Future of The University

I have two major limitations regard to current situations of the universities:

  1. I believe that there is no balance in higher education systems in the universities. You can imagine two students in the same major from two different universities. They have passed the same courses, but one of them took courses with some instructors who took easy. Therefore, the GPA of them are completely different. But, their knowledge are the same. They apply for a specific job and the investigator observes their GPA. Who will he be hired? Absolutely, the person who has higher GPA.  So, I believe that current higher education system is not fair. All of the students follow their majors to get degree. But, this degree cannot be an appropriate indicator of their qualifications.  We should find another method to certify the students about their knowledge. I want to suggest certifications instead of degrees. Certifications may be awarded to certify that the students know some skills in that area. Therefore, the employers should evaluate their applicants with more effective ways to select most qualified individuals for their jobs.
  2. Another issue regard to higher education is that most of the faculties want to publish some journal papers. Most of them do not think whether their knowledge can be helpful for human beings or not. Because they only want to get promotions. I believe this method may cause the bad effect on the science in near future. We must use knowledge as a tool to help human beings. So, the university should find another way to promote their faculties.

In conclusion, I think that the universities should change their policy for students and their faculties by considering aforementioned points.

 

Posted in GRAD_5104, 2015 | 1 Comment

Scholarly Integrity

Research Misconduct Case from ORI

I have selected a research misconduct case from ORI website and I want to explain it in this blog.

I do not like to mention the name of the person who had misconduct, because I believe that it is not ethical. I cannot understand why ORI mention the name of the individuals.

The misconduct in this blog happened at University of Oregon, Eugene. A graduate student at this university falsified and fabricated data in his four publications.  This case was a little strange for me, because he could publish his papers in well-known journals like: Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Experimental Psychology, and Psychological Science.

This student removed the outlier values of his data and produced some results. He faced to some restrictions after this misconduct. He also accepted to correct his publications.

I agree that ORI should consider some penalties for him, but I have a big question in my mind. The editors and journal reviewers could find this misconduct earlier. I mean that I believe that it is the responsibility of editors and reviewers to find it before publishing his papers.

His falsifications were:

  1. “Figures 3E and 3F in Paper 4Figures 4 and 8 in Paper 1
  2. Figures 3C, 3D, and 3E in Paper 2
  3. Figures 3B, 7C, 7D, and 8B in Paper 3
  4. Figures 3E and 3F in Paper 4”

https://ori.hhs.gov/content/case-summary-anderson-david

These falsifications could be found by reviewers easily, because they were expert in his area and could understand that these figures had some problems.

In conclusion, I should say that ORI needed to establish some rules to penalize the reviewers of these journals as well.

 

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Possible Funding Resources in the United States of America for Faculties, Part 3: NSF

National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation (NSF) is well-known founding resource for scientific researches in the US. NSF vision includes: “enabling the nation’s future through discovery, learning and innovation” [6]. NSF support the researches because of these goals:

  • Improves knowledge for the advantage of the nation
  • Supports typically fundamental researches (vs. applied)
  • Educate and support the new researchers and faculties.

This institution supports research in different fields. The number of submitted proposals for some research fields during nine consecutive years are presented in [1].  As it can be seen, Engineering has most contribution.

The researchers should submit a proposal to apply for the grant. The proposal should be written to address the following three features:

  • Intellectual Merit: What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
  • Broader Impacts: What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

But, it is very competitive. For instance, 9792 proposals were accepted and 31966 proposals were rejected in 2005. Therefore, the rate of acceptance is lower than 25% [1]. There is a review panel includes several faculties from different institutions. They review the proposals and evaluate them.

1- http://www.nsf.gov/

 

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Professional Code of Ethics

As a PhD student at Human Factor Engineering and Ergonomics, ISE, Virginia Tech, I need to participate in different experiments as my research. I need to collect data from humans and analyze this data.

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has a code of ethics. This cone can be found in the below link:

https://www.hfes.org/web/AboutHFES/ethics.html

This code includes five articles and each article has several principle.

Article I – Professional Qualifications

The human factor engineers should present their professional qualifications.

Article II – General Conduct

The human factor engineers should behave as an engineer that is accepted with their professional community.

Article III – Publications

The human factor engineers usually need to deliver reports and publish them to get credit.

Article IV – Subject Precautions

Based on this article, I should follow IRB at Virginia Tech. IRB follows the regulations related to Virginia State and Virginia Tech rules.

Article V – Forensic Practice

The human factor engineers should not use the methods beyond scientific methods, for example: jurisprudence.

Conclusion:

I believe that code of ethics has a major role in my research field, because we need to invite the people to participate in our experiments. Therefore, we need specific regulations to use in our data collection. This regulations can be also useful to prove that the results are reliable and can be applied for similar cases.

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Possible Funding Resources in the United States of America for Faculties, Part 2

The researchers should submit a proposal to apply for the grant. The proposal should be written to address the following three features:

  1. Significance: ability of project to improve health
  2. Approach: feasibility of methods & budged
  3. Innovation: originality of your approach*

In addition, the investigators should show their qualifications to perform this project. The investigators should demonstrate that they have proper facilities and equipment in their institution.

The NIH application forms includes these parts:

  • Specific Aims

It should be one page. The investigators should explain their proposed research concisely.

  • Research Strategy

In this part, the investigators need to explain about their plan and approach to do their project.

  • Budget and Justification

The investigator should present the direct and indirect costs of the project. They also should justify their budget plan.

  • Protection of Human Subjects

They should get certification from IRB to show that their project is not harmful for humans.

  • Biographical Sketch

A brief description of investigators should be written in this part. The investigators can show their abilities to do their project in this part.

  • Resources and Environment

The investigator describe their environment includes: Laboratory, University, facilities.

  • Appendix
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Possible Funding Resources in the United States of America for Faculties, Part 1

In four posts, I want to talk about funding resources in the US for faculties, particularly new faculties.

In this post, I will talk about National Institute of Health (NIH).

  1. National Institute of Health

This organization is a great resource for funding projects in the US.  The major mission for this institute is to pursue new knowledge related to nature and living systems. Then, use this knowledge to improve the quality of humans’ life.  For this purpose, NIH follow these goals:

“1. To foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health;

  1. To develop, maintain, and renew scientific human and physical resources that will ensure the Nation’s capability to prevent disease;
  2. To expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences in order to enhance the Nation’s economic well-being and ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research;
  3. To exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.”1

This organization includes several sub-organizations. I listed the most important of them in the below:

  • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • National Institute of Aging (NIA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
  • National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
  • National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
  • National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • National Institute of General Medical Diseases (NIGMS)
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM)
  • National Eye Institute (NEI)

Each sub-organization has own missions related to health of human beings.

NIH support basic and applied researches. In the following, the distribution of budget for basic and applied researches is summarized from 2002-2016 2:

https://officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/spending_hist.html

 

 

Faculties need to submit a proposal for this institution to get fund for their research. But, it is very competitive. In the following figure, the rate of success and funding can be seen from 1990 to 2014 3:

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/06/29/what-are-the-chances-of-getting-funded/

But, NIH has some priorities to select proposals to support them. They are 4:

  • Number of deaths caused by a disease
  • Degree of disability produced by a disease
  • Number of people who have a disease
  • Degree to which a disease cuts short a life
  • Economic and social costs of a disease
  • Need to act rapidly to control disease spread

In the next post, I will talk about the guideline to write a good proposal for NIH.

  1. http://www.nih.gov/about-nih/what-we-do/mission-goals
  2. https://officeofbudget.od.nih.gov/spending_hist.html
  3. http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/06/29/what-are-the-chances-of-getting-funded/
  4. http://www.nih.gov/

 

 

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What is the best resource to support my research !?

Funding Opportunities

In this post, I want to talk about available resources that international students can submit their proposals via their advisors.

  1. UPS Doctoral Fellowship Program

UPS foundation support PhD students in Human Factor Engineering group at Virginia Tech. The students should submit a proposal related to the UPS’s goals of this year.

I think that it may be a good source to get found for my research. Because one of the goals is related to slip/trip and fall accidents, my research can be defined based on the UPS’s goals.

  1. NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

National Science Foundation (NSF) supports 2000 PhD students every year. It has different sections. I think that Engineering and Psychology sections are related to my research. Though it seems that this grant is very competitive, I like to test my chance!! Particularly, my research is multidisciplinary, therefore, it increases my chance. Of course, it needs the citizenship of the US. So, I cannot apply for it.

Link: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15597/nsf15597.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

  • NIH Small Research Grants

 

National Institute on Aging is an institution that supports the research related to aging. My research filed is very close to the aims of this institution, because my research is related to falling and aging. Falling is very common problems in elderly people.  In addition, there is section in this institution (small research grant) to support new researchers and pilot projects.

Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/dea/r03-small-research-grants

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What is Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Virginia Tech?

As a PhD student at ISE, Virginia Tech, I need to participate in different experiments as my research.

I need to collect data from humans and analyze this data. There is an Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Virginia Tech for this reason. I needed to pass an exam to show my ability for data collection of humans, then I should submit my plan for the experiment for IRB before starting data collection. The tutorial for this can be downloaded from:

http://www.irb.vt.edu/pages/tutorial_section2.htm .

This tutorial has two sections: Compliance and Ethics. I want to talk about the second section in this post. This section was written by Dr. Serge F. Hein. The title of his paper is “Threats to Ethical Decision Making during Research”. He discussed about eight threats related to decision making in the experiment.  I explain each threat briefly.

Threat #1: Inadequate Knowledge of Federal Regulations or How They Apply to Your Research

One of the obvious ethical problems in the research is a lack of understanding of federal regulations. The researchers should know these regulations and follow all of them. Some examples of these regulations are:

  • Any changes in the experiment should be reported to IRB
  • Participants can leave the experiment anytime.
  • Participants should a proper time to read consent form and sign it.
  • All data from participants should be maintain in the secure place and device.

Threat #2: Making Inadequate Use of the IRB Administrative Office

The researchers may not have a good communication to IRB office and they may not know about IRB rules adequately.  For example, the researcher may be afraid to talk to IRB about the possible threats of his/her experiment.

Threat #3: Lack of Time, High Workload, and Stress

A lack of time may cause bad effects on the researcher and he/she could not think about ethical issues. This matter happenes for PhD students who want to defend his dissertation significantly.

Threat #4: Forgetting Important Information over Time

The researchers may forgot some aspects of their project because of time-pressure etc. They may change the test protocol, but the IRB has approved another protocol.

Threat #5: Inadequate Reflection

The main idea of this threat is that the researchers should “place themselves in the participant’s shoes.”

Threat #6: Inadequate Moral Reasoning

If the researchers want to convince the participants and their team, they should use moral reasoning method to communicate with them.

Threat #7: Competing Priorities

The researchers may involve their own priorities accidently. For example, they need more data for their career in the future, so they ask the participants to perform more task beyond IRB approval.

Threat #8: Problems Associated with Team-Based Research

The lack of proper communication between team members may cause the ethical problems.

In conclusion, the ethical issues are very important in my research fields, because we want to collect data from humans and we need to be prepared adequately.

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Open Access Journal

I believe that open access journals have a big roles in development of knowledge and promoting the research fields. They provide free access of articles for researchers, in particular, this method help the poor researchers and institutions. In other words, it provides an equal opportunity of research for all humans in the world.

PLOS (Public Library of Science) ONE is a famous open access online journal in different fields. PLOS ONE publishes papers in all areas of engineering, science and medicine. PLOS is a nonprofit organization that published the first journal titled “PLOS Biology” in Oct. 2003. After that, this organization added more journals to its database from other research fields. In a short term, it found its important role in publishing new and peer-review papers. Its headquarters was established in San Francisco, CA. It has an editorial office in the UK as well.

Its scopes include: publishing primary research even with negative results. Now, it publishes the papers in all fields and interdisciplinary fields. It considers the following papers as well:

  • Systematic reviews
  • Qualitative research
  • Studies reporting negative results
  • Describing software, databases, or other tools

This journal is an open access publisher. The cost of publishing a paper is 1495$. The authors must accept its policy. Based on this policy, the reuse of paper is legal without any permission and fees. This journal has a high impact factor. The five year impact factor for this online journal is 3.7.

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Why should we follow PhD degree?

I believed that PhD give me very solid academic foundation and will be prepared me to undertake research projects in high-tech fields. My motivation for achieving to PhD degree has doubled since I had a trip to Austria to take part in Biomed2011 conference for presentation of my papers. I consulted with other researchers from European countries and noticed that scientific and research environment of graduate school can impress anyone.

In addition, my plan for future is to become an academic man who has developed both theoretical and practical aspects of my fields of interest. In fact I think it is the art of a successful researcher to apply theoretical materials properly in design and implement practical systems. Obviously, becoming skillful simultaneously in both of these aspects is not easy and in addition to a huge amount of effort, needs supervision of experienced advisors and also considerable facilities; and these are exactly the factors that make me interested in PhD program!

Therefore, the desire to delve deeper into scientific research pushed me to pursue a PhD degree. If I can pursue my PhD study in good manner, my knowledge scope could be greatly broadened, and my ability of analysis and innovation in my field would also be promoted.

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