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National Science Foundation (NSF) Responsible Conduct of Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established a training requirement in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) for students and postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) supported by NSF projects. The requirement applies to all undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoc researchers who are supported by NSF projects 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.

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 complete RCR training.

All such personnel working on an NSF funded project 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:

  1. View the RCR training plan.

  2. 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:

  3. NSF Administration and Award Guide, January 2010

  4. Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 160, Thursday, August 20, 2009, Notices

  5. RCR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - updated August 16, 2010

Technical issues regarding content delivered on the CITI website should be addressed to or to 305-243-7970.

Federal RCR Resources: