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Assuring the Integrity of PSU Research
Assuring the Integrity of PSU Research

 

There are numerous regulations and funding requirements that govern research. Federal law, for example, requires protection of human subjects in research. Vertebrate animals used in research, teaching, and testing must receive established standards of care and treatment as stated in the Animal Welfare Assurance held by PSU.  There are also requirements to ensure the safety of faculty, students, the public, and the environment when potentially bio-hazardous materials are involved. And there are best practices widely accepted, followed, and given credence by the research and academic communities.

These myriad regulations and best practices promote adherence to sound moral and ethical principles in research. Followed, they can increase the value and impact of a study or lesson. When not met, however, there exists the possibility of revocation of funding, the invalidation of results, findings of research misconduct, and the risk of damage to the reputations of involved faculty, students, and institutions. At Portland State University, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) helps faculty and students achieve the highest standards of research integrity in the use of human subjects, animal care and use, potentially bio hazardous agents, financial conflict of interest, and responsible conduct of research. ORI accomplishes this by developing policies and procedures that help faculty and students comply with regulations and by providing administrative support for required research ethical review committees.

ORI supports regulatory mandated committees charged with reviewing, approving, and monitoring university research, without which much of the funding PSU faculty and students can apply for would no longer be available as assuring research integrity is part of all federally sponsored research projects. The committees ORI oversees include the Institutional Review Board (IRB) tasked with reviewing research involving humans to safeguard the wellbeing of subjects; the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which assures that research involving vertebrate animals conforms with animal care and use standards; and the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) that reviews research activities involving recombinant DNA and potentially bio-hazardous materials assuring conformance with the NIH requirements. The Financial Conflict of Interest Committee (FCOI), which examines research activities for any potential financial conflict of interest where an individual’s financial considerations may affect or appear to affect their affect their activities related to externally sponsored programs is also administered by ORI. The office also oversees ad-hoc Research Misconduct committees when necessary to investigate allegations of research misconduct, i.e., falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism.

Within the last year, ORI, under the direction of Lorraine McConnell, has developed electronic processes and website resources yielding a more streamlined, accessible format for faculty and students whose research requires consideration by the abovementioned committees.

Applications, forms, informative manuals, checklists, standard operating procedures, and training required of students and members of the faculty engaging in regulated research activities are all available online at ORI’s website. ORI’s staff is available to answer questions students and faculty might have and to provide guidance and counseling throughout the application, review, and monitoring processes. IRB Administrator Eve Chapman is a Certified IRB Professional and the primary contact for all questions regarding human subject research at PSU; Chapman also provides in-person IRB training and consultations to faculty and students upon request. In June, Research Integrity Specialist Shannon Roth, who brings eight years of experience in higher education and research administration and a wealth of knowledge concerning IRB processes, joined the ORI team.

ORI has formed a Research Integrity Advisory Group to help set priorities and steer long-term activities now and in the future. Current PSU members of the Research Integrity Advisory Group include: James McNames (MCECS), Nancy Koroloff (SSW), Karen Cellarius (SSW), David Reese (Office of General Counsel), Jason Podrabsky (CLAS), Heather Randol (Environmental Health & Safety), Ken Stedman (CLAS), Brad Buckley (CLAS), Melissa Thompson (CLAS), Mark Sytsma (RSP), and Brian Roy (University Risk Management).  If you are interested in serving on this group please contact ORI Director Lorraine McConnell at 503-725-5484 or lorrain2@pdx.edu.

Over the past year, ORI has strengthened PSU’s reputation as an institution compliant with federal and state regulations, increasing the credibility and impact of PSU research. Moving forward, ORI plans to continue streamlining the processes involved in assuring the integrity of faculty and student research, introducing electronic records and engaging faculty in an open dialogue for the purpose of making further improvements to services.

If you have questions regarding compliance with state and federal regulations governing research, contact:

Lorraine McConnell
Director, Office of Research Integrity
lorrain2@pdx.edu
503-725-5484

Eve Chapman
IRB Administrator
rmc4@pdx.edu
503-725-2227

Shannon Roth
Research Integrity Specialist
shannon.roth@pdx.edu
503-725-4288

Institutional Review Board
Karen Cellarius, Chair
hsrrc@pdx.edu

Animal Care & Use Committee
Brad Buckley, Chair
iacuc@pdx.edu

Institutional Biosafety Committee
Ken Stedman, Chair
ibc@pdx.edu 

Financial Conflict of Interest Committee
Mark Sytsma, Chair
fcoi@pdx.edu 
   

 

Author by Shaun McGillis
Posted July 7, 2014