ORR, ORI Reorganizing to Form New Office of Research Ethics

By Caitlin Ware, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research

Effective July 1, Iowa State University’s Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) will debut a newly formed Office of Research Ethics (ORE), merging and replacing its former Office for Responsible Research and Office of Research Integrity.

Until this point, the Office for Responsible Research (ORR) and the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) functioned collaboratively, but independently, to oversee university research operations. The two units will now be restructured to represent all research ethics activities in a single unit to better serve the campus community and ensure ethical research.

“By combining these units, we will create a one-stop-shop for researchers to assist in meeting the ethics and security aspects of carrying out their research,” said Jerry Zamzow, assistant vice president for research. “Implementing this organizational change will allow researchers across campus to more easily navigate the myriad institutional, state, and federal policies and regulations. This restructuring will also provide the OVPR an opportunity to provide more wholistic messaging around responsibilities associated with ethical conduct of research.”

The new ORE will include all components of research regulation and policy administration, including training and prevention programs; compliance activities for human subjects, animals, biohazards, radiation safety, conflicts of interest, and commitment; export controls; unmanned aircraft systems; foreign influence; and research integrity. Sarah Kaatz — previously the director of ORR — will lead the new unit, and Brooke Langlitz — previously the director of ORI — will serve as associate director. Individual points of contact university researchers may have previously engaged with will not change.

In addition to combining the two existing OVPR units and their functions, the new ORE will also serve as the administrative home for the university’s new Research Integrity Officer (RIO). Since 2017, Associate Vice President for Research Guru Rao has served as RIO in a part-time capacity. The position will now be restructured as a full-time role dedicated to handling allegations of research misconduct on campus. A search process to fill the position is currently underway.

“Our vision is that this change will streamline all programmatic aspects of administering regulations and policies that pertain to the conduct of research,” Kaatz said. “The reorganization provides increased clarity for Iowa State researchers to ensure they are aware of and complying with non-financial regulations for conducting research.”

A new webpage will be developed for the ORE in the coming weeks. In the interim, information regarding compliance matters and ethical research practices can be found on the existing ORR website and ORI webpage.