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NSF New Training Requirement in the Responsible Conduct of Research

Effective January 4, 2010
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established a new training requirement in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) for students and postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) supported by NSF projects. The new requirement applies to all undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoc researchers who are supported by NSF projects submitted (and subsequently awarded) after January 4, 2010, including competitive renewals. However, it is strongly recommended that faculty, including principal investigators, supported by NSF projects or directing students or postdocs supported on NSF projects, also review and are familiar with the content of these modules. This requirement does not apply retroactively to students and postdocs supported on projects submitted before January 4, 2010. The new regulations implement provisions of the America COMPETES Act. Additional information regarding the NSF requirement for training in RCR is included in the following documents:

The University has established the following option for satisfying the new NSF requirement:

On-line instruction
Individuals can access an on-line course created and maintained by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), a nationally-recognized source for research-related training.

Learners are required to complete a basic set of required modules within a specialty area, including case studies, which are appropriate to the nature of his or her role in the sponsored research. The specialty areas include:

  • Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Physical Science Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Humanities Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Responsible Conduct of Research for Engineers

The basic modules within these specialty areas review the following issues concerning ethical research:

  • Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Research Misconduct
  • Conflicts of Interest and Commitment
  • Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Mentor/Trainee Responsibilities
  • Peer Review
  • Collaborative Research

The minimum "passing" aggregate score for the collection of Responsible Research Conduct modules is 80%, which is required in order to satisfy the NSF requirement described above.

Principal Investigator(s) Responsibilities:

Principal Investigators will be responsible for assuring that all postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates who are supported by their NSF projects, including subawards, submitted (and subsequently awarded) after January 4, 2010, complete RCR training.

All such personnel working on an NSF funded project after January 4, 2010, must complete this training in Responsible Conduct of Research no later than 30 days following the start date of the project, including individuals added to a project in progress.

Failure to comply with this policy by any required participants within the specified time frame may result in freezing the account of the project supporting these personnel.

For more information:

  • View the RCR training plan.
  • Technical issues regarding content delivered on the CITI website should be addressed to citisupport@med.miami.edu or to 305-243-7970.
  • Questions regarding NSF requirements should be addressed to Vicky Ratcliffe, Manager of Research Education and Development, at vratcliffe@vt.edu or 540-231-7964.
  • Questions regarding this policy should be directed to Dr. Thomas Inzana, Research Integrity Officer, at tinzana@vt.edu or 540-231-5188.

Federal RCR Resources:

Related Information