Responsible Conduct of Research

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is the ongoing process of reconciling regulations, guidelines, standards, and ethics to promote integrity in the proposing, planning, conducting, reporting, and reviewing of research. 

 University Trustee policy states the following:

"Adherence to the highest ethical and moral standards in the conduct of research and scholarly activity is the expectation for all members of the University of Massachusetts community. Each campus shall establish and submit to the President's office for approval procedures to promote research integrity through the responsible conduct of research as well as procedures for pursuing investigations of allegations of scientific misconduct. Research Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reporting, or reviewing research, not including honest error or difference of opinion (Trustee Doc. T08-010)

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) oversees and directs Public Health Services (PHS) research integrity activities and provides a number of resources in support of responsible conduct of research.


The 2007 America COMPETES Act directed NSF to require that all funded students and postdocs undergo training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR). The implementation of this requirement became effective with all NSF awards (including continuations) received on or after January 4, 2010. In compliance with this Federal regulation,  the University requires all NSF- sponsored Post Docs and Graduate students (whether on a new or continuing appointment)  to complete the online CITI course in RCR and receive a score of 80 percent or higher. At the discretion of the PI, undergraduate students will either complete the CITI course or be asked to certify that they have read and understood the contents of the following which provides an introduction to the key concepts.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training (NSF)

RCR Training process:


  • Principal Investigators have the primary responsibility for notifying their NSF-funded Post-docs Undergraduate and Graduate Students about this requirement.
  • The PI is responsible for keeping records of completion (CITI-provided certificate or undergraduate certification sheet) in the event of audit or NSF request for verification of compliance.


Additional information:

  • PIs must include RCR training in the job description and among the listed job duties.
  • All training must be completed within 30 days of appointment to the NSF-funded project.
  • PIs must demonstrate that they have taken all necessary steps to inform the NSF-funded students and postdocs of this requirement and to ensure compliance.
  • In order to help PIs ensure compliance by their NSF-funded students and postdocs with the RCR requirement, the ORC will generate a monthly report and notify PIs of any personnel being funded by an NSF award but not in compliance with the requirement.
  • Any outstanding training obligation for compliance not resolved after two ORC notices (60 days) will necessitate the transfer of the associated payroll off the NSF funding and onto another appropriate source of funds such as the PI’s Research Trust Fund (RTF). This is to prevent a disallowance of the funding by NSF for non-compliance with the RCR requirement.



NIH requires that 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.

See Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research  for more details on the NIH policy and instructional components.


Additional Resources

The following is a partial listing of available resources in research ethics and the teaching of research ethics.

For More Information please contact the Office of Research Compliance at or 413-545-5283.