Handbook for Research
Section I: Introduction
This handbook is intended to remind veteran investigators and guide new investigators through the complex issues associated with contemporary research activities. When we ponder whether and why such reminders or guides should be needed, it might be fruitful to appreciate that today's scientists are blessed with
Tools and experimental approaches that have completely changed the pace of science;
The capacity to ask questions which can be answered only through collaboration among investigators with very different expertise;
The likelihood of interacting, at some point, with private enterprise;
The opportunity to train individuals with very different prior experience in research;
Greater opportunity to travel which provides valuable exposure but periodically deprives the research group of direct supervision by the principal investigator.
The large amount of public funding and the very visible nature of research endeavors today make it all the more necessary to avoid even the appearance of any wrongdoing. It is critical to be attentive to any problem that can compromise the integrity of the research environment. In view of the high ethical standards of the vast majority of investigators, it is especially important to be aware of the consequences of all our activities. Problems can arise when principal investigators
Are unaware of a trainee's lack of the necessary skills to carry out a task, and accept flawed data;
Neglect to institute the appropriate safeguards (e.g., blinded samples, second opinion) to monitor a collaborator's work;
Pay insufficient attention to the required procedures for monitoring the use of hazardous materials;
Fail to adopt an appropriate self-critical attitude in testing their hypotheses and to accept a trainee's evidence against a hypothesis;
Fail to respect and follow the rules governing projects that involve human subjects and/or animals;
Do not set a proper example with respect to confidentiality and conflict of interest issues in reviewing manuscripts and grant applications.
At a time when the potential of biomedical research as a whole and the research capacity of this institution are greater than ever before, we encourage all investigators to consider the issues concerning the proper conduct of science. We hope that this handbook will be helpful.