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Penn State To Automate Financial Interest Disclosures for Researchers

Pennsylvania State University will use an automated system to manage researcher disclosures. Total funding of research at Penn State's 22 campuses totaled $765 million in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The university said it plans to implement Click Commerce's eResearch Portal software, which will allow researchers and administrators to create, submit, review, and update disclosures through a browser-based interface. In addition, Penn State said it expects to link annual disclosure information in a conflict of interest database developed by Click with the university's internally developed institutional review board and institutional animal care and use committee systems.

eResearch SmartForms will guide researchers through a series of questions. Based on responses, the program will educate and alert them to conditions that may constitute a conflict of interest. All responses will be automatically compiled into an annual filing that a researcher can update as his or her financial position changes in substantive ways. The forms and workflow can be modified as university regulations change.

"eResearch Portal will help us streamline our [conflict of interest] processes initially and, with its open architecture, also catch potential conflicts of interest during [institutional review board] and [institutional animal care and use committee] review processes," said Candice Yekel, director of Research Protections at Penn State. "This will greatly enhance our ability to identify problems in real time and address them. Given the sensitive nature of the data we're gathering, our researchers can be confident of confidentiality as we'll be using Click's Web services to ensure secure data transfer between our systems and the Click platform. At the same time, we'll also eliminate redundant data entries across multiple studies and groups--a major irritant for researchers and administrators alike."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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