Research Ethics Resource Center


The Research Ethics Resource Center (RERC) was established in 2005 to serve as both a virtual and physical source of information for WMU students, faculty, and staff regarding the multiple dimensions of research ethics.

The RERC board works with the OVPR to identify and provide ethics resources across an array of topics to meet both instructional and compliance needs. Materials include on-line professional development modules that meet standards established by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Reading material, training modules, and links to federal regulations are available for use in graduate and undergraduate curricula, laboratory settings, and other applications across the university.

Resources for the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Nine core areas cover the spectrum of research from start to finish. Resources for each of the areas are provided in the following links:

  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
    These resources focus on accepted practices for acquiring and maintaining research data and proper methods for record keeping and electronic data collection and storage in scientific research. Topics include defining what constitutes data; keeping data notebooks or electronic files; data privacy and confidentiality; data selection, retention, sharing, ownership, and analysis; data as legal documents and intellectual property, including copyright laws.
  • Mentor-Trainee Relationship Responsibilities
    The responsibilities of mentors and trainees in predoctoral and postdoctoral research programs are addressed. Topics include the role of a mentor, responsibilities of a mentor, conflicts between mentor and trainee, collaboration and competition, selection of a mentor, and abuse of the mentor/trainee relationship.
  • Authorship and Publication Practices
    The focus of these materials include the purpose and importance of scientific publication,and the responsibilities of the authors. They cover topics such as collaborative work and assigning appropriate credit, acknowledgments, appropriate citations, repetitive publications, fragmentary publication, sufficient description of methods, corrections and retractions, conventions for deciding upon authors, author responsibilities, and the pressure to publish.
  • Peer Review
    The purpose of peer review in determining merit for research funding and publications is addressed. Topics include the definition of peer review, impartiality, how peer review works, editorial boards and ad hoc reviewers, responsibilities of the reviewers, privileged information and confidentiality.
  • Collaborative Science
    These materials feature research collaborations and issues that may arise from such collaborations. Topics include setting ground rules early in the collaboration, avoiding authorship disputes, and the sharing of materials and information with internal and external collaborating scientists.
  • Human Subjects
    Issues important in conducting research involving human subjects are addressed, including topics such as the definition of human subjects research, ethical principles for conducting human subjects research, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy of data and patient records, risks and benefits, preparation of a research protocol, institutional review boards, adherence to study protocol, proper conduct of the study, and special protections for targeted populations, (e.g., children, minorities, and the elderly).
  • Research Involving Animals
    These materials address issues important to conducting research involving animals, including definition of research involving animals, ethical principles for conducting research on animals, Federal regulations governing animal research, institutional animal care and use committees, and treatment of animals.
  • Research Misconduct
    The meaning of research misconduct and the regulations, are outlined here, and guidelines that govern research misconduct in PHS-funded institutions. Topics include fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism; error vs. intentional misconduct; institutional misconduct policies; identifying misconduct; procedures for reporting misconduct; protection of whistleblowers; and outcomes of investigations, including institutional and Federal actions.
  • Conflict of Interest and Commitment
    The definition of conflicts of interest and how to handle conflicts of interest are specified. Types of conflicts encountered by researchers and institutions are addressed, including topics such as conflicts associated with collaborators, publication, financial conflicts, obligations to other constituencies, and other types of conflicts.


The vision of the RERC is to:

  • Foster a sustainable ethical research culture in which researchers reflect on and understand the underlying principles that form the basis of ethical practice (rather than conceiving of research ethics solely or primarily in terms of federal regulations), and apply this understanding and reflection concretely in the context of their research.
  • Foster a research community in which explicitly attending to the ethical dimensions of research is standard practice rather than a mandatory addendum or an ad hoc measure.


The mission of the RERC is to:

  • Function as a repository for research ethics materials.
  • Function as a readily identifiable place that hosts speakers, workshops, seminars and discussions on research ethics, serving both the university and other institutions in the community.
  • Increase knowledge of and sensitivity to issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research.
  • Improve researchers’ ability to make ethical choices when faced with conflicts in their research.
  • Develop positive attitudes towards ongoing self-education of matters involving the responsible conduct of research.


The RERC schedules brown bag lunches and other forums for exploring how the principles of responsible conduct in research can be put into practice. Any presentation slides or handouts will be posted to this website. Send an email to be notified of upcoming events.

Governing Board

Michael Pritchard | Web site
Professor, Department of Philosophy; Co-Director, WMU Ethics Center
Julia Mays
Research Compliance Coordinator, Office of the Vice President for Research
Susan Stapleton
Professor, Department of Chemistry; Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Mary Lagerwey
Associate Professor, Bronson School of Nursing; WMU Faculty Senate President
Sandra L. Borden
Associate Professor, School of Communication; Co-Director of WMU Ethics Center
Amy Naugle
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology; Chair, HSIRB
Paula Kohler | Web site
Associate Vice President, Office of the Vice President for Research

Questions? Email our research compliance coordinator.

Office of the Vice President for Research
Western Michigan University
210 W Walwood Hall
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5456 USA
(269) 387-8298 | (269) 387-8276 Fax