Course Spotlight: BIO 610 - Intro to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences

November 15, 2022 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
Have you ever wondered whether scientists who conduct research on animals should discuss their work with animal rights activists? Or whether terrorists may accidentally benefit from your published research? Arizona State University’s BIO 610 course introduces you to the ethical and regulatory issues in the conduct of research.

In ASU Online’s BIO 610 course, Intro to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences, you’ll learn to recognize areas of potential ethical dilemmas in science and understand some of the norms, values and rules that exist around science.

The coursework focuses on answering questions about why RCR is important.

“It’s important because it is the ethical underpinning of science. It's the ethics that scientists have in their daily interactions with their peers, with human subjects and with animals,” said clinical professor Karin Ellison.

This course covers the core areas of RCR as identified by the National Institutes of Health. The areas covered in the course span the spectrum of ethics, including:

  • Animal subjects.
  • Collaborative research.
  • Conflict of interests and commitment.
  • Human subjects.
  • Inclusive research environments.
  • Mentorship.
  • Peer review.
  • Research misconduct.
  • Responsible authorship and publication.
  • Safe laboratory practices.
  • Secure and ethical data acquisition, analysis and use.
  • Social responsibility in science.
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Your instructor: Karin Ellison

Ellison's research, teaching and program development activities cover the areas of research ethics, ethics education development and the history of American science and technology. As director of the Life Science Ethics Program with the School of Life Sciences, she coordinates opportunities for students, faculty and staff to learn about and reflect on the ethical dimensions of advances in the life sciences and life science research.

Working with colleagues at University of Virginia and Illinois Institute of Technology on a National Science Foundation-sponsored project, Ellison is leading enhancement of the Online Ethics Center. Ellison also fosters graduate education as associate director of the Center for Biology and Society at ASU.


How you’ll learn

Through background readings and videos, you’ll address two topics in ethics each week. Study questions, quizzes and discussions aim to help you remember, understand and apply the information in the assigned readings and other learning materials.

“There are lots of discussion boards and lots of opportunities for the students to interact because ethics isn't me telling them the right thing to do. It's them as scientists and the scientific community coming to an understanding of what that is,” Ellison said.

You’ll also participate in discussions with your peers and teaching team, covering real and hypothetical cases that tie broad ethical considerations to scientists’ concerns.


What makes this course special

Ellison finds that students usually enjoy this class because it enables them to step back and think about science in a big picture way. The course addresses those bigger picture questions about the ethics of innovation and development in biology and how that relates to the larger society, known as macro ethics.

“The class is an important part of biology because of our need to build science as a trustworthy enterprise,” said Ellison. “This is an opportunity for students to build their critical thinking in this space.”


What you’ll get out of BIO 610

BIO 610 helps you develop basic ethics skills, including the awareness of different ethical issues and recognition of scientific norms.

Through completing this course, you’ll broaden your skill set in a range of areas, such as spotting ethical dilemmas in research, identifying the norms, policies and regulations that speak to those ethical dilemmas and using problem solving skills to generate and select options for action in the face of such dilemmas.

“I hope when my students finish this class, they see work as a terrain where there are value choices and they recognize places where they're making value choices,” said Ellison.

Master of Science in biology

Deepen your knowledge about the life sciences with a Master of Science in biology from ASU Online. Encompassing the study of all life, biology has broad applications from addressing public health challenges to climate change. An online master’s in biology can lead you to careers across industries that benefit from biological expertise.


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