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Graduate Council


Minutes of

October 9th, 2009

MEMBERS PRESENT: Marcus Agustin, Chair,Rakesh Bharati, Sohyung Cho for Jianpeng Zhou, Medha Gautam, Christa Johnson, Liz Lebron, Craig Miner Mariana Solares, G. Stacey Staples, Erin Timpe


Steve Hansen, Associate Provost for Research and Dean, The Graduate School
Ron Schaefer, Associate Dean, The Graduate School

I. Announcements

Christa Johnson announced that the Graduate School received sixty-seven STEP (Seed Grants for Transitional and Exploratory Projects) applications requesting more than $900,000 for research. The STEP program has $325,000 available.

II. Minutes of September 25th, 2009

Erin Timpe made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted; Rakesh Bharati seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

III. Continuing Business

A. National Science Foundation Responsible Conduct in Research (NSF RCR) Implementation

Christa Johnson reminded the committee that institutions applying for NSF funds need to have an RCR compliance plan in place by January 4, 2010. NSF will include a new institutional RCR compliance certification on all NSF proposals signed by the Authorized Institutional Official. Although SIUE has been using online training provided by CITI, NSF has made it clear that online training alone is not sufficient to meet the certification needs. NSF has published two beta-sites with sample syllabi, course materials, and case studies, to supplement the materials provided on the website of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). Johnson reiterated that SIUE should offer an RCR course as part of a broader plan to cover the nine main areas of focus defined by the ORI.

The library course that was developed last academic year is more detailed and expansive than what is feasible to meet the January deadline. Johnson has been looking into what other institutions have been doing to meet this requirement. Some institutions are asking faculty mentors to provide an internal certification that individual faculty will be responsible for providing face-to-face mentoring to the students supported on their projects. Other institutions have taken an "RCR Education Across the Curriculum" approach. Johnson suggested ERP consider what is appropriate for SIUE: a minimum approach to this compliance requirement, or something more expansive. Johnson also suggested ERP could consider a short-term policy to meet the January deadline, and continue to consider options for a longer-term solution.

Discussion revolved around the issues of courses the departments might be able to offer, and how much of the training would overlap across all disciplines such that a University-wide course might be feasible. Johnson agreed that ethics training should be discipline specific. Departmental courses would be an appropriate long-term plan, but many departments will need assistance due to lack of resources and/or RCR expertise. Agustin suggested SIUE could offer a temporary course to act as a placeholder until departments could arrange their curriculum to offer a more substantial, permanent version of ethics training. The Graduate School could set a deadline for departments to put something in place, perhaps one year. He also suggested that the course could be offered twice per year for those students in departments who do not have their own ethics training.

Johnson brought up the need to keep records of compliance and whether it was feasible to ask the primary investigator (PI) to sign an internal certification and take the responsibility for RCR mentoring on the project. Ron Schaefer felt that would work well. Timpe wondered whether faculty could coordinate training students together, perhaps across projects. Bharati voiced concern about a potential conflict of interest regarding the ethics of mentoring on the topic of mentoring. Hansen said that it was important involve the faculty in these discussions.

The committee decided that a good short term solution was to have PI certification of mentoring in conjunction with the use of CITI training that would be good for one year. The Graduate School will provide syllabi, modules, etc. for the departments to take the ethics training a step further. G. Stacey Staples suggested the departments to report to the Graduate Council after a year, but Agustin shortened that desired period to six months. The committee felt that the solution should be presented as temporary to avoid the short term solution becoming the permanent one. Johnson said that she would look into the number of institutions that developed a course or a series of workshops to meet the new RCR requirement. One possibility is to create a workshop that can cycle topics throughout the year.

Rakesh Bharati made a motion that the Graduate School will implement an RCR certification process on all NSF proposals submitted after January 1, 2010 as follows:

The PI certifies that all undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs supported by this grant will complete the following SIUE RCR training, which consists of the following:

(1) Successful completion of core modules in RCR program sponsored by CITI;

(2) Discipline-specific mentoring by the PI and senior research staff during the course of the project.

The Graduate School will provide guidelines and materials to the PIs for the discipline-specific mentoring, and will require progress reports during the awarded project period. The certification process will be in place for one year.

G. Stacey Staples seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Now that ERP has determined a course of action for immediate compliance with NSF, it must begin to long term solutions for more in depth compliance appropriate to students' training. This issue will be discussed at the November 13th meeting of the ERP. Before closing, Johnson suggested using the Blackboard site to discuss this issue further.

IV. New Business

There was no new business.

V. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 3:02 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

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