Responsible Conduct of Research

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is essential for conducting good science. RCR promotes the aims of scientific inquiry and fosters a research environment that enables scientists to work together toward common goals and promotes public confidence in scientific knowledge and progress for the public good. RCR enables the practice of scientific investigation with integrity, building the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.

Ethical and responsible conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in the responsible and ethical conduct of research is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers. Several national research organizations emphasize RCR. Texas A&M-San Antonio, as a part of the Texas A&M University system, is committed to training and providing resources to ensure all stakeholders are trained and made aware of the Institution’s enduring commitment to ensure the long-term professional development of current and future generations of researchers and scientists.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Requirements

The America COMPETES Act of 2007 directed that the NSF require that each institution that applies for financial assistance for science and engineering research or education certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF. While training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, institutions are advised that they are subject to review upon request.

In response to this requirement, the NSF published a revision to its NSF Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide requiring that beginning January 4, 2010, institutions must certify that, at the time of proposal submission, the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who are supported by NSF. Texas A&M- SA has developed a Training Plan that complies with this NSF requirement.

New NSF requirements

Effective July 31, 2023, NSF has implemented new requirements for training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. Previously, this training was only required for students and postdoctoral scholars. Faculty and other senior personnel supported by NSF to conduct research are now required to complete this training. Everyone required to complete this training will be asked to complete online CITI training. NSF has also expanded the training topics, which must now include mentor training and mentorship.


Undergraduate Students

For undergraduate students supported by NSF grants, principal investigators will be responsible for ensuring that these students read a handout and complete the training when involved in RCR.

All undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by the National Science Foundation must complete mandatory RCR training, CITI training and read the handout

Graduate Students
For graduate students and post docs, the RCR training program will involve three mandatory components: 1)Train Traq RCR training, 2) CITI RCR training, and 3) One-on-one mentoring from the faculty advisor.

Postdoctoral Scholars, Researchers, and Faculty Members

A combination of Train Traq courses, CITI  courses, and in person sessions are required for Postdoctoral scholars, researchers and faculty members. Refer to the RCR Training Document here for more information.

 Information to enroll in CITI can be found here.  Individuals who may have used CITI for previous trainings can use their existing username and password to access the site and add the RCR course to their course completion history.

Content Areas

In several presentations, NSF has indicated the following content areas could be included in responsible conduct of research education:

  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
  • Mentor/Trainee Responsibilities
  • Peer Review
  • Collaborative Research
  • Time Management and Personal Responsibility
  • Research Misconduct
  • Conflict of Interest and Commitment
  • Whistleblowing
  • Dispute Resolution
  • You and the Literature
  • Lab Note Books and Graphical Presentation of Data
  • Data Ownership and Inventions
  • Posters and Oral Presentations
  • Attending Scientific Meetings
  • Writing Grant Proposals/Obtaining Funding
  • Writing a Research Article
  • Peer Review, Problem Selection and Problem solving
  • Legal Issues in Research and Research Misconduct
  • Teaching Skills
  • Job Skills and Life After Grad School and Postdoc Appointments

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Requirements

On Nov. 24, 2009, NIH updated its policy for instruction of trainees in the responsible conduct of research. The new updated policy states:

"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 requires instruction in responsible conduct of research as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements."


  1. NSF Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity - Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
  3. On Being A Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition
  4. NIH Office of Research Integrity
  5. Ethics Education and Scientific and Engineering Research: What's Been Learned? What Should Be Done? Summary of a Workshop
  6. Council of Graduate Schools: Project for Scholarly Integrity
  7. National Postdoctoral Association Responsible Conduct of Research Toolkit
  8. Online Ethics Center