Responsible Conduct of Research


All research as it is being designed, implemented, and communicated by presentation and publication, must be conducted with the highest standards of ethics and responsibility. The reputation of an individual researcher or scholar, collaborator and co-authors, and the institution can be harmed (and criminal and financial penalties imposed) when research is not ethically conducted. Students should know and adhere to the federal, state, and university regulations for research, including required training before research can begin.

The Graduate School offers multiple resources and activities for learning about responsible conduct of research (RCR) and for engaging in discussions about the range of issues and dilemmas that must be navigated to avoid violations and penalties for unethical research conduct. The Ethics Café, Beer with a Scientist/Wine with a Scholar, and Lab crawl activities include discussion of ethical issues, such as conflicts of interest, collaborations, data management and ownership, mentoring relationships, peer review, authorship and publishing, reporting research misconduct, use of human subjects, and use of animal subjects.

The Graduate School also offers an online training module across graduate disciplines that focuses on researchers’ and scholars’ competing needs, interests, and conflicts that occur in unethical research and collaborations. The module includes information about institutional policies, regulatory agencies, the law, and codes of ethics from various disciplines to help students construct their own ethical and responsible code of conduct.

Cornell University also offers training, resources, and information about training and other requirements before beginning research. The Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA)  offers an annual symposium for graduate students, each focused on a research ethics topic, such as authorship and mentoring relationships. They also oversee the required training for all graduate students (beginning with the fall 2015 entering class), for students funded by NSF, for students funded by NIH, and for students funded by USDA.

ORIA also can consult with students about reporting suspected research misconduct. In addition, Cornell maintains an anonymous tool, EthicsPoint, for reporting suspected research misconduct. Although this is an anonymous reporting mechanism, reporters may use the web site (and a private password) to receive information about their report and any subsequent investigation.



Office of Research Integrity and Assurance

Vanessa McCafferry

ORIA Compliance Administrator