Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Conducting research with integrity requires more than the scientific or technical expertise required to carry out a research study. Acting with integrity in research requires the ability to identify and respond appropriately to the ethical questions that inevitably arise throughout the research process. In general, when we think about the responsible conduct of research, we recognize that ethical dilemmas are most likely to arise around the following components of carrying out research.

Protection of Human Subjects – Ensuring compliance with human subject research regulations to protect the rights and welfare of human volunteers in research.

Welfare of Animals in Research – Ensuring compliance with animal research regulations to ensure the use of animals is fully justifiable and animal welfare in paramount throughout the conduct of the research.

Transparency and Objectivity in Research – Promoting objectivity in research design, conduct and reporting by identifying and managing financial interests in research that may present a conflict of interest.

Data Management and Integrity – Data are the foundation of any research endeavor, which makes it critically important to attend to issues of data collection, data storage, data analysis, confidentiality, data ownership and sharing, and research reproducibility.

Mentor and Trainee Relationships – Establishing and promoting best practices for relationships that are based on clear expectations, mutual respect, and trust.

Collaborative Research – Rarely is productive research conducted by a single individual. Rather, research is collaborative and increasingly interdisciplinary, and often, best practices for research conduct in one discipline differ from those of another. As a result, it is important to promote respectful collaborations founded on clear goals and expectations, strong communication, honesty, and respect.

Authorship and Publication – Ensuring that research results are accurately and honestly reported, contributors are fairly recognized, and financial interests are appropriately disclosed.

Peer Review – Conducting review of others’ research in a timely, thorough, constructive, objective, and respectful manner that places utmost importance on maintaining confidentiality.

Research Misconduct – Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism. Researchers must be attentive to avoiding even the appearance of research misconduct throughout the entire research lifecycle.

Basic Online Training in RCR

A basic introduction to RCR is available online through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). RCR courses specific to those working in various disciplines are available including biomedical research, humanities, physical sciences, engineering, and social/behavioral research. All who are required to take RCR training should complete one of these courses covering the core RCR topics identified above.

In-Person RCR Training

The Office of Research Support and Compliance (RSC) offers an in-person RCR workshop once each semester. The workshop is divided into (2) four-hour sessions, for a total of 8 hours of discussion-based instruction. Topics addressed may include:

  1. Research Misconduct
  2. Data Management and Integrity
  3. Authorship
  4. Intellectual Property
  5. Conflicts of Interest
  6. Peer Review
  7. Collaborative Research
  8. Social Responsibility

Spring 2020 RCR Training is being conducted via Zoom. Researchers who have expressed interest in RCR training this spring are receiving information about upcoming RCR Zoom sessions by email.

Questions? Email the Research Integrity Program.

The following funding agencies require RCR training as outlined. Proposal funding scores can be negatively impacted if RCR training plans are deemed insufficient.

AgencyRCR Training AudienceType of AwardUT Training to Complete
National Science Foundation (NSF)All students who will be supported by the research:
- undergraduate students
- graduate students
- postdoctoral fellows
All NSF supported researchUndergraduate Students:
- CITI online RCR training

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows:
- CITI online RCR training
- RCR Workshop offered by RSC
National Institutes of Health (NIH)All participants (trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars) of specific award types- Training Awards
- Career Development
- Research Education
- Dissertation Research
Faculty & Staff:
- CITI online RCR training

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows:
- CITI online RCR training
- RCR Workshop offered by RSC
US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA)All personnel who will be supported by an award:
- program directors
- faculty
- undergraduate students
- graduate students
- postdoctoral fellows
- staff
All USDA-NIFA supported researchFaculty & Staff:
- CITI online RCR training

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows:
- CITI online RCR training
- RCR Workshop offered by RSC

RCR Resources for Faculty

rcr illustration

The following resources are to support UT Austin Faculty in teaching RCR topics within the lab, classroom, and in-person small group discussions, and to develop and maintain a cultural environment of research integrity.

UT Austin RCR Resources
TBA

Government RCR Resources

External RCR Resources

rcr faq illustration
Q: What is Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)?

National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines RCR as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.

Q: What kind of RCR training is available at UT Austin?

  1. UT Austin's Research Integrity Program (RIP) holds annual in-person RCR workshops that cover the 9 core RCR topics. This training is split into two 4-hour sessions on two different days. Both sessions are required for successful workshop completion.
  2. UT offers an online RCR training course through CITI, or Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative.
  3. Some graduate programs and research units offer RCR training for investigators in their programs. Contact your graduate advisor or department chair/director’s office with inquiries regarding training opportunities.

Q: Who should take RCR training?

  1. All UT-Austin researchers at the graduate level and beyond are highly encouraged to complete RCR training, including graduate students, postdocs, research associates, research scientists and faculty members.
  2. In-person RCR training is required for certain NIH grant recipients and fellowship holders. NIH Requirements can be found here.
  3. NSF requires RCR training for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers that participate in NSF-funded projects. Those requirements can be found here.
  4. RIP also encourages and provides access to the online CITI RCR course. This course is accessible to all research personnel and RIP recommends completion of the online course prior to participation in our in-person RCR training.

Q: Where can I access RCR training?

  1. RIP offers in-person training at specific times throughout the year. Please visit the Research Integrity Program website for more information and subscribe to the RCR Listserv to stay in the know of all things RCR.
  2. CITI online training can be accessed here.

Q: Can a PI/faculty member develop their own RCR training within their classroom, lab, lecture hall, or small group discussion?

  1. Absolutely! In fact, we highly encourage all faculty to incorporate RCR training into their curriculum.
  2. RIP is in the process of developing a template RCR curriculum and toolkit in which all UT Austin faculty will be encouraged and able to use as a guide to facilitating RCR discussions within their respective research fields.

Q: What are the RCR training requirements for specific funding agencies?

  1. Funding requirements for NIH and NSF can be found on RIP's web page.
  2. NIH details their in-person RCR training requirements here.
  3. NSF requires RCR training for some of their grant recipients.

Please visit or contact the respective agency for further information.

Q: I have already taken an RCR training course at another institution. Can this training replace UT Austin's RCR training?

Yes, however, RIP (and the NIH) encourages investigators to remain active in RCR throughout their careers. Investigators should consider additional RCR training or RCR involvement at each career stage (i.e. when moving from grad student to postdoc position). Otherwise, RCR training is valid for 4 years. If you are unsure whether the training you've completed in the past is acceptable, first check with your grant agency, graduate advisor (or direct supervisor), then RIP. It is the PI's responsibility to be knowledgeable about and ensure that NIH-related RCR training requirements are completed at an in-person training workshop.

Q: How can I keep up with RCR-related information at UT Austin or ask a question?

Subscribe to our RCR Listserv, visit our website, or send us an email.

National Institutes of Health

The NIH requires grant proposals to specifically address plans for participation in RCR training (on the award types noted in the table above). The following language may be used and customized as needed.

All members of the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) community are expected to exemplify the highest standards of integrity and ethics. UT-Austin endorses Responsible Conduct of Research on its campus and requires its employees and students to abide by pertinent rules, policies, guidelines and regulations. UT-Austin requires all individuals supported by NIH training related funding to participate in RCR education that includes:

  1. Online training through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), which covers the following topics:
    1. Research Misconduct
    2. Data Management
    3. Authorship
    4. Peer Review
    5. Mentoring
    6. Using Animal Subjects in Research
    7. Conflicts of Interest
    8. Collaborative Research
    9. Research Involving Human Subject
  2. In-Person RCR Training - For graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, an additional 8 hours of discussion and case-based instruction led by various administrators and faculty. Topics may include:
    1. Research Misconduct
    2. Data Management and Integrity
    3. Authorship
    4. Intellectual Property
    5. Conflicts of Interest
    6. Peer Review
    7. Collaborative Research
    8. Social Responsibility

Per NIH RCR training requirements, I have or will complete the above training prior to the end of the project year.

National Science Foundation & USDA-NIFA

NSF and USDA-NIFA do not require RCR plans be specified within grant proposals. Rather, they expect applicable research personnel to complete the requirement established by the institution. They may request verification at any time.