The Office of Research Integrity developed an interactive video for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training, called “The Lab”. I am very impressed. The video was very well done. Only one actor seemed distractingly stilted, the dialog was not distractingly forced and stiff, and it’s a clever interactive video, like a Choose Your Own Adventure.
More importantly, although it is a postdoc who commits the misconduct in this video, you never play the part of that postdoc. The point of the training is that many people have the opportunity to prevent or minimize the damage of misconduct, other than the perpetrator. I was very pleased to see that one of the parts you can play is the principal investigator (PI) of the lab.
It took a good half-hour to play through the video, and being of the scientific mind that I am, I went through it making all the obviously wrong choices, the obviously right ones, and combinations. Therefore I’ve only played the PI, but I want to go back through it and play the other roles at some point.
There are some spoilers in the rest of this post, so if you want to try out the video yourself, go do that before reading any further.
I’m impressed that the video from the PI point of view emphasized strongly that publications, grants, and prestige are not the only metrics of success, and the PI in the video comes to the conclusion that the MOST IMPORTANT measure of success is the success of your students and postdocs. The only way to have successful students and postdocs is to devote your own time and resources to mentoring, even if it is at the expense of publications, grants, and prestige.
If you choose wrongly consistently, you ultimately get fired. If you make some good decisions and some bad, the postdoc gets away with it, and you don’t get fired. If you make all the right decisions, namely spending appropriate amounts of time on mentoring and developing a lab culture of openness, fairness and respect, you are able to catch the misconduct because your students felt comfortable coming to you with their concerns and you took them seriously.
Kudos to ORI for this great video.