Science Culture and Accountability

Duke University and the Department of Dermatology are committed to maintaining the highest quality and integrity of all their scientific enterprises. The Department of Dermatology is committed to ensuring that policies and procedures are in place to reflect the highest professional conduct and to promote a culture in which scientific results are critically reviewed and accountability for data integrity is clearly delineated. In addition, Department policies are designed to ensure that all concerns about data integrity may be raised without hesitation by all individuals in the Department and provide mechanisms by which these concerns can be addressed fairly and expeditiously.

Principles of Science Culture and Accountability in the Department of Dermatology

  1. A culture that values the highest levels of professional conduct and data integrity in the scientific enterprise is the responsibility and the shared commitment of everyone in the Department including staff, administration, trainees, investigators and all faculty.
  2. Scientific integrity of each component of the research enterprise is highest priority and obligation
  3. Scientific integrity requires the highest quality of data that is reproducible and readily accessible for review.
  4. Scientific integrity and accountability is enhanced by and requires constructive critique and open review of all research
  5. Scientific integrity and accountability encourages open discussion of any concerns regarding research conduct and scientific integrity without fear of retribution. 

Any questions or comments regarding these policies or issues of concerns can be referred to Chuan Yuan Li, PhD., Vice Chair for Research or Suephy Chen, MD, Chair, Department of Dermatology.

Last review: 11/23/2022  

Practices Important in developing and maintaining a culture of scientific accountability within individual laboratories

Each investigator in the Department of Dermatology is expected to develop an individual plan for their laboratory to ensure that all data and results are of the highest quality, that all members of the laboratory adhere to the plan in adherence with the principles of scientific accountability of the Department of Dermatology.

It is expected that each investigator will develop a written document detailing these plans, discuss them regularly with all members of the laboratory ensuring that new and existing members understand and agree to adhere both to the plan and the principles guiding that plan. The plan should be submitted to the Chair of the Department for approval as well as reviewed and updated by the PI on a regular basis. Listed below are some areas of emphasis that are important for developing and maintain a culture of scientific accountability.

It is required that all faculty and staff engaged in research must complete a training program in the responsible conduct of research (RCR Training Series) as developed by the Duke office for Advancing Scientific Integrity, Services, and Training (ASIST). This may be accomplished  via one of several options provided on the ASIST website.

Resources are available from the Duke Advancing Scientific Integrity, Services and Training (ASIST) office for all PIs as they design and implement their accountability plans. Additional information can be found on the ASIST website. Questions may be directed to

Each PI will:

  • Set an example for everyone on their research team and in the Department through honest and open discussion of results and a demonstrated commitment to scientific integrity and data quality over ‘positive’ results. It should be clear that the integrity of the data is most critical regardless of the impact on a project, paper, grant or other work product of the laboratory.
  • Set clear expectations that there is zero tolerance with the laboratory and within the Department for any data manipulation, alteration or falsification.
  • Emphasize that high quality research requires careful planning and study design, including statistical planning, use of multiple methods and techniques, as well as multiple replications to ensure the integrity of all data.
  • Ensure a policy of best practice for all research records including laboratory notebooks, clinical research records and all ‘raw data’ collected. Openness of these records with review by the PI during regular laboratory meetings is an important element of maintaining data integrity. Furthermore, the use of electronic record-keeping methods is encouraged. For wet lab researchers, the use of LabArchives is mandatory. For those researchers who prefer to keep conventional notebooks, the transfer of the key experimental record to LabArchives in timely manner is strongly encouraged. For clinical researchers, the use of electronic data capture service such as REDCap is encouraged whenever appropriate and feasible.
  • Ensure that all regulations ( IRB for clinical trials, and IACUC protocol approval for animal usage, etc) are followed at all times by all members of the laboratory.
  • Utilization of institutional resources such as REDCap and LabArchives eResearch Notebook or other central infrastructure for data storage is one method of tracking data and samples and should be encouraged when available.
  • The PI or designee should reanalyze all critical studies for grants and manuscript submissions utilizing raw data. This may include individuals outside of the laboratory, statisticians or others with specific expertise outside of the research team.
  • All individuals involved in research are required to maintain all training in animal use, human subjects research, appropriate conduct of research and other training as mandated by the Department, Duke University and other appropriate regulatory authorities.
  • Ensure that all members in the laboratory understand and see evidence that individuals raising concerns regarding data and other results is a critical part of the scientific process, is a routine part of scientific investigation and is not reserved for cases of suspected scientific misconduct.

The Department of Dermatology will promote scientific accountability through the following specific actions:

  • Support all investigators and faculty in implementing and reviewing their individual scientific culture and accountability plans.
  • Work with the School of Medicine and others in ensuring compliances with all requirements for training and scientific conduct.
  • Establish regular forums for the open discussion of scientific results and experimental findings by all members of the laboratories.
  • Provide resources as needed for statistical or other outside evaluations as needed by individuals or laboratories (BERD Core).
  • Share best practices between laboratories, investigators, other Departments and the School of Medicine to advance a culture of scientific accountability.
  • Share resources to address questions of trainees, investigators and other laboratory members in developing and advancing the highest levels of scientific integrity and accountability such as:
  • Resources are also available from the Duke Advancing Scientific Integrity, Services and Training (ASIST) office. Additional information can be found on the ASIST website. Questions may be directed to