Education and Training

The Research and Technology Management division provides a number of courses and educational events for researchers.

Responsible Conduct of Research

In order to maintain an institutional culture that supports research integrity, Memorial Sloan Kettering, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medicine offer a biannual Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course for Tri-Institutional research trainees. This course is intended to fulfill mandated requirements for RCR instruction as required by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and other sponsoring agencies.

The course is designed for research trainees and others interested in ethical considerations regarding the responsible conduct of research in the scientific enterprise, and as such is required for all first-year graduate students, MD-PhD candidates, and Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medicine first-year postdoctoral researchers and fellows in clinical fellowship programs (at the discretion of their program director). It is mandatory for individuals appointed to specific federally funded training programs or projects.

The intent is that this course be thought-provoking and useful, and that it provide participants with a foundation of information that will support their scientific journeys. The future of science depends on attracting the most talented, energetic, and morally strong people to research. It is incumbent on all of us in the research community to learn and work together to create a research environment dedicated to the highest ethical standards as we advance the cause of good science.

“The scientific research enterprise, like other human activities, is built on a foundation of trust. Scientists trust that the results reported by others are valid. Society trusts that the results of research reflect an honest attempt by scientists to describe the world accurately and without bias. The level of trust that has characterized science and its relationship with society has contributed to a period of unparalleled scientific productivity. But this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct.”

From: Alberts, B., Shine, K. and White, R. (1995) On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. National Academy of Sciences, National Academies Press: Washington, D.C.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Awareness: heighten awareness of participants to ethical considerations relevant to the conduct of research
  • Knowledge: inform participants of federal, state, and institutional policies, regulations, and procedures
  • Skills: provide participants with critical-analysis and problem-solving skills for ethical decision-making

Who MUST Participate

  • All 1st year graduate students and MD, PhD candidates.
  • All MSK and WCM 1st year postdoctoral researchers*+ and participants in clinical fellowship programs, at the discretion of the program director.
  • Tri-I Individuals appointed to NIH-funded National Research Service Award Institutional Training Programs (e.g., NRSA T32, T34, R25) and other Career Development awards (e.g., F, K).
    See NIH Guidelines for full list of applicable awards.
  • Individuals appointed to NSF-funded projects under the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (August 2007).
  • Individuals funded by any other agency that may require RCR training (e.g., DOD, NYSTEM)
  • Anyone who was supposed to take the course last year and had to defer due to severe scheduling conflicts
  • Anyone who took RCR training more than four years ago and must now take a refresher course

*MSK postdoctoral researchers include the ranks of Research Fellow, Research Scholar, and Research Associate. Postdoctoral researchers appointed between 9/1 and 8/31 of the following year will be required to attend.

Participants who fall into one of the above-mentioned groups MUST take the course and will receive a certificate of completion for successfully passing all assignments and attending the four (4) live sessions (eight hours total).

All course components MUST be completed within the stated time frame. The course is open to other interested individuals at MSK.

+Postdocs, clinical fellows, or students who have completed an equivalent RCR course within the last four years may request a waiver to be excused. Documentation as to the syllabus of the course taken and proof of completion must be submitted to the course director before a waiver can be granted. However, trainees that have completed the course more than four years ago, are required by NIH guidelines to repeat the course. This may be done either as a participant or by serving as a facilitator for the small group sessions.

Course Components & Criteria

The course will be offered in its entirety twice a year — in the fall from September to December and in the spring from January to April. Participants may register for one or the other, but it must be completed within a single semester. Those who start and don’t finish successfully will be required to repeat the course in its entirety the following semester.

Participants are required to complete the nine online modules (three parts with three modules each), which include a ten-question short-answer exam for each module, and attend all four live sessions: an orientation plus three face-to-face topic sessions for a total of eight hours of classroom instruction within the three-month period.

Topics Include:

  • Research Misconduct (including whistleblowing and dispute resolution)
  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Rigor and Reproducibility
  • Safe Laboratory Practices
  • Animal Welfare
  • Use of Human Subjects
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Authorship and Responsible Publication Practices
  • Peer Review
  • Collaboration
  • Mentoring
  • The Scientist and Social Responsibility (including DURC and Export Control)

2016 Responsible Conduct of Research Course

Registered Tri-Institutional participants from all three institutions must complete the fall 2016 RCR online web-hosted version of the three part course: Part I, Part II and Part III. Register online here.

Confirmed course registrants, take the Fall 2016 RCR Pre-survey

Questions, contact RTMROC@mskcc.org.

2016 Fall Dates

  • Orientation: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 from 4-6 pm in ZRC Auditorium.
  • Small Group Case Study Discussion Session #1: Thursday, October, 13, 2016 from 4-6 pm 
  • Small Group Case Study Discussion Session #2: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 4-6 pm  
  • Small Group Case Study Discussion Session #3: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 from 4-6 pm
  • End of Course Reception: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 from 6-7 pm in ZRC Atrium

If you cannot attend one of the above dates, contact nunziatd@mskcc.org for alternative makeup sessions.

RCR Resources

Interesting Handouts

Useful MSK Research Integrity Resources

Useful RU Research Integrity Resources

Useful WCM Research Integrity Resources

External Resources

NIGMS Video Scenarios -  Rigor & Reproducibility:

What to do when you make a mistake? Advice from authors who have been there. Retrieved on Jan. 29, 2016 .

Ten Simple Rules for Protecting Research Integrity
Shaw DM, Erren TC (2015) Ten Simple Rules for Protecting Research Integrity. PLoS Comput Biol 11:e1004388  

A Scientific Look at Bad Science: What recent research says about fraud, errors, and other dismaying academic problems. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 

Five Ways Supervisors Can Promote Research Integrity

Upholding the integrity of scientific research takes contributions from scientists, trainees, administrators, and policymakers alike. A new infographic from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (HHS ORI) shares five tips that supervisors can take to promote research integrity in their workplaces:

1. Be Available and Approachable – Take the time to cultivate a relationship with your trainees. They are there to learn from you, so discuss progress and problems in an open and constructive manner. This can encourage conversation, promote transparency, and make them more comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.

2. Review Raw Data – You are responsible for any data put forth by your research group. Regularly reviewing raw data, especially results related to any paper, grant, or poster; this can help catch both honest errors and intentional manipulations before they get out your door.

3. Communicate Your Expectations – Be clear about individual roles and responsibilities regarding experiments, data management, authorship, and timelines of projects, as well as how trainees will be evaluated. Consider adopting a formal onboarding process and posting written standards in the lab.

4. Provide Training and Guidance – Not all trainees will arrive with the same skill level. Avoid making assumptions about anyone’s prior knowledge by regularly reviewing protocols, proper use of equipment, and data storage and management.

5. Know Your Research Integrity Officer (RIO) – Be prepared in case you ever suspect research misconduct. Find out now who the RIO is at your institution and share their contact information with your research team.

Download a PDF of this infographic, and share this article with your colleagues!

Research Integrity Organizations and Websites

Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI)
The society is an international organization dedicated to the education and professional development of research administrators, as well as the enhancement of public understanding of the importance of research and its administration.

Research integrity has become a growing component of SRAI as exhibited by the many RCR-related workshop and session offerings presented at the annual and various section/chapter meetings. There is also a Research Ethics certificate program.

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA)
NCURA serves its members and advances the field of research administration through education and professional development programs, the sharing of knowledge and experience, and by fostering a professional, collegial, and respected community.

Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R)
PRIM&R advances the highest ethical standards in the conduct of biomedical, social science, behavioral, and educational research. They accomplish this mission through education, membership services, professional certification, and public policy initiatives.

Research Ethics Roundup
Blog on the PRIM&R website.

Ethics Unwrapped Video Series
Ethics Unwrapped, a series of free ethics videos, is an exciting teaching tool from the University of Texas at Austin.

The video series includes a documentary featuring disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and more than a dozen animated shorts featuring ethics concepts, including those from one of the hottest areas in current ethics education — behavioral ethics. Teaching notes accompany the videos to foster meaningful discussion in any kind of classroom. For questions, please email: EthicsUnwrapped@mccombs.utexas.edu

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
The Office of Research Integrity promotes integrity in biomedical and behavioral research supported by the US Public Health Service at about 4,000 institutions worldwide. ORI monitors institutional investigations of research misconduct and facilitates the responsible conduct of research (RCR) through educational, preventive, and regulatory activities.

ORI Casebook
Stories about researchers worth discussing.

Video: The Role of the RIO
Want to know more about what a Research Integrity Officer (RIO) does? In this DVD, four experienced RIOs and three former and current members of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) provide a broad overview of the knowledge and skills required to meet the challenges of being a RIO. 

Resources for Research Ethics Education (RREE)
The purpose of this site is to provide resources and tools for teachers of research ethics. The goal is to promote best practices and evidence-based research ethics education.

Ethics CORE

Funded by the National Science Foundation, gathers and disseminates ethics resources, including educational curricula and online courses, reference materials, scholarly and research literature and resources available for use in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) education required by NSF and other funders of research. In addition, the site’s interactive community offers a place where users can publish and share scholarship, discuss ethics-related issues for professionals and researchers and develop and share new course offerings.

Questions? Interested in learning more about research integrity, ethics, and compliance? Contact Debra Schaller-Demers, RCR Course Director, at schalled@mskcc.org or RTMROC@mskcc.org.