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Responsible Conduct of Research Plan

The responsible conduct of research (RCR) is critical for excellence in all academic disciplines to maintain the public’s trust. Illinois State University expects that all researchers at ISU carry out their work according to the highest ethical and professional standards. ISU has established policies impacting the conduct of research that apply to all administrators, faculty, university staff, graduate or undergraduate students, and agents or collaborators who are engaged in research or other scholarly activities. RCR training is a framework for imparting these standards and is a critical component of scholarly and career development.

Federal RCR Requirements


All individuals conducting research are encouraged to take advantage of the RCR training opportunities described in this plan.  For research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or the USDA National Institute of  Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA)  there are specific training requirements depending on the role of individual. 

NSF:  All faculty, senior personnel, postdoctoral researchers, undergraduate students and graduate students who will be supported by NSF to conduct research.  The requirements apply to all proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023.

NIH:  All trainees, fellows, participants and scholars receiving support through:

      • NIH Institutional Research Training Grants
      • Individual Fellowship Awards
      • Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual)
      • Research Education Grants
      • Dissertation Research Grants, or
      • Other grant programs with a training component as noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement

USDA-NIFA:    All program directors, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project. 

Note:  Unlike NIH and NSF, USDA-NIFA does not specify RCR training methods or timelines.  Trainees can satisfy USDA-NIFA RCR training requirements by completion of the online component described below

General Training/Mentoring Program

The training program for grant personnel includes both an online and a face-to-face mentoring component. It is expected that each trainee participates in at least eight hours of instruction.  Online instruction may only count as three hours of instruction.  ISU subscribes to a comprehensive research ethics training program called the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) to provide the online instruction.  The remaining hours must be completed using the face-to-face/mentoring component. 

    1. PI/Mentor Training

PIs/Mentors are required to complete the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research  Facilitator Guide Course within 90 days of the award.

    1. Online Component for All Personnel (up to 3 hours):

All PI’s, mentors and trainees are required to complete the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research Basic Course within 30 days of beginning their participation on the grant.  The courses cover the following topics:

      • conflict of interest (personal, financial and professional) and conflict of commitment in allocating time, effort, and other research resources
      • human subjects, vertebrate animals and safe laboratory practices policies;
      • mentor/trainee relationships and responsibilities;
      • safe research environments (e.g., those that promote inclusion and are free of sexual, racial, ethnic, disability and other forms of discriminatory harassment);
      • collaborative research;
      • peer review, including the responsibility of maintaining confidentiality and security in peer review;
      • data acquisition/analysis; laboratory tools (management, sharing, ownership);
      • secure/ethical data use; data confidentiality, management, sharing, ownership
      • research misconduct (including handling misconduct);
      • responsible authorship and publication;
      • the scientist’s responsibilities toward society and the environment as well as contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research.
    1. Face-to-face/Mentoring Component (at least 5 hours):

Both NIH and NSF recognize the importance of ongoing personal interactions to promote adherence to ethical research practices.  These interactions should incorporate the topics listed above as applicable to the project.  The format of these interactions is at the discretion of the PI but should include both formal and informal instruction in responsible conduct of research.  Informal instruction occurs in the course of laboratory interactions and other informal situations throughout the year.  Formal instruction may include participation in research methods courses as an instructor or student.  Rotation of training faculty/mentors may be a useful way to achieve these goals over a period of time.  A semester-long series of seminars/programs is preferred over a single seminar or one-day workshop.

Resources for face-to-face/mentoring can be found on many websites.  NIH’s Office of Research Integrity has many RCR resources that include interactive videos, case studies, and infographics on all the topics listed in the online training section of this document.  Some additional resources include:


    1. Documentation and Compliance

PIs are required to maintain documentation on all RCR training for all personnel on their grants using the RCR Training Documentation Form.  For personnel who are supported by more than one grant, the form allows tracking for multiple grants for each individual required to complete training.  PIs will receive automatic reminder emails 60 and 30 days prior to the anniversary of the award regarding verification of training. 

The Office of Research Ethics and Compliance has been designated by the institution to oversee compliance with the RCR requirements.  Noncompliance may result in administrative sanctions including the withholding of funds, inability to accept new awards, and inability to submit new proposals.