At the end of last month, the National Science Foundation launched four new interactive online research security training modules. Stipulated in the Chips and Science Act of 2022, the purpose of these training modules is to, “facilitate principled international collaboration in an open, transparent and secure environment that safeguards the nation’s research ecosystem.” The training modules are now available for researchers and institutions across the country and will help the research community understand and get a better handle on this issue.
The four modules cover a range of topics:
- Module 1, “Introduction to Research Security,” covers key concepts and how to recognize situation that may indicate undue foreign influence.
- Module 2, “The Importance of Disclosure,” explains federal funding agency disclosure requirements, including the type of information that must be disclosed, how that information is used, and why disclosing that information is important.
- Module 3, “Manage and Mitigate Risk,” identifies types of international collaborative research and professional activities, associated potential risks, and strategies and best practices for managing and mitigating such risk.
- Module 4, “The Importance of International Collaboration,” covers the role of principled international collaboration and provides strategies on how to balance international collaboration with research security concerns, while fostering an open, welcoming research environment.
Research security – the safeguarding of the US’s research enterprise against the misappropriation of research, related violations of research integrity, and foreign government interference – has been a topic of concern to lawmakers in Washington for the past several years. Long time readers of the Policy Blog will recall National Security Presidential Memorandum – 33 (NSPM-33), which was released in the final days of the Trump Administration, and the subsequent guidance from OSTP on implementation of that memorandum. The topic also featured prominently in the House China Committee’s recent report on resetting the US-China relationship. To put it simply, research security is an important matter, and the research community needs to take this seriously, be aware of its new duties, and integrate the practices into its professional processes.
This is likely not the last step that NSF, or other federal research agencies, will take on this topic. CRA will continue to monitor for new developments and announcements from throughout the Federal government and will report them to the community. We will also continue to make sure the needs of the researcher community for a fair, open, and transparent research system are balanced against any research security action by the Federal government.