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College of Graduate Studies

Essential Scientific Practices I, II, and III

Essential Scientific Practices I, II and III (CGS 710, CGS 711 and CGS 712) address the imperatives of performing biomedical research in an ethically responsible manner, the requirements facing scientists as they navigate the increasingly complex spectrum of regulations governing scientific practice, and the importance of effective scientific and social communication with a professionally and ethnically diverse audience.

CGS 710 Essential Scientific Practices I

Edward L. Krug, Ph.D. Course Director
BE 101, 876-2404

CGS 710 is designed to introduce students to the regulations governing the conduct of biomedical research, and to aid in the development of essential scientific skills for addressing the more subjective aspects of the responsible conduct of research.

The format for most of the sessions is a short lecture followed by small group discussion of case studies facilitated by faculty, postdocs, and senior graduate students. The class then discusses key features of the case/topic with a summary of the main issues by the instructor. Literature and on-line resources are provided to encourage continued study of each topic. To assure comprehension of the essential concepts, students repeat an on-line quiz until they attain a 100% score. This is a Pass/Fail course. Attendance is mandatory; please contact Dr. Krug should any problems or conflicts arise. Lectures and quizzes will be posted on Moodlerooms. In addition to the sessions shown below, students must complete and pass the online CITI course entitled “Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research Course 1”.
1. Go to (this is the CITI portal for MUSC)
2. Log in with your NetID and password
3. Select “Main Menu”
4. Select “Medical University of South Carolina”
5. Select "Add a course"
6. Select “Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)”
7. Select “Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research Course 1” (9 modules, 7 quizzes)
Send an electronic copy of your certificate of completion to Dr. Krug (; header “CGS710 CITI”) by Sunday November 15th.

Wednesday, September 9 - DD 110

1:00 - 1:05 pmCourse OverviewKrug
1:05 -1:30 pmTransitioning from Undergrad to Graduate SchoolKrug
1:30 - 2:10 pmFinding a MentorBeeson
2:20 - 3:50 pmSenior Grad Student and Postdoc Panel: "Lessons Learned"TBA

Thursday, September 10 - DD 110

1:00 - 2:10 pmQuestionable Research PracticesKrug and Facilitators
2:20 - 2:50 pmMoral Reasoning in Resolving Conflicts 
3:00 - 3:50 pmAuthorship/Accountability Issues 

Monday, September 14 - BioE 112

1:00 - 2:00 pmPeer Review and PlagiarismKrug and Facilitators
2:10 - 3:00 pmData Selection and Record Keeping 
3:10 - 3:50 pmHuman Subjects ResearchSonne

Tuesday, September 15 - BioE 112

1:00 - 1:50 pmScientific Presentation Skills (Oral)Halushka
2:00 - 2:50 pmReading the Primary LiteratureMcGinty
3:00 - 3:50 pmLab Coat CeremonyTraktman

Saturday, September 19 - BioE 112

9:00 - 9:30amTime Management & Career PlanningKrug
9:30 - 10:10amEffective Communication StrategiesKrug
10:20 - 10:50amReporting Misconduct and Whistleblowers ProtectionKrug
10:50 - 12:00pmEmerging Issues PresentationsClass
12:00 - 1:15pmPicnic Lunch 
1:15 - 3:30pmSuccessful Collaborations - Team ScienceWright and Krug
3:30 - 4:30pmNetworking - Professional ChallengesFaculty and Class

Monday, September 28 - BSB 402

1:00 - 1:25pmConflict of Interest/CommitmentArmstrong
1:25 - 1:50pmScientific Presentation Skills (Poster)Smolka

Monday, October 12 - BSB 402

1:00 - 1:50pmAnimal Use in ResearchMcCrackin

Monday, November 9 - BSB 402

1:00 - 1:50pmIntellectual Property & EntrepreneurshipGoodwin & Dixon Theising

CGS 710 Session Descriptions

Transitioning from Undergrad to Graduate School - The instructor goes over professional expectations of graduate student trainees in the laboratory and classroom, tools for developing critical thinking skills, and different strategies for effective reading habits and management of personal libraries.

Time Management & Career Planning - Students are provided simple tools for establishing career priorities and assessing the necessary time to achieve them successfully. The importance of developing a 5-6 year timeline for the graduate experience is discussed with emphasis on the critical need for regular committee meetings. A “reverse engineering” approach is taken to demonstrate how to make an effective timeline that incorporates both short term and longer-term career objectives of an individual development plan. Students are informed of counseling, stress management, and conflict resolution resources at MUSC.

Mentoring/Program Exposure - This is an interactive lecture/discussion with examples of what constitutes an effective mentoring relationship. Video vignettes are used to illustrate communication strategies. Students are provided several on-line and hard copy mentoring resources. Students learn how to get the most out of the College of Graduate Studies Program Exposure sessions that are held the two weeks following the course.

Postdoc Panel - The officers of the MUSC Postdoctoral Association participate in a Q/A with the class, highlighting reflective “lessons learned” from their graduate experiences. Benefits of establishing a mentoring network with one or more postdoctoral scholars is emphasized.

Questionable Research Practices - The case study approach in most of the sessions is augmented by complementary activities that encourage a greater awareness of questionable research practices. One of the sessions uses the HBO video “And the Band Played On”, which is about the discovery of HIV and the associated political, social and professional complications. Students catalog a list of questionable research practices and behaviors as they watch the video, which we then discuss with regard to potential alternative actions and the role of each party. Students also benefit from the historical aspects of the video.

Effective Communication Strategies - This session discusses stressors of both faculty and students with emphasis on the increasingly competitive funding environment. Video vignettes are used to highlight effective vocabulary and attitudes for discussing emotionally charged issues. 

Moral Reasoning in Resolving Conflicts - Students are trained in applying the moral reasoning strategy of Bebeau1 using the classic “Heinz and the Druggist” case, prior to their application of the method to assess the topical case studies in other sessions.

Authorship/Accountability Issues - Guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors are discussed on the rights and responsibilities of authorship. When to discuss authorship issues as well as who should be an author is also covered. Case studies are used to assess understanding of fundamentals.

Peer Review and Plagiarism - The lecture provides an overview of manuscript publication and grant application review processes including reviewer responsibilities of confidentiality and potential for conflict of interest. Students are also informed of effective means to receive training in the review of manuscripts and grant applications that does not violate confidentiality. Case studies emphasize potential complications that might arise from practices though well intentioned do not follow best practices.

Data Selection and Record Keeping - This session covers what constitutes “data” and how it is managed, including proper notebook content and format, data ownership and stewardship. Case studies are used to promote discussion of data selection and image manipulation.

Intellectual Property - A short lecture is presented on what constitutes intellectually property, the process for protecting it, and how the university assists in bringing investigators in contact with potentially interested corporate representatives. In the second half of the session an MUSC faculty member shares his experiences in balancing an R01 research program with a spin-off industrial partnership. All students must score 100% on an on-line quiz to assure comprehension.

Conflict of Interest and Commitment - The MUSC Conflict of Interest officer leads a group discussion of a series of case studies with increasing complexity of financial and personal involvement. The focus is on institutional policies for disclosing and managing conflict of interest. Conflict of commitment is introduced as an evolving area of concern. All students must score 100% on an on-line quiz to assure comprehension.

Animals Use in Research - There are several key issues covered in this interactive lecture given by one of the faculty in the Division of Laboratory Animal Resources: prevalence of animal use in research, why it is important, how it is regulated, training requirements and educational opportunities, and a brief tour of MUSC facilities. Animal rights issues are discussed openly to make students aware of important issues. All students must score 100% on an on-line quiz to assure comprehension.

Human Subjects Research - This topic is covered as an interactive lecture by the chair of the Institutional Review Board II. The main emphasis is on the evolution of human subjects protection in research studies. Regulatory issues and the process of application for approval are covered, as well as the different levels of review.

Emerging Issues - For this session students search the news media and professional press for examples of contemporary lapses in RCR practices or ethical dilemmas. The course instructor selects 8-10 of the most compelling examples submitted for consideration by the class as a whole. The 4-5 reports deemed most interesting by the class are then evaluated with the responsible student leading the discussion.

Collaborative Science - This session is begins with a team building activity. Students have 1 hour to conduct a series of group challenges.  The activity highlights effective distribution of responsibilities and collaboration. The competition is followed by a brief lecture on key issues of how to effectively seek out, maintain, and terminate research collaborations.

Reporting Misconduct and Whistleblower Protection - The HHS Office of Research Integrity website is highlighted as a resource for continued education in the responsible conduct of research. Selected tools on the site are used to facilitate discussion of how to best approach reporting of suspected misconduct. Literature detailing personal experiences of those who were whistleblowers and those researchers who have had misconduct committed by lab personnel is discussed to emphasize how easily “best intentions” can go awry in the conduct of research. The course ends with a suggested protocol to follow if misconduct is suspected.

CGS 711 Diversity in Science

Cynthia F. Wright, Ph.D., Course Director
September 11, 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Harper Student Center Gymnasium (tentative)
October 26 and December 7, 1:00pm - 2:00pm, BSB 402

In CGS 711, students address topics that pertain to concerns facing both under-represented minority and majority groups in the biomedical sciences. Topics discussed include how to succeed in the scientific community, hurdles and how to overcome them, and working in and developing a diverse workforce. Invited speakers discuss how they have succeeded in science and the obstacles they overcame. This is a Pass/Fail course. Attendance is mandatory-please contact Dr. Wright should any problems or conflicts arise. A draft schedule is posted below.

Fri., Sept 11

Willette Burnham, PhD
and DaNine Fleming, Ed.D.

Appreciating Diversity and Developing
Interprofessional Team Skills

Mon., Oct 26


The Neuroscience of Bias
Mon., Dec 7

Daryl Chubin, Ph.D.

Science Policy and STEM


CGS 712 Scientific Writing

Edward L. Krug, Ph.D., Course Director
BE 101, 876-2404
Tuesdays BioE Building Room 112 (except as noted)

This course is designed to help students develop effective scientific writing skills, promote early and focused student-mentor interaction, encourage an appreciation of the benefits of giving and receiving constructive criticism, and introduce students to the mechanics of extramural funding. These goals will be accomplished by a variety of means, including formal lectures, small group discussions, workshops, and editorial feedback from professors.


June 7

1:00-1:50 pm
2:00-2:50 pm

"Fundamentals of Manuscripts and Proposals"
"Customizing Your Training and Career Goals"

June 14

1:00-1:50 pm

2:00-2:50 pm

"Extramural Grant Agencies and Fellowship Opportunities"

"Personal Preferences for Processing Information"
Training and Career Goals due


J. Ariail

June 21
9:00-9:50 am

Critique Session: Career and Training Goals drafts
"Getting to the Point in the Specific Aims Section"
Proposal Outlines due

June 28
9:00-9:50 am
"Library Resources"
July 5

9:00-9:50 am*
10:00-10:50 am

Critique Session: Specific Aims Drafts
"Writing an Effective Significance Section"
Review Group*
July 12
9:00-9:50 am
10:00-10:50 am
"The Peer Review Process"
"Administrative Necessities of Grant Applications"

July 19

9:00-9:50 am*
10:00-10:50 am
Critique Session: Significance Drafts
"The Approach Section: Design vs Method"
Review Group*
July 26
9:00-10:50 am"Statistical Considerations in Experimental Design"Wolf
August 2
9:00-10:50 am"Electronic Submission of Proposals"
August 9

1:00-1:50 pm*
2:00-2:50 pm
Critique Session: Approach Drafts
"Summarizing Key Points in the Abstract"
Review Group*
August 16
9:00-10:50 am"Writing Constructive Critiques"
August 19-Peer Critiques due by 4:00pm - Keisha Vaughn, BE 101
*Location of Review Groups Sessions to be determined by individual facilitators

Course Specifics

  • The grading scale is Honors/Pass/No Pass – based on participation, following instructions and a subjective assessment of effective communication of your goals and logic.
  • The final proposal constitutes 70% of your overall evaluation.
  • Participation in class and in peer review groups constitutes 20% of your overall evaluation.
  • Your critique of your assigned person’s final proposal constitutes 10% of your overall evaluation.
  • Lectures and handout materials will be posted on Moodle (16/SU CGS-712-01).
  • Attendance is mandatory, but one excused absence is allowed with notification before or ASAP afterwards - no potential of “Honors” if two or more absences.
  • Individual consultation with course director by appointment between noon and 4:00 PM on Fridays.

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