KU affirms commitment to ethical, professional research ahead of HLC review

Fri, 02/16/2024


Savannah Rattanavong

LAWRENCE — From preparing scientific protocols to conducting compliant and ethical research, managing research projects and collaborative relationships as a first-time principal investigator can be daunting at first.

Dyan Morgan, associate teaching professor in undergraduate biology, said University of Kansas research resources, faculty and staff have been critical in facilitating her research progress, especially during her early days of leading projects. Her research focuses on biology education, particularly in metacognition and curriculum development.

“I’ve always seen how transformative a KU education can be,” Morgan said. “I was able to do well in my education, but I’ve also seen instances where the way that we teach and the way we go about education didn’t fully promote some students’ success. It made me think, ‘Are there better ways we can do this?’ and ‘How can we get everybody to that finish line?’”

Morgan leaned on the services of KU Libraries’ research support staff to help her navigate data management, as well as the Center for Teaching Excellence’s related programming. By attending sessions and workshops, she learned the essentials of leading her own research projects, such as writing grants, working with human subjects, submitting protocols and more. Morgan said this support helped her go on to receive internal funding from the center that assisted some of her early projects.

As part of its mission to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world, KU aims to foster a supportive environment that uplifts cutting-edge research.

HLC Criterion 2 and research activities

To evaluate whether colleges and universities are delivering quality educational programs and are overall sound institutions, the Higher Learning Commission, a national accrediting agency, set out five standards, or criteria, for members to meet and uphold. Criterion 2 ensures institutions act with integrity and that their conduct is ethical and responsible. Component 2E states, “The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, staff and students.”

Making discoveries that change the world

Component 2E further establishes that institutions supporting basic and applied research:

  • Maintain professional standards and provide oversight ensuring regulatory compliance, ethical behavior and fiscal accountability.
  • Provide effective support services to ensure the integrity of research and scholarly practice conducted by its faculty, staff and students.
  • Provide students guidance in the ethics of research and use of information resources.
  • Enforce policies on academic honesty and integrity.

“KU research addresses problems of worldwide significance, delivers solutions that make a difference to Kansas and the world, and promotes an inclusive community of responsible inquiry and innovation for students and scholars,” said Mindie Paget, co-lead for the Criterion 2 steering committee and assistant vice chancellor for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging in the Office of Research. “We have units and programs on all campuses that provide researchers with the support and training they need to ensure integrity and compliance, all of which help expand KU research and its impact.”

Morgan said Office of Research staff exceeded her expectations in their effort to assist her and her collaborators, ensuring they could submit their proposal completely and accurately, as well as seek external funding. Submitting her first protocol was exciting, she said, and beginning her first study jumpstarted multiple internal projects.

“Recently my colleagues and I submitted another collaborative proposal,” Morgan said. “It involved about eight different institutions across two countries, so it was incredibly complex, and we needed a lot of help with it. Our Pre-Award Services team really came through in guiding us through the process.”

Core components of Criterion 2

In addition to Component 2E, other core components of Criterion 2 seek to ensure ethical and responsible conduct. The core components:

  • 2A: The institution establishes and follows policies and processes to ensure fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board*, administration, faculty and staff.
  • 2B: The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public.
  • 2C: The governing board of the institution is autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution in compliance with board policies and to ensure the institution’s integrity.
  • 2D: The institution is committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression in the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.
  • 2E: The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, staff and students.

The university’s re-affirmation of accreditation will culminate in a group of peer reviewers from other HLC-accredited institutions visiting and evaluating KU’s campuses March 3-4, 2025.

For more information, visit the HLC Accreditation 2025 website

Fri, 02/16/2024


Savannah Rattanavong

Media Contacts

Savannah Rattanavong

Office of the Provost