Responsible Conduct of Research – NSF

NSF Training Requirements

Many research sponsors now require certain individuals supported by grant funds to receive training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.  For example, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) require RCR training for trainees. The importance of expanding RCR and ethics training to broader segments of the research pipeline is reflected in a number of sections of America COMPETES Act (ACA) of 2007. In response to section 7009 of the ACA, the National Science Foundation requires training in RCR and ethics of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows supported by NSF on awards subject to applicable provisions in the NSF Research Terms and Conditions (January 2010).

To comply with federal requirements and demonstrate staunch institutional commitment to RCR, effective July 1, 2010, Syracuse University requires all undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers paid from an account associated with an NSF- sponsored project to receive training in RCR. 

To comply with this policy, Syracuse University has developed the following two-part Professional Ethics Program (PEP) designed to accommodate a range of academic/professional stages and broad disciplinary categories.

1.   Online training

All undergraduates, graduate students, or post docs who receive salaries, wages, or stipends from an account associated with an NSF-sponsored project must successfully complete selected modules of the online RCR program hosted by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI: Training should be appropriate to academic status (undergraduate, graduate or post doc) and disciplinary category. For one year following introduction of this requirement, students and postdoctoral researchers engaged on existing awards should complete training promptly, but no later than 90 days after availability of training systems. After this transition, ordinarily training should be completed prior to receiving compensation for work or research training, but no later than two months after receiving compensation.  Interactive training is required every three years.

RCR  disciplinary categories:   RCR components[i]:
  • Biological/Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Research Administration
  • Introduction to RCR
  • Authorship and Publication
  • Collaborative Research
  • Data Acquisition and Management
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Mentoring
  • Research Misconduct
  • Peer Review

2.    Interactive training

All graduate students and post docs must participate in interactive training to develop a more nuanced understanding of responsible conduct of research ordinarily within 60 days of receiving their first compensation payment and before the termination of their appointment.  This requirement can be satisfied by the individual’s participation in:

i. A four-hour interactive session conducted by the Graduate School;


ii.   Other formal or informal RCR and ethics training opportunities offered by schools, colleges, departments, or programs that have been reviewed and approved by the RCR Oversight Committee, comprising representatives from the Office of Research, Graduate School, Academic Integrity Office, and schools and colleges. Training is required every three years.

Responsible Office

The Director of the Office of Research Integrity and Protections will oversee PEP compliance by tracking completion of training activities by those supported by NSF awards. An escalating notification system will be used to remind PIs of this obligation.  Repeated or other indicators of serious non-compliance may result in award funds being frozen by the Vice President for Research.

[i] Modules covering research with human subjects and research with animals will not be required as these topics are introduced in the overview chapter and if anyone is doing such research, they will be completing the educational program as required by an IRB and IACUC.