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Graduate Council

EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH POLICIES COMMITTEE

Minutes of

November 15th, 2007

MEMBERS PRESENT: Marcus Agustin, Chair, David Duvernell, Christa Johnson, Nancy Lutz, Saiprakash Putti, Ena Rose-Green, G. Stacey Staples, Morris Taylor, Erin Timpe, Jianpeng Zhou

MEMBERS EXCUSED: Melissa Bergstrom, Cindy Schmidt

I. Announcements

Christa Johnson announced that the Vaughnie J. Lindsay New Investigator Award proposal was approved by the Graduate Council. The guidelines will soon be up on the Graduate School website. The Graduate School is expecting to set an early April deadline.

II. Minutes of September 20th, 2007

Morris Taylor made a motion to approve the minutes; Nancy Lutz seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

III. Proposal to Create a Research Seminar for Graduate Students

The Graduate School proposed exploring the possibility of creating a "university-wide research seminar" to address the need for awareness of research issues among graduate students. In a memo from Christa Johnson, Associate Dean Johnson suggested that the topics covered could include "Library search strategies and databases; Plagiarism, Data Falsification and Fabrication; Human Subjects; Animal Care; Biosafety; Co-authorship and Data Ownership; Instruction on Style Sheets (MLA, Chicago, APA…); [and] Other topics, e.g. Grant Proposal Writing, [and] Publication Writing." She asked the ERP members for their opinions on whether the course should be optional or mandatory, whether it should be for credit or not, how much of an online component the seminar should utilize, how to compensate faculty members responsible for teaching the content, and how to ensure and assess its effectiveness for a variety of disciplines. She envisioned a blended class whose composition is tailored to the user needs.

Johnson noted that although the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) from the University of Miami offers an online training course that is used to certify the training of all such investigators at SIUE for those who work with human subjects and animals, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) offers more substantive online modules for use in University courses. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will probably require some type of Responsible Conduct in Research Training certification in the future. Johnson added that this proposal is a Graduate School initiative to respond to the research integrity issue on campus. She felt that a portion of the material covered should be applicable to everyone on campus regardless of discipline, and some of the material would be specific to each discipline. Nancy Lutz suggested that perhaps a general seminar could be followed by a more in-depth, discipline specific course or workshop.

Jianpeng Zhou pointed out that the University's Writing Center delivers workshops on writing, which include plagiarism issues. In his department, students are required to take a technical writing course which covers plagiarism. Johnson agreed that there are a lot of existing courses offered at SIUE that cover some of these issues, however they are not unified into a cohesive whole. Zhou asked the committee members what they thought about developing a module for each topic and allowing graduate program directors to choose which topics they felt their students ought to have more awareness of.

Ena Rose-Green suggested that SIUE look at other universities to determine how they handled the issue of responsible conduct of research for their students. Nancy Lutz stated that adding a new course is not an option that every graduate program will wish to pursue. Dave Duvernell suggested that as a pilot program, the course should be optional. G. Stacey Staples added that the ERP could choose four essential things and have the programs decide which they really need. Associate Dean Johnson said that even though every graduate student does not deal with compliance issues, they should all be made aware of the basics of using humans or animals in research.

Marcus Agustin felt that the graduate programs would refuse to create an additional course to cover this need. He asked if the problem in getting information on research topics to graduate students could be addressed by a "check off box," as part of the program review process. The graduate program directors would be responsible for "check off boxes." The suggestion that the requirement be enforced for those who receive funding such as assistantships was felt to be unfair. Ena Rose-Green felt that it would send the wrong message to the student population.

David Duvernell stated that the students in Biological Sciences get the appropriate training in respective labs and certain courses . He felt that the faculty members in his department will see this idea as a comment that they are not doing their jobs, and was uncomfortable with that. Ena Rose-Green said that the research issues that Accounting students need is addressed through classes. Morris Taylor felt that a class in research methods is needed. He wondered if programs would be allowed to opt out if they could justify that the topics were already being addressed.

Marcus Agustin asked if this could be addressed by linking it to assessment. He suggested that perhaps the committee could come up with certain guidelines so that the office of Assessment can ask how each graduate program is meeting those objectives. Duvernell suggested that the graduate student population be broken into aggregates according to our librarians, and added that a mechanism would have to be found to evaluate this aspect of assessment.

Johnson stated that from an institutional point of view, SIUE needs to ensure that it is proactive in building a broad awareness of responsible conduct in research across campus. She added that this issue is part of a national trend. The federal agencies are focusing more attention to this issue. She believes that SIUE needs to find a way to increase its offerings. It would be useful to look at other institutions and examine their evaluation components.

Agustin reiterated that each graduate program is unique. He believes that the ERP needs to formulate a set of guidelines, and noted that some undergraduate students are required to take a two hour senior seminar. If the mathematics program offered a seminar in research issues twice a year, it would cover 25-30 students per year. Johnson pointed out that some programs are too small to offer individual, additional courses.

The committee discussed whether an initiative to implement a policy would be better received if it came from the Graduate School or the Graduate Council. It was determined that the initiative should come from the Graduate Council.

Agustin asked for volunteers to write a proposed set of guidelines to be evaluated at the December 13th ERP meeting. Jianpeng Zhou suggested that the Graduate School consider offering a session on a research topic during the spring symposium. Dave Duvernell and Morris Taylor volunteered to work with Christa Johnson to develop guidelines for the ERP to evaluate at its December 13th meeting.

IV. Old Business

There was no old business.

V. New Business

There was no new business.

VI. Adjournment

David Duvernell made a motion to adjourn; Morris Taylor seconded. The meeting adjourned at 10:27 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen L. Hansen
Associate Provost for Research and
Dean, Graduate School