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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.

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 Required Frequency/Timing
NIH* At least 8 contact hours of  training (RCR training should involve face-to-face interactions and discussion-based coursework, while 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** CITI RCR training (online option) or discussion-based coursework with minimum content requirement determined to be appropriate by the Principal Investigator

All Faculty and Senior Personnel (i.e., principal investigators, co-investigators, and other academic appointees), Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

Plan must be in place at the time of proposal submission
NIFA** CITI RCR training (online option) or discussion-based coursework with minimum content requirement determined to be appropriate by the Principal Investigator Program Directors, Faculty, Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, any staff participating in the project Training must 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.

**For NSF and NIFA, while the method of delivery or minimum hours of instruction are not specified, the Principal Investigator should determine the number of appropriate courses to take to allow for broad understanding in the practice of research. The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program provides online RCR training to the research community. For NSF proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023, the RCR training requirement expanded the training to include all faculty and senior personnel named on the proposal.

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 Everyone All
Ethical Challenges of Research1 Workshops (Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs) Postdoctoral Scholars only All 
Integrity Tutorial2 Undergraduate Students only

Only meets NSF and NIFA requirements

(does not meet NIH requirement)

Medical Students Research Ethics Workshop Medical Students All
CITI RCR Education Courses Everyone with a UCSD affiliation Meets NSF and NIFA requirements; online training by itself is insufficient to meet NIH requirement
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)

Customized Department Courses3 Every Department Can be customized to meet all requirements
  1. The Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs (OPSA) offers an ‘Ethical Challenges of Research’ series. For postdoctoral scholars training completed outside of OPSA, departments are responsible for tracking and retaining verification of training.
  2. RCR training is integrated into the online Integrity Tutorial that all undergraduates must take prior to enrolling in their second quarter. Completion of this course is automatically tracked by Canvas; students who do not complete before the end of their first quarter will have a hold on their account prohibiting them from continuing into their second quarter. 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, the home department for an extramural training award is responsible for tracking the completion of the requirement. Documentation of the training should be maintained by the individual completing the training and the PI. Documentation of the training may be 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 responsible research, innovation and education 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 works with the various sponsored projects offices to identify the awards that require RCR training.  RCI conducts monitoring based on the information included in the grant application/proposal.  The results of the monitoring are provided to the applicable Principal Investigators and Department Chairs/Deans.  RCI also provides training and education on the RCR training requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


For questions, contact the Research Compliance and Integrity Office at or (858) 822-4939.