Research Integrity: Safety & Responssible Conduct of Research
At Texas Tech, the Office of the Vice President for Research is responsible for overseeing Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), compliance issues, human subjects and animal use, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
Texas Tech encourages all faculty, students and staff to participate in discussions and training about responsible conduct of research (RCR). Online CITI training is available to all members of the Texas Tech community.
NSF RCR Training
Texas Tech has developed a National Science Foundation-required training and oversight plan.
The NSF RCR training requirement applies to all (paid and unpaid, for-credit or volunteer) undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who work or participate in projects supported by NSF awards or sub awards made from proposals submitted on or after January 4, 2010. As external sponsors expand requirements for RCR training, the requirement for training will expand to include all (paid or unpaid, for-credit or volunteer) undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who work or participate in projects funded by these sponsors.
To support responsible research practices at Texas Tech, the OVPR encourages use of iThenticate software to screen grant proposals and scholarly papers for plagiarism or misuse of text.
Investigator Financial Disclosure
Federal regulations require that Texas Tech have policies and procedures in place to ensure that employees disclose any significant financial interests that may represent an actual or potential conflict of interest in relationship to externally sponsored projects.
All investigators need to annually disclose significant financial interests with Texas Tech. The Investigator Financial Disclosure website provides forms and instructions. For those who have NIH or other Public Health Service grants, Texas Tech follows National Institutes of Health guidelines for financial disclosure. If a researcher needs to update or amend the financial disclosure form, contact Amy Baugh, submit a new form or complete the online questionaire.
Faculty or other personnel who have applied or plan to apply for NIH or other PHS funding must complete training and disclose business or financial interests before submitting proposals or receiving funds. Texas Tech's Financial Disclosure office offers assistance, information and training options.
Texas Tech Operating Policy 70.37 outlines the general university regulations and procedures regarding annual disclosure of significant business and financial interests as well as the identification of conflicts or potential conflicts of interest, which serve to protect the credibility and the integrity of the university's faculty and staff, as well as the institution, so that public trust and confidence in its sponsored activities are not compromised.
The National Institutes of Health and other Public Health Service (PHS) agencies have made major changes in financial disclosure requirements for all investigators and personnel involved in funded projects. Faculty or other personnel who have applied or plan to apply for NIH or other PHS funding must complete training and disclose business or financial interests before submitting proposals or receiving funds. Texas Tech’s Financial Disclosure office offers assistance, information and training options.
Human Research Protection Program
The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is the office that coordinates with the Texas Tech University Institutional Review Board (IRB).
All research involving human subjects at Texas Tech must be reviewed by the IRB. The IRB recommends that researchers conducting human subjects studies complete some form of training.
Not all studies require approval by the full IRB. The HRPP has created an interactive module to help determine if IRB review is needed. Step-by-step instructions and forms are available for requesting an exemption, an expedited review or review by the full board.
The Texas Tech HRPP office may conduct post-approvals review of human subjects work.
Please note that Texas Tech’s policies on human subjects may be different than your previous institution.
- IRB Deadlines
The IRB convenes the full board the last Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. Full board proposals submitted three weeks prior to the scheduled meeting are assigned to an IRB primary reviewer. The researcher and the primary reviewer will work together to prepare the proposal for the meeting agenda. Research proposals submitted after the three-week deadline will be reviewed the following month.
- Expedited or Exempt Reviews
Human subjects research proposals submitted for expedited or exempt review have a 10-working day review time frame. Allow 3-5 business days prior to the review for data entry and file preparations. It is the mission of the TTU IRB to operate efficiently throughout the review process to support the research efforts of the university.
A list of regulationns, reports, documents and website links important to human subjects research as well as necessary forms and research examples can be found on the HRPP website.
Animal Care Services
The Animal Care Services (ACS) office is charged with providing for the physical and psychological well-being of animals used in research and teaching. The office also aids investigators in obtaining and properly using animals.
ACS maintains responsibilities in animal procurement, animal housing and daily care, the provision of veterinary care, health surveillance and preventative care, assisting investigators and their staff with animal procedures, and the care, maintenance and replacement of equipment and facilities.
Please note that animal use and care policies at Texas Tech may be different than your previous institution.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) serves as the review body for animals used by Texas Tech faculty, staff and students. Texas Tech policy requires that the use of all live vertebrate animals for research, instruction, demonstration, production, or maintenance purposes by faculty, whether the animals are located in facilities at Texas Tech or elsewhere, be approved by the IACUC in advance of their usage.
- Animal Use Training – Occupational Health and Safety
Animal care training and Occupational Health and Safety assessment is required for all animal handlers associated with animal teaching or research. Generic training is offered once during the fall and spring semesters. All animal handlers are required to attend this training. If the animal handler needs to be involved in a project prior to when the next generic training is available, then they can complete the online training. The online training does not bypass the animal handler from attending generic training. The animal handler will still be required to attend the next available generic training. When completing the online training it is important the individual uses the print screen function on their computer in order to printout their test score. Their test score must be submitted to the IACUC Office either via email (email@example.com) or through mailstop (MS 3132). In regards to the Occupational Health & Safety, each individual must complete this survey annually.
Before any animal work can begin the training and the OHS assessment must be confirmed in the IACUC office. At any time an animal user can be assessed by the OHS program.
- Meetings and Protocol Submissions
Meetings of the IACUC are held each month. Scheduled meetings are posted on the IACUC webpage. Regularly scheduled meetings that fall on a university holiday are ordinarily rescheduled. The IACUC Chair may convene additional meetings as needed.
Protocols are either reviewed by a designated member review process or by a full-committee review process. The latter occurs at a convened meeting of the IACUC. Protocols requiring full-committee review are those that involve unrelieved pain and/or distress, multiple-major survival surgeries or other protocols at the discretion of any IACUC member. Protocols requiring full-committee review must be received at least seven (7) business days prior to a scheduled meeting date (i.e., the Wednesday prior to the week of the scheduled meeting) in order to be placed on the agenda. Protocols received after the aforementioned deadline may be deferred to the following meeting.
The regulations and guidelines that govern animal use at Texas Tech can be found here.
Protocol forms, annual review forms and protocol amendment forms can be found here.
Laboratory safety is a major focus at Texas Tech. As a result of a serious accident in 2010, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) conducted an investigation. Texas Tech is working to fulfill the CSB recommendations as well as self-imposed recommendations to ensure a culture of safety on the university campus. A Web site dedicated to the investigations and the university’s response has been created. The university also maintains a Lessons Learned web page of incidents at Texas Tech and other institutions.
A vareity of online safety training is available through Environmental Health and Safety.
All faculty, staff and students who work with chemicals and/or other hazards in our laboratories, studios, shops and other facilities must complete a short, open-book assessment to verify that they have reviewed the new Chemical Hygiene Plan.
Environmental Health and Safety
The Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is responsible for a variety of safety, health and environmental issues at Texas Tech. Staff members have been assigned to specific areas to assist faculty, staff and students. The office also is responsible for hazardous and radioactive waste removal.
The university’s Chemical Hygiene Plan was revised in early 2013. The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) online assessment training module must be completed by all faculty, staff and students who work with chemicals and/or hazards in laboratories, studios, shops and other facilities.
- Environmental Protection
The Environmental Protection section is responsible for the management of hazardous chemical and biological wastes, surveillance of campus food facilities, swimming pools, laboratory animal facilities, underground and aboveground storage tanks, environmental complaints, coordination of pest control operations, and monitoring of storm water management activities.
- Occupational Safety
Occupational Safety is responsible for monitoring compliance with federal, state and local safety and health regulations. Surveys may include but are not limited to noise, lighting, ventilation, chemical hygiene, hazard communication, airborne contaminants, and accident investigation. Training is provided in areas such as respiratory protection, hazard communication, and forklift safety.
- Institional Laboratory Safety Committee
The Institutional Laborary Safety Committee (ILSC) is a faculty-led committee charged with improving the safety culture in research facilities such as laboratories, art studios and field research sites.
Chemical Hygiene Plan
The university’s Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) was revised in early 2013 by the ILSC and EHS. The CHP clearly defines roles, responsibilities and procedures around laboratory and workplace safety. The revised the CHP and verification program are a result of a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation into a 2010 incident in a TTU chemistry laboratory that left a graduate student seriously injured. Following its investigation, the CSB recommended that Texas Tech revise and expand its CHP to ensure that physical safety hazards are addressed and controlled, and develop a verification program that ensures that the safety provisions of the CHP are communicated, followed and enforced at all levels within the university.
All faculty, staff and students who work with chemicals and/or hazards in our laboratories, studios, shops and other facilities must complete a short, open-book assessment to verify that they have reviewed the new CHP. The assessment is available on the EH&S online training website.
Institutional Biosafety Committee
The Institutional Biosafety Committee is charged with reviewing and approving research conducted with microorganisms pathogenic to humans, plants, or animals.
Radiation/Laser Safety Committee
The Radiation/Laser Safety Committee is charged with establishing policies and procedures in accordance with current regulations established by the Texas Bureau of Radiation Control (BRC), as well as provide administrative advice regarding radiation safety and approving all applications, amendments and sublicense renewals relating to the use of radiation safety.
The Radiation Protection Program serves a radiation-use program that is overseen by a Radioactive Materials Broad License issued to the university by the Texas Bureau of Radiation. Most of the radiation-use program currently consists of researchers using radioisotopes to label amino acids on proteins, nucleic acids, sugars and other molecules; and researchers using X-ray diffraction machines and small sealed sources. The use of ionizing radiation is important to academic research, and using these materials and instruments safely is obviously of equal importance.
EHS offers a variety of online training opportunities for university faculty, staff and students.