1.   Responsible Conduct
        of Research

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Stanford Policy


Principles Concerning


PIship Eligibility
and Criteria for


Rights and
in the Conduct
of Research





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Society has a vested interest in the research carried out at Stanford University - not only in the outcomes of that research, but also in the methods used and manner in which the work is conducted and supported. Much goes into the research enterprise at universities like Stanford, and much is expected in return.

One reason for public interest stems from simple cost/benefit analysis. There are more than 4,400 externally sponsored projects throughout the university, with the total budget for sponsored projects at $1.13 billion during 2009-10, including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). Of these projects, the federal government sponsors approximately 79 percent, including SLAC.

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In addition, nearly $217 million in support comes from non-federal funding sources. More than 1,800 postdoctoral scholars, 4,000 graduate students and numerous undergraduates are involved in sponsored research at the university.

The public is well served by this investment. Not only have critical discoveries emerged from this work, but so have generations of leadership in all fields of human endeavor.

Unlike the popular image of an "ivory tower," academic research is conducted in a social context, and human values enter into the process at many levels. To maintain confidence and trust in this enterprise, researchers must aggressively protect the empirical objectivity of research, the unbiased reporting of results, and the open sharing of that information for the good of society.

Issues that can impinge on public trust and confidence in research are brought together under the heading of "research integrity," and include such topics as:

  • environmental health & safety
  • use and protection of human subjects and lab animals
  • conflicts of interest
  • publication, intellectual property and data
  • error, negligence or misconduct
  • response to violations of ethical standards.

Issues around these topics will take different shape depending on the academic discipline and individual program of research. In all cases, Stanford establishes the expectation for the highest standards of responsible research conduct - standards which are, in many cases, reinforced by law or sponsor regulations. Stanford also holds its principal investigators responsible for determining the intellectual direction of research and scholarship, for the training of graduate students, and for the technical and fiscal management of sponsored projects. Eligibility to act as a PI or Co-PI at Stanford is therefore a privilege limited to members of the Academic Council and the MCL faculty, with exceptions only as specified by Academic Senate policy.

The next sections of this tutorial examine Stanford's policies and requirements in these areas. These sections are brief; they serve only to introduce the researcher to issues, and to direct the researcher to resources for more information and assistance.


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