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Compliance - Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research

Important New Policy!

Commencing with Summer 2014 admissions, the University of Maine Graduate School will require all graduate students enrolled in graduate research masters (thesis) or doctoral programs to receive one credit of RCR training prior to completing the degree, preferably prior to commencing the research.  At the advisory committee’s or Graduate Coordinator’s discretion, this credit may be substituted for one of the 6 required thesis/dissertation credits (XXX699) and is a co-requisite for XXX699; therefore, students must take the RCR training before or at the same time as the first registration for XXX699.  

Currently enrolled students will not be required to take RCR training unless supported to conduct research on a National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, or National Science Foundation award (see below for information on these federal regulations).

Graduates students subject to the RCR training policy and/or federal mandate should plan on taking INT601, presently the only approved course for fulfilling the requirement.

For further information regarding the policy, please contact the Graduate School.  For further information on the regulations, please read on.

Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define ‘Responsible and Ethical 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 and ethical 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.  Failure to comply can result in penalties ranging from administrative, to civil and criminal for both the institution and the individual(s).

RCR Training Requirements

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) and NIFA’s March 2013 Terms and Conditions, Small Business Innovation Research Grants Program (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, save for undergraduate students, are directed to take INT601 or the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative’s (CITI) ‘General RCR Course’ and to submit a copy of their certificate of completion to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at: (personnel choosing CITI training are strongly encouraged to review Instructions: Conflicts of Interest and Responsible Conduct of Research Training (PDF) prior to accessing CITI, establishing a user account, and commencing coursework).  Undergraduate students will be offered training in workshops scheduled throughout the year.  Please use the contact information listed below for more information.

If you have questions regarding this training requirement please contact Wendy Eckert. For questions related to CITI training instructions, please contact Amanda Ashe.

RCR Resources

1 NIH Notice: #NOT-OD-10-010 “Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research” [Accessed 9/3/2012]

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]

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Contact Information

Office of Research & Sponsored Programs
5717 Corbett Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5717
Phone: 207-581-1484 | Fax: 207-581-1446
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System