Proposed Policy On Research Ethics

(Drafted by Atty. Esperanza A. Orig, Legal Office and IPO Chief in coordination with Dr. Epifania O. Agustin, Vice President for Research & and Extension and Dr. Marivic M. Alimbuyuguen, Director for Extension and MMSU representative, Bioethics Committee-01)

POLICY

In carrying out research function, all researchers whether faculty, full-time or student researchers are responsible to the University and to the community, profession, funding providers, collaborators and the wider society they address. Thus, every researcher is expected to uphold University values for commitment to the highest standards of service and act with integrity to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards of behavior.

BACKGROUND

The university is envisioned as a regional research center for the development of relevant and market-oriented technologies for agro-industrialization, global competitiveness and sustainable development as well as an active and renowned partner of national and international research centers/organizations in the implementation of thematic researches of worldwide relevance. To attain this vision, the University maintains a broad range of research programs which will generate knowledge and provide a basis for solutions to the development needs of the province, region and the country as whole. Commensurate with this objective is a commitment to ethical standards.

The ensure commitment to ethical standards and adherence to the proposed policy on research ethics are guidelines which sets forth general principles of ethical conduct to guide all researchers toward the highest ideals of research. The principles represent aspirational goals and outline enforceable standards that should direct researchers to an ethical course of action. These guidelines apply to all disciplines and research activities within the University and aims to:

  1. allow researchers to improve their competence to undertake ethical research;
  2. uphold their independence, especially when confronted with undue influence or pressure which may compromise their integrity or that of their research;
  3. discourage unethical research practice;
  4. serve as a basis for policymakers and to afford an enabling environment for the observation of ethical research;
  5. provide a supplementary resource for the teaching and training of students in research;
  6. make ethics a fundamental part of the planning and methodology of research;
  7. protect and uphold the autonomy, excellence, authenticity and credibility of research; and
  8. protect and promote the rights of research participants and honor their trust in researchers and research.

GUIDELINES

While the University is cognizant of the fact that researchers have the fundamental right to academic freedom and freedom of scientific research, faculty and full-time researchers should also be mindful of their being first and foremost public servants. Being public officials responsible to the public, all employees engaged in the conduct of research should bind themselves to the strictest measure of integrity and the highest ethical standards to be worthy of the public\'s trust. All researchers are then mandated to be familiar with these basic ethical principles and have up-to-date knowledge about policies and procedures designed to ensure the safety of research subjects and to prevent sloppy or irresponsible research, because ignorance of policies designed to protect research subjects is not considered a viable excuse for ethically questionable projects.

I. Integrity

All faculty, research staff, and students should fulfill the responsibilities and obligations stated below:

A. Doing research

  1. Conduct all research activities in accordance with the accepted standards of discipline.
  2. Refrain from accepting or undertaking research assignments requiring competencies that they do not have, unless collaborating with or being supervised by a more knowledgeable scholar.
  3. Avoid claiming or implying a degree of research competency that they do not possess in proposals, job applications, resumes, or in the actual conduct of research.
  4. Consider the confidentiality of projects/results with commercial sensitivity.
  5. Ensure that prior to the conduct of research which may involve or require the data, participation or approval of the local government units, other agencies or offices (such as but not limited to the following: DENR, NCIP, BAR, DOST) that the consent or approval of these agencies are obtained and that all documentary requirements have been approved and complied with.
  6. Act in a responsible manner and strive to achieve the highest possible level of excellence, integrity and scientific quality in their research.

B. Correctness of research data and reports

  1. Ensure the accuracy of all data that they and/or collaborators have gathered and/or used in their research.
  2. Ensure that only the correct data, information, and research results shall be reported in journals, conferences, and reports to clients in case of commissioned research.
  3. Take reasonable steps to correct significant errors that they or others have found in published data, via the issuance of erratum, retraction, or correction of the data.
  4. Avoid deceptive and ambiguous statements or declarations and vague claims that could be subject to misinterpretation. If such misapprehension is brought to their attention, it is their responsibility to issue at once an explanation or rectification.
  5. Keep away from creating overstated arguments that are not warranted by the results of the research inquiry.

C. Acknowledgment of sources

  1. Not to plagiarize; that is, to present portions of another’s report or data as the researcher’s own, even if the other work or data source is cited occasionally.
  2. Cite clearly all resources of information and data that are used which are not the outcome of the researcher’s own research. Clear acknowledgement should be specified in the research for every book, article or document used. Quotations must always be accurately recognized, and the bibliography must incorporate every book, article or document utilized in any way in the research or thesis.
  3. Provide accurate recognition and credit to resource/funding sources of the research.
  4. Grant and limit authorship to those who made a significant input to the research undertaking.

D. Responsibility in the performance and presentation of research

  1. Maintain and keep comprehensive and complete records of the research endeavor.
  2. Be transparent in the use and disbursement of resources for the research.
  3. Disclose to the University any conflict of interest that might impede with the researcher’s ability to carry out a research project without prejudice.
  4. Make sure that research outputs are accessible to the public once the research is completed or as soon as is reasonable.
  5. Respect the confidentiality of sources by not using or releasing data and information revealed to the researcher in confidence.

E. Protecting the integrity of the profession

  1. Report violations of any of the principles and rules found here (or in supplementary guidelines) to the office or committee that has been duly mandated to evaluate and act on possible violations of this ethical guidelines.
  2. Plagiarism, falsification, the fabrication of results, and scientific misconduct in general are regarded as serious disciplinary offences. These will be investigated by the relevant Committee and the findings reported to the University President.

II. Fairness

It is the duty of each researcher to fulfill the following responsibilities and standards of conduct:

A. Extend due regard and cooperation towards fellow researchers

  1. Provide peers, colleagues, students, and research participants the respect that they deserve.
  2. Offer assistance to other researchers, especially if exceptionally competent to do so by expertise.
  3. Value the confidentiality and proprietary rights of peers, colleagues, and students whose material are reviewed for publication, presentation, or funding by a grant.
  4. Observe due diligence in the care of equipments, material resources, and results.
  5. Not to engage in discriminatory, harmful or exploitative practices or harassment. They should not impose their views or beliefs on or try to seek personal, sexual or economic gain from anybody, including other researchers, juniors, assistants, trainees or students.

B. Recognition of others’ contribution, resources, and materials used in research

  1. Grant authorship in accordance with the importance of the collaborators’ contribution in the research.
  2. Each person listed as an author on an article should have significantly contributed both in the conduct of the research and in writing of the manuscript. In addition, all listed authors must be prepared to accept full responsibility for the content of the research article.
  3. Properly attribute and acknowledge to others their accomplishments and research results which may have been used in the research.
  4. Identify the significant contribution of others in the research activity.
  5. Exploit, issue, or share material resources and equipment in accordance with the conditions set by their source or benefactor.

C. Recognition of intellectual property rights (i.e., copyright, patents)

This policy on research ethics supports the policies and guidelines on intellectual property rights of the University.

III. Protection and Beneficence

A. Dissemination of knowledge to the community

  1. Inform the public and the authorities of any hazard observed, that threatens human and environmental safety.
  2. Notify the community of scientific knowledge pertaining to human practices, attitudes, events, and other phenomena that present clear and significant danger or advantage to human wellbeing.
  3. Avoid deceptive or exaggerated reports/statements or exposing ambiguous research findings as fact.

B. Safety

  1. Observe safety practices in all research activities.
  2. Evade intentional breach of regulations governing research.
  3. Avoid causing harm, stress or pain to any animal in any test that does not add any significant benefit to human society that has not been discovered already. For testing on animals which cannot be avoided, it is the researcher’s obligation to take care of them humanely, minimize the hurting and to carry out therapeutic measures afterward.
  4. Guarantee that laboratory wastes are properly disposed or treated, and research activities do not result in environmental degradation.
  5. Reveal to the human subject impending dangers or threats to their interest

C. Promotion of the welfare of the public

  1. To the extent that is appropriate or possible, undertake research that provide the needs and promotes the best interests of the society or individuals who will be affected by the research.
  2. To the extent that is applicable ask for the participation of the community in the determination of their best interests and how to tackle them in the research.

IV. Value for Human Rights and Dignity

A. Extension of equal dealing and respect towards research participants and clients
1. Respect cultural, individual, and role differences among research participants and consumers, including those based on age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, disability, language, or socio-economic status.
2. Eliminate from research practices and reports any biases that are based on the abovementioned factors.

B. Protecting participants’ privacy and independence

  1. Care for the participants’ right to confidentiality.
  2. Make sure that all subjects will give their permission to be part of a study and they must be given pertinent information to make an \"informed\" consent to participate. That is, participants or their parents or guardians are free to decide on their involvement only after they have been given the information that is pertinent to that choice.
  3. Uphold the autonomy of participants, especially students and subordinates, by abstaining from giving or offering inducements that may serve to compel them into participating.
  4. Support the rights and welfare of persons and communities whose status and vulnerabilities may weaken independent decision-making.

IMPLEMENTATION

Many of the provisions of the proposed policy are already implemented and adhered to by the university research community. For its full implementation however, specific implementing guidelines will be crafted by a duly constituted committee (University Research Ethics Committee) to support these principles or standards (i.e., procedures in evaluating and reporting violations of these guidelines; definition of the specific violations; external research).

For comments and suggestions please send to epi_agustin@yahoo.com or vpre@mmsu.edu.ph

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