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Responsible Conduct of Research Institutional Plan

Learn more about the Responsible Conduct of Research Training Requirements.

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is defined as "the practice of scientific investigation with integrity." It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research. Projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have specific requirements regarding training in RCR. Please note that RCR training is separate from human subjects training required for Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions.

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What are the Training Requirements for Specific Funding Agencies

The following is a snapshot of the primary federal funding agencies that have requirements for RCR Training:

Federal Agency Minimal Requirement for RCR Who Must Complete the Training Frequency
NIH* At least 8 hours of face-to-face training/interaction (online training can be a component of the overall training) Trainees, Fellows, Postdoctoral Scholars, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students At least once during each career stage and no less than once every four years
NSF Online or face-to-face training Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Students Each institution is responsible for the frequency with which RCR training must occur
NIFA Online or face-to-face training Program Directors, Faculty, Undergraduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, any staff participating in the project NIFA requires RCR training be completed before participation or payment from the project

* For NIH, the RCR requirements apply to all NIH Institutional Research Training Grants, Individual Fellowship Awards, Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual), Research Education Grants, and Dissertation Research Grants.  The programs are listed as: D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R.

Where Can I Obtain the Required Training

The following is a snapshot of the primary federal funding agencies that have requirements for RCR Training:

Options Availability Federal Agency Requirements
Research Ethics Program Core Courses Everyone All
Ethical Challenges of Research1 Workshops (Office of Postdoctoral & Visiting Scholar Affairs) Postdoctoral Scholars only All 
Academic Integrity Tutorial2 Undergraduate Students only Only meets NSF And NIFA requirements, does not meet standard of face-face training for NIH
Medical Students Research Ethics Workshop Medical Students All
CITI RCR Education Courses Everyone with a UCSD affiliation Only meets NSF And NIFA requirements, does not meet standard of face-face training for NIH
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) SIOG232 or SIOB273 classes All UCSD graduate students. *May require SIO Department authorization Only meets NSF and NIFA requirements, does not meet NIH requirement of Human Subjects Research
Customized Department Courses3 Every Department Can be customized to meet all requirements
  1. The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs (OPVSA) offers an ‘Ethical Challenges of Research’ series. For postdoctoral scholars training completed outside of OPVSA, Departments are responsible for tracking and submitting completion verification into RSAS or sending to OPVSA.  Certification of training is required before reappointments are issued.
  2. Responsible Conduct of Research training is integrated into the online Academic Integrity Tutorial that all undergraduates must take prior to enrolling in their second quarter. Completion of this course is tracked by the Academic Integrity Office.  Departments are encouraged to include undergraduate students in additional training opportunities appropriate to their level of participation in research.
  3. Departments are encouraged to develop their own RCR training plans in consultation with the Research Ethics Program to ensure their plans meet the format and content requirements of federal agencies. The Research Ethics Program can assist in setting goals, selecting topics to be covered, identifying useful approaches for teaching and learning, and assessing outcomes, as well as offering ‘Train the Trainer Workshops.’

Who is Responsible to Ensure the Training Has Been Completed

Regardless of the funding source, if RCR training is required, Departments are responsible for tracking the completion of training requirements associated with extramural awards.  Documentation of the training is subject to review by the funding agency and UC San Diego Research Compliance and Integrity upon request.

Does UC San Diego Monitor to Ensure That RCR Training Has Been Completed

The Research Compliance and Integrity (RCI) Office facilitates research, innovation and education, responsibly for global excellence and is responsible for broad oversight, resources and education for the integrity and compliance issues relating to the conduct of research.  RCI will work with the various sponsored projects offices to identify the awards that require RCR training.  RCI will conduct monitoring based on the information included in the grant application/proposal.  The results of the monitoring will be provided to the applicable Principal Investigators and Department Chairs/Deans.  RCI will also provide training and education on the RCR training requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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