Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training – LR 603.5

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Policy Name: Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training
Policy Number: LR 603.5
Effective Date: October 8, 2012
Revised Dates: July 1, 2011; October 8, 2012
Most Recent Review Date: –



In 2007, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the America Completes Act. Section 7009 of this legislation refers to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and defines an expectation that a plan be put in place to ensure that certain participants in NSF-sponsored research and educational projects be trained in the responsible conduct of research. The intent of this policy in its original form was to create compliance with the letter and spirit of the America Competes Act. The salient paragraph of the law states:

“The Director (of the National Science Foundation) shall require that each institution that applies for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project.”

This revised policy is a response to circumstances that have and continue to evolve. A trend in federal agencies has been observed in which the accountability standards defined for NSF in the America Competes Act are being mimicked. Furthermore, as UALR’s portfolio of research clients grows beyond the federal sponsors; industry, foundations, state sponsors, and others will expect the same level of research integrity that is currently expected at the federal level. In addition, the evolving definition of responsible conduct of research is limiting the range of practices that in times past were considered entirely reasonable and ethical, but are now thought of as suspect in the context of contemporary professional and societal standards. Finally, as UALR continues on its path of globalization, a growing number of foreign students, faculty, and other researchers are collaborating with UALR staff. Recognizing that standards of acceptable research behavior vary considerably from one culture to another, and that the Western world has the most stringent rules in this area, it is imperative that a broader cadre of individuals become acquainted, through training, with best practices as currently understood.


    1. A Responsible Individual is one who has involvement in an externally-funded research or educational project and is in a position to violate one or more of the axioms of responsible conduct of research as identified in Definition 6. This includes, but is not limited to: students, faculty, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, and visiting scientists/researchers. The project’s principal investigator will decide who is considered to be a responsible individual on his/her project. Any administrator with aegis over a project may expand the list of responsible individuals involved with the project.
    2. A Project is defined as any externally-funded research or educational activity.
    3. America Competes Act – In August 2007, the U.S. Congress passed and President Bush signed the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act of 2007 (a.k.a. America COMPETES Act) (1).
    4. Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) – is a subscription service providing research ethics training/education modules to all members of the research community through the University of Miami, FL. To participate, learners must be affiliated with a CITI participating organization of which UALR is one.
    5. Research is a systematic investigation, including research, development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
      Systematic investigation attempts to answer research questions (in some research, this would be a hypothesis) and
    6. is methodologically driven; that is, it collects data or information in an organized and consistent way,
    7. the data or information are analyzed in some way, be it quantitative or qualitative data, and
    8. conclusions are drawn from the results.

Generalizable knowledge is knowledge that is “expressed in theories, principles, and statements of relationships” that can be widely applied to our experiences. Generalizable knowledge is usually created to share with other people, such as through presentations and publications. Masters’ theses and Ph.D. dissertations are considered to present generalizable knowledge. Generalizable knowledge would include one or more of the following concepts:

    • The knowledge contributes to a theoretical framework of an established body of knowledge.
    • The primary beneficiaries of the research are other researchers, scholars, and practitioners in the field of study.
    • Publication, presentation, or other distribution of the results is intended to inform the field of study.
    • The results are expected to be generalized to a larger population beyond the site of data collection.
    • The results are intended to be replicated in other settings.
    • The results may be presented as a web-based publication for professional purposes.
  1. Responsible Conduct of Research Training consists of any instructional instrument designed to deliver education/training in at least the following nine areas, defined by the federal Office of Research Integrity, related to the ethical conduct of research (2):
    • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing, and Ownership
    • Conflict of Interest and Commitment
    • Human Subjects
    • Animal Welfare
    • Research Misconduct
    • Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
    • Mentor/Trainee Responsibilities
    • Peer Review
    • Collaborative Science


UALR recognizes the importance of providing instruction in the responsible conduct of research to its research community, while at the same time, being compliant with current and evolving federal law. This policy represents the good-faith effort of UALR to meet the letter and spirit of section 7009 of the 2007 America Competes Act, to extend it to a larger research and educational community, and to perform the institutional due diligence expected of a responsible member of the national research community.

In addition to fulfilling federal compliance regulations, this policy will provide collateral benefits with respect to:

  • increasing knowledge of, and sensitivity to, issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research,
  • improving the ability of participants to make ethical and legal choices in the face of conflicts involving scientific research,
  • developing appreciation for the range of accepted scientific practices for conducting research,
  • broaden the network of knowledgeable individuals whose positions make them vulnerable to unintentional research misconduct violations,
  • providing information about the regulations, policies, statutes, and guidelines that govern the conduct of federally-funded research, and
  • developing positive attitudes toward life-long learning in matters involving the RCR.


It is required that all members of the UALR community that are responsible individuals on any externally-funded project must satisfy this policy. Furthermore, this policy includes those in administrative positions with aegis over projects. Finally, responsible individuals and those in administrative positions with aegis over projects connected to any institution subcontracted to receive funding from a UALR project must comply with this policy.


It is required that all individuals described in Section IV and involved in projects active on the effective date of this policy must complete the CITI RCR program described in Section VI by 31 December 2012. As new people become involved in externally-funded projects, completion of the CITI training program is required prior to project commencement.


Satisfying the minimal training requirements of this policy can be accomplished by completion of the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) RCR training module that most closely addresses the researcher’s discipline (3). This program meets the requirements of the America Competes Act in both letter and spirit. A grade of at least 80 percent averaged over all modules is required to have successfully completed the CITI course. CITI automatically archives course grades. Records of course completion are accessible through CITI by the individual taking the course and the UALR CITI administrator as the institutional liaison to CITI.

All RCR training certifications expire three years after the date of program completion. Therefore, in order to remain current, certification must be renewed at least every three years.


It is highly desirable that all those required to complete RCR training do so in a timely manner. All responsible individuals, identified in Section IV, will be expected to complete the CITI training by the time defined in Section V. Failure to meet the defined timeline will be considered a misconduct of research and result in any of a variety of disciplinary actions including, but not limited to:

  • formal reprimand
  • failure to be permitted to register for coursework in future semesters
  • failure to graduate
  • freezing of sponsored program funds
  • ineligibility to submit future proposals through UALR
  • separation from UALR

When violations of this policy are identified, they will be addressed through proper institutional channels. Upon consideration of the circumstances surrounding the violation of the policy, the Vice Provost for Research, together with the Research Integrity Officer, will make a recommendation to the Provost for final decision.


A. Project Principal Investigators
Principal investigators must provide the names and UALR identification numbers of any responsible individual on the UALR campus.

B. Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will have access to and be the institutional custodian of all CITI and other records related to the completion of RCR training. As such, this office will be responsible to cross-check the names of individuals on projects against CITI records to assure training compliance. In addition, ORSP must obtain certification that all appropriate individuals at subcontracting institutions involved in any project have completed the training described in Section VI by the timeline defined in Section V. Failure of a subcontracting organization to provide such certification will result in a freeze on paying invoices submitted by the organization.


1. NIST Public Laws
2. HHS Education
3. Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Program

Status: Active
Approved By: Joel Anderson, Chancellor
Custodian: Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School