It is essential that we uphold the highest ethical standards in our scientific research. Science is built upon the solid foundations of knowledge gained through objective experimentation and hypothesis. Activities that undermine scientific rigor damage science, the public perception of science, and our personal and institutional reputations.
1. Research Misconduct
Most research is published in reputable academic journals, which present the results fairly and honestly. However, there are several ways in which research publications can be misleading: as a deliberate act, through negligence, or simply due to an honest mistake. The first two are serious ethical and professional lapses; the third needs to be corrected as soon as it is discovered. Misconduct takes many forms – not only plagiarism (appropriating someone else’s work without acknowledgement), falsification (manipulating the data) and fabrication (inventing data), but also unethical experimentation, for example, on animal or human subjects. This is unacceptable whether deliberate or through negligence.
2. Promoting research integrity and ethics
The OIST policy on research conduct is developed on a foundation of a public trust, so researchers must act in line with existing academic standards such as the “Code of Conduct for Scientists” and MEXT’s “Guidelines for Responding to Misconduct in Research”. The Dean of Graduate School and the Dean of Faculty Affairs are responsible for research ethics education for students and researchers, including faculty.
2.1 Mandatory Training and Activities for Researchers
- OIST requires all students and researchers to complete the online training course Responsible Conduct of Research (login required).
- We have a mandatory course for students on research ethics taught by senior faculty members as part of their Professional Development course using case studies.
- All researchers are required to archive all published data as part of the Data Archive (login required).
All researchers are required to archive research specimens and chemicals in compliance with OIST regulations.
For those who are not directly involved in research or research support, the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course is not mandatory. However, as a member of the university, it is still highly recommended to voluntarily learn research ethics. Also, additional research ethics education may be required by the funding agencies if awarded competitive research funds.
2.2 Optional Training
We provide training for faculty members and researchers on laboratory leadership and management taught by external experts to maintain an appropriate research environment.
We provide training for researchers applying for external funding using research ethics e-learning from JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) and CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative).
The “Postdoc Development Specialist” in the Faculty Affairs Office and the “Student Early Intervention Program Coordinator” in the Graduate School can be consulted on various issues by postdocs and students, respectively.
3. What to do if you suspect research misconduct
If you have suspicions of research misconduct, they should be discussed first with your unit PI, if that is appropriate. If not, students should first report to the Dean of the Graduate School, and all others to the Dean of Faculty Affairs. If you would prefer to discuss the issue confidentially, especially to learn the best avenue to deal with suspected research misconduct, then the university Ombudsperson can offer advice and, with your agreement, report anonymously as appropriate and if necessary. For external complaints there is a Misconduct Report Hotline mediated by external legal advisors to receive reports from whistleblowers, which will be formally investigated. Details of reporting procedures can be found in our policy library (known as the PRP) section 23.4.1.
The Dean of Faculty Affairs is ultimately responsible for receiving accusations of, and conducting investigations into, research misconduct. Our investigation procedures follow the MEXT “Guidelines for Responding to Misconduct in Research”, with a preliminary investigation to determine whether a substantial investigation is warranted. The results of substantial investigation must be reported to the Board of Governors and the Cabinet Office.
4. Additional Links
- OIST Responsible Conduct of Research training course (login required)
- MEXT Regarding Decision of the Guidelines for Responding to Research Misconduct (Japanese only)
- SCJ Code of Conducts for Scientists
- SCJ RESPONSE About Promoting Integrity in Scientific Research
- JST Research Integrity Portal (Japanese only)
- JSPS Research Integrity Webpage (Japanese only)
- APRIN RCR training course
- JSPS RCR training course (el CoRE)
- For the Sound Development of Science (Green Book)
- The Lab