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Ethics of Research: The Growing Importance in Community Colleges

October 1, 2007

According to BMCC Professor Mete Kok, a faculty member of the Department of Computer Information Systems, who is the recipient of the grant, “The Nation Science Foundation (NSF) is sponsoring this regional conference in an attempt to address the growing need to familiarize community college faculty with issues of scientific misconduct."

“The BMCC campus,” says Kok, “will bring together community college faculty and administrators from the New York Metropolitan region as well as NSF officials and renowned experts in order to address these two of the most common ethical issues confronting community colleges.”

This NSG grant is a supplemental to an existing one, “Cybersecurity and Information Assurance,” which is in its final year.

The “Ethics in Research Conference” will be a collaborative effort involving Borough of Manhattan Community College, the City University of New York’s Office for Sponsored Research, and the Council for Resource Development.

The Council for Resource Development (CRD) is the only professional organization concerned exclusively with fundraising for two-year colleges. Through education, advocacy and mentoring, CRD supports a wide range of activities at both the national and regional level aimed at promoting research and sponsored activities for community college faculty and staff. CRD, an affiliate organization of the American Association of Community Colleges, represents more than 700 institutions and serves over 1600 members.

Kok says the conference, which will be held at BMCC on January 18, 2008 and include nearly 200 people, “will provide a valuable framework for bringing professionals and researchers with expertise and experience in the area of scientific misconduct involving plagiarism and the role of Institutional Review Boards and review the latest data on the nature and trends in these areas. These individuals will share their insights with respect to existing guidelines, current federal and institutional definitions, and speak about techniques to detect and prevent plagiarism.”

Kok adds that the reason for the conference has much to do with the growth of community colleges in the field of higher education and the many challenges they face in upholding academic integrity under a quickly changing environment.

He says, that “while major universities and teaching hospitals continue to dominate the field of scientific research, in recent years, community colleges have begun to assume a greater portion of this activity than before. This is due to the fact that the two-year institutions have become to assume the largest segment of the higher education enterprise in the United States, accounting for 41% of all academic institutions. They serve as a gateway for many groups traditionally underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).” disciplines by providing college level coursework that is affordable and transferable. “

According to the original proposal to the NSF, Kok writes that “Community Colleges are home to more than half of all students enrolled in higher education and are undergoing major transformation as their structures and functions change in response to the nation’s changing economic and demographic needs.”

“No longer limited to teaching and workforce development, two-year college faculty and their students are now actively engaged in a wide range of scientific research activities aimed at addressing the critical shortage of scientist and engineers as projected by several national studies. The complexity and pace of these developments, pose both, opportunities and challenges for the community colleges in their efforts to uphold the ethical and academic integrity standards which have been the hallmark of the scientific community. “

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