TWU Responsible Conduct of Research Training Plan

TWU values ethical and responsible conduct in all research endeavors. In keeping with this philosophy and the requirements of certain funding agencies, the following framework for training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) is established. The framework encompasses the RCR training requirements of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and will enable principal investigators to design RCR plans according to the goals and focus of their grant projects while fulfilling all requirements or recommendations for RCR training.

The TWU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) will assist principal investigators and grant personnel with the arrangement and implementation of face-to-face portions of RCR training as necessary to meet funding agency requirements.

This plan will be expanded as necessary to include changes in current RCR training requirements or requirements of other funding entities as they enact similar regulations.

Definition: Responsible conduct of research 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.

NSF RCR Training Requirements:
NSF requires that proposing institutions certify that a plan is in place to provide appropriate training and oversight in RCR to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. Institutions that receive research funding are responsible for documenting that this requirement has been met.

NSF permits institutions to determine the content and the delivery method for the training, whether through pedagogical methods or from some existing sources or capabilities. NSF does not specify time frames for completion of the training. Information on the NSF requirements can be found at

RCR online courses that meet the NSF requirement:
RCR Training through the TWU CITI site:
ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research:
ORI educational resources:
University of Montana:
Online RCR Study Guide by University of New Hampshire:
ORI educational resources:
Columbia University:
NSF RCR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs);

NIH RCR Training Requirements:
The NIH RCR training requirement applies to all Institutional Research Training Grants, Individual Fellowship Awards, Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual), Research Education Grants, Dissertation Research Grants, or other grant programs with a training component that requires instruction in responsible conduct of research as noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. NIH allows some flexibility for some short-term grant projects. The NIH Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research can be found at

The following guidelines apply generally to Basic Principles:

NIH expects that the following basic principles be applied to any RCR training plan. Grant applications will be reviewed from this perspective.

  1. Instruction in RCR is an integral part of all research training programs, and its evaluation will impact funding decisions.
  2. Active involvement in RCR issues should occur throughout a scientist’s career. Instruction in RCR should occur throughout a scientist’s career and be appropriate to the career stage of the individual(s) receiving training.
  3. Individuals supported by fellowships and career development awards are encouraged to assume personal responsibility for their RCR instruction.
    Research faculty should participate in RCR instruction in ways that allow them to serve as effective role models for their trainees, fellows, and scholars.
  4. Instruction should include face-to-face discussions by course participants and faculty; i.e., on-line instruction may be a component of instruction in responsible conduct of research but is not sufficient to meet the instruction requirement, except in certain circumstances.
  5. Instruction in responsible conduct of research must be carefully evaluated in all NIH grant applications for which it is a required component

Instructional Components:

Formal instruction in RCR should include the following components.

  1. Instruction: Training to be conducted by instructor(s) with demonstrated expertise in RCR.
  2. Format: Substantial face-to-face discussions among participating trainees/fellows/scholars/participants; a combination of didactic and small-group discussions (e.g. case studies); and participation of research training faculty members in instruction in responsible conduct of research are highly encouraged. Online instruction is not considered adequate as the sole means of instruction.
  3. Subject Matter: Although there are no specific curricular requirements for RCR instruction, the following topics have been incorporated into most acceptable plans:
    1. conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial,
    2. policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices,
    3. mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships,
    4. collaborative research including collaborations with industry,
    5. peer review,
    6. data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership,
    7. research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct,
    8. responsible authorship and publication,
    9. the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research
  4. Faculty Participation: Faculty and sponsors/mentors are encouraged to contribute to both formal and informal RCR instruction. Informal instruction occurs in the course of laboratory interactions and in other informal situations throughout the year. Training faculty may contribute to formal RCR instruction as discussion leaders, speakers, lecturers, and/or course directors. Rotation of faculty roles may be a useful way to achieve full faculty participation in formal RCR courses over a period of time.
  5. Duration of Instruction: Acceptable programs generally involve at least eight contact hours between the trainees/fellows/scholars/participants. A semester-long series of seminars/programs may be more effective than a single seminar or one-day workshop because it is expected that topics will then be considered in sufficient depth, learning will be better consolidated, and the subject matter will be synthesized within a broader conceptual framework.
  6. Frequency of Instruction: Reflection on responsible conduct of research should recur throughout a scientist’s career: at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, pre-doctoral, postdoctoral, and faculty levels. Institutional training programs and individual fellows/scholars are encouraged to consider how to optimize instruction in responsible conduct of research for the particular career stage(s) of the individual(s) involved. Instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. It is highly encouraged that initial instruction during pre-doctoral training occurs as early as possible in graduate school. Individuals at the early career investigator level (including mentored K awardees and K12 scholars) must receive instruction in responsible conduct of research at least once during this career stage. Senior fellows and career award recipients may fulfill the requirement by participating as lecturers and discussion leaders. To meet the above requirements, instruction in responsible conduct of research may take place, in appropriate circumstances, in a year when the trainee, fellow or career award recipient is not actually supported by an NIH grant. This instruction can be documented as described below.

NIH policy requires participation in and successful completion of RCR instruction by individuals supported by any NIH training/research education/fellowship/career award. Course attendance should be monitored and participation should be documented. NIH does not require certification of compliance or submission of documentation, but expects institutions to maintain records sufficient to demonstrate that NIH-supported trainees, fellows, and scholars have received the required instruction.

The NIH Research Training website ( includes information on instruction in responsible conduct of research and links to the Office of Research Integrity (, links to instructional materials, and examples of programs that have been regarded as good models for instruction in responsible conduct of research ( The National Academy Press has just published the 3rd. edition of the classic, On Being a Scientist, and is available online at

Responsible Conduct of Research Mentoring:

RCR Training Programs at Other Institutions:
University of Washington RCR Training:
Clemson RCR training:
Duke University:
Georgia Southern:
Colorado State: