RCR Training Formats

UMBC Access to CITI RCR Training Modules

Training modules in CITI are available to the entire UMBC community. These are customized to cover the training topics, including authorship, collaborative research, data, management, mentoring and peer review for a number of specific disciplines in the fields of Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Engineering. Instructors who teach an existing course that includes an RCR component may include the CITI training as part of the course. Registration and log in information is found here.

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

National Science Foundation (NSF) Training Requirements

As stated by NSF, the America COMPETES Act requires institutions receiving NSF funding to conduct research to have a plan for appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RECR) for faculty, other senior personnel, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. Training components must include mentor training and mentorship. NSF also expects institutions to verify that undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel supported by NSF to conduct research have received training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

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.

New Guidance for 2023

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued new guidance that requires all principal investigators, co-principal investigators, and senior personnel who are or will be supported by NSF funds to complete Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR) training. This requirement will be effective for all proposals and awards beginning July 31, 2023. Completion of the online “RCR-Basic Course” through CITI fulfills this training requirement.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Requirements

NIH requires the submission of an instructional plan addressing the responsible conduct of research with expectation for awardee institutions to describe the format of the training, frequency of training and subject matter when NIH funding support is provided for trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grants. Examples include D, K, T, and U research training award programs. UMBCs RCR training guidance is found here.

NIH also recognizes that with “…advances in video conferencing…” such as the CITI RCR modules “…now allow for effective “face-to-face” discussions to occur electronically, institutions may wish to consider incorporating video conferencing options into their RCR instruction, provided that those options are utilized in a way that fosters discussion, active learning, engagement, and interaction among the participants.”. However, the NIH does not consider them adequate to address the RCR requirements. RCR instruction, as stated in the update, must occur at a frequency of no less than once every four years. Institutions can set their own timing and delivery of instruction in the responsible conduct of research but should consider the importance of ongoing and discipline-specific training as trainees develop their skills throughout their research careers.

The list of topics traditionally included in most acceptable plans for RCR instruction include:

  • conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial and conflict of commitment, in allocating time, effort, or other research resources
  • policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • safe research environments (e.g., those that promote inclusion and are free of sexual, racial, ethnic, disability and other forms of discriminatory harassment)
  • collaborative research including collaborations with industry and investigators and institutions in other countries
  • peer review, including the responsibility for maintaining confidentiality and security in peer review
  • data acquisition and analysis; laboratory tools (e.g., tools for analyzing data and creating or working with digital images); recordkeeping practices, including methods such as electronic laboratory notebooks
  • secure and ethical data use; data confidentiality, 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.

The NIH expects that RCR training topics be into instructional plans beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year. Training may be given as a semester-long series or a single one-day workshop. There is also flexibility in the guidance as” … long as the COVID public health emergency continues, flexibilities in the method of instruction in the responsible conduct of research remain in place. RCR training may be completed fully online during the public health emergency and grant recipients need not seek prior approval to do so.”

ORPC In-Person and Virtual Instructions

The staff of the ORPC are invited each semester to present timely topics on RCR to undergraduate and graduate level research methodology courses, students involved with the PROMISE & Professional Development program as well as future Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) scholars as well as presenters in the Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD). The ORPC has presented to departments, labs and administrative groups on campus.  We would be more than happy to meet with you or your unit.  Please feel free to contact us at compliance@umbc.edu.

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