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Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research or RCR

This guide is an introduction to the concepts of RCR, a key component of research integrity

What Is Resposible Conduct of Research?

The term "responsible conduct of research" (RCR) refers to a set of ethical guidelines for researchers to follow while designing, carrying out, and reporting research projects. Honesty, precision, efficiency, and impartiality are at the core of the RCR principles. In order to fulfill commitments and promises, honest researchers must present facts honestly. Researchers who are accurate will not make mistakes and will correctly summarize their results. Researchers who are effective are mindful of saving money and reducing waste. Researchers who are unbiased take precautions to prevent prejudice. RCR often centers on education and training initiatives to create and sustain a pool of ethical researchers.

Why Is RCR important?

Federal laws, institutional norms, professional ethical standards, and individual obligations all govern RCR training. RCR was initially created in reaction to research misconduct discovered in programs receiving federal funding. Researchers and students working on supported projects are required to undergo responsible conduct of research training by both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Cases of research misconduct must be investigated and documented by the government Office of Research Integrity (ORI). In order to decrease instances of misconduct and increase the rigor of the scientific endeavor, many institutions now put a strong emphasis on proactive educating investigators in the appropriate conduct of research.

RCR Training

Although there are no required subject topics for an efficient RCR educational or training program, the most thorough RCR programs include these nine areas:

  1. Research Misconduct
  2. Conflicts of Interest
  3. Mentor/Trainer Responsibilities
  4. Data Acquisition and Management
  5. Collaborative Research
  6. Peer Review
  7. Authorship and Plagiarism
  8. Human Subject Research 
  9. Using Animals in Research

Illinois Institute of Technology requires all undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty engaged (or who will be engaged) in research to complete a RCR training course in CITI whether or not they have funding support. To learn more, see the "Responsible Conduct of Research Training" page published by the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance.