Responsible Conduct of Research – Ensuring Trust in Research through Good Practice

The essential role played by trust in research and the pursuit of truth was highlighted at the latest of HKU’s seminars on the responsible conduct of research (RCR). At the session on April 13, 2013 – attended by over 90 researchers from across the University’s ten faculties – the speakers outlined good practices and potential pitfalls. Break-out sessions provided opportunities for participants to discuss case studies.

The seminars are arranged regularly to ensure that all HKU academics are familiar with and uphold the highest standards of conduct in their research. Staff, especially those new to the University, can share local and international experience on related issues and enhance their RCR knowledge, said Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) Professor Paul Tam in his welcoming address.

Issues related to different types of conflicts of interest – including financial, academic, individual and institutional – were discussed by Professor Roland Chin (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost). Conflicts of interest, unlike research misconduct, occur on a daily basis and need to be identified and managed to avoid the credibility of the research being undermined by damaging trust and reducing confidence, he said.

A variety of questionable research practices were outlined by Professor Terry Au (Professor in the Department of Psychology), including plagiarism, falsification/fabrication and authorship problems. Professor Frederick Leung, HKU’s Director of Education and Development for Research Integrity, introduced CITI – an online training programme for human subjects and scientific research ethics accessible by HKU researchers.

Group discussions enabled participants to consider a selection of case studies involving research integrity issues and discuss how they should be handled. Ethics issues and approval processes for research involving human subjects were discussed at parallel sessions led by officials from the respective ethical committees for clinical and non-clinical faculties.

The next RCR seminar is planned for October/November 2013.


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