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Associate Professor Tes Toop believes being an active researcher herself will bring an extra dimension to the level of service support provided to the University’s researchers by the new Office for Research Integrity.
“As well as heading up ORI, I will be continuing with my research,” the inaugural Director said.
“In addition, our ORI manager, Dr Victoria Emery, is an active researcher, so I think we have a real advantage to offer in that we see things from both sides of the fence and between us we combine scientific and arts and humanities expertise.”
And one of the things Associate Professor Toop is seeing is the need to take a more proactive approach to ensuring researchers have all the best information and training in areas like animal welfare, human research ethics, bio safety and gene technology.
“In the past researchers have seen us as the research police,” she said.
“I believe that by bringing everyone together as a team, as we are doing with ORI, we will be in a position to value-add to the services that have been provided by Research Services Division, but not necessarily in a fully co-ordinated way.”
Associate Professor Toop said setting up ORI was part of Deakin’s response to the publication in 2007 of a new Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
“With ORI, we have brought together a lot of expertise and we will use this not just to ensure the compliance aspect, but to do a lot of outreach work and training in the faculties and institutes,” she said.
Associate Professor Toop believes that the new approach will help develop a better research culture within the University in terms of responsible conduct.
“The code, the National Statement, and the legislation in relation to animal welfare and gene technology are also reflections of what is going on in society,” she said.
“One thing that has been happening in research is that the academics are seen less and less as operating in ivory towers.
“They are funded by the community and are accountable to the community in a lot of areas, including the moral and ethical aspects of research.
“If we can help inform our researchers to think about their work in those sorts of community terms, what’s acceptable practice, what isn’t, then complying with codes and legislation will be a no-brainer.”
One important initiative ORI is working on is an induction package for new researchers at Deakin.
“It’s all part of us being seen as an area to which people can go for assistance and training. We really want to engage and be helpful” said Associate Professor Toop.
“This to me is a far more sensible approach than waiting until something goes wrong, and moving in then.”
Associate Professor Toop encouraged her fellow researchers at Deakin to make contact with her group whenever they have a query relating to animal welfare, human research ethics, bio safety and gene technology.
“We want to create a supportive environment that not just meets the requirements, but exceeds them,” she said. “And we hope that we can achieve this by forging real partnerships between our office and the wide range of researchers at Deakin.”
For contact information for ORI staff members: www.deakin.edu.au/research/admin/about/contact.php