The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define ‘Responsible Conduct of Research’ (RCR) as, “the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. . . [involving] the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.”1
Standards for the responsible conduct of research are set forth by federal and state regulations, institutional policies, professional codes of conduct and personal convictions.2 At the federal level (Refer to 42 CFR Part 93 ), the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is vested with the authority to develop policies, procedures and regulations for the detection, investigation, and prevention of research misconduct. ORI also serves a support role in assisting institutions developing individualized RCR training programs. Accordingly, ORI has identified nine core instructional areas as central:
Incorporating ORI’s principles, University of Maine System and University of Maine policies and procedures reflect a strong institutional commitment to fostering an environment in which the highest ethical standards in the conduct of research and other scholarly activities are not only expected, but required. Primary responsibility for maintaining such standards in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge rests with the faculty, collaborating staff members, and students. Every individual engaged in research and other scholarly activities is expected to be fully aware of the regulations and ethics guidelines governing his/her discipline. Penalties for non-compliance can range from administrative, to civil and criminal for both the institution and the individual(s).
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Pursuant to Notice NOT-OD-10-019: “Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research”, “all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award, research education grant and dissertation research grant must receive instruction in responsible conduct of research.”
National Science Foundation (NSF) – Implementation of Section 7009 of the America COMPETES Act requires that, “at the time of proposal submission to NSF, a proposing institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative 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 to conduct research.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) – Requires training in the Responsible Conduct of Research for “program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project” for all awards subject to NIFA Research Terms and Conditions dated February 2013 and after. Full text of the requirement can be found in NIFA’s April 2013 Agency-Specific Terms & Conditions (PDF).
UMaine – Implementation of NSF and NIH training requirements is detailed in the memo, “UMaine Responsible & Ethical Conduct of Research Plan (PDF).” Principal Investigators or Project Directors are responsible for ensuring that appropriate training occurs early in the first year each student or postdoc receives NSF or NIH support, and for promptly submitting certification of that training to ORSP.
While the University’s Responsible & Ethical Conduct of Research plan is being revised to reflect the NIFA RCR training requirement, subject personnel are directed to take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative’s ‘General RCR Course’ and to submit a copy of their certificate of completion to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at: email@example.com (Instructions for establishing a CITI user account and completing RCR training).
2 Steneck, N. ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research (Chapter 1). HTML Version, September 2006, updated from Revised Printed Edition, June 2004 [Accessed 9/4/12]