Public and regulatory demand for accountability has increased significantly in the past 20 years, and regulations in reaction to abuses and scandals, especially in the realm of human subjects, have been passed.
In recent years, however, Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) has been defined more broadly and federally funded research (and, in general, all research) must comply with regulations related to nine areas of research including: human subjects, vertebrate animals, research misconduct, and financial conflict.
The 2007 America COMPETES Act (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) requires that institutions applying for National Science Foundation (NSF) funding must have a plan for providing "appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research" to undergraduate students, graduate students, and post docs "participating in the proposed research". This certification is required for proposals submitted on or after January 4, 2010.
The purpose of our policy seeks to ensure compliance with Section 7009 of the America COMPETES Act of 2007. Further, training in responsible conduct of research is intended to encourage best practices in the conduct of all research and scientific investigations and to foster an ability to recognize an ethical choice and the ability to make a principled decision.
All undergraduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF to conduct research must complete Responsible Conduct of Research education.
Responsibility for compliance with the NSF RCR mandate rests primarily with the Principal Investigator (PI).
Travel grants, including conference, symposium and workshop travel are exempt from the RCR training requirement. All other individuals who work on or are paid from NSF funds must complete RCR training.
The Principal Investigator is required to provide ongoing RCR training appropriate to the discipline, research project, and level of involvement for students, including instruction during the course of the project and in informal situations throughout the year.
When postdoctoral researchers are involved in research proposed to the NSF by a PI, a plan for mentoring the postdoctoral students will be included in the proposal itself.
There are currently three ways by which undergraduate student researchers can meet the RCR training requirement:
In most instances, a combination of methods will be used.
The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) public access course in the Responsible Conduct of Research is available without charge to the research community. The CITI RCR module provides core instruction on responsible conduct in research in the following areas:
To access the CITI RCR course:
Davidson College must meet the "oversight" portion of the RCR requirement, i.e. tracking and verifying that the requirement has been met.
For the CITI training, a certificate is available for users to print/save upon completion of the CITI RCR course. This certificate must be sent to the Office of Grants & Contracts (OGC).
For the other two methods, instructor training and the CIS 391 course, the professor will send communication to OGC indicating that the requirement has been met.
Note that no payments can be made on NSF grants until the certification has been received by OGC.
The Director of Grants and Contracts shall oversee this policy and review it at least once every two years. Changes to this policy shall be made in accordance with the college's Policy on Policies.
April 21, 2011
Last Revised: January 21, 2012