Date of Meeting:
Frank Abboud, Scott Bounds, Michael Flatte, Vicki Hesli, Richard Hichwa, Bob Kirby, Johna Leddy, George Malanson, Cheryl Reardon, Siddharth Singh, Linda Snetselaar, Scott Stuart and Sarah Vigmostad.
Leddy called the meeting to order at 1:00 PM. Leddy asked for corrections and/or additions to the minutes. Malanson moved to accept the minutes. Minutes approved.
Research Integrity Officer
Richard Hichwa, Associate Vice President for Research, discussed his role as Research Integrity Officer and explained the research misconduct process. In the event that sufficient evidence is found of a potential misconduct, a misconduct review committee is created. The misconduct review committee is composed of a wide range of individuals who represent all collegiate units. Typically there is an investigation of allegations led by a member of the research misconduct committee. If there is a “finding” of research misconduct, appropriate action is taken against the faculty or staff member. If federal funds are involved, the individual is listed on a federal register and is not allowed to apply for federal funds.
Hichwa then discussed the recent case involving a manuscript that was retracted after publication. Under IRB approval, a manuscript was sent to two journals, both journals rejected the article. Upon submission to a third journal, the article was accepted. The editor of the third journal identified a problem with the randomization method and the editor contacted the University of Iowa IRB office. After reviewing the case, it was decided that an investigation would not occur. However, based on the fact that the randomization was an issue, the authors and journal retracted the manuscript. No federal funds were involved and there was no finding of research misconduct.
Recent IT security breach
Martha Jones, Director of Human Subjects Office (HSO), discussed the recent IT security breach of a server in the Department of Psychology. The attack was automated and no data was compromised. The PI’s on the project, Michael O’Hara and Scott Stuart, were notified of the problem, as well as the IRB. They began working with ITS, University Relations, Institutional Officials, the Provost Office, and the Director of HSO. Fifteen thousand letters were mailed out to research subjects whose social security numbers were stored on the server. All communications and written documents were reviewed by the IRB since the case involved human subject data. To date, forty individuals have contacted The University of Iowa for additional information.
A Social Security policy has been developed by ITS and will be incorporated into the University Operations Manual. ITS and HSO are developing training material for faculty and staff who are involved in research that involves payment. They are also working with ITS on a process to store sensitive data (including social security numbers). A university committee has also been charged with looking into mechanisms to store research data. Finally, ITS is planning to remind individual faculty and staff of the importance of maintaining and upgrading software and security patches.
Scott Stuart discussed the incident from a PI’s perspective. Stuart and O’Hara were very appreciative of the work that was done by campus in light of the security breach. Stuart also discussed the strategies to improve the data security of their research data. Hesli recommended that IT data security be a future agenda item with the possibility of creating a subcommittee. Hichwa also noted that Research Council could weigh in on strategies to implement responsible conduct of research. Hichwa noted that there is one course on campus about the responsible conduct of research. It is taught as part of a training grant to approximately 35 students a year. Content is appropriate to both new and seasoned researchers. Use of the course and its content may provide one vehicle for encouraging responsible conduct of research. Such courses cannot be mandated effectively.
Creation of a subcommittee to review the composition of the Research Council
Leddy discussed the creation of a subcommittee to review the composition of the Research Council. The current membership consists of two students (post baccalaureate), four staff and ten faculty. For faculty membership, the operations manual specifically states that there should be two members, at all times, and related to the disciplines of the physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences and the humanities. In addition, two faculty members shall be ‘at large.’ The committee will review the charge and make recommendations to the Vice President for Research. The subcommittee will be Sarah Vigmostad, Jeff Denburg, Boyd Knosp, George Malanson, Michael Mackey (chair), and Vicki Grassian.
The meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm.