“More roadblocks to delay my research?!”
“Hinder-full, not helpful!”
“Once you think you’ve ticked all the boxes, read all the policy/procedure and signed your life away, SMACK – the conduct officer hits you with a new hurdle!”
Sound familiar? These are just a few examples of the misconception towards my full-time job. Hello, my name is Julia Hastings Taylor and I am the University’s Research Development Officer responsible for ethics and conduct. Prior to joining BU I received my Masters in International Political Economy from LSE and before moving across the pond, I worked for the US Intelligence Community tracking down drug lords in SW Asia, Europe, and Africa. Drug traffickers—as opposed to university researchers—tend to not concern themselves with ethics or conduct, so I’m pleased to be part of an organization that takes compliance seriously!
My first mission—as impossible as it may seem—is to change the way researchers view ethics and conduct (and me, for that matter). I’m not the Big Bad Wolf and I don’t plan to ‘blow your research down’; on the contrary, I am here to support you, and strengthen the University’s research governance structure. Leave the scary ethics maze to me – I know the way and I will point you in the right direction. Struggling to understand and/or comply with funder regulations – don’t fret, it’s my job to ensure all regulations are clear and we have an easy-to-follow framework for compliance! I plan to streamline processes and procedures, outline ‘best practices’ in both ethics and conduct and ensure that the University’s policies are not only robust but also flexible.
While we’re on the topic, here are a few of my thoughts: while I wouldn’t consider myself to be a ‘tree hugger,’ I am sensible…so come on folks…this is 2012…let’s move away from printing off reams and reams of forms to fill in and sign when we can simply create online forms with digital signatures. I like processes to be efficient, straightforward and simple and that’s what I hope to bring to the University’s ethics and conduct role. As the next handful of months will bring change—and we all know how much everyone loves change—please give me your feedback and suggestions for improvements, and be honest about your views on research ethics and conduct; I’d like for this process to be as inclusive as possible, but I can only knock on so many doors, invite you to so many meetings/forums and ask so many questions.
So, if you happen to see me lurking around your School in the coming months, please don’t assume I’m the secret police looking for my next victim….I’m probably lost and simply trying to find the loo!