Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Federal Requirements

National Science FoundationThe National Science Foundation (NSF) RCR Requirements
Effective January 4, 2010, NSF requires that the institution have a plan in the proposal regarding RCR training for the undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be involved in the research. This applies to any new research proposals after January 4, 2010.

OIG Review of Institutions’ Implementation of NSF’s RCR Requirements

Reminder from Jay Walsh, Vice President for Research, regarding Northwestern’s NSF RCR Training Plan


NIHThe National Institute of Health (NIH) RCR Requirements
While NIH initially released their original requirements for RCR training on December 22, 1989, they updated the regulations to the current standards on November 24, 2009.* NIH requires that all individuals (undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, etc.) who receive funding or support from any NIH training, an individual career development award, an institutional career development award, a research education grant, and/or a dissertation research grant, must receive RCR training. This more stringent requirement applies to all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 25, 2010 as well as all continuation (Type 5) applications on or after January 1, 2011.

While there are no specific curricular requirements for instruction in responsible conduct of research, the following topics have been incorporated into most acceptable plans for such instruction:

  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

Training is not required for everyone but it is highly encouraged for all who deal with research being funded or supported by NIH.

* Note: Additional updates with respect to NCRR Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) applications were provided on April 19, 2011