The AAMC Jan. 28 submitted a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in response to a request for information (RFI) on the American research environment to inform the work of the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC’s) Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE).
JCORE was established in May 2019 and consists of four subcommittees focusing on the following topics: research security, rigor and integrity, reducing administrative burdens, and safe and inclusive research environments. The RFI requested input on specific actions that federal agencies can take in collaboration with institutions and other organizations to address these key areas in the U.S. research enterprise.
Several key points from the AAMC’s letter are below:
Research Rigor and Integrity
- All research funding agencies should clearly define their goals for increasing the rigor of research, highlight any relevant application instructions and review criteria, and provide training and resources to assist investigators and trainees in most effectively incorporating these standards into their research.
Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research
- Recent reports have identified a need for federal agencies to reduce administrative workload and costs for federally funded researchers and research institutions, especially related to financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs).
- Data from the AAMC COI Metrics Project demonstrates that revisions to the FCOI regulations increased institutional burden without a commensurate increase in identified FCOIs.
- Any effort to harmonize FCOI requirements should be in concert with research institutions as well as agency evidence-building activities, including the incorporation of robust evaluation into rulemaking processes.
- It is critical that federal agencies and research institutions balance the benefits of productive international research collaborations with the risks associated with undue foreign influence when making decisions regarding research security.
- The required disclosure of relationships and support from foreign governments or institutions should be consolidated into a single reporting mechanism that specifically serves that purpose and should not be conflated with other disclosure requirements.
Safe and Inclusive Research Environments
- Diversity and inclusion are key organizational priorities for the AAMC and its member institutions, and these organizations are committed to ensuring that researchers and trainees throughout the academic environment feel safe, free from harassment, and aware of available resources to protect and support them in their pursuit of successful research careers.