To establish a basis for organizational learning and continuous quality improvement, organizations should simultaneously implement processes for evaluating their efforts to foster responsible conduct of research. Evaluation can be approached in a variety of ways. One way is to rely on external evaluators to determine compliance with regulatory controls. Another is to rely on a system of performance-based assessments that are initiated and implemented internally. Such assessments can also be used to meet the accountability requirements of outside funding or government sources. In addition, peer reviewers may be used in institutional self-assessment processes; assessments done by peer reviewers may or may not be associated with accreditation by external organizations.
This chapter provides a discussion of the strengths and limitations of these various approaches and establishes a rationale for the use of the institutional self-assessment approach to evaluation that is recommended in this report (see Chapter 6).
The U.S. Congress has consistently affirmed the importance of integrity in research, and the federal government has established a framework for regulating misconduct in science. As described in Chapter 1, regulatory language includes a definition of research misconduct and spells out the requirements for institutional policies and practices to handle reports of misconduct or other types of wrongdoing in the research environment.
A regulatory framework requires a rule-making process that may be governed by legislative or administrative actions. The framework may be decentralized (i.e., each institution may develop its own approach), or it may require compliance with a common set of criteria, policies, and practices. The safety standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are an example of the latter. Regulatory models commonly involve data collection and the generation of reports that document each institution’s compliance with governmental policies. OSHA, for example, very clearly specifies requirements for recording and reporting on-the-job injuries and illnesses, and is authorized to conduct workplace inspections to check reporting and insure compliance.
Common components of regulatory frameworks include the specification of certain procedures and reporting requirements, the collection of data, and the preparation of reports of compliance practices. The regulatory approach also involves a governmental unit that maintains oversight of the compliance and reporting procedures, investigates complaints