Research compliance jobs

9/14/2018 4:40:16 PM

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to talk about research misconduct, but the reality is that some scientists cheat, conduct research in an unethical manner or both. Just take a look at websites like Retraction Watch or the United States Office of Research Integrity’s list of research misconduct case summaries to find plenty of examples. And, research misconduct has serious implications, from jeopardizing public confidence and support of research funding to health and safety consequences (e.g., falsified data in a clinical trial).

Blame it on human nature or the pressures to “publish or perish,” but, whatever the reason, we all play a role in holding each other to high standards of research integrity. It takes the whole science community across the research life cycle, from pre-award contract and grant administrators to scientific publishers.

As a publisher of scientific journals, the ASBMB is not immune to research misconduct, and thus, we take a proactive approach to mitigate these occurrences. One way we do so is by offering researcher trainings. For example, Kaoru Sakabe, data integrity manager for the ASBMB, will be presenting a webinar on Sept. 20 on best practices in preparing images for publication. (Be sure to check out Kaoru’s Due Diligence series in ASBMB Today for even more tips on proper data use and management.)   

Other key players in this checks-and-balances system are university research compliance departments, which help researchers comply with federal, state and institutional guidelines. One critical role of these departments is providing responsible conduct of research training to prevent misconduct in the first place, by making sure researchers and trainees are aware of applicable laws and regulations. Such trainings are mandated for institutions that receive funding from agencies like the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.  

Broadly, research compliance functions can be subdivided into a number of core areas that include but are not limited to: animal welfare (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee); biosafety (Institutional Biosafety Committee); data use and management; conflicts of interest; export control; human subjects research (Institutional Review Board); and research misconduct investigations. And, in the days of the #MeTooSTEM movement, the research community is taking note that responsible research extends to the treatment and well-being of researchers as well.  

Overall, research compliance involves a wide range of subject matters, which also means there are lots of career opportunities for professionals who specialize in each component. For this week, we looked into job openings related to research compliance at academic institutions. Positions were found by searching job boards with keywords that included “research compliance,” “research integrity” and “responsible conduct of research.” Here is just a sampling of the many jobs found. Future posts will delve into other types of jobs essential to ensuring research integrity across the scientific enterprise.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • West Point Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.) is hiring a faculty member at the instructor, assistant professor or associate professor level to develop educational programming and oversee functions related to human subject research ethics, regulatory compliance, responsible conduct of research and research integrity. Minimum qualifications include a terminal degree in a discipline taught at the academy and specialized experience with human research protection programs. The application deadline is Sept. 21.  
  • Saint Louis University in Missouri has an open position for a director of healthcare compliance to manage activities within its department of university healthcare and research compliance. The director will be responsible for developing and implementing relevant policies (e.g. privacy laws, clinical trials and export controls), conducting internal audits and investigations and training staff. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and five years of related work experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Office of Research Integrity and Compliance at West Virginia University (Morgantown, W.V.) is seeking an IRB continuous improvement manager to develop process-improvement measures that will increase efficiency and ensure compliance with required regulations. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree (bachelor’s degree plus experience may be considered) and three or more years of experience in managing projects in a research setting. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Tufts Medical Center (Boston) is searching for a research policy and compliance specialist to oversee research policies and compliance matters and promote research integrity. Minimum qualifications include a level of knowledge equivalent to a master's degree in business, law or health administration and five to seven years of experience in a university or hospital research environment. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The University of Colorado–Colorado Springs is looking for a research compliance program director to  provide administrative oversight for research-compliance areas (i.e., IRB, RCR and export control) and develop relevant trainings. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and four years of experience with compliance activities. The priority application deadline is Sept. 24.  

Certifications and training    

In reviewing the qualification sections of research compliance job postings, there were a number of professional certifications listed as preferred for applicants to have. These certifications include a focus on research ethics and compliance as it pertains to specific subareas. If you are interested in a career route in research compliance, you may want to look into these certs further. Also, you may consider doing informational interviews with current professionals in the fields to see which certifications are deemed most relevant and credible.  


Author’s note  

As part of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (Sept. 17–21), the ASBMB is hosting a number of Twitter chats for postdocs focused on advancing your career in academia and beyond. See the website for the schedule, and follow along on Twitter using #ASBMBLovesPostdocs

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

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