Office of Research News

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) update

Posted: March 11, 2011

New requirements for responsible conduct of research (RCR) training have been issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), affecting all NSF awards and selected categories of NIH awards. In order to meet these guidelines fully, new course options for graduate and undergraduate students and postdocs must be developed.

  • New guidance from NSF states that all proposals submitted to NSF on or after January 4, 2010, must provide a means for all graduate and undergraduate students and postdocs appointed on the grant to complete training in responsible conduct of research.
  • Expanded guidance from NIH states 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. This applies to all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 25, 2010, and to all continuation applications submitted on or after January 1, 2011.
  • In the short term, students and postdocs can meet the NSF requirement by completing the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research training program for their broad disciplinary areas. In the longer term, this will not suffice.
  • NIH requirements are such that CITI training alone will not satisfy the requirement in the short or long term. Online courses are viewed as a supplement to instruction, not as the sole means of instruction.
  • The training must have discipline-specific components. In addition, substantial face-to-face discussions, a combination of didactic and small-group discussions, and participation of research training faculty members are strongly encouraged.
  • These requirements cannot be met with a single, centrally-provided course. Colleges and/or departments should develop courses that provide the case studies and discipline-specific information required by the  federal guidance.

What Colleges Should Do:

  • Assess the courses already offered in units within each college to determine how effectively they meet the federal requirements for content and format.
  • Work with chairs and faculty in each college to design or enhance responsible conduct of research training courses to meet the requirements of NSF and NIH-funded students. These courses should be offered to all graduate students and postdocs, regardless of funding source. Investigators planning to submit proposals to NSF or NIH that require a plan for responsible conduct of research will be referred back to their colleges for appropriate course options.

RCR Course Development Workshop Materials:

For information and resources gathered from Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) sites around the U.S., please visit

Policy Changes Affecting the Submission of Applications:

The National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a change in policy on the submission of plans for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research for Individual and Institutional Career Development Award (K) applications. The change is effective for applications intended for June 12, 2011 and subsequent due dates.

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Category : General Information