4.11 Research Ethics, Compliance, and Prevention of Conflicts of Interest
Recognizing that scientific research is developed on a foundation of a public trust mandate, researchers must make honest and sincere decisions, and act accordingly to ensure responsible conduct of research. The University promotes responsible conduct of research and has established mechanisms to respond appropriately to research misconduct in line with the Code of Conduct for Scientists (2013, Science Council of Japan) and the Guidelines for Providing an Appropriate Response to Misconduct in Research Activities (2014, Decision by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology).
Experiments in certain categories are required to be reviewed by the relevant Advisory Committee and then approved by the Provost before commencement. Further, some materials and equipment are subject to regulatory controls (including administrative guidelines) for acquisition, handling, storage, record-keeping, disposal, and installation. Activities involving controlled items must comply with relevant statutes, regulations and guidelines. Researchers have the right to engage in consulting and other activities with external partners, subject to the University’s policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment as defined in Chapter 22.
4.11.1 Mechanisms for the Responsible Conduct of Research
188.8.131.52 Research Ethics Chief Administrative Officer
The President has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring responsible research conduct at the University as the Research Ethics Chief Administrative Officer. The Research Ethics Chief Administrative Officer eliminates those factors that may foster wrongful research conduct, and establishes an environment and processes that ensure and encourage responsible conduct of research by implementing adequate misconduct-prevention functions. Further, if any misconduct occurs, the Research Ethics Chief Administrative Officer provides the necessary measures impartially and appropriately.
184.108.40.206 Research Ethics Education Officer
The Provost administers the promotion of the research ethics education provided at the University as the Research Ethics Education Officer and provides regular research ethics education to the personnel involved in research activities.
4.11.2 Research Ethics Education
All researchers, research support employees, and students of the University including faculty, postdoctoral scholars, staff scientists, research specialists, technicians, Research Fellows and science and technology associates must receive research ethics education [link: TBP] at least once every 5 years. Staff in other divisions are also highly encouraged to receive the research ethics education. When non-OIST researchers or students temporarily engage in research activities at the University for collaborative research, internship programs, or other reasons, the research units or sections that accept these non-OIST personnel encourage them to receive the research ethics education. The Office of Dean of Faculty Affairs supports the Provost in the preparation of the research ethics education materials and the management of attendance records.
4.11.3 Management of Research Data and Laboratory Notebooks
Research data are valuable not only for the researcher who obtained them but also for the science community at large. All researchers are asked to preserve data in a secure, identifiable way with appropriate backup methods, and disclose these when necessary. Any research results at the University, including laboratory notebooks and electronic data files, are in general deemed as property of the University. It is the responsibility of each researcher to ensure that all of their research is properly documented in accordance with best practice in the field of study. This responsibility includes the safe keeping of research data and where appropriate lab note books, for future examination. Faculty should provide clear guidance to all researchers in their Unit on the form that this research record should take. The fabrication or falsification of data, and the plagiarism are not tolerated. The dissemination of research data on public databases is encouraged, while the best care must be taken to protect the privacy of human subjects data. When research staff leaves a research unit, an agreement should be made with the faculty regarding what data can be moved. When a faculty member or research staff leaves the University, while the ownership of the research data remains with the University, the Dean of Faculty Affairs can authorize a proper data transfer arrangement to ensure that the on-going research is not hindered. See the “OIST Guidelines on Archival and Disclosure of Research Data, Laboratory Notebooks, Research Specimens and Chemicals” for details.
4.11.4 Management of Research Materials
Research materials used in research, such as genetic samples and living modified organisms (LMOs), are valuable resources for the science community at large. Many journals and funding agencies require such materials to be made publicly available after publication. Appropriate conditions, such as extremely low temperatures, must be maintained for the preservation of research samples/materials and one must take proper procedures when transferring them so that she/he can respond to such request by other researchers. Research samples and materials must be preserved for at least five years from the date they were generated, published, or presented at a conference. When providing or accepting research materials, a material transfer agreement (MTA) is required between the parties. When a researcher moves to another institution, an agreement is required beforehand concerning the division of materials. See the “OIST Guidelines on Archival and Disclosure of Research Data, Laboratory Notebooks, Research Specimens and Chemicals” for details.
4.11.5 Research Protocols
Faculty members need to ensure that research protocols in certain categories (such as the research involving radioisotopes, recombinant DNA, pathogens, toxins, animal or human subjects) are approved by the relevant Advisory Committee before commencement of the research and that approved protocols are followed by all research unit members. For specific research protocols that require approval, see Chapter 13 “Safety, Health & Environmental Protection”.
4.11.6 Publication of Research Results
The results of research conducted at the University are required to be made public as soon as possible in the form of journal articles, presentation at a conference or similarly appropriate venues (PRP 1.3.1, Openness in Research). While publishing research results, faculty members and researchers must ensure that there are no violations, such as fabrications, falsifications, plagiarism, duplicate submissions, inappropriate authorship, or the use of copyrighted materials without gaining permission or giving credit.
The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University Institutional Repository (hereinafter referred to as “OISTIR”) serves as the platform for public access to the intellectual output of the University. Publications and other research results should be deposited in the OISTIR, except in rare circumstances approved by the Library Director. Those who deposit materials in the OISTIR should follow the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University Institutional Repository Operational Guidelines to maintain an open-access environment. Publications in open access journals are encouraged and may receive support from the central budget.
4.11.7 Export and Import Compliance
Japan, like most nations, imposes controls and duties on the import and export of many goods, including materials and equipment used in basic research of the type conducted at the University. Transfer of technology including intellectual property such as software, production know-how, and even User Manuals, whether physical, digital or verbal, is also subject to regulation and control in alignment with national laws, relevant United Nations resolutions, and import/export regulations. Various university activities such as student admissions, faculty and staff recruitment, joint research endeavors, and international exchanges, including the acceptance of researchers and interns from overseas, may also fall under the purview of export controls. The government also controls, and may require licenses for, the importing of a variety of items, devices, substances, information and speciments, including living organisms and genetically modified organisms. Goods approved for import may also be subject to fees/taxes (sometimes referred to as “duties”) and periodical report to the authority, although items used in university-based research may be eligible for an exemption from duties. Great care must be exercised not to violate national laws and regulations and relevant United Nations resolutions, intentionally or unintentionally. The Security Export Control Officer should be consulted to ensure full compliance with these regulations.
Refer to the government’s Security Trade Control website, and the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act, relevant United Nations resolutions and OIST Rules Security Export Control.
4.11.8 Conflicts of Interest and Commitment
Faculty members must disclose any situation that could lead to any real or apparent conflicts of interest as detailed in Chapter 22 “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest & Security Export Control”.