The Research Ethics Consultation Service


The Research Ethics Consultation Service (RECS) aims to promote ethics regarding scientific research and development through the Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS) and the broader community of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

The RECS uses an integrative and collaborative approach to create an environment that enables ethical decision-making through openness, ongoing discussion, tailored training, and research regarding research ethics and integrity concerns.

Why is ethics important for scientific research?

The innovative nature of science involves continuous ethical reflection and decision-making.

How can I encourage open discussions regarding research mistakes or limitations?

How can I increase productivity while ensuring ethical conduct and scientific rigor?

How do I distribute or share responsibility, credit and authorship fairly?

How do I include community members in project development?

How do human subject protection regulations apply to my research?

How do I manage conflicting norms, values and practices in my research team?

How can I prevent unethical conduct in my research team?

How do I recruit a sample of participants that is representative of the communities that will benefit from this research?

Can my research be misinterpreted or create social harm?

In all these questions, science and ethics are interconnected. For example, unethical practice may well discourage or hinder scientific advancement as in the case of falsification or fabrication. Conversely, problematic science is considered unethical as it wastes research funding, may put research participants at risk and erodes public trust. This interconnection makes collaboration between various stakeholders from ethics and science of central importance.

What services are provided by the RECS?

  • Research ethics consultation: A research ethicist can work directly with you or your team to manage, develop and address questions of an ethical nature. Please note: although we facilitate communication with regulatory or oversight bodies (e.g. Institutional Review Boards), we do not represent, replace or speak for them.
  • Research ethics in MTTs: If you are on an multidisciplinary translational team (MTT) or an ethically complex research project, an ongoing collaboration between an ethicist and your group may be pertinent.
  • Education and training: Ongoing educational opportunities will be developed to compliment mandatory ethics and responsible conduct of research training mandated by the federal funding agencies. We are available to provide tailored training in different setting including courses, research teams or labs.
  • Research on research ethics: All stakeholders are welcome to take part in workshops and symposium developed on novel research or cutting edge ethics issues. The goal of such initiatives are to identify gaps in knowledge and develop research at the intersection of ethics and science.

Please contact the RECS via email ( if you have any questions, comments or service requests.

Elise Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor
Institute for Translational Sciences,
Institute for the Medical Humanities,
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX  77555-1311