This chapter describes the preparations for and activities during the Educational Institute for Responsible Research on Infectious Diseases: Ensuring Safe Science in the 21st Century (hereafter, the Institute), which was held in Aqaba, Jordan, in September 2012. As discussed briefly in earlier chapters, the Institute applies a model developed by the U.S. National Academies (the National Academies Summer Institutes in Undergraduate Biology Education, or NASI) to use active learning methods to improve the quality of undergraduate biology education to the challenges of creating networks of faculty able to teach about dual use issues in the context of responsible conduct of science. The choice of NASI as the model from among the many available approaches to faculty development programs (see Chapter 3) reflects the knowledge and experience that the Academies have accumulated in a decade of conducting them, the data that the project has collected and continues to collect about its efficacy (e.g., Pfund et al., 2009), and the fact that some members of the Institute’s organizing committee were selected because of their leadership in NASI to get the project off the ground. The project is a collaboration among the National Academies, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). The material in this chapter on active learning methods provides an opportunity to show how the concepts introduced in Chapter 3 can be presented and applied in an actual learning situation.
THE PLANNING MEETING AND PILOT
The original development of NASI included a pilot test of the design. Plans for a similar, smaller-scale pilot were included in the grant for the Middle East–North Africa (MENA) project. The insights from the pilot, carried out as part of the planning meeting held at TWAS in Trieste, Italy, in early June 2011, were essential to the development of the Institute. Experts from Europe, the United States, Egypt, and South Africa joined the members of the National Academies committee overseeing the project.42
The Trieste meeting built on the Warsaw workshop’s strong emphasis on active learning approaches to teaching and the inclusion of experts in pedagogy along with experts in dual use issues, responsible conduct of research, and various fields of relevant life sciences research (NRC, 2011c). The initial discussion of the project’s goals and fundamental concepts focused on dual use and responsible conduct of research and was followed by examples of general life sciences education, as well as “train-the-trainer” programs that make use of active learning methods. In addition to discussions, attendees had a chance to engage actively with some of the methods themselves. In particular, small groups of attendees were given the task of setting general goals and specific learning objectives for the Institute. The results of the
42 The list of planning meeting participants is shown in a 2011 letter report (NRC 2011e).
small groups’ deliberations provided the foundation for the final day’s general discussion of next steps, which served as the basis for the committee’s conclusions about the overall design of the Institute, which were presented in a letter report (NRC, 2011e). The conclusions were intended
to serve as global guidelines applicable…to any country wishing to adopt this educational model that combines principles of active learning and training with attention to norms of responsible science. It aims to address the unmet need of respectfully incorporating into existing science teaching and research (especially in the field of emerging infectious diseases) the ideas of conducting science responsibly, of cultivating a culture of laboratory safety, and of raising awareness within the local scientific community of the consequences of misusing research with dual use potential (NSABB, 2008; NRC 2009c). (NRC, 2011e:10)
Five general considerations were identified to frame the Institute:
• Responsible conduct of research/research integrity as core themes.
• The importance of respecting and adapting to the national context of the workshops’ host countries.
• The advantages of the science of learning and scientific teaching approach.
• The value of creating networks of faculty and institutional support for the sustainability of efforts.
• Essential role of assessment and evaluation. (NRC, 2011e:12-14)
The full text of the conclusions is worth quoting at length (see Box 4-1) because of their influence on the development and implementation of the project’s next phases. The letter report also includes discussions of the detailed lessons that the meeting provided for the design of the Institute. That text is provided in Appendix C. The actual work of designing the Institute is described in the next section.
DESIGNING THE INSTITUTE
The design of the Institute followed the steps outlined in the planning meeting in Trieste and described in the letter report. The committee members formed three subgroups to (1) design the content, (2) develop the pedagogy, and (3) review and evaluate the applications from prospective participants. The content and pedagogical elements were chosen to support the implementation of the Institute’s goals as formulated in Trieste to cultivate future leaders in responsible science and research integrity (NRC, 2011e:17). For participants unfamiliar with the ethical and legal responsibilities of physical and life scientists or issues in the responsible conduct of science, the Institute would provide an introduction. For those who had experience with these topics, the Institute would provide an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation and share their insights. Since science faculty in many parts of the world receive little formal training in teaching or knowledge of the emerging scientific research on human learning and cognition that can help to improve pedagogy (e.g., NRC, 2000), the committee anticipated that participants’ familiarity and experience with active learning techniques would be equally varied. The committee believed it was important to provide some of the basics of best teaching practices, as supported by cognitive science and discipline-based education research, in addition to the scientific and ethical aspects of responsible science. To help Institute participants better understand elements of responsible conduct of
research (RCR), responsible science (RS), and best practices in pedagogy, the committee created pairs of content and active learning techniques. Definitions of these techniques are provided in the Glossary; further descriptions of the active learning techniques with examples from biology of how they can be applied are shown in Table 3-1, and additional resources are in Appendix D.
The Schedule at a Glance (Figure 4-1) shows the thematic and chronological architecture of the Institute, which emulates the design of NASI. A facilitator-training day preceded the initiation of the Institute. Over the course of 5 ½ days, the participants took part in morning content/pedagogy sessions and spent the afternoons and evenings in small groups to develop teaching modules based on selected topics and using active learning tools. These modules were presented to, and discussed by, the faculty and participants. On the last day, the participants met together by country and presented their ideas for implementing the Institute’s content and pedagogy in their home institutions and countries to everyone attending the Institute.
Recruitment of Participants
A crucial action identified at the planning meeting at TWAS was the need to engage early in strategic discussions about supporting the cohort of participants in the Institute upon their return to their home institutions (NRC, 2011e:15). Using the extensive communication networks of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina as well as its experience in managing competitive application processes, teams of participants from different MENA countries were invited to apply. In addition to their academic accomplishments, applicants were judged on the basis of a personal statement, which elaborated their individual teaching philosophy, the types of courses they taught, what they each hoped to achieve by attending the Institute, and their contributions to science. The application is shown in Appendix G. A total of 56 applications from qualified individuals were received. Of those, the staff in consultation with the committee selected 32 participants, 28 of whom attended. The Institute in Aqaba was attended by a cross-section of individuals from the MENA region: Algeria (4), Egypt (14), Jordan (3), Libya (1), and Yemen (6), of whom 8 were women and 11 were part of a team or from the same institution. Based on the experience of NASI, teams were encouraged to include at least one senior faculty member. The list of participants and their affiliations is in Appendix F.
An integral aspect of NASI is the preparation of its facilitators and frequent opportunities for them to work together each day to address problems and develop solutions to those problems collectively. Initial preparation of facilitators takes place the day preceding each NASI. The preparation sessions help new facilitators recognize the difference between teaching and facilitation and allow them to practice strategies to maintain their roles as facilitators rather than educators (Table 4-1). As with all aspects of NASI, facilitator preparation draws on findings from the sociological and organizational research literature on group dynamics. Introducing facilitators to this body of work, which focuses on various stages of group formation and cohesion (e.g., Tuckman, 1965; Richards and Moger, 1999; Stetson, 2009) and encourages them to share this information with the members of their groups, can help individual group members recognize their strengths and weaknesses associated with group work. Recognizing these factors can, in turn, help participants to better facilitate group situations
Conclusions from the Planning Meetinga
Responsible conduct of research/research integrity as core themes. Building on a prominent theme from the Warsaw workshop and other NRC reports about education related to dual use issues (NRC, 2004, 2009b, 2011c), broader principles of responsible conduct and research integrity rather than the “dual use” theme were chosen as the foundation for faculty development. By embedding the EPI [Egyptian Prototype Institute] in general discussions on professional conduct, participants accepted the idea that this more general approach would likely be more enduring and sustainable than focusing only on dual use issues. It also resonated with the participants from Egypt for whom a more comprehensive framework beyond research with dangerous pathogens is a more realistic educational opportunity. Such an inclusive approach would also enable future workshops to take advantage of other initiatives….
Importance of respecting and adapting to the national context of workshop host countries. One of the insights from earlier efforts to develop education programs on responsible conduct of science and dual use issues is the wide variation in higher education structure and process, and national education policy and how those differences could affect the design and implementation of programs (NRC, 2011c; Rappert, 2010).
- The difficulty of introducing new material, especially beyond core science topics, into crowded curricula is a common concern among nations. In some countries introducing entire new courses into existing curricula can have a direct impact on the development and implementation of faculty networks both at an institutional and national level and efforts to develop nationwide approaches may be difficult. In some countries where institutions of higher education are largely autonomous (e.g., the United States), development of new courses can essentially result from an instructor’s initiative, with only limited approval needed from immediate supervisors. In nations with a centralized ministry of higher education (e.g., Egypt) a new course could require approval by national authorities, an often lengthy process.
- One of the most sensitive areas for teaching about dual use and related issues is the political and historical context of different countries, which in some cases may make faculty reluctant to become involved in anything associated with “security.” This supports the point already made above about the advantages of embedding dual use issues within the broader framework of responsible conduct. It also may affect the choice of the local partners, for example, understanding whether formal or informal endorsement by certain government or education officials is essential or how important it might be to work with an institution that by virtue of its prestige or connections can provide flexibility for teaching new courses for its faculty.
- The importance of local context for the successful design of a faculty development program underscores the need of a preparatory site visit(s) as part of the planning process. One outcome of the Trieste workshop was the decision to send a small team of staff and Committee members to Egypt to meet with local faculty, university officials, and government administrators in Fall 2011. The purpose of these meetings is to inform university and government leaders about the planned workshop, and acquire their active support for its successful execution, for the participation of junior faculty, for any follow-on activities originating from the participants, and for the initiation of a network of faculty-workshop participants who will subsequently become trainers for other faculty and their students. An important point to discuss will be the mechanism by which the participants will be chosen so that local mechanisms will be considered. As mentioned in the previous bullet, the advice of well-chosen local partners is invaluable in understanding the political sensitivities and planning a successful visit.
Advantages of a “science of learning” approach. The enthusiasm among participants for their experience with active learning reinforced the message from the Warsaw workshop about the value of such approaches in education about dual use and related, broader issues. The relevance of adopting such methods for classrooms and laboratories across the world is supported by the decision by the World Health Organization to revamp its biosafety train-the-trainer programs to adopt similar active learning methods (WHO, 2006, 2010).
Sustainability of efforts: Value of a network approach and institutional support. As already mentioned, a continuing challenge for efforts to promote new concepts, materials, and pedagogical approaches is the competition for space in a crowded curriculum. It is essential that, from the beginning, the planning for any such effort include a focus on strategies to make the project sustainable. The lessons from efforts in many other areas reinforce the value of building networks of faculty who can share experiences and provide mutual reinforcement (NRC 2010). For example, creating opportunities for participants in a faculty development workshop to get together after their initial experience in implementing what they have learned has proved extremely valuable to sustaining commitment and momentum (Pfund et al., 2009). In a broader context, building institutional support for sustaining not only the network but the faculty’s ability to introduce others to these concepts as well as support for both teaching and research would help foster the culture of responsible science.
Assessment and evaluation. The “science of learning” approach emphasizes concrete goals and continual, measurable outcomes of student performance, whether qualitative or quantitative. Effective evaluation depends on incorporating assessment as an integral part of the follow-on activities and as such would inform any strategies to sustain these educational efforts.
a This text is reproduced from NRC, 2011e:12-14.
TABLE 4-1 Characteristics of effective teaching compared with effective facilitating
|Effective Teaching||Effective Facilitation|
|Emphasizes learning by individuals but also can foster collective learning.||Emphasizes collective learning.|
|Imparts knowledge and conceptual frameworks to students.||Guides the processes for the development of knowledge and skills.|
|Emphasizes new knowledge acquisition and understanding in specific content domains but also helps students understand the need for reflecting on their learning.||Emphasizes processes of learning, reflection about learning, and new, deeper understanding of preexisting knowledge from many domains (e.g., personal, professional).|
|Teacher often serves as the knowledge expert.||Knowledge and expertise are shared among the facilitator and other learners.|
among their own colleagues or students, as elaborated in Table 4-1.
Given the success of these strategies and activities and the fact that most facilitators at the Institute had no experience with this role, two members of the planning committee and one staff member for this project, who have been associated with NASI many years, organized a preparatory session for all the facilitators of the Institute. Facilitation goes beyond the use of good teaching practices and, as noted in a recent edition of the facilitation manual that was developed for NASI, “Effective facilitation is a nuanced balance of leadership and participation, assembly and deconstruction—each of which can (and should) be practiced” (Miller and Pfund, 2011:3). Additional differences between teaching and facilitating are described in Table 4-1.
In these sessions, facilitators also learned about understanding and dealing with different interpersonal relationships and conflicts that often develop among group members through the course of an Institute. These kinds of dynamics include:
• Respecting each member of the group and her/his contributions. That is, effective listening as well as talking, respectful questioning of statements or opinions offered by group members, nonjudgmental discussions and interactions.
• Keeping the group focused on the task at hand. Understanding the difference between relevant tangents and those that lead the group away from their goals and tasks. Using time thoughtfully. Although facilitators agreed each afternoon on the goals and work to be accomplished the following day, effective facilitators recognize differences in group dynamics (these differences include those between groups as well as those within groups that might develop over time as group members have additional opportunities to interact with each other). In some cases, slowing down the pace of work is important while in others the group will be able to work more quickly than anticipated. Rigid adherence to a schedule that is designed prior to an Institute could interfere with actual progress
of work and group cohesion in some cases.
• Allowing time for reflection and thought. Silence among participants in a classroom or a group situation can appear to indicate lack of progress or disconnect between the facilitator and participants. However, well-used silence can help group members clarify their thinking and, sometimes, modify their positions about a contentious issue particularly prompted by group discussions. The effective facilitator builds silent periods into group sessions and tells participants the purposes for such periods.
• Taking care to avoid becoming a participant. When there are lulls in conversation or lapses of progress, it sometimes feels easier for facilitators to assume some of the roles and responsibilities of participants. Facilitators need to provide guidance and structure without taking over the group’s agenda or its distribution of work. Indeed, if the group is progressing well in meeting its goals and plan of work, facilitators also need to recognize when to leave the group on its own. An effective group will need its facilitator less and less as the Institute progresses.
A number of publications are available to assist those who wish to replicate this type of facilitator training in their home institutions as part of a “train-the-trainer” program (see, for example, Branchaw et al., 2010:257-260; Pfund et al., 2012).
THE INSTITUTE ITSELF
Throughout the week-long Institute, presenters who have been involved with the National Academies Summer Institutes for Undergraduate Biology Education (e.g., Pfund et al., 2009; Handelsman et al., 2006; Labov and Young, 2013) introduced key topics for effective, evidence-based teaching practices in three sessions: How People Learn, Assessment, and Active Learning. These sessions provided a framework for helping Institute participants transition from what cognitive science tells us about how people learn to practical applications for development of instructional material for the classroom and measurement of students’ learning gains. A number of examples, resources, and references related to active learning are provided in Appendix D.
As in all sessions at the Institute, those making presentations and those facilitating discussions actively engaged participants in what was being taught and gave them practice with active learning and reflection. These themes were modeled not only in the pedagogy sessions but also in each of the content sessions so that participants could immediately apply the skills being taught during both types of sessions. This format also helped participants to better incorporate these concepts and skills into the modules they were creating, providing an environment where they could be both iterative and reflective about their learning (this kind of self-analysis of one’s learning is termed “metacognition”; NRC, 2000).
Session 1: How People Learn
The first session, How People Learn, introduced participants to the essential findings from meta-analyses of the cognitive science literature, providing a rationale for why faculty should view teaching science differently than traditional norms and practices (NRC, 2012a). The goals of the session were to provide participants with a pedagogical framework for creating their RCR modules and for improving their teaching. The session highlighted that all learners come to the
learning process with life experiences and preconceptions that often can lead to conceptual barriers to learning scientific concepts that are frequently non- or even counterintuitive, and that for any discipline we need to help the learner develop metacognitive skills and a conceptual framework for organizing information (content) and putting it in the context of other information.
Given that life experiences impact how people approach learning, it is important to view learners based on their worlds, rather than those of the instructors. For this reason, presenters addressed how college students (undergraduates and graduate) today are different from when most of the participants were in college. For example, the world is more globalized and information comes almost instantaneously from the Internet and through cell phones, which are relatively new modes of communication. In the United States, the so-called Millennial Generation faces different challenges from those of the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, and these differences matter when it comes to their approaches to learning. Therefore, faculty should be aware of these differences and provide learning experiences that are well suited for these students. For example, spending time in class to provide students with primary content information is less necessary now than in the past since information is readily available anytime and anywhere. A larger issue is helping students make sense of this information, connecting it to other kinds of information and concepts, recognizing and addressing naïve or incorrect conceptions that they may have developed about some subject matter due to personal experience or being taught or learning a concept incorrectly, and helping them learn what information is bona fide and what is not, given that much less information is now vetted through trusted sources than previously.43
Instructors can also help students become more effective learners through reflection on their own learning and development of a conceptual framework for science (NRC, 2000). Providing learners with opportunities to review their learning progress is an important aspect of the learning process. It is also critical to help learners develop a conceptual framework, particularly through the practice of science, so they can more readily incorporate new content. Likewise, throughout the Institute the facilitator team challenged participants’ own misconceptions, helped them reflect on their learning, and provided a pedagogical framework for developing modules.
The tenets of scientific teaching are that teaching science should be done with the same rigor, creativity, and general methodological approaches that one would apply to research, including the process of discovery (Handelsman, 2004). For example, when undertaking new research, scientists always search the literature to determine what is known about the subject, the methodologies used to investigate it, and how they can build on that body of knowledge. They develop hypotheses and design experiments to test them frequently. When a particular approach proves untenable, they redesign both the questions and approaches to addressing them. They share their data with other scientists both informally and through peer-reviewed papers. When employing scientific teaching, similar procedures would be used to design courses, teaching laboratories, and field experiences for students.
To help participants understand how to apply scientific teaching to their own classrooms, they were provided with a structure
43 In some of the early learning literature (e.g., NRC, 2000), ideas that are incomplete or incorrect were referred to as “preconceptions” and “misconceptions,” respectively.
for developing educational materials and learning experiences—“backward design”—that has been subjected to significant research to determine its efficacy (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998). Most traditional forms of teaching start by the instructor first designing the syllabus, selecting the text, and creating teaching materials, followed by construction of assessments. Although this approach may seem reasonable and is currently widely used by postsecondary faculty, it is mostly instructor-centered as the learning objectives and assessment of those objectives (exam questions) were designed after the teaching was complete. A more student-centered approach is to clearly state all measurable learning objectives and write associated assessments prior to instruction so that instruction is based on that template, keeping learners at the front and center of course development and the teaching process.
The concepts promoted during this session laid the foundation for how the Institute participants would develop their modules each day, and illustrated how they could change their teaching practices on their own campuses.
Session 2: Assessment
The second session, Assessment, introduced participants to new ways of thinking about assessment and how it can be used to improve learning as well as to measure learning gains. Presenters began this session with a discussion of the differences between summative and formative assessments and how these fit into theframework of backward design. Throughout the session the presenters emphasized the importance of articulating clear, measurable learning objectives for both guiding teaching and material development and enhancing learning. Hands-on activities allowed participants to practice writing measurable learning objectives at different levels—what are referred to in the research literature as lower-order cognitive skills (LOCS) and higher-order cognitive skills (HOCS) (see Figure 4-2; Crowe et al., 2008; Zoller, 1993). The lessons learned in this session helped participants to reflect on the use of assessment in their teaching and were immediately applied to the modules they were creating.
The main difference between summative and formative assessments is that summative assessment is the endpoint of measuring learning and formative assessment is measurement of learning throughout the learning process (Handelsman et al., 2007). Examinations (summative assessments) are the products of learning whereas assessments during learning (formative assessments) can help guide the instructor and learners to change their practices and strategies for teaching and learning, respectively. Summative assessments can be given in many forms (exams, written papers, final presentations or some other form of work). Formative assessments can include techniques such as short quizzes at the beginning or the end of class sessions for which students receive a few or no points, or questions during class where students can state their answers using flash cards that they hold up or through the use of electronic response systems (also known as “clickers”).
Because summative assessments are high- stakes for the learner, they drive learning and therefore can be powerful learning tools. The first part of the session stressed how educational materials, including the modules that participants would develop during the Institute, should be designed in ways that best guide the learner through the learning process, and that the instructor’s intentions and expectations for assessments should be stated at the outset.
A clear statement of what learners should know or be able to do (learning objectives) before they are taught the material can help guide them in the learning process, particularly
if they understand that the learning objectives are tied to summative assessments. Instructors can use the framework of backward design not only to align the content of their formative and summative assessments but also to adjust the cognitive levels at which the learner is engaged during learning and testing. Around any content area, the instructor’s learning objectives can be directly tied to, and aligned with, both summative and formative assessments. To this end, participants engaged in a series of activities that allowed them to practice aligning summative and formative assessments so that they could better understand the relationships between these two important aspects of learning.
An important aspect of aligning summative and formative assessments is that both the content and the cognitive level at which the learner must work should be taken into consideration. Most instructors find it fairly easy to align what they teach with what will be on the test, but a more difficult task is aligning the challenge level of the content practiced and tested. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Education Objectives Handbook I: Cognitive Domain is a classification system to distinguish six categories (see Figure 4-2) or levels of human cognition and has been effectively used for over 50 years to develop curricula (Bloom, 1956). As mentioned above, one of the most useful distinctions lies not in the differences among the six categories but rather in the difference between categories that require higher-order cognitive (HOC) and lower-order cognitive (LOC) skills (Zoller, 1993). Simplifying the taxonomy into two groups helps one to quickly assess how challenging the learning objectives and assessments will be to the learner (Crowe et al., 2008). After introducing this concept, participants learned to categorize questions and activities based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.
During this session of the Institute, participants focused on the importance of assessment and how different forms of
assessment are related to teaching and learning. The presentation and discussion centered on backward design as a way to align content and Bloom’s Taxonomy to help evaluate how content and cognitive levels could be incorporated into the modules that participants would develop during the small group work in the afternoons and evenings (see below).
Session 3: Active Learning
The Active Learning session emphasized how faculty can transition from an instructor-centered to learner-centered approaches using a repertoire of techniques for engaging learners (see Table 3-1). Active learners take responsibility for their learning by participating in problem solving, group work, or related activities that engage them in the learning process and help them construct their knowledge. With a “toolbox” of active learning techniques that were provided during these sessions, Institute participants were assisted in developing RCR modules that incorporate evidence-based best practices in pedagogy that they would use themselves and disseminate to their colleagues.
An important aspect of this session was to help participants realize that all learners, including themselves, have preconceptions or misconceptions about content and that those misconceptions need to be addressed for successful learning.44 An effective method for teaching this concept was to model how formative assessment and active learning can uncover common misconceptions in science. Therefore, the presenters designed activities that would engage participants in the ways that students are often challenged when learning new scientific concepts. Participants were given a problem, which they first considered independently, followed by group discussion. The process was repeated until the larger group was able to correctly solve the problem. Through this method, participants learned the importance of group work in problem solving, i.e., that learners can often help themselves and others with whom they interact to learn independently from their instructors, but also how difficult it can be for some to overcome their misconceptions. By illustrating how active learning not only engages the learner but also helps creates cognitive dissonance for those with misconceptions, participants were shown the value of active learning and brought this understanding to their module development.
During this session, presenters also shared the wealth of data from the literature on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education that supports the effectiveness of these methods and demonstrates their use for enhancing learning. Scientists are receptive to changing or refining their views based on evidence. An increasing amount of data from rigorous studies shows that active learning helps more students succeed academically in the science disciplines. Presentation and discussion of this evidence helped foster the participants’ understanding that these methods work and that faculty should not approach teaching and learning based on traditional norms and practices but rather through actively engaging learners throughout the learning process, assisting them in developing lifelong learning and collaborative skills.
An important part of this pedagogy session was to model the many ways in which active learning can be implemented. Throughout the content and pedagogy sessions the Institute engaged participants in a variety of ways and made learning objectives for each session transparent so that the participants could
44 There is an emerging literature on misconceptions in many fields of science. For example, for misconceptions about various aspects of biology, see Coley and Tanner (2012).
practice aligning learning objectives with formative and summative assessments in multiple ways. Presenters were explicit and reflective about the methods used, and throughout the week this transparency, openness, and willingness to engage participants with their own learning helped them better understand how to use a wide variety of active learning techniques in their own teaching. This session also summarized the third step in using backward design in that participants then added to their modules the ways in which they would engage the learning in connecting with the content the module was designed to deliver.
Following the planning meeting in Trieste, the content group discussed how to organize the workshop around the responsible conduct of research topics suggested by the National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2009) and expand them to include a discussion of research with dual use potential. That discussion led to the three themes that were the focus of the content sessions of the Institute. Those themes dealt with one’s obligations to be responsible scientists in one’s daily professional life, to conduct research responsibly, and to be a member of a community of responsible scientists. The three themes and included topics are presented below. Most topics were covered under more than one theme. The cases were constructed or adapted around themes with universal recognition that affect scientists in similar ways regardless of country of residence. Specific cases, also summarized in the section below, were chosen to emphasize one or more of the topics in each theme. Background readings for the cases were available to the participants on a password-protected website before the Institute. Importantly, committee members with expertise in the content to be discussed during the Institute worked closely with the committee with expertise in science education and pedagogy for weeks prior to the Institute to plan active learning pedagogies for integration into the actual Institute sessions.
Theme 1: The development of professionalism in science. Discussion and analysis focused on the development of professionalism and the role of government regulations and institutional policies. The session introduced elements of research misconduct using the case study Autism and the MMR vaccine.
Theme 2: Conducting research responsibly. Discussion and analysis included working with and protecting human subjects, humane and ethical care and use of laboratory animals, conflict of interest, and data management. The case studies were Introducing viruses in the field and The Guatemala syphilis studies.
Theme 3: Being part of the responsible scientific community. Discussion began with the topics of collaborative research, authorship and publication, and peer review using the case studies The Darsee affair and Who is an author? Additional discussion focused on mentor and trainee responsibilities; research with dual use potential using the slide presentation Potential threats from biotechnology and life sciences: What is dual use research?; and biosafety concerns in research through the case Studies in H5N1 influenza virulence.
Pathways and Inspirations: A Conversation with Institute Participants About Being a Scientist
The first day of the Institute began with a conversation about the professional commitments that had brought both
facilitators45 and participants to the Institute and the meanings that they have found in our respective pathways in science. Three of the Institute faculty, Nancy Connell, Alastair Hay, and Elizabeth Heitman, recounted personal stories of their careers, reflecting on the struggles, successes, and surprises they have encountered. Participants were then asked to pair with a new colleague to learn how the other had become interested in science, the context and scope of his or her current work, and the particular points along the way at which he or she found professional and personal meaning. Each participant then stood and publicly introduced the new colleague to the larger group, focusing on the information or experiences that seemed most important or characteristic of that person.
Three common themes emerged from the introductions: the sense of calling that many scientists experienced first as students that often continued throughout their careers; the experience that unforeseeable events had often been crucial to participants’ research focus and career trajectories; and the ability of strangers from different institutions and different disciplines to find common ground in their stories of science. This exercise, in addition to initiating participants into the processes of active learning, demonstrated the broader meaning of the concept of “scientific community” on which the Institute was built.
Case 1: Autism and the MMR vaccine46
Consideration of Theme 1, Development of Professionalism in Science, was facilitated by a discussion and analysis of the controversy surrounding the purported causative relationship between autism and the MMR vaccine in children. In 1998, Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published a paper in the Lancet titled “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, nonspecific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.” His hypothesis was that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes a series of events that lead to the development of autism. In support of his hypothesis, Wakefield described 12 children with neurodevelopmental delay (8 with autism). All of these children were reported to have had gastrointestinal complaints and to develop autism within 1 month of receiving MMR. But there were a number of critical flaws in the experimental design and conduct of the reported study and the paper was eventually retracted. However, equally serious issues were those of research fraud, unethical treatment of vulnerable children, and conflicts of interest.
This case ultimately resulted in greatly reduced numbers of children receiving lifesaving vaccines and untold anxiety for parents making decisions about their children’s health care. By falsely linking autism to vaccines, Wakefield created an international crisis in preventive medicine. This case was chosen because it demonstrates a number of important concepts and principles regarding professionalism, including the
• importance of data selection and presentation to research integrity,
• importance of disclosing financial conflicts of interest on research ethics,
• responsibilities of coauthors for study design and interpretation,
• appropriateness of presenting research findings in press conferences,
• ethical concerns that can arise when conducting research with children,
45 The terms facilitator and institute faculty are used interchangeably in this report.
46 Original case developed for the Institute. The background readings for this case were Wakefield et al. (1998) and Horton (2004). Additional readings include Deer (2011a,b,c) and Pilonis (2007).
• importance of revealing study sponsors to participants in human trials and institutional review boards, and
• potential impact of research impropriety.
The active learning strategy chosen for this session was large group discussion of the case, where the facilitator presented the case and then encouraged the participants to contribute to the discussion of the topic. This technique was appropriate for the first session of the workshop since many of the participants were somewhat familiar with the circumstances surrounding the case and how to approach case studies as a learning tool.
Case 2: Introducing viruses in the field47
Theme 2 was Conducting Research Responsibly, and the session focused on research with animals and human subjects. Specifically, the facilitators wanted to address scientists’ responsibility in protecting research subjects (both animals and humans) as well as the communities in which the experiments are carried out. The themes of experimental safety and animal protection were highlighted in this approach.
The first case study concerned a hypothetical proposal to test a live vaccine on a population of chimpanzees living on an island. The case described the quandary of a young investigator whose expertise in primate biology earned her a position on the animal protection committee of her institution. She was charged with the review of a proposal to test an altered live virus vaccine for hepatitis C (HCV) using a free-ranging chimpanzee colony. This colony has been established for behavioral research studies 20 years earlier on an island near Puerto Rico. The colony receives daily food supplementation by boat. The research plan is to inject one of the dominant males with wild-type HCV and to vaccinate half of the remaining animals, both males and females, with a live recombinant virus vaccine. All chimpanzees are to be monitored for the development of viremia, immune responses to the virus, altered liver function, and chronic infection. An additional protocol will use the animals that become infected for a clinical trial of new chemotherapeutic agents. Chimpanzees were selected because, like many humans, they have multiple sexual partners and are susceptible to the virus. Since HCV naturally infects only humans and chimpanzees, the research group felt that it was necessary to get a definitive answer under field conditions before introducing live recombinant viruses into uninfected human populations.
The following questions were proposed for discussion:
• What are some of the troublesome issues associated with this set of experiments?
• What are the specific concerns about administering a live recombinant virus to humans as a vaccine?
• Is it ethically appropriate to intentionally transmit a human virus in a setting that is not fully controlled?
• If it was decided that the study could not be carried out in chimpanzees, how might it be designed instead for human subjects?
The active learning technique used during this session was similar to a “jigsaw” wherein individuals in a group reach consensus about a position or gain expertise about a topic, after which new groups are formed so that one person from each original group informs the others in
47 Case and questions adapted from Introducing Viruses in the Field (National Academy of Engineering Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/10/2006; www.onlineethics.org/Resources/Cases/HIVan.aspx. Additional background reading is available at http://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/ncstate/models.htm.
the new group. The facilitators used a similar approach in that groups discussed one of the four questions above, came to consensus, and then each group contributed to the larger discussion. The general consensus of the participants was that the experiments should not be allowed to go forward, citing safety and concerns about release of infectious virus. There was a lively discussion of the challenges of developing animal models for human disease. The participants recognized and elaborated on the responsibilities of researchers for environmental and community safety.
Case 3: The Guatemala syphilis studies48
Continuing the theme of Conducting Research Responsibly, this case addressed the ethical standards of research with human subjects and the harm that research on infectious diseases may cause when research participants’ interests are made secondary to scientific goals. The case of U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) research on “normal exposure” to syphilis was chosen because it reflects many practical and ethical challenges in today’s infectious disease research. It also demonstrates the development of comprehensive ethical standards for epidemiologic research and provides a stark example on how professional dedication to an important scientific goal can blind researchers to ethical considerations relevant to their work.
The case took place in the mid-1940s, when syphilis still caused widespread death and disability. During this period, the USPHS explored various uses of penicillin in preventing and treating syphilis in populations where it was reported to be endemic. In one such series of studies, internationally known syphilis expert Dr. John Cutler led U.S. and Guatemalan researchers in experiments designed to test penicillin as a prophylactic against “normal exposure” to syphilis. Between 1946 and 1948, Dr. Cutler’s group paid syphilis-infected Guatemalan sex workers to have sex with uninfected prison inmates to measure rates of transmission. Additionally, some uninfected women had syphilis inoculum placed on their cervix before they had sex with uninfected prisoners. Later, researchers conducted an inoculation study in a Guatemalan institute for the mentally ill. Participants who tested positive were treated with a presumed curative dose of penicillin, but few were told that they were being given live doses of syphilis as part of a study. Researchers acknowledged privately that this work was ethically controversial, but many were eager “to study syphilis from the standpoint of pure science.”
Institute participants used the “think, pair, share” method to examine several conceptual and practical issues, including:
• how the scientific method shapes the risks to which research participants may be exposed,
• how the perceived threat posed by an infectious disease affects the assessment of risk and benefit associated with related research,
• whether intentional exposure to disease might be acceptable in research,
• the perceived advantages of undertaking infectious disease research in developing countries, and
• the perceived advantages and risks of international collaboration for researchers from developing countries with those from more scientifically developed nations.
This case was unfamiliar to most Institute participants. From the background reading and
48 Original study developed for the Institute. The background readings for this case were Reverby (2011), WMA (2008), and the report of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (2011). (Although the full report was too long to be included, the preface was included and the report discussed.)
discussion, participants developed knowledge of the practical challenges of conducting prevention research on serious infectious diseases in ways consistent with today’s ethical standards for international infectious disease research. The group agreed that the ethical standards of today generally protect the welfare of human participants and safeguard the quality of the research results, and that this balance demands the researcher’s responsible conduct of science on many levels.
Case 4: The case against John Darsee49
To conceptualize the topics of collaborative research, authorship and publication, and peer review, the case of Dr. John Darsee was used to introduce Theme 3. Darsee was highly regarded as a student and medical researcher throughout his undergraduate and postgraduate training. At Harvard University, he worked as a research fellow in the Cardiac Research Laboratory headed by Dr. Eugene Braunwald. His special area of research concerned the testing of heart drugs on dogs. In less than two years at Harvard he was first author on seven publications in very good scientific journals.
In 1981, colleagues in the Cardiac Research Laboratory observed Darsee mislabeling data recordings from an experiment he was performing. Over the next several months, it became clear that Darsee had been fabricating or falsifying data for years, possibly back to his undergraduate days. The consequences were profound, not just for Darsee but for the members of the laboratories where he had conducted his investigations, his mentors and supervisors, the coauthors on his published manuscripts, the institutions where he had worked, the scientists who had relied on the veracity of his research reports to shape the direction of their own research, and the patients whose treatment may have been influenced by his publications.
Some positive things have come from the Darsee case. In addition to alerting scientists to the need for providing closer supervision of trainees and taking authorship responsibilities more seriously, the Darsee incident contributed to the development of guidelines and standards concerning research misconduct by the USPHS, U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Science Foundation, medical associations and institutes, universities, and medical schools.
This case was chosen because it demonstrates a number of important concepts and principles related to responsibilities of individual scientists as members of a larger responsible scientific community, including:
• ethical concerns that can arise when conducting collaborative research,
• the essential responsibilities and professional relationships of mentors and trainees,
• responsibilities of authorship, and
• flaws in the peer review system.
To engage participants, the facilitator presented the case and then each group discussed the case. A spokesperson for each group presented the group’s consensus and this was followed by a larger group discussion. This format was appropriate for this case since many of the participants are academicians and the issue of authorship responsibilities was particularly relevant to them. There were individuals in each group at various stages of academic development, so the different perspectives could be shared.
49 Case and questions adapted from “Case Study 1: Overly Ambitious Researchers - Fabricating Data" National Academy of Engineering Online Ethics Center for Engineering 7/20/2006; www.onlineethics.org/Education/precollege/scienceclass/sectone/chapt4/cs1.aspx. The background reading was Kochan and Budd (1992). An additional reference is NAE (2007).
Case 5: Who is an author?50
Continuing the theme of Being Part of the Responsible Scientific Community, this case addressed the common and often contentious issue of the qualifications for authorship and the collegial responsibilities that come with research publication. During the discussion, participants put themselves in the role of a young investigator who is preparing to submit an article based on a collaborative research project.
The protagonist is in the sixth month of a two-year research fellowship at an academic medical center, with hopes of joining the faculty. One part of the fellow’s work is to continue a line of research originally started by a junior faculty member who left the university to have a baby. The former faculty member is now a physician in private practice. Before she left, she designed the original protocol and collected blood samples and data on 40 patients. With the help of a former biostatistics professor, the research fellow revised the methodology and got Institutional Review Board approval for a new protocol. The research fellow worked with a resident physician and a nurse, collected blood samples and medical histories from an additional 145 patients, and then analyzed the samples and data from all of the samples with the help of an undergraduate microbiology student research assistant. The research fellow wrote up the manuscript and made two data tables with the biostatistics professor. The department head provided edits and helpful suggestions, but also emailed the manuscript to the former faculty member asking for her insights. She replied to the research fellow, asking to be the second author because she wanted to return to academic medicine.
Using the modified jigsaw method of case discussion, as described above and in Table 3-1 each of the five groups discussed one of the following and presented their position to the larger group:
• the arguments for including the former faculty member as an author and what other actions, if any, she would need to undertake with this manuscript to qualify,
• the arguments against including the former faculty member as an author, and what to tell the department head,
• whether to include others (the biostatistician, resident physician, nurse, undergraduate microbiology student, department head) as authors, and
• the order in which to list the named authors and the qualifications for each position.
Questions about the qualifications for authorship lead to some of the most significant disputes in science, and such conflict affects many academic communities. In the background reading and discussion, participants examined the importance of assigning authorship on a manuscript at the beginning of a collaborative project. Using the criteria for authorship from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts, participants developed strategies for preventing confusion or conflict over authorship by agreeing on criteria and group expectations early in a project.
Most participants at the Institute were published authors and all agreed that publication—particularly in English-language journals—was important to their careers. A number of participants knew of the ICMJE’s Uniform Requirements, and many found it useful to examine how they applied in specific circumstances. Several individuals noted that they would use these standards in their own work, particularly in discussion with superiors and trainees.
50 Original case developed for the Institute. The background readings were Albert and Wager (2003), ICMJE (2010), and WAME (2013).
Research with Dual Use Potential
Great achievements in molecular biology and genetics have produced advances in science that have revolutionized the practice of medicine. The very technologies that fueled these benefits to society, however, pose a potential risk as well—the possibility that these technologies could also be used to create the next generation of biological weapons. Under Theme 3, Being Part of the Responsible Scientific Community, discussion of potential threats from biotechnology and life sciences was facilitated by a PowerPoint presentation. For the purposes of this discussion, dual use was defined as “research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health, agriculture, plants, animals, the environment, or materiel.”51 A number of types of risk from dual-use research were discussed, including:
• technologies that deliver beneficial drugs to the body could be used for weaponizing biological agents,
• research could have unintended consequences,
• dangerous agents could be released accidentally from the lab through infected personnel or other means (e.g., faulty exhaust systems),
• research results and methods can be published in easily accessible journals and on the Internet,
• knowledge or techniques could help to create “novel” pathogens with unique properties or create entirely new classes of threat agents, and
• dangerous agents could be stolen or diverted for nonpeaceful purposes.
Several examples were discussed, including that any medical advance that improves the ease of engineering, handling, or delivery of treatment has the potential to be applied by those wishing to do harm and can be considered “dual use,” that each year hundreds of articles on dual use research are published, making them accessible to any member of the research community, that thousands of pieces of scientific equipment are purchased on the Internet without oversight or regulation, and that this openness creates the risk that available information, reagents, or equipment might be used to create new or more dangerous biological weapons.
The presenter used the Socratic method by posing specific questions that elicited discussion.
• Does a select agent list make us more or less safe?
• What steps can be taken to ensure that resources/equipment/knowledge are not used inappropriately?
• Is it a question of “Who could” or “Who would”?
The active learning strategy used for this session was a presentation followed by group discussion, where the facilitator reviewed the key issues, each group discussed the issues among themselves, and then a spokesperson for each group summarized the group’'s consensus. This format was appropriate for this case since the experience level of the participants varied so widely.
Case 6: Studies in H5N1 influenza virulence52
Following on the PowerPoint-led discussion on experiments with dual use potential, this case focused on two sets of highly controversial experiments carried out with influenza virus H5N1, an avian influenza strain that has shown alarming morbidity and mortality in the limited number (fewer than700) of human infections that have occurred since its identification in 1997 in Hong Kong. To discuss the experiments, it was important to establish first that the participants’ knowledge base was at a sufficient and similar level. Therefore, the session began with each group working together to standardize their backgrounds in influenza biology. Afterward, a brief outline was presented to describe the series of events that led to the crisis in H5N1 research and subsequent moratorium on continued experimentation, imposed in January 2012.
The controversy began when influenza researchers announced in September 2011 at a flu conference in Malta that they had created mutant forms of the H5N1 influenza virus that were transmissible between ferrets. The two research labs involved submitted manuscripts to the journals Science and Nature. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) of the United States was asked to review the two manuscripts. The NSABB recommended that the manuscripts be revised and published with redacted details on the specific mutations and with additional discussion of public health values of the work, as well as a description of increased safety and security research practices. A group of leading flu researchers declared a moratorium on the type of research that had caused the controversy pending international discussion. The World Health Organization (WHO) held an international meeting in mid-February 2012 with 22 scientists and public health experts who concluded that the work should be published in full after the moratorium. At the end of March of the same year the NSABB voted that the two papers should be published in their entirety after reviewing revised manuscripts and receiving additional information. The papers were published in the summer of 2012, and the flu researchers ended their moratorium in January 2013.
Before the case was presented, each group was asked to prepare a poster about the H5N1 replication cycle and pathology so that those less familiar with the content were informed. After this exercise, the case was presented and the participants were asked to work in groups to address the following questions representing the key points that this case study presents:
• Why are these experiments deemed to be dual use research of concern? Summarize the experiments and discuss the possible nefarious uses of the information that might be gained from these experiments.
• Should scientists perform the research or not?
• The uproar surrounding the two recent H5N1 studies spotlights the issue of whether or not research on potentially dangerous lab-generated pathogens should have been conducted in the first place. What are the benefits and the risks? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
• Should the results be published or not?
• Should this kind of work be regulated?
• A global issue that stems from the ongoing H5N1 debate is how to regulate such research. Who should be in charge of granting approval for potentially dangerous studies? At what biosafety level should they be conducted? Who should have access to
52 Original case developed for the Institute. The background readings for this case were Berg et al. (1975), Enserink and Malakoff (2012), Maher (2012), Morris (2012), and Nature (2012).
the full results? How should all of this be organized and monitored?
This session also used role playing as the active learning technique. Each group was assigned a single role to play in the unfolding crisis, which led to animated debate among the groups. The group assignments were (1) the authors, who support and justify the research approach, (2) the NSABB, which initially opposed the publication of the experimental details, (3) WHO, which recommended the publication of the experimental details, (4) the public, who were frightened and skeptical, and (5) the media, which tend to use inflammatory language to promote a story. Each group discussed its position and then defended its position to the larger group while staying in its assigned role.
The learning objectives for this case touched on many of the issues covered in other sessions, such as the responsibility of researchers for the safety of the environment and community in the design of experiments. The focus of the case on dual use allowed participants to define “dual use research of concern” in the context of a real-life event and to explore the ethical and regulatory issues related to the experiments. Finally, the participants were asked to identify the issues surrounding the debate over publication of experimental details that might lead to creation of dangerous material.
Small Group Work
As previously discussed, participants were assigned to five groups at the beginning of the Institute, so that whenever possible each group included participants from all countries without overlap of participants from the same team or institution. Groups received brief descriptions of their assigned topic as well as a number of questions to address (see below). Two facilitators were assigned to each group, while two more functioned as “floaters,” providing their pedagogy and content-related expertise to all the groups. Each group was tasked to work independently during the afternoons to develop teaching modules around their assigned topic using active learning and appropriate assessment techniques; the groups’ presentations are summarized below. Each group had opportunities throughout the week to share its ideas and presentations with other working groups and was required to make a formal presentation to the entire Institute at the end of the week. By the end of the week, each group had developed a peer-reviewed, teachable unit on some aspect of responsible conduct of science and had learned how to implement scientific teaching and mentoring workshops on their own campuses.
Topics for the Small Working Groups
Misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.53 Research misconduct also encompasses the failure to comply with legal requirements for protecting researchers, human and animal subjects, and the public. It is important to
understand that research misconduct is not an honest mistake in reasoning, differences of opinion, disagreeing with recognized authorities, misinterpreting results, an error in planning or carrying out an experiment, or an oversight in attribution (ibid).
Questions for Discussion
• Should other practices besides fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism be considered research misconduct?
• Is it fair to use “significant departure from accepted practices” to make judgments about a researcher’s behavior?
• Should researchers report misconduct if they are concerned that doing so could adversely impact their careers?
• What evidence is needed to demonstrate that a researcher committed misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly?
• What are appropriate penalties for different types of misconduct?
Given that the groups were asked to plan how to teach others, most of the presentation centered around slides that defined the goals, objectives, teaching sessions, and assessment procedures to be undertaken. The goal set out by the group was to encourage those being taught to think critically about types of misconduct and during this process to discuss categories of misdeeds, causes and consequences, and reporting strategies for communicating to others. The presentation outlined a range of assessment procedures for summative measures. These were aligned with various active learning approaches including discussion, case studies, jigsaw approaches, and encouraging participants to voice an opinion on questions raised during teaching sessions, either by using clickers or simply raising a hand. The discussions envisaged by the group would cover research misconduct and what might prompt this, as well as what would prompt individuals to plagiarize, fabricate, or falsify data. At the end of their presentation the group posed a question to the audience, inviting them to consider ten major reasons for misconduct and then discuss them.
Writing research papers is an essential activity for a scientific career and for the scientific process. Articles are important for academic recognition and authors have a responsibility to publish their results to further the scientific enterprise. But the scientific process and scientific publication have changed significantly over the years. Research has become more competitive, complex, and multidisciplinary, with collaborations among senior scientists, clinicians, undergraduate and graduate students, technicians, postdoctoral fellows, medical students and residents, statisticians, and other professionals in both national and international contexts. Each brings different expectations and experiences to issues such as who should be included as authors in a paper for publication and the value of their respective contributions. Good scientific practices include discussions before, during, and after the research process to ensure that the allocation of authorship is ethically determined, along with sound study design and attention to the protection of human subjects and the ethical use of animals. Individual journals have guidelines for authors, and the ICMJE meets regularly to update the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (www.icmje.org/index.html) to address emerging issues.
Questions for Discussion
• What does it mean to be an author of a scientific paper?
• What are the different positions in a list of authors and what does each position signify? Why is the order of authors important?
• How would you define “prior publication” and why is this important when considering authorship?
• What is the difference between acknowledgment and listing as an author?
• Who takes responsibility for submission and follow-up of revisions, etc.?
• What are the problems associated with using the same data in multiple publications?
• Should all authors be responsible for all of the information in the paper?
• What are some of the problems that might ensue from publishing results early, before complete confirmation?
The presentation began with a cartoon depicting a too familiar situation: a young researcher being informed that his chances of publication would be augmented by having his laboratory chief as first author of the paper. The goal of the group was to ensure that those being taught would gain a clear idea of what responsible authorship meant, why it was important to publish, and to understand what would motivate individuals to do so. Slides were used to inform the workshop participants how the group would approach its teaching. The group presented a case and asked the workshop audience to discuss whether it was appropriate that a certain individual be an author. The participants were then asked to use clickers to answers six questions about who might qualify as an author, ranging from those doing laboratory work to others providing statistical advice.
Collaborative science is the process of conducting research as a team of multiple individuals across laboratories, departments, institutions, and/or disciplines. Collaboration in life sciences research is increasingly more international in scope and partnerships are more and more diverse. While collaborations have been a common characteristic of almost all scientific inquiries for over 50 years, a number of problems can arise. Researchers have different styles of research, conferences, journals, language, ethics, standards, and schedules. Misunderstandings and conflicts caused by these differences can lead to undue stress on the group. The best way to anticipate these kinds of problems is to address potential conflicts before the work is begun or immediately as they arise.
Questions for Discussion
• What are the various kinds of collaborations about which you know?
• What factors drive the increase in collaborative and multidisciplinary research?
• What are the kinds of problems that collaborators face?
• What are some mechanisms that might prevent conflicts between and among collaborators?
• What are the essential elements of successful collaboration?
• How can institutions promote and support successful collaboration?
Group 3 made use of visually arresting slides to provide some theoretical background on the meaning of collaboration before turning to the necessary goals, objectives, and teaching approaches. Flipcharts, clickers, handouts, and audience question and answer approaches were all used to convey the message. To illustrate collaboration further, the group presented a real-life case involving a number of countries researching the antimicrobial properties of essential oil from a plant found in the Mediterranean region, Juniperus communis.
Issues that the group identified as vital for discussion with others included the role of each individual in a collaborative project, the time frame, finances, potential conflicts of interest, and whether working with others provided any added value. Finally, the audience was asked to consider who ought to be first author and was invited to use clickers to address a range of options.
Mentor-Trainee Relationships and Responsibilities
Academic scientists traditionally have three interrelated and complementary roles: they conduct research, they teach students, and they provide service to society. Undergraduate-level teaching in science typically focuses on students’ general knowledge and basic laboratory skills. Graduate-level teaching is focused on the deeper knowledge and complex abilities that trainees need to become independent researchers. Graduate programs typically assign each trainee an academic advisor and research supervisor to oversee their academic progress, but most successful young researchers can also point to one or more mentors. A mentor is typically a more senior researcher who takes special interest in guiding a trainee’s development as a professional. The role of a mentor may vary with the discipline, institution, and type of research, as well as the personalities of the mentor and trainee. A trainee may also have different mentors in different areas of his or her work. Because faculty have a great deal of authority over trainees, these relationships also hold the potential for abuse. Problems can arise when faculty and trainees have different expectations of their roles and responsibilities, particularly in regards to workload and allocation of time, authorship credit, standards of productivity, and relationships with other faculty.
Questions for Discussion
• What are some of the qualities of a great teacher? How are these similar to and different from the qualities of a good mentor?
• Why might a successful researcher want to be a mentor to a student just entering science?
• What responsibilities do trainees have to their research supervisors?
• Some universities require advisors and trainees to create a written agreement about their future work together. How can such a document help or harm a mentoring relationship?
• How might a younger researcher serve as a mentor to an older scientist?
• Does a researcher ever stop needing a mentor?
The slide presentation by Group 4 began with an arresting quote to make clear that the audience would not be able just to sit back and listen to speeches. Audience involvement was expected; clickers were used to collect responses. The group noted that the issues would present many challenges and opportunities for conflict and participants discussed some of the potential sources. Quality—that is, what was needed for good mentoring—and the responsibilities of mentors and trainees were recurring themes. The group proposed using the case of a doctoral student whose research program became vulnerable through the absence of a supervisor. The student persisted with the work after various discussions with others, but the final doctoral submission was rejected by the supervisor as inadequate. Trainees would be invited to explain what steps each participant in the student’s program ought to have followed, including the student himself, the supervisor, the head of department, and the academic board.
Safe Laboratory Practices: Keeping the Community Safe
Laboratory safety is an essential feature of a responsible scientific enterprise. The development of vaccines and other prophylactic, diagnostic, and therapeutic interventions (e.g., antibiotics) for the treatment of infections requires increasingly complex experimental methods that pose complex risks. Infectious disease research typically requires the use of animals to model human disease. As the scope and amount of infectious disease research has expanded, there has been an increase in the risk of laboratory-acquired infections among research personnel. To protect their workers and the surrounding community, laboratory directors must incorporate good laboratory practices into their programs, and young scientists must be trained in laboratory safety. Global efforts to create a code of conduct for life scientists have tried to address the following issues: first, do no harm; second, ensure the safety of laboratory workers and the surrounding communities; third, incorporate the principles of the Biological Weapons Convention into daily practice.
Questions for Discussion
• What are the regulatory bodies in your country that oversee laboratory safety?
• How are students taught about laboratory safety and safe practices?
• What is the reporting structure in the event that you perceive unsafe practices?
• Is there protection for people who report unsafe practices?
• What kinds of laboratories should be used for dangerous experiments?
• What is the Biological Weapons Convention and how does it apply to biomedical research?
Once again using slides, Group 5 began by explaining what safe laboratory practice is. This was followed by the goals for its teaching program. Teaching approaches would be very “hands-on,” emphasizing rigorous attention to detail, and trainees would have to understand the purpose of specific containment procedures for organisms with different risk profiles. Periodic assessment was envisaged for students to test their knowledge and practice. The group introduced the case of a student who realizes that the virus s/he has extracted from cells is high-risk and categorized as a bioterrorism agent. Again using clickers, the audience was invited to choose an answer about what the student should do from a proffered list. As its parting display the group presented a small play in the form of a silent movie. With a facilitator narrating, a group member spilled an unknown liquid (in the form of bits of paper), which a laboratory worker discovered. The play illustrated the sequence of events to follow to warn others and then both contain and clean up the spill, including donning plastic shopping bags to simulate disposable laboratory boots and white ladies’ gloves as their laboratory equivalent.
Each day during the Institute the facilitators met—typically toward the end of the day and while the groups were working on their projects—to share their successes and challenges, compare approaches to facilitation that might be used by others, and agree on goals and work for the next day’s group sessions. A final session, which took place after the Institute ended so that facilitators could reflect on the entire week of group work, is described in Chapter 6 as part of the evaluation process.
These sessions enabled the facilitators to identify issues that impeded the optimal function of the small groups, particularly in the initial stages of collaboration. For instance, a policy at NASI requires all members of a team from a college or university to work together in small groups to develop their teachable units. However, the dynamics in some groups at the Institute resulted in the facilitation team’s decision to declare that no two people from the same institution could work together in the small groups. This action enabled all participants to take part in group discussions without concern for how they were perceived or the need to defer, especially in the case where teams were composed of a senior faculty member and more junior colleagues. Facilitators also used these meetings to plan for the next day, which allowed them sometimes to alter assignments in response to the dynamics of the small groups.
Toward the end of the Institute, one team of facilitators began designing the survey that was administered three weeks after the completion of the Institute. A separate team designed the Request for Applications (see Appendix G) that was disseminated to all participants. Through that mechanism, participants could apply for small grants from the Institute to help them develop instructional materials and implement a training session in their home institutions. The next chapter presents more information on the grants as part of the discussion of post-Institute activities and implementation.