UAB has a strong and ongoing commitment to the responsible conduct of research.  The campus offers many opportunities for initial and annual training including formal courses through the Center for Ethics and Values in the Sciences, the Graduate School, the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), and through programs and training sponsored on a regular, ongoing basis by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Conflict of Interest Review Board (CIRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), and the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).  All entering biomedical sciences trainees are educated during orientation about requirements to complete human subjects and animal use and care training programs; completion of requisite training is arranged and documented by their specific graduate programs.  

All trainees will be are required to participate in, and satisfactorily complete Principles of Scientific Integrity (GRD 717)  within the first year of training.  Additionally yearly refresher RCR activities will be required for trainees that include additional ethics courses and/or utilizing Institutional resources such as the new training videos developed by the UAB Center for Ethics and Values in Sciences ((http://www.uab.edu/images/gradsil/rcr/index.html).  These include “Teaching Research Integrity in Analysis and Reporting”, “Image Manipulation”, “In the Lab: Mentors and Students Behind the Scenes”, “Ethical issues in Underpowered Clinical Trials”, and “The  Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct”. UAB has also recently developed a new scholarly integrity workshop “Ethics for Authors”, which is organized around interactive and facilitator-led discussions and exercises (www.uab.edu/ethicsforauthors/).  

In addition, all mentors are advised and encouraged to include and document discussions regarding RCR during their one-on-one interactions with their students during mentor/student meetings, lab meetings, and during discussions of authorship on papers, how to handle various types of data, etc. As an example, when manuscripts are written, authorship and peer review are discussed. These recommendations will be disseminated to all training faculty by email on an annual basis at the time trainee applications are solicited.  

Finally, we note that UAB is one of eight institutions recently awarded funding by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Office of Research Integrity to develop strategies to integrate RCR educational materials into the graduate curriculum, for use by faculty and graduate students in discussion of scholarly integrity. UAB’s national and international leadership in the area of ethics training was reflected by presentations at the 2010 Project for Scholarly Integrity Capstone Conference and the 2012 ORI conference “Quest for Research Excellence” and were highlighted in the book, “ Research and Scholarly Integrity in Graduate Education: A Comprehensive Approach,” published in 2012 by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Coursework – Year 1 REQUIRED of all Trainees

Principles of Scientific Integrity (GRD 717; 3 credit hours)

Format: The Principles of Scientific Ethics course (GRD 717) includes a blended approach of on-line training and in-person discussion on topics related to the responsible conduct of research (RCR) .  Specifically, the on-line training component includes completion of all RCR-related CITI Program modules; participants are required to successfully complete each of these modules, achieving a score of 80% or better.  Once completed, participants then attend an in-person discussion session that consists of an all-day (8 hours) Saturday workshop facilitated by training program directors, preceptors, and administrators. Three Saturday sessions are offered so that participants and facilitators have the opportunity to select a date that best fits their schedules.  These sessions debate case-studies in a team-based learning format as well as allow for additional RCR-related activities, such as panel discussions with faculty and administrators regarding ‘real-world’ RCR examples and role-playing RCR scenarios.

Subject Matter:  Topics covered in GRD 717 include the nature, extent, and causes of fraud in science; UAB policies on fraud; ideals of good science; the responsibilities of authorship and peer review; potential problems raised by the commercialization of research; scientists as public policy advisors; and ethical issues involved in animal experimentation and in clinical trials.   Among the areas previously discussed are:  

• Ethical Decision Making  
• UAB Policies on Research Misconduct 
• Protection of Human Subjects in Research 
• Welfare of Laboratory Animals 
• Best Practices for Data Management 
• Identifying and Managing Conflicts of Interest 
• Ethical Authorship and Avoiding Plagiarism
• Best Practices in Collaborative Research 
• Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities 
• Expectations of the Peer Review Process  

Faculty Participation:  GRD 717 is led by Lisa Schwiebert, Ph.D, Associate Dean, UAB Graduate School, using a “Team Based Learning” approach. She is assisted by faculty facilitators, including T32 program directors, who maintain active research labs and have graduate faculty status. These facilitators lead discussions with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the responsible conduct of research.   

How to register: First you will need to apply to UAB as a non-degree seeking graduate student. There are instructions for this here. Permission is not needed to take this course. Once you have been accepted to the Graduate School, you may register through Blazernet. If you have issues registering, please email the Postdoc Office

Please note: CITI Program modules for IRB and Good Clinical Practice are not sufficient to satisfy the course requirement. If you have completed a research ethics training during your PhD training, and it is listed on your transcript, please send a copy of your transcript to postdocs@uab.edu for our office to review.