Federally funded research (and, in general, all research) must comply with Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) regulations related to nine areas of research including: human subjects, vertebrate animals, research misconduct, and financial conflict.


This 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, Public Health Service (PHS) affiliated agencies, such as NIH, and other federal agencies to conduct research must complete Responsible Conduct of Research education.

Exemptions: 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 federal funds must complete RCR training.

Responsibility for compliance with the RCR mandate rests primarily with the Principal Investigator (PI).


  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is defined as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity.   
  • Participants are defined as follows for the purposes of this policy: All undergraduates who receive wages for, or academic credit about, or who otherwise work on an NSF, NIH or other federally funded project will be counted as participating in funded research. Postdoctoral researchers who are involved in this research are also participants.
  • Principal Investigator (PI) or Investigator is the lead faculty member on a research project and is the primary individual responsible for an external grant.  
  • Responsible Stewardship is the obligation to use public resources effectively and efficiently.  
  • Public Trust is the right of the public to have confidence in the reliability of research results.  
  • Respect for Living Beings includes respect for human and animal subjects as well as colleagues and students. 


Effective February 1, 2020, Davidson College offers RCR training through the CITI program: 

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Course Information

Each of the RCR course offerings cover the core norms, principles and rules governing the practice of responsible research.  

In addition to online courses, NSF and NIH have expectations of frequent, ongoing interactions between mentors and mentees in the research setting as a key learning tool for RCR instruction.  A description of your consultations on RCR with your mentees or with your mentor, as the case may be, is important to include in an RCR plan, including the method of documenting their occurrences.

Tracking & Verification of RCR Training  

The nine areas of research responsibility that are covered by RCR training are (1) Research Misconduct (2) Data Acquisition and Management (3) Responsible Authorship (4) Peer Review (5) Laboratory Animal Welfare (6) Human Subjects Protections (7) Mentoring (8) Conflicts of Interest (9) Collaborative Research.

Davidson College must meet the "oversight" portion of the RCR requirement, i.e. tracking and verifying that this requirement has been met.  On participants' satisfactory completion of the CITI course, the PI must email the completion certificates to the Office of Sponsored Programs. This certification is valid for three years.

Administration of Policy

The Director of Sponsored Programs 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.

Related Davidson College Policies

Date of Adoption: April 21, 2011

Last Revised: February 13, 2020

Last Reviewed: February 13, 2020