Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Glossary

Unless otherwise noted, the definitions below are from Office of Research Integrity (ORI) Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research1.

Animal Welfare

Research, teaching or testing activities using live vertebrate animals must be reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). See also ORI – Chapter 4 (external link).

Conflict of Interest and Commitment

“A divergence between an individual’s private interests and his or her professional obligations to the University such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual’s professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise.” [UMaine definition2]. See also ORI – Chapter 5 (external link) and Conflict of Interest for more information.

Collaborative Research

“Research involving more than one investigator working on a common, ‘collaborative’ project. Special attention should be given to matters such as: establishing roles and responsibilities for each collaborator, developing management plans to address financial and research compliance, establishing criteria to determine authorship, and determining how intellectual property rights and ownership issues will be resolved.” See also ORI – Chapter 8 (external link).

Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership

“Accepted practices for acquiring and maintaining research data – researchers should collect, store, protect, and share data, mindful of the need to maintain its integrity, validity, and accuracy. Ownership issues must be considered. Some data must be shared with colleagues; other data must be protected from unapproved use. Some data must be preserved for specified periods of time; some destroyed to protect confidentiality.” See also ORI – Chapter 6 (external link).

Human Subjects

Human subjects are living individuals from whom a researcher obtains data through intervention/interaction with the individual or acquires identifiable private information. Research that uses human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB). See also ORI – Chapter 3 (external link).

Mentor / Trainee Relationships & Responsibilities

“Relationships and responsibilities between researchers and anyone learning to be a researcher (undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows etc.). The keys to a productive mentor-trainee relationship are:

  • a clear understanding of mutual responsibilities;
  • a commitment to maintain a productive and supportive research environment;
  • proper supervision and review, and;
  • an understanding that the main purpose of the relationship is to prepare trainees to become successful researchers.”

See also ORI – Chapter 7 (external link).

Peer Review

“Evaluation by colleagues with similar knowledge and experience. For peer review to work, it must be: timely, thorough, constructive, free from personal bias, and respectful of the need for confidentiality. Researchers who serve as peer reviewers should be mindful of the public as well as the professional consequences of their evaluations and exercise special care when making these evaluations.” See also ORI – Chapter 10 (external link).

Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship

“Whether structured or informal, controlled or free ranging, responsible publication in research should ideally meet some minimum standards. All forms of publication should present: a full and fair description of the work undertaken, an accurate report of the results, and an honest and open assessment of the findings.” With regard to responsible authorship, “authors listed on publications should fairly and accurately represent the person(s) responsible for the work in question.” See also ORI – Chapter (external link).

Research Misconduct

“Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scholarly community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research and other scholarly activities. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.” [UMaine Definition3]. See also ORI – Chapter 2 (external link) and Research Misconduct for more information.


  1. Steneck, N. “ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research (external link)“. HTML Version, September 2006, updated from Revised Printed Edition, June 2004 [Accessed 9/4/12] ↩︎
  2. UMaine “Policies & Procedures for Financial Disclosures and Conflicts of Interest in Extramurally Sponsored Activities” (Word) [Accessed 9/26/19] ↩︎
  3. University of Maine Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct (Word) [Accessed 11/28/23] ↩︎