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 as they develop individualized RCR training programs.  Accordingly, ORI has identified nine core instructional areas:

Incorporating ORI’s principles, the policies and procedures of the University of Maine System and the University of Maine 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 ethical guidelines governing his/her discipline.  Failure to comply can result in penalties ranging from administrative to civil or 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 October 2014 Agency-Specific Terms & Conditions (PDF) and NIFA’s March 2013 Terms and Conditions, Small Business Innovation Research Grants Program .

UMaine –  Principal Investigators (PI) or Project Directors (PD) are responsible for ensuring that appropriate training occurs early in the first year each subject person receives NSF, NIH, or USDA-NIFA support, and for promptly submitting certification of that training to ORA.  Please note: PI and Co-PI on USDA-NIFA awards subject to the training requirement must complete training before ORSP will establish the project account.

The University’s Responsible & Ethical Conduct of Research plan is currently being revised. In the interim, PI/PD should follow the plan outlined below:

  • Undergraduates are directed to register for an Undergraduate RCR workshop (contact Amanda Ashe to register or request more information).  Next Training: TBD. Registration information will be available in the ORA Newslink.
  • Graduate students are directed to take INT601 or an approved alternate course (see Graduate School – RCR Training Requirement).
  • Post-Doctoral researchers and other subject faculty/staff may take INT-601 or complete Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative’s (CITI) ‘General RCR Course’ (see CITI Instructions).

If you have questions regarding this training requirement or CITI training instructions please contact Amanda Ashe.

RCR Resources

1NIH 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]