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National Institutes of Health (NIH) requirements for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

NIH requires that 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 include a plan for how the PI will carry out instruction in responsible conduct of research. See Table of Awards for a list of NIH grants with RCR requirements. Although this plan does not affect overall impact scores, applications will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed until an acceptable plan of instruction is submitted. (See NIH’s notices on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research under Related Links to learn more about NIH’s requirements.) 

All trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support are required to complete RCR training. Instruction should include face-to-face discussions (online can be a component, but is not sufficient). Substantial face-to-face discussion, a combination of didactic and small-group discussions (e.g. case studies), and participation of research training faculty members in instruction are highly encouraged. A minimum of 8 contact hours are considered to be substantive (semester-long series of seminars/programs ideal). Instructions must be undertaken at least once during each career stage (undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, predoctoral, postdoctoral fellows, faculty), but no less than once every four years “bearing in mind the value of ongoing and discipline-specific training as individuals progress in their research careers” 

“For example, while broad-based instruction in the responsible conduct of research is often appropriate early in graduate school; a more tailored, discipline-specific approach may better fit the needs of advanced graduate students and those who have transitioned to postdoctoral status. If advanced students and postdoctorates have been exposed to the full range of topics traditionally included in RCR instruction early in their scientific training, it may make sense for their ongoing and/or subsequent RCR training to focus on subjects most relevant to their fields, and institutions may wish to consider this approach, where applicable.” (NOT-OD-22-055) 

NIH has not mandated specific subject requirements, but most acceptable plans include several of the following topics: conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, human subjects, animal subjects in research, safe laboratory practices, mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships, safe research environments, collaborative research, peer review, data integrity (acquisition, analysis, management, sharing, confidentiality, and ownership), research misconduct, responsible authorship and publication, and scientist as a responsible member of society. 

The Division of Research has created a “Recommended Plan for Responsible Conduct of Research by Career Stage” matrix to assist researchers in satisfying these educational requirements. Note that the matrix categories are suggestions and are not meant to limit any trainee to only certain types of training. 

It is the responsibility of the PI (award recipient) to ensure that appropriate training has been completed by all individuals associated with the funded work. The DOR Research Integrity and Oversight (RIO) Office will, on an annual basis, monitor compliance with the RCR plan outlined in the funded grant. In cases where UH is a subrecipient, general NIH RCR requirements must be met.