The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act, or the America COMPETES Act, was signed into law by the president in August of 2007. The act was designed to ensure America's competitive place in the world economy through a commitment to scientific research and improvements in math and science education. Among other provisions, the act directed the National Science Foundation to include provisions for mentoring and training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in their grant requirements.
Changes to the NSF award guidelines now require a plan for “appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research” as well as a description of the mentoring activities provided for postdoctoral researchers. The guidelines are described in detail in the January 2010 NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, specifically Part I - Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II. C.1e and Part II - Award and Administration Guide, Chapter IV.B. Responses to concerns submitted by the public during the open comment period and additional details are included in the Federal Register Notice of August 20, 2009.
While many institutions may already have had programs in place for providing appropriate training in responsible conduct, others needed to draw on existing materials to create appropriate programs for their own institutions. In order to ensure that individuals and institutions were prepared to meet the new America COMPETES requirements, a grant from the National Science Foundation made it possible for the Online Ethics Center to provide new resources on our site specifically designed to assist those seeking to respond to the new standards. Numerous site modifications and enhancements were designed to help meet the needs of university instructors and administrators. These included, new navigation controls along with the addition of several new sections.
Funding for enhancements to the OEC came from the National Science Foundation through grant number 0936865. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.