The RMBL Research Code is also available as a PDF here. (Modified November 2010)
A. General Policies
- The provisions of this code apply to all research activities involving utilization of RMBL facilities, and/or involving RMBL- approved research plans, and/or involving research carried on under the umbrella of a RMBL permit. This applies to research on RMBL, Forest Service, and private land.
- The provisions of this code apply to class and group projects as well as to individual investigators.
- Failure to comply with any element of the Research Code may be grounds for rejection of subsequent research applications, loss of space, and/or termination of the research, at the discretion of the Executive Director.
B. Research Approval
- A new research application or a renewal research application must be submitted by Feb. 1, or 90 days before initiation of the research, whichever comes first. Researchers may request “fast-track” approval of projects under special circumstances. Please note, however, that “fast-track” status will generally not be granted for manipulative studies, releasing isotopes, projects involving radiation, projects involving substantial genetic manipulations, studies involving the significant movement of genes or organisms, extensive collections, new research involving vertebrates, or studies on non-native species.
- All research must be approved by the Science Director and the Research Committee. If the Science Director and the Research Committee disagree, the decision is referred to the Executive Director for final decision. Any individual, whose research is directly affected by a decision of the Science Director and the Research Committee, may appeal a decision to the Executive Director.
- All work must be explicitly described in the new or renewal research application. Work will not under any circumstance be considered “approved” unless it is explicitly described within an application and that application is approved.
- Regardless of whether scientists have outside funding, RMBL cannot guarantee that any given research application will be approved until it has been reviewed by the Science Director and the Research Committee.
- Research projects can be approved for up to five years. Longer-term approval can be granted under special circumstances upon request. Once research has been approved, researchers need only submit a continuing research application by April 1. Research projects submitted by new researchers are typically approved for one year.
- When researchers apply to renew their projects, they must certify that 1) all sites have been appropriately cleaned up, and 2) all conditions imposed on the previous project, either by the Science Director or the Research Committee, have been met.
- Research with vertebrate animals requires documentation of appropriate permits and submission of a protocol for review by the RMBL Animal Welfare Committee.
Review criteria used to accept research proposals:
Promise of or the fulfillment of quality scientific achievement is the major criterion by which plans are reviewed. A secondary consideration in the review of plans is whether an investigator’s research can benefit by the research currently being conducted at RMBL, whether current RMBL research can be enhanced by the presence of the particular investigator, and the extent to which the research takes full advantage of the location and resources of RMBL.
Specific review considerations include:
- Quality of the proposal. Proposals should have compelling objectives, carefully thought out methodologies, well described environmental impacts, and should clearly describe the relationship between the proposed work and existing or historical work.
- Feasibility, and appropriateness of RMBL to facilitating the research. Projects will be evaluated based upon whether the work can be done at RMBL (e.g., are organisms or study sites available) as well as whether they take advantage of resources unique to RMBL.
- Compliance with federal and state law;
- Compliance with RMBL research policies;
- Appropriate treatment of animals. Intrusive research on or holding of vertebrate animals will be approved only if RMBL is the appropriate site to conduct the research, the work itself is scientifically sound and has all appropriate permits. All vertebrates maintained in captivity must have a plan for housing and caring for them in a humane fashion. Lab and field studies involving vertebrates must be in accordance with current federal and state regulations.
- Impacts on ongoing research. Ongoing research has precedence;
- Impact on natural systems. Extensive collections, significant habitat alterations such as modifications of chemical, physical or biological properties of terrestrial or aquatic environments, and introductions of species/genes are less likely to be approved. Additionally, the use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals will face higher scrutiny. Impacts on natural systems include those associated with installation of equipment or structures, or that generate high levels of traffic to a site. The greater the impact the more important it is to demonstrate strong intellectual motivation for the project;
- Impacts on future research. Projects which potentially exclude large amounts of future research may not be approved. For example, projects which take up large amounts of available study sites will face a higher level of scrutiny. The use of radioactive or stable isotopes that potentially foreclose future research will be carefully reviewed;
- Impacts on unique areas. Some types of research may be prohibited or discouraged in unique areas such as the Iron Fen or the Mexican Cut, or areas under special management regimes, such as wilderness areas or the Gothic Research Natural Area;
- Scientific productivity. Scientists who have worked at RMBL and who are proposing additional work need to demonstrate the fulfillment of scientific achievement based upon the work at RMBL. Such achievement can be demonstrated by, though it is not limited to, scientific publications, scientists trained, external funding, and grey literature based upon the field work conducted by the scientist.
C. Space Assignments
When space is limited, including but not limited to housing, laboratory, or research sites, the RMBL Executive Director shall prioritize space assignments according to the criteria identified below. The Executive Director reserves the right to determine whether space is limited and shall have the freedom to set aside unassigned space in order to deal with unanticipated needs. The criteria for prioritizing space (not prioritized by importance) are:
- Promise of excellence, based upon the quality of the proposal.
- Scientific productivity. Achievement can be demonstrated by, though it is not limited to, scientific publications, scientists trained, external funding, and grey literature based upon the field work conducted by the scientist. Additionally, researchers actively conducting research, e.g., the presence of mapped research sites or active collaborations, will be a higher priority.
- Appropriateness of RMBL to facilitating the research. Research that gains tangibly from the RMBL setting or prior work done at RMBL should have priority over research that does not.
- Diversity. Research that helps maintain a diversity of research at RMBL, including representing a diversity of institutions (e.g., teaching colleges, research institutions, agency research), a diversity of conceptual areas, and a diversity of individuals at different career stages, will be given higher priority.
- Career Stage. Research by graduate students and research scientists has priority over educational research projects such as class projects or independent undergraduate student projects.
D. Restrictions on Types of Research
- Research that is not grossly intrusive may be carried out within the Gothic Townsite.
- RMBL currently conducts control measures on seven non-native, invasive plants, Matricaria perforata (Scentless Chamomile), Chrysanthemum (=Leucanthemum) leucanthemum (Oxeye Daisy), Barbarea vulgaris (Garden Yellow Rocket), Tragopogon sp. (Salsify), Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle), Linaria vulgaris (Butter and eggs), and Bromus (Bromopsis) inermis (Smooth Brome). New projects should not interfere with ongoing control efforts. There are an additional 20 non-native species that may be controlled in the future. Please contact the Director about any potential conflicts between weed control and research projects.
- Until more is known about disease transmission and bee population dynamics, commercial bee colonies will only be allowed under exceptional circumstances. First, the work must occur inside in a double-enclosed environment. Second, there must be a good reason why such work must happen at RMBL (as opposed to a lab space somewhere else). It may well be that no one can satisfy these two requirements.
- Access to some locations, e.g., wilderness or special management areas, may be restricted.
E. Conducting/Managing Research
- Scientists must submit citations of published work to RMBL’s publication database. Three copies of publications resulting from work done at RMBL (that is conducted in the ecosystems surrounding Gothic) shall be transmitted to the Director as soon as they become available, though PDF’s may be provided in lieu of hard copies. One copy of each thesis, preferably bound, shall be transmitted to the Director.
- The use of RMBL facilities shall be acknowledged in each such publication. Additionally, any NSF support received through RMBL should be acknowledged. When appropriate, scientists should list RMBL as one of their institutions. When the work is conducted on Federal Service lands, the USFS should also be acknowledged.
- All research sites must be mapped and archived using RMBL's GPS/GIS system. Research sites which are not mapped in such a fashion will not be managed to avoid conflicts with new research and/or infrastructure development.
- Animal Care logs and annual check-in forms must be filed with the Science Director at the end of each field season. A new research season cannot be initiated until logs and forms from the previous season are on file. The Animal Welfare Committee shall monitor ongoing projects periodically to ensure compliance with state, federal and RMBL requirements. The Animal Welfare Committee and Science Director may terminate projects at any time that are not in compliance with regulations. In the event of termination of a project, the researcher may appeal to the Executive Director.
- Only active sites will be managed. Historical sites will not constrain management or future research unless special arrangements have been made in writing.
- Researchers must check the Current Research Map and communicate with the Science Director before initiating research at new sites. Under certain circumstances, the Science Director will be required to sign off on new sites before research can begin. Faculty and student mentors are responsible for avoiding conflict among their students and other researchers.
- Research shall be conducted on private land only with permission of the owner. Research on Forest Service or other public lands shall be done in accordance with the appropriate regulations. Researchers shall provide the Science Director with documentation on permission to work on private land and/or special permits to work on public land.
- The Executive Director interprets all policies. His/her decision shall be final concerning interpretation of policies, as well as acceptance/rejection of research plans and decisions involving space prioritization.
- The Research Code must be consistent with the Bylaws, the Research Master Plan, and any other Board approved polices. In case of contradictions concerning research policies, the Research Code yields to Board approved policies.
- Other materials, including but not limited to written items, emails, information on the website, and oral communications, are only advisory and are controlled by the Research Code (and higher level documents).
- Formal interpretations of research policies may be obtained by making such a request in writing to the Executive Director.
- Amendment of the Research Code is by the Executive Director. Material changes that affect the ability of scientists to conduct research will not go into effect until the first April after they are made.
The latest RMBL Researcher Memo is found here.