Penn State part of project to raise awareness of scholarly integrity

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State is among seven universities that have received awards to improve the scholarly integrity and raise awareness about ethical responsibilities at their institutions.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), with funding from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, has asked the institutions to develop models for integrating research and scholarly integrity into the graduate school experience. Amid heightened concerns about academic research misconduct, CGS's Project for Scholarly Integrity seeks to better inform students, researchers and faculty about the ethical responsibilities and complexities of research in the 21st century. 

Penn State, in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which received awards, are jointly assessing the research integrity 'climate' at their respective institutions and are working together to improve the environment for scholarly integrity. In addition, each university is undertaking new institution-specific projects.

The multi-campus portion of the project, which begins this spring, includes two components: first, graduate programs at all schools will complete an initial CGS inventory assessment, a survey to assess current activities and resources designed to foster research integrity. Second, faculty, postdoctoral trainees, graduate students and research support staff at all schools will be asked to complete a climate survey created for this project. The survey instrument is based on the "Organizational Climate for Research Integrity Survey" developed by Carol R. Thrush, assistant professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Brian C. Martinson, senior investigator, HealthPartners Research Foundation. The Survey Research Center, part of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State, will administer the survey for all three institutions.
The institution-specific project at Penn State has a number of components. The College of Health and Human Development will act as an experimental group in which faculty will deliver a systematically designed Responsible Conduct of Research program to graduate students. Before leading the program, faculty will participate in workshops to learn the fundamentals about teaching research integrity to graduate students.

Penn State will assess the learning outcomes of the College of Health and Human Development students in comparison to randomly selected students. Penn State also will establish an advisory panel, make campus visits to collaborating institutions, and organize a forum to present the results of the project.

In addition, beginning in fall 2009, all graduate students at Penn State will be required to have Responsible Conduct of Research training. Colleges will be responsible for developing and delivering discussion-based, discipline specific Responsible Conduct of Research education to their respective graduate students. The Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) program, administered by the Office of Research Protections at Penn State, has been established for training graduate students in these issues.
The SARI program is designed to offer graduate students comprehensive, multilevel training in the responsible conduct of research, in a way that is tailored to address the issues faced by individual disciplines.The program is implemented by colleges and graduate programs in a way that meets the particular needs of students in each unit. In general, SARI programs have two parts: an online program to be completed in the first year of graduate study; to be followed by five hours of discussion-based Responsible Conduct of Research education before degree completion. The SARI resource portal, available online at, provides information, teaching tools and links to other resources to support SARI program activities, as well as access to an online training program.
Additional information about the CGS Project for Scholarly Integrity is available at For more information about the University's Responsible Conduct of Research program and the Scholarship and Research Integrity program, please visit and online. Questions about these programs may be directed Sharon Shriver at or Michelle Stickler at in the Office of Research Protections.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009