Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
The objective of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training Plan is to define the policies and procedures that will be used to meet the training requirements for RCR. The Training Plan is a working document that will be revised on a continuous basis as assessment of the plan is conducted. For detailed information, review the Federal Register Notice announcing NSF's final implementation, published on August 20, 2009.
The goals of the training plan are:
- To educate all staff, students, and faculty to conduct research ethically and in a manner that supports the integrity of the institution;
- To promote responsible conduct of research strategies;
- To increase awareness of the consequences that research has on society;
- To prevent unethical behavior that will affect the individual and the institution using mentoring and training;
- To prevent research misconduct through effective compliance standards and whistleblower programs.
All staff, students, and faculty involved in research and research administration should receive training on conducting research in a manner that supports ethical and responsible standards; this policy does not apply to projects that are not classified in the financial system as research. It is recommended that all staff, students, and faculty conducting research as part of any sponsored project receive training on the responsible conduct of research and to complete, at a minimum, an RCR overview training session. All staff, students, and faculty conducting research on any projects funded by the National Science Foundation and any Department of Health and Human Services agency must receive training on responsible conduct of research prior to engaging in research on the project.
Training will be offered via an online training program and through classrooms, workshops, training sessions, lectures, and discussion series presentations. All faculty, staff, and students, will have the opportunity to take the online courses. There are two requirements to successful completion of the training. The first requirement is the regular training, which can be completed online or can be satisfied by attending an approved live training. The second requirement is attendance at an ethics case discussion session or viewing/participating in an interactive ethics video. Every four years a training refresher will be required. The refresher will be met by either attending a live RCR training or successfully completing online training. The Training Program will be administered through the Office of Research.
The Responsible Conduct of Research training will cover the following instructional areas:
- Research Misconduct
- Research/Scholarly Ethics
- Conflict of Interest and Commitment (COI)
- Export Controls and Related Issues
- Human Subjects (IRB) and Animal Welfare (IACUC)
- Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing, and Ownership
- Fiduciary Responsibility
- Responsible Authorship
- Peer Review
Roles & Responsibilities
The Office of Research in collaboration with appropriate parties will be responsible for preparing, conducting, and evaluating the training.
Faculty, staff, and students who will be involved in research projects funded by requiring federal agencies will participate in the training sessions.
The Principal Investigator on federally funded research projects will provide mentorship to junior faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) for guidance on expectations regarding research projects.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
SEC 7009: Implementation Plan
- Effective January 4, 2010, a proposing institution's AOR must certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. This requirement flows down to all subrecipients, or is otherwise appropriately addressed in the subaward.
- While training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted, institutions are advised that they are subject to review upon request.
- NSF will modify its standard award conditions to clearly stipulate that institutions are responsible for verifying that undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF to conduct research have received RCR training.
- NSF will support the development of an on-line digital library containing research findings, pedagogical materials, and promising practices regarding the ethical and responsible conduct of research.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency within the DHHS. Other agencies within DHHS are:
- OS - Office of the Secretary
- ACF - Administration for Children & Families
- AoA - Administration on Aging
- AHRQ - Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
- ATSDR - Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease
- OC - Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- CMS - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- FDA - Food & Drug Administration
- HRSA - Health Resources & Services Administration
- IHS - Indian Health Service
- OIG - Office of Inspector General
- SAMHSA - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
NIH started requiring RCR training on their training grants in 1989 (Volume 18; Number 45. December 22). The training requirement was updated in 1994; this update included a description of the minimum training to be included in the training plan (NOT-OD-94-200 NIH Guide Volume 23, Number 23, June 17); the update also stated that proposals without a training plan would not be reviewed. The latest update on the training was published in November 2009 (NOT-OD-10-019). This update provides more details on which programs require the training and what the training should include.
Since the 2010 update, both the 2018 NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science and the Federal Strategic Plan for STEM Education have underscored the need for further education and training in secure and ethical data use. More recently, in responding to the COVID public health emergency, universities have created new options for RCR instruction, leveraging advances in video conferencing and other technologies. Lastly, in late 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Research Integrity gathered feedback from the research community about best practices, challenges, and needs related to teaching RCR and promoting research integrity.
The latest announcement on training was published February 2022 (NOT-OD-22-055: FY 2022 Updated Guidance: Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (nih.gov)). This update provides more details on instructional recommendations, timing, and implementation.