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Responsible conduct of research (RCR) programs

Need assistance with responsible conduct of research?

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) broadly refers to a code of ethical conduct that researchers should abide by on a daily basis. RCR education strives to promote ongoing discussion and examination of research operating procedures (including experimental design, data analysis, data management), academic and collegial relationships and collaborations, the ethical considerations accompanying studies, and the research culture itself.  Making ethical and practical decisions requires practice, periodic reflection, and discussion to learn and experiment with different approaches.

The National Institutes of Health initiated the first RCR education requirement in 1989 and this educational initiative has evolved and strengthened over time. Similarly, the National Science Foundation initiated an RCR education requirement for all trainees in 2009. The Office of Research Integrity, within the US Department of Health and Human Services, has developed a variety of resources and programs to support responsible conduct of research education.

RCR programs by career stage

Duke has developed multiple RCR programs for researchers at different career stages

Faculty and staff engaged in research

Administered by the ASIST team in the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity

Biomedical PhD graduate students

Administered by the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education

  • Includes MSTP students

Non-biomedical PhD and Masters graduate students

Administered by the Duke Graduate School

Undergraduate students engaged in research

Administered by the ASIST team in the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity

Visiting Scholars

Researchers not employed by Duke are not required to complete RCR training as part of the Duke Faculty & Staff RCR Program, but they are encouraged to take advantage of the RCR training opportunities available to Duke researchers.

RCR requirements by funding agency

Many funding agencies have their own requirements around responsible conduct of research training.

Note that this is a non-exhaustive list. If a funding agency is not included on this list, please refer to the agency's website to learn more about their training requirements.

National Institutes of Health

NIH trainees (including junior faculty, residents, clinical fellows, postdocs on specific NIH training fellowships) are required to complete at least 8 contact hours of collaborative RCR education. An RCR workshop series that fulfills this specific NIH RCR training requirement is offered by the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine.

National Science Foundation

As of July 31, 2023, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty and other senior staff who are supported by NEW NSF research projects will be required to complete Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) training. The training that Duke provides to meet this funder requirement will also meet the Duke RCR training requirement. If you meet the NSF criteria for RECR training, the DOSI-ASIST office will contact you directly.

For NSF proposals involving science or engineering research/education, the sponsor requires that there is a description in the grant proposal that describes appropriate training and oversight. Researchers should include the following statement in the facilities, equipment and other resources section of the proposal:  

  • "Duke University will adhere to the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research training plan articulated in Duke’s RCR Program website for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel who will be supported by NSF."

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