Research Integrity and Compliance
The University of Northern Colorado is dedicated to the highest standards of research integrity. The university's guidelines and procedures are intended to promote those standards in the care for people and animals that are the subjects of research, as well as in maintaining confidentiality, adhering to protocols, and preventing research misconduct.
For the Protection of Human Subjects in Research
The use of human subjects in research at the University of Northern Colorado is regulated by University Policy 3-8-104, enacted by the Board of Trustees to ensure that all research carried out under the auspices of UNC conforms to ethical standards.
3-8-104 Human Subjects.It is the policy of the University that all research and research-related activities, in which humans are used as subjects, shall be subject to review under current Public Health Service regulations by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). The involvement of human subjects in research covered by this policy shall be prohibited until the IRB has reviewed and approved the research protocol.
For the Protection of Animal Subjects in Research
The primary function of UNC's IACUC is to assist faculty, students and staff in upholding UNC's commitment to providing the finest care and most humane utilization of laboratory animals. To this end, every research, testing, and teaching project involving the use of vertebrate animals must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC prior to initiation. The IACUC shares with the investigator the responsibility for the ethical decisions made regarding the care and use of animals.
Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is essential to the conduct of research and teaching at UNC, and federal granting agencies are now requiring that grantees certify to having institutional plans in place to provide training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to students, faculty and staff members.
The UNC Plan for the Responsible Conduct of Research provides information about RCR and RCR educational opportunities, and it outlines the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved in RCR at UNC. RCR training is available to UNC students, faculty and staff members through online the course modules of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) of the University of Miami.
UNC Scientific Misconduct Policy (Article 8, 3-8-106)
An Academic Researcher who engages in an act of acts of scientific misconduct while engaged in University Sponsored Research is subject to discipline in accordance with the prescriptions and procedures established in Article 8, 3-8-106 of the University Regulations.
Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI)
Changes in the federal regulations promoting objectivity in sponsored projects required that grant recipient organizations develop compliant policies and implement the changes by August 24, 2012.
The public and the sponsors of the research, educational, and other activities of UNC personnel expect that the design, conduct, and reporting of such externally funded activities are free from bias resulting from investigator financial conflicts of interest. Federal regulations require that the university obtain disclosures of the outside financial interests of those personnel who are, or plan to be, involved in externally funded projects; to determine whether those interests constitute conflicts; and if so, to manage the conflicts in a way to promote objectivity in the sponsored activities.
Before a proposal can be submitted to an external sponsor, and at other times as specified in the UNC FCOI Policy and Implementing Procedures, the Principal Investigator or Project Director and all other individuals responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the project must disclose any significant financial interests that could be construed as conflicting with their part in the project.
All project personnel need to be familiar with the FCOI policy and procedures in order to prepare their Significant Financial Interests Disclosures and to comply with pertinent requirements. The policy is published in the University Regulations at Article 3, Part 4, Section 3-3-402(1), and the Implementing Procedures are found in the Policies and Procedures of this Website.
To minimize security threats to research data, faculty and staff from Information Management and Technology (IM&T), University Libraries, the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Education Innovation Institute, and the Office of Research have developed a resource for researchers related to data security. The UNC Data Security for Research Projects provides researchers with guidelines for protecting their data electronically with measures that reflect the level of risk in the data.
In most UNC research that involves data about people, researchers can follow existing strategies that are typically refined with help from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Examples include interviews and surveys about topics whose data need to be protected but whose disclosure would generally not put individuals at civil liability or material harm and would not violate federal law. Occasionally researchers handle information that, if made public, would cause significant harm or violate federal law. Examples include, but are not limited to, data that contain social security numbers, medical records, education records, personal financial records, and criminal acts. These data obviously warrant serious precautions. Individuals who collect, store, or exchange this kind of highly sensitive information need to submit a data security clearance form to IM&T for approval. In addition, researchers entering into data agreements with other institutions are also required to submit a data security clearance form. Researchers who are working with these kinds of data are encouraged to submit simultaneous applications to IM&T and the IRB, as these two groups are coordinating their reviews to ensure timely approvals. In addition, IM&T staff members with data security specializations now advise the IRB as questions arise.
All researchers are encouraged to examine the plan to see how they can better protect the security of their data, regardless of whether their data reflects a serious concern for protection or is part of an inter-institutional arrangement.