Are there gaps in researcher training?


What the CADRE team have discovered is that there appear to be gaps in researcher ethics training in higher education. Ethics and research data management (RDM) training is foundational training for all higher degree by research (HDR) students and researchers in general. It has been hard to determine exactly the nature, extent and impact of these knowledge gaps in research ethics training. By looking at scholarly literature; published training resources and recent conferences dedicated to upskilling researchers, at the very least it can be assumed this is an area that needs closer investigation.   

An objective of the CADRE project is to fill a gap in research ethics training in the Five Safes, to augment the training researchers already get through academic supervision and on the job training.  The team set out first to get a good understanding of the pre-existing knowledge that could be expected of our target audience (all researchers). Ethics as well as RDM are key competencies that all researchers should have so they can work safely with sensitive data.  We have decided that our main audience for introductory training will be HDR students and/or early career researchers – people keen to add new knowledge and skills into their researcher toolkit.  So we have had to identify exactly what knowledge is required at that level and how that knowledge will support the researcher/learner to understand and use the Five Safes framework.

The team have made an assumption that HDR students have mandatory training requirements in ethics and RDM. However, it is unclear what the nature of this training is and if any follow-up training is completed later on, once a researcher is in an early or mid phase of their career. Given the fast rate of development of technology, which is intertwined in both training topics, it is important that training content is revised and researchers are asked to undertake training every few years to refresh their knowledge. This is especially important for researchers supervising and leading research groups.

The introductory training on the Five Safes developed through the CADRE project includes information on ethics and RDM. The inclusion of this content serves two purposes: it reinforces existing knowledge and it provides a scaffold on which to introduce new ethical concepts and analytical constructs found in the Five Safes framework. It seems possible that the introduction to the Five Safes training developed through the project could serve as an extension to existing HDR training programs offered within higher education institutions in Australia.  The project team welcome feedback from university colleagues interested in evaluating the introductory training that we develop. 

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