On 20 August 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced plans for implementation of Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (America COMPETES Act), which was singed into law in 2007. This section of the law requires that “each institution that applies for financial assistance from the [National Science] Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project.” These requirements will be instituted as of 4 January 2010 for all research proposals submitted to NSF. The agency will not require that training plans are included in proposals, but they are subject to review upon request. The new policy will be formally described in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).
During the public comment period for the new guidelines, 188 comments were received. Included among these were concerns about guidance for training and online resources. NSF noted that it does not intend to issue standards for training, recognizing that such standards will depend upon the needs of each institution and circumstance. Therefore, guidelines for training will be left to individual institutions. NSF also noted that supports two websites that will provide resources on ethics education in science and engineering. These online resources will serve as a foundation for ethics education in science and engineering. The resource will contain community-developed information on research findings, pedagogical materials, and promising practices regarding the ethical and responsible conduct of research, and will be used to train future generations of scientists and engineers.
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