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Overview of UMBC Responsible Conduct of Research Program

The aims of responsible conduct of research (RCR) program are to encourage integrity in the pursuit of scientific investigation and practice among of scientists, scholars, and professionals. Educating such individuals about the underlying principles of responsible conduct of research will assist in discouraging research misconduct and questionable research practices. Many policies and procedures, ranging from professional societies to the federal government to UMBC, have been created to guide individuals in conducting responsible research and ensuring integrity of research.

UMBC is committed to instilling in our research community a shared understanding and adherence to the principles of responsible conduct of research (RCR). UMBC’s RCR training program is designed to meet the requirements adopted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, the training program supports the UMBC Graduate School’s requirement that all graduate students in all disciplines who are engaged in research and working on either a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation, regardless of funding source, be adequately trained in the concepts of RCR.

NSF Training Requirements

NSF expects institutions to be able to verify that students receiving NSF funds, either in salary support or stipends to conduct research, receive RCR training. Unlike NIH, NSF has not specified the content for training and expects each institution to determine curriculum, taking into consideration the types of research conducted at the institution and the needs of the students who intend to pursue basic or applied research careers.

The RCR training requirement applies to proposals submitted to conduct research that supports students and postdoctoral researchers; excluded are proposals for conference, symposium, workshop, or travel submissions.  PIs will be asked to agree to complete the same RCR training as his/her students and postdoctoral researchers working on the project. Although this latter action is not specifically required by NSF, NSF has made it clear that they expect RCR to include a strong mentoring component, so it is important that PIs are familiar with the RCR training that their students and postdoctoral researchers have taken and can discuss it with them.

RCR Training

RCR training at UMBC is the responsibility of the Vice President for Research and will be administered through the Office of Research Protections and Compliance (ORPC). The RCR modules in CITI address the following topics:

  • Research Misconduct
  • Data Acquisition and Management
  • Responsible Authorship
  • Peer Review
  • Mentoring
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Collaborative Research

These topics are customized for a number of specific disciplines including Biomedical, Humaniaties, Social and Behavioral, and Physical Sciences, and Engineering. The modules contain general information about RCR, case studies and quizzes. Instructors who teach an existing course that includes an RCR component will be asked to include the CITI training as part of the course.

PLEASE NOTE: The RCR modules cannot be substituted for the basic courses required for human subjects research or laboratory animal welfare.

NIH Training Requirements

NIH requires the submission of an instructional plan addressing the responsible conduct of research. The November 24, 2009, notice (NOT-OD-10-019) established a new expectation for the format of the training, subject matter, faculty participation, duration and frequency of instruction. THe NIH guidance states “… all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant must receive instruction in responsible conduct of research. This policy will take effect with all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 25, 2010, and for all continuation (Type 5) applications with deadlines on or after January 1, 2011. This Notice applies to the following programs: 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. This policy also applies to any other NIH-funded programs supporting research training, career development, or research education that require instruction in responsible conduct of research as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements.”

The 2009 update specifies that online courses, such as the CITI RCR modules, can be a valuable supplement but they are not considered adequate to address the RCR requirements. Training plans must also include a minimum of eight substantive hours of face-to-face instruction over the following subject matter:

  • conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  • policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • peer review
  • data acquisition and laboratory tools: management, sharing and ownership
  • research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • responsible authorship and publication
  • the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.

PIs must carefully review the Notice of Award to determine the RCR requirements for the specific award and ensure that they have a plan in place to meet the RCR requirements.

Training may be given as a semester-long series or a single one-day workshop. Investigators may develop their own training format. The NIH guidance documents also indicate that “Training faculty and sponsors/mentors are highly encouraged to contribute both to formal and informal instruction in responsible conduct of research. Rotation of training faculty as course directors, instructors, and/or discussion leaders may be a useful way to achieve the ideal of full faculty participation in formal responsible conduct of research courses over a period of time.”

Research compliance feedback and reporting research concerns

return to RCR info