Texas Tech University

RCR Conference History and Growth

By Marianne Evola

The Responsible Conduct of Research conference has grown and changed each year in response to the diversity of academic programs on campus. The keynote speaker for this year’s conference will be C. Kristina Gunsalus, Ph.D., professor of business and medicine and professor emerita at the College of Business at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gunsalus is also author of “The Young Professionals Guide: From Cab Fares to Moral Snares.” As has become tradition for our keynote speakers, Gunsalus will speak at lunch.

In addition to our keynote address, the conference will feature seminars or panel discussions on:

  • safety in research
  • the use of humans in research
  • research misconduct
  • authorship practices
  • and ethical philosophy

Many of the sessions will be led by Texas Tech faculty members that actively promote responsible research on campus through education and leadership. There also are two new competitive events that were instituted to encourage student attendance and participation from all academic disciplines.

A graduate student ethics paper competition and an ethics storytelling photo contest have been added. We were pleased with the disciplinary diversity of the participants in the paper competition. It should make judging the papers very difficult. The winners of the ethics paper competition will briefly present their work at the conference.

As for the photo contest, photographs will be on display at the conference, and attendees will be able to vote for the winning photograph. I’m particularly looking forward to the photographs. Capturing an abstract and diverse concept such as ethics in a photograph seems to be an impossible task to a concrete thinker such as myself.

The conference is free of charge and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 8 in the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

For attendees who are engaged in RCR training, attendance will provide RCR credit (up to six credits). Lunch will be provided for everyone, which is always appealing to attendees. But more important than RCR credit or lunch, this year’s RCR Conference should help to promote our campus-wide conversation on responsible research and scholarship and raise everyone’s awareness of ethical decision-making in daily academic activities. Interested parties can register here.

The annual RCR Conference has grown significantly since its beginnings. The first conference consisted of a single speaker, Frederick Grinnell, author of “The Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic.” Grinnell gave two exceptional seminars, the first session addressed responsible conduct in everyday research and the second addressed the use of human subjects in research. The conference provided lunch and a book signing and it was a pleasant day.

Unsurprisingly, the event evaluations revealed that the first conference was too limited to meet the individual educational needs of such a diverse audience and our attendees clearly expressed that we expand the range of topics in future conferences. Since then we have worked to grow the conference to meet the needs of our audience.

Therefore, for the second and third conferences, we took great care to invite keynote speakers from different disciplines while maintaining the quality of the keynote address. Our second keynote speaker, Kenneth Pimple, earned his doctorate in folklore and served as the director of research ethics education programs at the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics at Indiana University. Our third keynote speaker, Stephanie J. Bird, was special assistant to the provost and vice president for research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and was co-editor-in-chief of “Science and Engineering Ethics.” It was in the second and third years of the conferences that we expanded our program to include additional seminars and discussions that were led by members of the Texas Tech community who are committed to expanding awareness of responsible research.

We welcome all faculty, staff and students to attend and provide guidance on how the RCR Conference can continue to grow and evolve to better serve your own research group as well as the entire Texas Tech community. By raising awareness of responsible research and scholarship, we will train better researchers and academic leaders, and will enhance the efficacy and excellence of all of the research and creative endeavors on our campus.

Marianne Evola is senior administrator in the Responsible Research area of the Office of the Vice President for Research.