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Office of Research Compliance

Responsible Conduct of Research Training


Federal regulations require that institutions receiving funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH)  and other agencies ("covered sponsors") provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) for students (undergraduate and graduate) and postdoctoral researchers who are supported with federal funds. USC must certify on all covered proposals that it has a plan to provide appropriate RCR training. To comply with this requirement, USC is requiring that all students and post doctoral researchers paid by salary or stipend from a covered sponsored project must complete an approved RCR training program. 



National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation’s latest Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) expands the requirements for Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR) training. 

For NSF proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023, all faculty and other senior personnel named on the proposal must complete an approved form of RCR training. Postdocs, grad students and undergraduates are also still required to complete RCR training before conducting NSF-supported research.

Research personnel supported on NSF covered projects are required to complete the online RCR training program provided by the CITI program.  

The required training must be completed within the first three months of employment/support on the covered project or earlier if circumstances dictate (e.g. summer employment).

Documentation of completion of this requirement will be maintained by the ORC via the CITI database. Additionally, a certificate of completion may be printed from the CITI site. A copy of the certificate should be kept by the trainee and the PI.


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires that all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant must receive training in RCR. 

An RCR plan should be included within the proposal. In order to meet each program’s requirement, follow the directions on the specific solicitation.

Online training alone is not acceptable to NIH. 

Recommended RCR plan components are below:

Face-to-face discussion (e.g., small group, case studies) with faculty participation in the training.  Limit online instruction.

Successful RCR training programs include instruction in: 

  • Conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial
  • Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • Peer review
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research

Training faculty and mentors are highly encouraged to contribute to both formal and informal instruction. Informal instruction may occur in the course of laboratory interactions.  Training faculty contribute to formal instruction as discussion leaders, speakers, lecturers and course directors. 

Acceptable programs generally involve as least 8 contact hours. 

Instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every 4 years.



National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy outlining responsible conduct of research training requirements for trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars.  Includes a list of NIH programs and award types to which this policy applies.

National Science Foundation links to policy, FAQs, etc. regarding responsible conduct of research training for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF funds to conduct research.

Office of Research Compliance

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