Guidelines for Research Conforming to the Code of Ethics in IMEG

2016.12.08 ●News

Guidelines for Research Conforming to the Code of Ethics in the
Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics of Kumamoto University



1. Purpose


This guideline aims at establishing standards for promoting fair research activities for those who belong to the Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics (IMEG) of Kumamoto University to conduct research in accordance with the university’s two research ethics policies, “Rules and Regulations for the Prevention of Fraudulent Acts in Research Activities at Kumamoto University” and “Kumamoto University’s Code of Conduct.”


2. Basic Policy


2.1. Awareness of Responsibility
Researchers engaged in research activities in IMEG (staff members, students, etc.) must recognize that research activities are established through social trust and mandate. Researchers shall comply with the related codes and procedures, and endeavor to conduct fair research activities.


2.2. Prevention of Misconduct
Researchers are obligated to appropriately manage conflicts of interest, and not commit acts of misconduct such as forgery, falsification, or plagiarism.


3. Basic Responsibilities of Interested Parties


3.1. Basic Responsibilities of Researchers
Researchers shall appropriately preserve materials (documents, numerical data, images, etc.) and samples (experimental samples, specimens, etc.) that are the basis of final research papers or presentations so that they may withstand possible future use or verification. The person who performed the research is predominantly responsible for the preservation of their own research materials and samples. Researchers shall disclose their materials and samples upon request from an Investigation Committee, a Research Funding Organization, or any other qualified body.

Materials and samples concerning the research belong to the research team and the research institution. The researcher shall perform the necessary procedures specific to their department when transferring materials and samples from storage to a location outside of their department or outside of the university..

Graduate and undergraduate students shall follow the guidelines of the department to which their academic supervisor belongs. For graduate students of faculty members from a collaborative institution, the guidelines for that faculty member’s home institution shall be followed. In the case where guidelines for the collaborative research institution do not exist, these guidelines shall be followed until such time as guidelines are developed at said institution.


3.2. Basic Responsibilities of the Administrator
The responsible authors (corresponding authors) of a research paper and the patent application representative of a patent are responsible for the preservation of materials and samples used for published papers and/or patent applications, and shall be designated the administrator of said materials and samples. The administrator shall manage and instruct researchers on the appropriate methods for storing materials and samples, and develops the storage environment so that leakage, mixing, theft, loss, etc. does not occur. In principle, administrators shall disclose materials and samples upon request from an Investigation Committee or a Research Funding Organization. The administrator shall regularly inspect the status of research data management and immediately report to the Director of IMEG when leaks, intermixing, thefts, and/or losses occur.



4. Retention Period & Storage Methods for Items where Storage is Obligatory


4.1. Retention Period and Storage Method of Research Materials
The retention period of research materials such as laboratory notebooks, numerical data, and images shall be at least 10 years after the release of the final research paper or report. However, it is acceptable to dispose of materials of an appropriate type if there is an unavoidable reason, such as shortage of storage space. If the law, collaborative research agreement, or contracted funding agency defines the retention period, that period shall be followed.

Researchers shall understand that materials such as laboratory notebooks do not belong to individual researchers, but to the research team and the research institution. The administrator is responsible for the management of laboratory notebooks.


4.2. Retention Period and Storage Method of Research Samples and Equipment
Experimental samples and equipment (equipment and machines used for research activities) shall be preserved for at least 5 years. It is understood that some items are difficult to store due to location, stability, or cost. Samples and equipment should be presented to third parties as required or as necessary after the publication of research results. Items should be preserved in such a way that experiments may be reproduced to provide proof of the fairness of the research. If the law, collaborative research agreement, or contracted funding agency defines the retention period, that period shall be followed.

The administrator is responsible for the management of samples. He or she shall devise storage management measures such that the storage location of samples or equipment are clearly indicated and may be easily found.


4.3. Retention Period and Storage Method of Electronic Data
All electronic research data shall be collectively stored on hard disk drive, server, or cloud storage. The original data used for paper publications or patent applications shall be strictly kept. (For example, paper/patent application data may be recorded to a CD.) Electronic data shall be kept for at least 10 years. The administrator is responsible for the management of all electronic data.

To maintain consistency with laboratory notebooks, all electronic data should be managed by devising a file naming system that is paired to the laboratory notebooks, such as “(date) simple experiment content details.”


5. Response in the Case of Transfer, Retirement, or Reorganization


The administrator shall be given notification from any departing researcher about the location(s) of materials and samples preserved, and will confirm their status and backup storage if necessary. In the case where the administrator him/herself is departing, he/she will decide on a new administrator to assume the responsibilities of material and sample management.

In cases where it is difficult to determine how or where store samples and/or information, e.g., due to reorganization, the administrator shall consult with relevant departments and take measures to ensure the continuation of proper storage.


6. Standards for Laboratory Notebooks


6.1. Format
Laboratory notebooks should use water and chemical resistant paper and be able to withstand prolonged storage. It is preferable to use bound/stitched notebooks to reduce the chances of being tampered with and/or prevent misconduct during storage. The use of loose-leaf paper is prohibited in principle.


6.2. Methods for Maintaining Notebook Contents


i: Laboratory notebook entries should be made using water and light resistant ink that cannot be erased. The use of pencil is not acceptable.


ii: Dates in the laboratory notebook must use the Gregorian calendar format. (E.g., YYYY/MM/DD, DD/MM/YYYY, etc.)


iii: Descriptions must be detailed enough that other researchers would be able to reproduce an experiment.


iv: Do not use correction fluid when correcting an entry; delete it with double or diagonal lines. The new entry should allow the original content to be known.


v: Product names and lot numbers of reagents and equipment used in experiments shall be entered into the notes. (Affixing the relevant labels to the inside the laboratory notebook is also acceptable).


vi: When receiving samples from other researchers, enter their names, dates, and types of samples. Save any attached documentation.


vii: Experiment results should be described in as much detail as possible. Interpretation of results, discussion, and ideas should be distinguished from facts that show results. It is acceptable to also describe content that may not appear relevant to the research subject.


viii: The research director shall periodically check laboratory notebooks, and may provide suggestions or instructions on how to improve or write more appropriately.


6.3. Research Materials

i: For information that cannot be attached to the laboratory notebook, such as electronic data, the necessary information, i.e., the date, experimental methods, name of person running the experiment, method and location of data storage, and data interpretation, shall be specified in the laboratory notebook.


ii: The naming scheme of electronic data files and folders shall be “(date) simple experiment content details.” Avoid the loss of data due to storage medium failure by using backups.


iii: It is desirable to prepare electronic data for lists of genes, cell/bacteria/mouse strains, or individual specimens in separate electronic files.


6.4. Management

i: Researchers shall understand that laboratory notebooks do not belong to individual researchers, but belong to the research team and the research institution. Therefore, when a researcher transfers out of a laboratory, laboratory notebooks must, in principle, be left in the original laboratory.


ii: The above-mentioned laboratory notebooks shall, in principle, be kept for at least 10 years from the final report of research results in preparation for possible verification or proof of results at a later date.


7. Other
This guideline has been in effect since March 9th, 2016 and applies to all research carried out in IMEG from that day forward.