Proven Practices

Education Best Practices

Experts will argue, and rightfully so, that there is a distinct difference between Education and Training. Often “training” becomes a check the box activity. Institutions, government agencies, and even private funders, mandate it for all types of compliance-related issues, and the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is no exception.

Before developing the educational and/or training program right for your organization, consider not only the prevailing regulatory mandates, but how this program might enhance and support a culture of responsibility and integrity. This requires considering available resources, institutional commitment, and the needs of your target audiences.

Proven Practices

Make educational program interesting and relevant

  • Know your target audience – adapt program to audience needs
    • Customize to audience (administrator, researcher, student)
    • Consider advantages/disadvantages to customizing to field/discipline – heterogenous groups can work well, when resources are limited
      • If heterogenous, consider which audiences should or should not be grouped.
    • Consider which are the best days and time for your audience – this can be a big determining factor in ensuring attendance and active participation
  • Find and use relevant examples, case studies, and discuss.
    • Anonymized cases from your own institution often make the best topics of discussion
  • Engage faculty researchers and/or senior officials as speakers/presenters/facilitators.
    • Depending on your audience, sometimes junior faculty/postdocs make good facilitators on a peer-to-peer level
  • Use a variety of approaches:
    • Keep didactic lectures short
    • Use interactive engagement techniques – encourage discussion
    • Incorporate technology – use of web polling, videos
    • Incorporate role play
    • Make it convenient – go where potential participants gather for other purposes (Department meetings, Grand Rounds, etc.)
    • Use online courses when appropriate – great for outlining resources, but not a substitute for face-to-face interaction
  • How to “sell” it
    • Be creative when advertising sessions so people will want to attend
      • Use websites, newsletters, posters, social media, targeted emails, etc. to communicate and create enthusiasm (See Relationships/Communication)
  • Frame the integrity/compliance educational program appropriately:
    • Positive (research integrity - culture of responsibility)
    • Negative (compliance burdens - what can go wrong)
    • The “spin” will depend on your audience – different groups will respond based on their personal biases and experiences
    • Explain why it should be important to your specific audience

Institutional commitment and support

  • Engage institutional leadership in research integrity/compliance educational program efforts
    • Messages from senior officials should be consistent
    • Have them participate, even if its to give opening remarks as a sign of endorsement
  • Educational program should be linked with Human Resources – or a Learning Management System
    • Track dates of participation and completion
    • Consider the value of refresher courses every 3-4 years or as position changes
  • Provide credit and/or certification
  • Document successful completion for possible promotion or future compensation considerations