Responsible Conduct of Research
Principal investigators, students, post-doctoral researchers, and others involved in sponsored research have an obligation to ensure the responsible conduct of research (RCR). Responsible and ethical research is critical for excellence as well as public trust, and education in the responsible conduct of research is essential to the preparation of future researchers. The responsible conduct of research requires honesty (conveying information truthfully), accuracy (reporting results precisely), efficiency (using resources wisely), and objectivity (avoiding bias).
Principal investigators are required to support a responsible research environment through training and ongoing mentoring. While requiring specific initial training, the University’s system for RCR training provides flexibility for individual principal investigators to design training and mentoring activities that are most appropriate for the role of each project team member.
RCR training and mentoring is encouraged for all sponsored research awards and is required for projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The guidelines outlined in this document also apply to other sponsored research and training awards with RCR compliance requirements.
RCR activities may include participation in a research ethics seminar, completion of an online training program, individualized or small-group training with a faculty member, discussion groups of RCR case studies or other texts, and ongoing mentoring from a faculty member. The completion of an online training module alone does not satisfy the RCR requirement, but all PIs, students, postdoctoral researchers, and others participating in research are required to complete the Responsible Conduct of Research modules through the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI).
The responsible conduct of research should be initially addressed with the research team during an orientation session prior to their involvement in the research. Training should be initiated at the beginning of the appointment period and continue through an ongoing mentorship. In support of this custom training and mentoring, Sponsored Programs provides a subscription to the CITI training system and links to a variety of online resources and educational materials. Faculty, staff, and students involved in projects utilizing human and/or animal subjects are also required to complete the human and/or animal subjects modules within the CITI training system and receive approval through the IRB and/or IACUC prior to beginning work on the project.
In addition to training for students, postdoctoral researchers and other participants in federally-funded research, PIs are required to participate in training related to the responsible conduct of research, including completion of the CITI RCR training and other activities offered by the University.
The institutional official is responsible for overseeing and monitoring compliance with the RCR program. In support of this function, Sponsored Programs will request a report from PIs with awards that have RCR reporting requirements following the end of each academic term during which the award is active. Each report will detail RCR-related activity for the academic term. It should include activities initiated by the principal investigator as well as other experiences of supported students (i.e., research methods course). If the report does not provide sufficient experiences, the PI may be provided with specific additional activities for the subsequent academic term.
- Responsible Conduct of Research CITI Training Guide
- Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research – Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity Guide
- National Postdoctoral Association Responsible Conduct of Research Toolkit
- Five Qualities of Good Research Mentors - Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity Tip Sheet
- Five Ways Supervisors Can Promote Research Integrity - Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity Tip Sheet
- Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing - Guide created for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity
- Ethical Writing - Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity Tip Sheet
- Research Ethics Case Studies - Case Studies from the National Institutes of Health (includes instructions for facilitators)
- The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct - Interactive movie from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity
- The Research Clinic - Interactive movie from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity
- RCR Casebook: Stories about Researchers Worth Discussing - Case studies created for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity
- On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research - National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine book available as free PDF download. A limited number of paperback books are available for loan through Sponsored Programs.