You are here

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

Recommended RCR components

Format:  Face-to-face discussion (e.g., small group, case studies) with faculty participation in the training.  Limit online instruction.

Subject matter:  Successful RCR training programs include instruction in: 

  1. Conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  2. Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  3. Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  4. Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  5. Peer review
  6. Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership
  7. Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  8. Responsible authorship and publication
  9. The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research

Responsible conduct of research is the practice of scientific investigation with integrity.  It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.  
NIH,  NOT-OD-10-019

The University of Michigan is committed to fostering an environment of responsible conduct of research. 

As such, U-M follows federal, state, and university guidelines regarding Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for principal investigators, key personnel, and students.  These guidelines may apply to a specific type of research compliance (e.g., conflict of interest, animal care and use, human subjects protection) or to topics related the proper conduct of research (e.g., authorship).

Federal RCR Guidelines

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires all trainees, participants, and scholars receiving support through the following to obtain RCR training:

  • NIH Institutional Research Training Grants
  • Individual Fellowship Awards
  • Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual)
  • Research Education Grants
  • Dissertation Research Grants, or
  • Other grant programs with a training component as noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement

National Science Foundation

The responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. ~ NSF Award and Administration Guide, Chapter IV, section B

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires that undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers receive training and oversight in responsible and ethical conduct in research if they will be supported by the NSF to conduct research, as stated per Section 7009 of the America COMPETES Act.

The institution (e.g., U-M) is responsible for verifying that the appropriate training has occurred.  

University of Michigan Guidelines

To meet NSF requirements, each U-M school/college has developed a Responsible Conduct of Research training program for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers.  Contact your school/college for information regarding RCR training.


The University's online Program for Education & Evaluation in Responsible Research and Scholarship (PEERRS) offers eLearning courses for investigators and others at U-M to fulfill compliance-specific training regulations, such as that for human subjects protections.  PEERRS contains a course called, Research Practice Foundations, which covers many of the recommended RCR topics.  Separate courses are available to learn about the policies and guidelines related to:

  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Human Subjects Protection

For students and postdoctoral researchers, PEERRS courses may be considered pre-requisites, but are not an equivalent for a U-M school/college RCR training program.  PEERRS courses commonly cited as pre-requisites in school/college RCR programs are the Research Practice Foundations and Authorship courses.

References and Resources

  • NIH RCR Policy National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy outlining responsible conduct of research training requirements for trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars.  Includes a list of NIH programs and award types to which this policy applies.
  • NSF RCR Resources National Science Foundation web page with links to policy, FAQs, etc. regarding responsible conduct of research training for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF funds to conduct research.


For questions regarding specific RCR training programs, contact the applicable U-M school/college

For questions regarding PEERRS, see or email