Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

RCR covers core norms, principles, regulations, and rules governing the practice of research.

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About these Courses

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) require certain categories of researchers to receive RCR training. However, RCR is increasingly viewed as an essential component of training regardless of a researcher's source of funding.

RCR consists of a basic course, refresher course, communicating research findings course, and facilitator guides. While particular emphasis is given to the educational needs of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, the RCR series is suitable for any person involved in research ranging from upper-level undergraduates to established faculty and other professionals.

The RCR Basic, RCR Refresher, and Communicating Research Findings courses provide students or other researchers with foundational knowledge that can enhance the quality of in-person or virtual training. RCR trainers can use the RCR Facilitator Guides to develop and facilitate in-person or virtual training.

The RCR courses and facilitator guides were written and peer-reviewed by experts.

View a sample of our updated RCR video case studies:

Language Availability: English, Korean

Suggested Audiences: Faculty, Postdoctoral Researchers, Principal Investigators, RCR Trainers, Staff, Students


Basic Courses

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Basic

CME/CEU

This course covers the core norms, principles, regulations, and rules governing the practice of research.

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Refresher Courses

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Refresher

CME/CEU

This course offers retraining on the RCR Basic course.

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Additional Courses

Communicating Research Findings

Featured

This course focuses on effective practices, guidelines, and strategies for communicating and presenting research findings.

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Facilitator Guides

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Facilitator Guides

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These guides provide resources and guidance for developing and facilitating in-person or virtual RCR training sessions.

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FAQs

Who should consider taking RCR courses?

RCR is suitable for any person involved in research, ranging from upper-level undergraduates to established faculty and other professionals. Particular emphasis is given to the educational needs of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Which disciplines or fields do the RCR courses cover?

RCR covers essential topic areas such as authorship, data management, and research misconduct that are relevant to researchers from any field or discipline. It also includes content more specifically tailored to a subset of research fields, including “Research Involving Human Subjects” and “Using Animal Subjects in Research."

Do the RCR courses satisfy the NSF or NIH RCR training mandate?

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) RCR policy allows organizations to make an internal determination about the type of training, CITI Program or otherwise, that satisfies its RCR training requirement.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) RCR policy prohibits a training program that relies entirely on online instruction “except in special instances of short-term training.” Therefore, CITI Program’s RCR Basic course can be used to complement an in-person training experience. In addition, CITI Program’s RCR Facilitator Guides can be used to help RCR trainers develop and facilitate in-person or virtual training sessions.

Do the RCR courses satisfy the USDA NIFA RCR training mandate?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) indicates that each institution needs to develop its own approach to RCR training and states, “Grantees should consider the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program for RCR.”

Can the RCR Basic course be taken on a standalone basis?

Yes, the RCR Basic course can be used in a standalone manner. It offers comprehensive coverage on a broad selection of topics. However, we recommend that organizations build frameworks of training that combine CITI Program content with face-to-face training, one-on-one mentoring, and other types of learning opportunities, as appropriate to the particular topics and their organizational cultures.

When should someone consider taking the RCR Refresher course?

There is no uniform standard regarding how frequently RCR training should occur. NIH’s RCR policy states, “Instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years.” If an organization wants its learners to complete refresher training, it is recommended that the refresher course be taken approximately three or four years after learners have completed a basic RCR course.

When should someone consider taking the Communicating Research Findings course?

The Communicating Research Findings course is beneficial to all researchers as it focuses on effective practices, guidelines, and strategies for communicating and presenting research findings. Organizations may add the modules in this course to the RCR Basic course or a Human Subjects Research (HSR) course or offer them to their learners on a standalone basis.

When should someone consider utilizing the RCR Facilitator Guides?

The RCR Facilitator Guides are designed for RCR trainers (in other words, people who are responsible for developing and facilitating RCR training at an institution). These guides help trainers develop and facilitate in-person or virtual training sessions for faculty, postdoctoral researchers, principal investigators, staff, and students.

Each guide includes a video case study or multiple video case studies that trainers can use as part of their in-person or virtual training sessions. The use of a facilitator guide and the video case studies is limited to a trainer affiliated with a CITI Program subscribing organization. Trainers must be logged into CITI Program to access the material and present the video case study. No other distribution of the videos or other copyrighted material is permitted.

Should the RCR Facilitator Guides be utilized on a standalone basis?

Yes, the RCR Facilitator Guides are designed specifically for RCR trainers and should be utilized separate from the other RCR courses. We recommend that organizations create a separate gradebook and learner group that includes each of the guides. Each guide should be made available as Elective, so RCR trainers can utilize them as needed.

Can CITI Program be used to track learner attendance at in-person training sessions?

No, CITI Program cannot currently be used to track attendance at in-person training sessions. The RCR Facilitator Guides are only intended to help organizations meet in-person training requirements in keeping with their specific needs. The RCR Facilitator Guides provide guidance and materials that help trainers develop and facilitate in-person training sessions in keeping with their organization’s training needs.

How long does it take to complete each course?

Each course consists of various modules that include detailed content, graphics, case studies (if applicable), and other supplemental materials. Each module also includes a quiz. Modules vary in length, and learners may require different amounts of time to complete them based on their familiarity and knowledge of the topic. However, a module is typically designed to take about 25 to 35 minutes to complete.

Each of the RCR Facilitator Guides includes recommended learning objectives, prep work, a video case study to use in a training session, tips and prompts for facilitating productive discussions, alternative scenarios to enhance discussions, other topics to explore during discussions, polling questions to initiate discussions and engage with learners, and potential evaluation questions for learners. Each guide is designed to take about 25 to 30 minutes to review. In addition, individuals may revisit each guide as needed.

Are the RCR courses eligible for continuing medical education credits?

The RCR Basic and RCR Refresher courses are eligible for continuing medical education credits. The Communicating Research Findings and RCR Facilitator Guides courses are not currently eligible for continuing medical education credits.