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Implementing a Campus-Wide RCR Training Requirement for Doctoral Students

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division - Technical Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.702.1 - 23.702.8



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Paper Authors


Jason Borenstein Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jason Borenstein is the director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs and co-director of the Center for Ethics and Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His responsibilities include administering a Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) policy for all new doctoral students at Georgia Tech and instructing undergraduate and graduate courses on topics at the intersection of science, engineering, and ethics.
Dr. Borenstein is also an assistant editor of the journal Science and Engineering Ethics and co-editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's Ethics and Information Technology section. His research interests include bioethics, engineering ethics, robot ethics, and research ethics. His work has appeared in various journals including AI & Society, Communications of the ACM, the Journal of Academic Ethics, Ethics and Information Technology, IEEE Technology & Society, Accountability in Research, and the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review.

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Robert J Butera Georgia Institute of Technology

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Implementing a Campus-Wide RCR Training Requirement for Doctoral StudentsOver the last few years, Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training has been takingon increasing importance in the graduate curriculum. This is largely due to a change inpolicy that was promulgated by the National Science Foundation and to evolvingguidelines for NIH training grants and fellowships. In 2011, Institute XXX implementedan academic policy that requires of all new doctoral students that they receive RCRtraining. It was decided that the institution would move “beyond compliance” in thesense that students would receive RCR training irrespective of their funding source. Thispaper outlines the strategy used to ensure that these students receive RCR training and thechallenges associated with implementing this training on a campus-wide scale at a largeengineering institution. The aforementioned policy has both an online and an in-personcomponent. For the purposes of this paper, the focus will be on the in-person portion.The in-person training component of the policy may be satisfied by completing a one-credit RCR course that is available to any graduate student. However, individualgraduate programs are permitted to develop their own “in-house” approach in lieu of theone-credit course, and in some cases, they have already done so. The underlying logichere is that RCR content should be more directly tailored to the student’s discipline ofstudy. Traditionally, RCR cases and other materials have molded by concerns originatingout of biomedical and social-behavioral research fields.With over #### full-time doctoral students, the challenges associated with implementingthe RCR policy described here have been non-trivial. These challenges include: 1)offering a sufficient number of in-person courses with reasonable class sizes to facilitateeffective dialogue; 2) identifying faculty members with the expertise relevant to ethicsand/or RCR; and 3) encouraging graduate programs to develop their own “in-house”approach, especially within the Institute XXX’s college of engineering.The expanded version of this paper will highlight some of the steps that have been takento address these challenges. It will include a description of an orientation that introducesfaculty to RCR content (a “train the trainer” approach). The preliminary stages relatingto the development of an online RCR course specifically tailored to engineering studentswill be described as well.

Borenstein, J., & Butera, R. J. (2013, June), Implementing a Campus-Wide RCR Training Requirement for Doctoral Students Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19716

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