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Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research applies to all researchers and research staff engaged in scholarly research. While written with all researchers in mind, special consideration has been given to the needs of students and postdoctoral scholars. The education of students at all levels includes appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. The University expects that every academic program and each research advisor/mentor will do their part to assure that students/trainees receive appropriate guidance in such areas as research integrity, data acquisition and management, authorship, research collaborations, conflicts of interest, and others as appropriate.

NIH RCR Training Requirements

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has long required Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) education. The requirement for RCR instruction applies to all NIH 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. 

The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course is designed to engage participants in productive discussions about ethical issues that are commonly encountered during their research careers. This course is required for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Many departments and programs also recommend or require this course as part of their curricula.

The objectives of both courses are:

  • To engage participants in case-based discussions of ethical issues commonly encountered in, and raised by, current biomedical research.
  • To introduce participants to methods of analysis of ethical issues
  • To introduce participants to policies and regulations relevant to the conduct of research.

There are two different RCR courses: MED 255 and MED 255C (although the latter is not currently being offered).

MED 255 is a necessary, but not always sufficient, component of training in responsible conduct of research. Please be sure to contact your funder to inquire about additional requirements beyond MED 255. In general, however, the NIH requires several components of training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) including:

  • The required MED 255 or 255C course (the CITI class does not fulfill this requirement)

  • Refresher RCR instruction at each stage of training (e.g., graduate, postdoc, etc)

  • Continuing informal or formal training in research ethics throughout the year.

You must include a description of a program to provide instruction in the responsible conduct of research (see regulations). A template is available for your use as a statement in your grant application. Please be sure to supplement the template with funder-specific requirements, and address all structural components required.

NSF RECR Training Requirements

The National Science Foundation requires that, at the time of proposal submission, the institution has a plan to provide appropriate RECR training and oversight to all students (undergraduates, graduate, and postdoctoral scholars) who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. NSF strongly encourages the training of faculty in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

Completion of the CITI RECR series, or one of the Stanford Courses identified as an RECR Training, satisfies the NSF requirement for training in the responsible conduct of research for both faculty and students.

Students who are funded by the National Science Foundation, e.g., students with NSF fellowships, or paid as an RA on an NSF research project, are required to complete the appropriate RCR module within the first quarter of their funding.

Created: 11.19.20
Updated: 05.25.23