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Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Many federal agencies - including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - require grantees to certify that they provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR). RCR instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years.

The NSF requirements apply to all postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students participating on a funded project. The NIH policy requires inclusion of a plan to receive RCR instruction in applications of most type of training grants including fellowships, career development awards, research education grants, and dissertation research grants.

To meet these requirements, the University offers a 9-week Research Ethics course (PHIL 7570/1.0 credit hours) each academic semester. Research Education also provides several resources for addressing, documenting and verifying compliance with the requirements for RCR instruction includingtwo different RCR Certificate of Achievement programs through the Research Administration Training Series (RATS). The RATS RCR Certification is awarded for the completion of a minimum of 10 hours of RCR training comprised of select RATS online and live lecture classes. Anyone involved in a federal grant including research trainees, postdoctoral scholars, research staff members, graduate and undergraduate students must complete one of these three RCR training options.

Both RATS RCR Certificate of Achievement programs include a 2-hour online training class consisting of 9 instructional modules, review quizzes, and a proficiency test requiring a minimum 85% passing grade. Trainees may attend four 2-hour live lecture classes on select RCR instructional topics to complete the 10 hours of training. As an alternative, trainees may attend live lecture classes on select RCR instructional topics and attend pre-approved RCR classes developed by faculty at the department level (up to 6 hours) to complete the 10 hours of training. The RCR RATS Certificate of Achievement is awarded upon successful completion of either program which includes a minimum of 10 hours of RCR training comprised of select RATS online and live lecture classes.

OSP provides a template for drafting statements regarding the University's RCR policy and program for use in federal grant proposals.

For more on the RCR requirements of the National Science Foundation, see NSF's "Responsible Conduct of Research" section. The NSF stipulates that institutions can "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."

For more on the RCR requirements of the National Institutes of Health, see the "Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research". For all grants submitted after January 24, 2010, the NIH "requires that all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant must receive instruction in responsible conduct of research."

Please feel free to contact Jeffrey Botkin, Associate Vice President for Research, with questions about Responsible Conduct of Research compliance.

Last Updated: 4/4/17