Office of Responsible Research Practices
The Ohio State University

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

NIH Requirements

All trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, or dissertation research grant must receive instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). See NIH RCR Update  and the specific program announcement for additional information.

For the specified award categories, the Principal Investigator (PI) must develop a discipline-specific, tailored plan for RCR training that meets the NIH requirements. The instructional plan is evaluated as a component of the NIH funding proposal and applications lacking an RCR instructional plan may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed. The PI is also responsible for ensuring that course attendance is monitored and that a certificate or documentation of participation is available upon course completion. Although the NIH does not require Ohio State or the PI to submit training documentation to the NIH, training records are subject to audit. The PI is responsible for maintaining RCR training records to document that all NIH supported trainees, fellows, and scholars received the required instruction. The PI must also comply with the specific reporting requirements in continuation applications.

Instructional Plan

The RCR instructional plan must meet NIH requirements for educational content, training format, and frequency. The following topics must be addressed in the training plan:

  • Collaborative research
  • Conflict of interest (personal, professional, financial)
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools: data management, sharing and ownership
  • Human subjects, live vertebrate animals in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Peer review
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • Scientist as a responsible member of society

The instructional plan should include coursework with significant face-to-face interaction and participation by research faculty members. Analysis of relevant case studies is recommended. While on-line instruction may be used as a component of the training program, it is not sufficient to meet the NIH requirement for RCR instruction, except in special or unusual circumstances.

Training plans must address all program participants and should be appropriate to the career stage of the individuals receiving training. Research faculty should participate in instruction in ways that allow them to serve as effective role models for their trainees, fellows, and scholars. Individual fellowship and career development award applicants/recipients are encouraged to assume individual and personal responsibility for their instruction in responsible conduct of research.

PIs may want to use the online CITI RCR training course as part of their instructional plan. All the NIH required topics are addressed in the CITI RCR coursework. If used, the most relevant, discipline-specific CITI RCR course (Biomedical Research, Social and Behavioral Research, Physical Science, Humanities, or Engineering) should be specified. The CITI RCR course also offers online case studies that can be used for face-to-face discussions.

NSF Requirements

The NSF requires the University to certify that it has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who receive NSF support to conduct research. Certification of University compliance is done by an authorized Ohio State representative as part of the institutional proposal approval process (e.g., when a sponsored program officer submits the proposal in FastLane). Specific instructions are found in Chapter IV.B Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

Required Instruction

All students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF sponsored projects must complete the CITI online course in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Within 60 days of appointment, students and postdocs must complete the most relevant discipline-specific CITI RCR course (Biomedical Research, Social and Behavioral Research, Physical Science, Humanities, or Engineering).

Principal Investigators (PIs) should not include any specific information on RCR training within their proposals. NSF does not want program details – only the institution’s certification that there is a program in place.

The PI is responsible for ensuring that all students and postdocs complete the CITI RCR course. The PI should direct the trainees to the most appropriate discipline-specific RCR course within the CITI program. The PI is also encouraged to complete the CITI RCR training and begin a dialogue with students and postdocs on the responsible conduct of research.

The PI must maintain records to document that each trainee has completed the CITI RCR course. Training records are subject to monitoring by the Office of Research Compliance and by NSF auditors.

CITI Course

Each topic area consists of an introduction, basic foundation text, imbedded case studies, and quiz questions.

Choose from the following discipline-specific courses:

  • Biomedical Research
  • Social and Behavioral Research
  • Physical Science
  • Humanities
  • Engineering

Review of the required materials and completion of the quizzes will take about 30-35 minutes per topic. Courses do not have to be completed in one session. A minimum aggregate score of 80% is required to pass the RCR course.

Access and Course Completion

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to access the CITI RCR courses.

Print and retain a copy of the completion report for your records.

CITI RCR Case Studies

Instructors may access CITI RCR case studies to assist in teaching RCR for the following disciplines: Biomedical Research, Social and Behavioral Research, Humanities, Physical Science and Engineering.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to access the CITI RCR case studies.