A recent report from the National Academies reminds us that, “The scientific enterprise is built on a foundation of trust.” This is important not only for our credibility with the public, but also for our ability to rely on one another for careful and accurate data gathering and analysis. As researchers in a national laboratory funded by taxpayer dollars, this trust is especially important, and so we hold to high standards of research conduct. The National Academies report, “On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research (3rd ed.),” offers an overview of professional standards in research, and focuses on dealing with the increasing pace and complexity of science. Watch a summary video or download the pdf.
As researchers in a DOE national laboratory that is managed by the University of California, we must also follow an array of guidelines from a number of institutional, local, state, and federal sources. Berkeley Lab’s Research and Institutional Integrity Office has resources that can help. If research includes working with human or animal subjects, the Lab’s Human and Animal Regulatory Committees office can help scientists to navigate the forms and regulations that guide this work.
Additional information is available here on responsible conduct of research training, a guide for postdocs and new faculty on scientific management, and information on working with the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity.
The RIIO website also offers helpful guides about authorship and contributorship, and contains sample partnership agreements along with a field guide for collaboration and team science.
Line Management Responsibility
- Associate Laboratory Directors, Division Directors, and Department heads understand and model the highest standards of research.
- Leaders ensure that their PIs are properly trained in conducting, analyzing, and publishing research according to the institutional, local, state, and federal rules that govern Berkeley Lab.
- Researchers and engineers are accountable for research conduct and are expected to adhere to the Lab’s high standards.
Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Responsible Research Conduct
Berkeley Lab management’s role is to ensure that their research teams are aware of and practice responsible research conduct as the Lab has set forth in the RPM, e.g., Ethics and Conduct at Berkeley Lab. Lab management recognizes that, in addition to research integrity, the conduct and publication of research may have implications for export control, foreign visitor requirements, Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S), finance, and human resources, and properly mitigates any risk that may be associated with these areas.
Conducting Research Safely and Creating a Safe Workplace Environment
Berkeley Lab is committed to the safety of all of its employees. The EH&S office has developed tools and training to help ensure that all researchers and staff understand how to reach optimum safety levels in their labs and workspaces. Please go here to learn more about safety in the workplace.
Employees are encouraged to discuss concerns with their immediate supervisor, but may also approach the Research and Institutional Integrity Office to raise issues that are related to proper stewardship of government resources.
Berkeley Lab is dedicated to a workplace culture that encourages diversity, inclusion, and equity. Go here to learn more about the Lab’s DEI policies and initiatives. This site also includes resources on family friendly workplace policies and LGBTQ issues.
Following the University of California’s policy on sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, all Lab supervisors are required to take sexual harassment prevention training every two years. The Lab also has a Title VII/IX officer to respond to concerns and potential claims. The Lab’s complete policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment is here.
Identifying and Reporting Conflicts of Interest (COI)
It is fairly common for Lab staff to engage in external activities that are related to their research, and for staff to receive compensation for this external work. Some examples of this include serving as a consultant to a for-profit company, founding a company that pursues separate but related research to one’s work at the Lab, and serving on a Science Advisory Board or Board of Directors. Berkeley Lab staff’s participation in outside business opportunities is governed by Lab policies, along with UC and DOE. One of the primary goals of these policies is to ensure that employees are “not biased because of financial, contractual, organizational, or other interests that relate to the work under the Contract, and that there is no unfair competitive advantage over other parties due to the performance under the Contract.”
Conflict of interest policies and reporting requirements are explained in the “Conflict of Interest” section of the Requirements and Policies Manual. These policies also govern faculty scientists and are different from University of California campus COI agreements for faculty.
Financial Literacy: Understanding the rules governing federal and non-federal funding
At Berkeley Lab, our research is driven by funding received from a range of agencies. All of this work, however, is subject to DOE governance. To learn more about responsible stewardship of these funds, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has put together training courses suitable for individual PIs, administrators, group leaders, and project managers. General Finance Courses are listed here.
Competence Commensurate with Responsibilities
- All relevant staff must receive the appropriate level of training to ensure that they are well-equipped to safely perform research according to the Lab’s high standards.
- Lab management recognizes that there is a range of training available in various institutions, and that Berkeley Lab standards can be different, if not higher.
- The Lab offers training in export control, foreign visitor requirements, EH&S, finance, and human resources that is commensurate with a researcher’s career development path.