New NSF requirements

Effective July 31, 2023, NSF has implemented new requirements for training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. Previously, this training was only required for students and postdoctoral scholars. Faculty and other Senior Personnel supported by NSF to conduct research are now required to complete this training. Everyone required to complete this training will be asked to complete online CITI training. NSF has also expanded the training topics, which must now include mentor training and mentorship.

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is defined as "the practice of scientific investigation with integrity." It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.

Ethical and responsible conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in the responsible and ethical conduct of research is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers. The America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Act of 2007 focuses public attention on the importance of the national research community's enduring commitment and broader efforts to provide RCR training as an integral part of the preparation and long term professional development of current and future generations of scientists and engineers.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Requirements

The National Science Foundation requires universities that apply for financial assistance from the Foundation, for science and engineering research or education, certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. UCSB has developed a Training Plan that complies with this NSF requirement.

Effective July 31, 2023, NSF has implemented new requirements for training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research. Previously, this training was only required for undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Faculty and other senior personnel who are supported by NSF to conduct research are now required to complete this training. NSF has also expanded the training topics, which must now include mentor training and mentorship.

All undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel supported by NSF to conduct research must complete the CITI online course in Responsible Conduct of Research.

Link to the CITI RCR training (login with UCSBnetID)

  • Please view our login instructions for CITIprogram accessing the RCR training. 
  • If you are logging on through UCSB for the first time, you may be asked if you need to associate your UCSBnetID account with a previous CITI Program account.
  • From the “My Courses” page, select “View Courses” from UCSB and look for the Responsible Conduct of Research course. You will have the option to complete one of several versions of the training (e.g., Biomedical, Social/Behavioral, etc.). Select whichever version is closest to your research area.
  • NOTE: Make sure that you select a "Responsible Conduct of Research" course and not another training course. Some researchers may have multiple courses available and the Responsible Conduct of Research courses are the only ones that satisfy the RCR training requirement.
  • You do not need to provide us with a record of completion. We have access to these records within the system.

The CITI RCR training course must be completed within 60 days of notification by the Office of Research or of being paid from the NSF-funded project. The CITI RCR training course is required every five years thereafter, for those actively supported by NSF.

The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for communicating missing completion and noncompliance to the campus. The PI is responsible for ensuring that researchers supported by their project complete the CITI RCR course.

Mentorship of trainees is critical for the development of future researchers. PIs and faculty mentors are responsible for incorporating discussions on the responsible and ethical conduct of research into their ongoing and future mentorship activities.

Content Areas

The following content areas are typically included in responsible conduct of research education:

  • Data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership
  • Publication practices and responsible authorship
  • Mentorship and mentor training – mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships (required by NSF)
  • Peer review
  • Collaborative research
  • Research misconduct and questionable Research Practices
  • Scientific rigor and reproducibility
  • Protection of human subjects
  • Welfare of laboratory animals
  • Conflicts of interest and commitment
  • Safe research environments – harassment, bullying, and inappropriate behavior
  • Scientists as responsible members of society
  • Contemporary ethical issues in science


National Institutes of Health (NIH) Requirements

On Nov. 24, 2009, NIH updated its policy for instruction of trainees in the responsible conduct of research. The new updated policy states:

"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 instruction in responsible conduct of research. This policy will take effect with all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 25, 2010, and for all continuation (Type 5) applications with deadlines on or after January 1, 2011. This Notice applies to the following programs:  D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R. This policy also applies to any other NIH-funded programs supporting research training, career development, or research education that requires instruction in responsible conduct of research as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements."

Please work with the Research Integrity Office (contact either the Director or Associate Director) prior to submitting a RCR plan to NIH. Principal Investigators will be responsible for ensuring that all trainees, fellows, and participants complete the RCR training as described in their NIH-funded proposal. See the following links for more information on developing a training plan for the NIH funding programs listed above.

As of September 25, 2022, NIH expects the following topics to be covered in order for a training plan to be deemed acceptable (additions in bold):

  • conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial – and conflict of commitment, in allocating time, effort, or other research resources
  • policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • 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, including collaborations with industry and investigators and institutions in other countries
  • peer review, including the responsibility for maintaining confidentiality and security in peer review
  • data acquisition and analysis; laboratory tools (e.g., tools for analyzing data and creating or working with digital images); recordkeeping practices, including methods such as electronic laboratory notebooks
  • secure and ethical data use; data confidentiality, 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


UCSB Resources

  1. UCSB NSF RCR Training Plan
  2. UCSB RCR Training FAQ
  3. Login Instructions for CITIprogram

Other Resources

  1. NSF Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity - Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
  3. On Being A Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition
  4. NIH Office of Research Integrity
  5. Ethics Education and Scientific and Engineering Research: What's Been Learned? What Should Be Done? Summary of a Workshop
  6. Council of Graduate Schools: Project for Scholarly Integrity
  7. National Postdoctoral Association Responsible Conduct of Research Toolkit
  8. Online Ethics Center