Responsible Conduct of Research

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Indiana University takes a strong, proactive approach to foster a culture of research integrity and maintaining the public trust in research, including promoting education in and resources for the responsible conduct of research (RCR) to:

  • Enhance skills for ethical decision making in research;
  • Provide an open forum for questions, concerns and challenges;
  • Increase awareness of ethical concerns related to the conduct of research; and
  • Improve understanding of the consequences of unethical conduct in research; 

While RCR is important for all researchers, for some members of the research community it is mandatory.  If your research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), you may be required to complete a program of education in RCR.  Find below description of RCR topics and what is required by certain NSF and NIH funding mechanisms.

RCR Topic Areas

A comprehensive program of RCR education includes the following topic areas:

  • Human Subjects Research
  • Research with Animals
  • Conflict of Interest & Commitment
  • Research Misconduct
  • Collaborative Research
  • Data Management, Secure & Ethical Data Use
  • Mentor/Mentee Responsibilities & Relationship
  • Peer Review
  • Responsible Authorship & Publication
  • Safe Research Environments
  • Responsible Scientist

RCR instruction is not required for everyone, but it is highly encouraged for all involved with research.

IU RCR Requirements if supported by NSF

Since 2009, the NSF has required all grantee institutions “...to provide appropriate education and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project.”

In an effort to standardize RCR education required for NSF trainees, Indiana University developed an institutional RCR educational program:

  • Successful completion of selected modules of the online responsible conduct of research program hosted by Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), and;
  • Project/Discipline-specific mentoring by the principal investigator and lead investigators during the course of the grant.

View webinar on NSF requirement

 

NSF FAQs

For the online RCR course offered through CITI, visit the University-wide CITI Research Education webpage for specific CITI information and/or to access CITI via the IU CITI single-sign-on (SSO) portal.

To access CITI, log into your existing IU-affiliated CITI account or register as a new user (using the IU SSO and their network ID/password) to affiliate with IU and complete training. Once logged in, view courses, click “Add a Course”, navigate to Question 5, and select a Responsible Conduct of Research Course based on your area of research.

Select the Responsible Conduct of Research course that aligns with your area of research within CITI. For example, choose at least one of the following options within CITI:

  • Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research Course,
  • Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research Course,
  • Physical Science Responsible Conduct of Research Course,
  • Humanities Responsible Conduct of Research for Engineers, or
  • Responsible Conduct of Research for Administrators.

If you’re unsure, the Principal Investigator and lead investigators can guide your Responsible Conduct of Research course selection.

Audits for the NSF RCR CITI course requirement take place on an ongoing basis at IU. If you have received a notification of non-compliance for the incompletion of the CITI course requirement, IU records indicate that you are affiliated with NSF grant funding and are required to complete CITI RCR. It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure that RCR training is completed. Failure to complete the course in a timely fashion may result in reversal of expenses from the grant to a departmental account.    

If you have completed the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research course at another institution, follow these instructions to transfer your course history to Indiana University/IU Health.

If your primary email in CITI is listed as a non-IU email, your completion will not sync to IU’s report. To update your email address in CITI, log in to your account, navigate to the arrow next to your name in the top right corner, click “Profiles”, click “Edit Profile”, and the IU email address can be updated.

Please note, Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course is distinct from other CITI courses, such as training required by the IRB/Human Subjects Research, Good Clinical Practice, Export Controls, IBC/Biosafety, or Lab Animal Research.

IU RCR Requirements if supported by NIH

Faculty 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 education. NIH applications require a plan for instruction in responsible conduct of research (This applies to NIH F, K, T, or Dissertation Awards D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R).

The NIH updated requirements in the instruction of the responsible conduct of research (RCR). These changes go into effect for the 2022-2023 academic year. New/Renewal applications must incorporate these changes beginning with the September 25th deadline.

NIH requires that all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving funding through 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 instruction in responsible conduct of research (RCR) education. Unlike the NSF requirement, the NIH requires that all eligible researchers complete an interactive program of RCR education of at least 8 hours.

Summary of NIH RCR changes:

Format:
  • Inclusion of video conferencing is now recognized as an effective tool for “face-to-face” discussions. Video conferencing must foster “discussion, active learning, engagement, and interaction among the participants”
  • Video conferencing cannot be the sole means for meeting the RCR education requirement
Frequency & Timing: 
  • Same recommendations remain to undertake RCR education at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. With a consideration to alter the approach for those who have been exposed to the full range of topics traditionally included in RCR.  “Optimize the timing and delivery” of RCR instruction, including discipline-specific training for advanced career stages (e.g. advanced graduate students, postdocs, etc.).
Subject Matter: 
  • NIH now requires 11 subject areas.  The original nine subjects remain; some of these have been supplemented. This includes the separation of one subject into two areas.
  • Expanded topics to cover with new topics in bold.
    1. conflict of interest– personal, professional, and financial – and conflict of commitment, in allocating time, effort, or other research resources
    2. policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
    3. mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
    4. safe research environments (e.g., those that promote inclusion and are free of sexual, racial, ethnic, disability and other forms of discriminatory harassment)
    5. collaborative research, including collaborations with industry and investigators and institutions in other countries
    6. peer review, including the responsibility for maintaining confidentiality and security in peer review
    7. data acquisition and analysis; laboratory tools (g., tools for analyzing data and creating or working with digital images); recordkeeping practices, including methods such as electronic laboratory notebooks
    8. secure and ethical data use; data confidentiality, management, sharing, and ownership
    9. research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
    10. responsible authorship and publication
    11. the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research
Implementation

IU will implement RCR instruction changes described for the 2022-2023 academic year.  The Office of Research of Compliance offers an IU RCR Seminar Series designed to meet the videoconferencing instruction of this requirement.

RCR Educational Offerings at IU

As a resource, the RCR Seminar Series at IU is designed to partially satisfy the NIH RCR requirements. The Office of Research Compliance within the Office of the Vice President for Research, in collaboration with Vice Provost for Research and Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Health Sciences, is pleased to continue offering the IU Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series. While specifically designed for researchers with NIH T, K, or F awards, it is open to all members of the IU research team.

Learn more and enroll!

 

For those who need to complete the NIH RCR requirements from IUPUI or the School of Medicine, the Center for Bioethics offers courses to satisfy the in-person requirements.

Learn more!

 

Self-led and web-based RCR course offered through CITI, for specific CITI information and/or to access CITI via the IU CITI single-sign-on (SSO) portal. To access CITI, log into your existing IU-affiliated CITI account or register as a new user (using the IU SSO and their network ID/password) to affiliate with IU and complete courses. Once logged in, view courses, click “Add a Course”, navigate to Question 5, and select a Responsible Conduct of Research Course based on your area of research.

Learn more!

Additional RCR resources

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity has developed informational videos that address the RCR topics. Education and resources are available in English, French, German, and Portuguese from Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation.