New Recommendations Aim to Improve Ethics in International Research Collaborations
    September 19, 2017


    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg (202) 461.3888/


    Council of Graduate Schools Releases Learning Outcomes, Assessment Tools, and Best Practices for Deans


    Washington, DC – The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released new recommendations for educating graduate students on the ethical conduct of research in international collaborations. The report, Research Ethics Education in Graduate International Collaborations, represents the culmination of three years of collaborative research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF #1135345). In addition to recommendations for deans, the report includes a set of learning outcomes for doctoral students, case studies based on successful programs, and an online repository of assessment tools.


    “In recent years we’ve seen more and more graduate students participating in international collaborative research. These exchanges are vital to the advancement of science and creation of new knowledge,” said Suzanne Ortega, CGS President. “At the same time, however, we recognize that ethical norms and regulations vary a great deal across cultures. Graduate deans must prepare their students to navigate these challenges and conduct responsible research, and this report will help them achieve that goal.”


    In order to collaborate successfully, students need to learn about research protocols, professional expectations, and scholarly standards in other cultures, and develop the reasoning skills they will need to respond to ethical conflicts as they arise. Most research training programs, however, typically do not cover international issues. CGS sought to address this need by developing valid and replicable models for integrating international issues into research ethics education programs.


    The report included two surveys of graduate deans and students at four universities. The student survey was conducted in 2013 and 2015, and gathered information on graduate student awareness of research ethics and participation in training. Findings showed that student awareness and participation increased from 2013 to 2015, for both STEM and non-STEM students.


    Surveys of deans revealed a number of common strategies for conducting research ethics education activities and assessing student learning. The learning outcomes, which are available online on the CGS website, span a variety of knowledge and skill areas as well as professional attitudes that students should foster in order to be successful.


    To produce the report, CGS partnered with four institutions: Emory University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Oklahoma, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, as well as six affiliate partners. The project built upon prior CGS work with the Project for Scholarly Integrity, which developed multi-disciplinary graduate education programs in the responsible conduct of research, and a 2008 Global Summit of university leaders focused on research ethics.


    The report is available free of charge on the CGS website.


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    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.