time and space to practice thinking through complicated problems of professional integrity.

• Knowledge of research principles: Students should be acquainted with rules and principles established by the law, professional codes of ethics, and best practices in the discipline.

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