Responsible Conduct in Research
1. General Statement –
Students are expected to maintain the high standards of ethical and personal conduct that are the prerequisite for a productive research environment. Students are required to participate in special seminars about the ethical issues and dilemmas that arise in research environments, and are encouraged to seek guidance with respect to optimal forms of record keeping. Thesis and capstone advisors should familiarize their students with expected practices.
2. Academic Integrity –
Failure to adhere to Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s standards of academic integrity will be treated as serious offenses that are inconsistent with the goals and activities of the academic environment. Breaches of academic integrity will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the School. Some basic types of behavior that are unacceptable include, but are not limited to:
A. Cheating: using unauthorized notes, study aids, or information on an examination; altering a graded work after it has been returned, then submitting the work for re-grading; allowing another person to do one’s work and submitting that work under one’s own name; submitting identical or similar papers for credit in more than one course without prior permission from the course instructors.
B. Plagiarism: submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one’s own work without attributing those same portions to their correct source.
C. Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information, data or citation; presenting data that were not gathered in accordance with standard guidelines defining the appropriate methods for collecting or generating data and failing to include an accurate account of the method by which the data were gathered or collected.
D. Obtaining an Unfair Advantage: (a) stealing, reproducing, circulating or otherwise gaining access to examination materials prior to the time authorized by the instructor; (b) stealing, destroying, defacing or concealing library materials with the purpose of depriving others of their use; (c) unauthorized collaborating on an academic assignment (d) retaining, possessing, using or circulating previously given examination materials, where those materials clearly indicate that they are to be returned to the instructor at the conclusion of the examination; (e) intentionally obstructing or interfering with another student’s academic work, or (f) otherwise undertaking activity with the purpose of creating or obtaining an unfair academic advantage over other students’ academic work.
E. Aiding and Abetting Academic Dishonesty: (a) providing material, information, or other assistance to another person with knowledge that such aid could be used in any of the violations stated above, or (b) providing false information in connection with any inquiry regarding academic integrity.
F. Falsification of Records and Official Documents: altering documents affecting academic records; forging signatures of authorization or falsifying information on an official academic document, grade report, letter of permission, petition, drop/add form, ID card, or any other official University document.
G. Unauthorized Access to computerized academic or administrative records or systems: viewing or altering computer records, modifying computer programs or systems, releasing or dispensing information gained via unauthorized access, or interfering with the use or availability of computer systems or information.
H. Distance Education students will be subject to student identity verification processes intermittently throughout the online experience. Students are expected to fully and truthfully comply with all requests for information that would verify their identity.
All graded essays, papers, and problems, and all written materials submitted as part of the Thesis Proposal or the Thesis, must be entirely the work of the individual student or referenced appropriately. Even editing (e.g. syntax assistance for foreign students) should be sought only if explicit permission is obtained.
If faculty observe or have knowledge of students engaging in any of the above-mentioned activities, the student should be confronted by the relevant faculty member at once. Students and faculty who believe that any of the above mentioned activities have occurred should report the matter in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School immediately. The Dean will designate the Associate Dean or Director of the MD/PhD program plus the Course Director to review the allegation of academic misconduct. Based on their report, the Dean may choose to bring the matter for review to the Graduate School Committee for Academic Review to determine appropriate action including whether the student remains in good academic standing.
If it is determined that the student has been involved in any form of academic misconduct, the student will receive an F for the assignment or course. Additional consequences, including dismissal from the program, are at the discretion of the Dean of the Graduate School. If the student wishes to appeal the decision of the Course Director or the Graduate School Committee for Academic Review, this must be put in writing to the Dean within two weeks of receiving notification of the consequences of the incident of academic misconduct. The issue will then be pursued, via an appropriate tribunal, in accord with institutional policy on the ethical conduct of research.
3. The RCR Course and Curriculum –
All incoming students, except those in the Clinical Research Educational Program, Master of Science in Genetic Counseling (MSGC), and Master of Science in Health Care Delivery Leadership (MSHCDL) , must complete the Graduate School’s 1-credit Responsible Conduct of Research course. The class employs a combination of texts, documents, role-playing exercises, faculty and student discussions and small group discussions. Classes cover fundamental issues of training ethics, authorship, biohazards, relationships in the research environment, mentoring, conflicts of interest, record keeping, sharing reagents, etc. Attendance is mandatory to all sessions in the course. The Clinical Research Program, MSGC and MSHCDL students participate in program-specific research ethics courses.
The RCR curriculum continues with MTA-sponsored sessions.
Clinical Research students should refer to Chapter 5 of this handbook for details regarding their RCR Course requirements.
4. Policies and Procedures on Ethical Practices in Research –
The School hereby affirms its commitment to the highest ethical standards in the conduct of scientific research, the promotion of original research of high quality, and the importance of academic freedom. It also acknowledges that unethical conduct in research is extremely serious and threatens these principles. The School is, therefore, committed to preventing unethical conduct in research from occurring and, should it occur, to dealing with it swiftly, fairly and thoroughly.
Procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in research are described in detail in the Faculty Handbook (Chapter VI) at the following URL:
Allegations of misconduct in research must be reported to the Institution’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO) who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the institution’s policies and procedures on unethical practices in research. The RIO has general responsibility for overseeing the investigation of all allegations of unethical conduct in research and shall be available to:
- Consult confidentially with persons uncertain about whether to submit an allegation of unethical research practices and if the allegations do not involve unethical practices in research, refer the individual to other offices with responsibility for resolving the issue.
- Receive allegations of suspected unethical research practices and work with the Research Integrity Committee to determine and pursue the appropriate method for investigating and resolving these allegations.
5. Manuscript Policy –
In conformity with the principles of academic freedom, faculty and students are not required to obtain prior approval before submitting a manuscript for publication or to amend such manuscripts to comply with suggestions made by others. However, it is recommended they provide Department Chairpersons with copies of manuscripts prior to publication.
No graduate student may submit a manuscript to a journal from the ISMMS or describe work conducted in the Graduate School without review and approval by a faculty member. That review should include the appropriateness of the authorship(s) and acknowledgment(s) of grant support, as well as the substance of the report. Similarly, students are required to subject all extramural applications to faculty review.
6. Policy on Responsibilities of Authors and Data Retention –
A. Responsibilities of Authors –
A clear designation, delineation and acceptance of authorship responsibility has been established, which requires the following formal procedure for sign-off by all coauthors of all publications:
- A checklist will be signed by each author to signify that each coauthor has read the final submitted manuscript and verified the accuracy of the data bearing on his/her contribution.
- The checklist will indicate the responsible author for the paper.
- The checklist will stipulate the storage site of the data from which the publication is derived.
- The responsible author will be responsible for the receipt and retention of these statements and to make a “best effort” to obtain signatures from coauthors (see 4.A-1, above) who are not or no longer on the faculty of ISMMS.
B. Data Retention –
All original laboratory data books or journals, etc., from which a publication is derived, must be stored in the laboratory for a minimum of six years from the date of publication. If the senior author leaves the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount School before the six year period elapses, he/she will be required to retain and make available, if requested, to ISMMS all these data until the completion of this minimum time period. In the case of large ongoing database related research, the responsible investigator must retain the pertinent mass data storage device (hard drive, tape, disk, etc., not necessarily in hard copy) containing the data on which a publication is based. The stored data can be used for verification of data, as well as the base for ongoing studies of the same project. In the latter instance, however, a clarifying statement that describes the nature and the composition of the reutilized and incremental data should accompany the publication. The data storage device cannot be reused for unrelated projects. Although it is understood that this rule governing database storage may not be appropriate in all situations, individual modifications must be approved by the Dean. For additional information see the ISMMS Handbook for Research (http://icahn.mssm.edu/about-us/services-and-resources/faculty-resources/handbooks-and-policies/research-handbook).
7. Policy and Procedures on Protecting Whistleblowers–
The School of Medicine strongly believes in the importance of protecting whistleblowers from retaliation and addressing good faith allegations of such retaliation. Accordingly, the School affirms that it will adhere to any applicable policies and procedures promulgated by federal or other oversight agencies in dealing with such allegations. Whistleblower complaints or complaints of subsequent retaliation may be brought, as appropriate, to the School’s Faculty Relations Committee (see Faculty Handbook, Chapter III), Harassment Grievance Board (see Faculty Handbook, Chapter III), or Department of Human Resources, or Office of Compliance.
Copies of the policies and procedures of the Harassment Grievance Board are available from the Office of the Dean, Reserve Section of the Levy Library, House Staff Affairs Office, Postdoctoral Affairs Office, Office of the Graduate School, and Office of Student Affairs. Human Resources policies are available from the Department of Human Resources.
8. Policy on Financial Conflict of Interest in Research –
As an academic institution, ISMMS has an obligation to assure that its scientific and clinical research is conducted pursuant to the highest standards of ethical conduct free from any improper external bias. At the same time, ISMMS encourages scientific collaboration with industry and supports collaborative research geared towards developing new and improved diagnostic and therapeutic products. ISMMS appreciates, however, that these economic relationships with industry have the potential for directly and significantly affecting the approval, design, conduct, monitoring or reporting of a research study. Situations can occur in which an independent observer might reasonably conclude that the potential for individual or institutional profit could influence the outcome of a research study. Even in the absence of an actual conflict of interest, such situations may require actions to minimize the appearance of a conflict.
Therefore, to safeguard the academic integrity of both ISMMS and its investigators, the institution has adopted a rigorous conflicts policy predicated on full disclosure and appropriate management. The Policy sets out the requirements for disclosing potential conflicts of interest in research and specifies the procedures for reviewing such disclosures and determining what corrective measures, if any, should be instituted. Furthermore, the policy subjects clinical trials that evaluate the safety and efficacy of a drug, medical device or treatment, and research on technology in which the Investigator/Covered Person and/or the Institution has an ongoing financial interest, to the most rigorous review and stringent conditions.
This Policy is based on the standards set forth in the federal regulations governing research funded by the Public Health Service (PHS) or the National Science Foundation (NSF) (42 CFR Part 50 Subpart F) and the recommendations promulgated by the Association of Academic Medical Centers.