Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is a broad term referring to integrity and ethical standards in the work of scientists, scholars, and professionals involved in the field of scientific inquiry and practice. Responsible and ethical conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in RCR is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers.
URI is fully committed to educating its students, faculty and staff on the issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research, and their obligations as individuals and members of the larger research community. Click here for more information about covered individuals. Click here for additional RCR resources.
For more information about the RCR education requirement, refer to the URI RCR Education Plan which describes the responsibilities of the institution and the Principal Investigator, along with the Office of Research Integrity's method to verify compliance.
Instruction areas of RCR education include:
While NSF has not specifically defined the topics that should comprise a strong RCR program, it has made clear that it expects institutions to look to the definitions provided by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for guidance. These definitions have been adapted primarily from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ORI Website. Not every discipline will require the same level of discussion on every topic.
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
Accepted practices for acquiring and maintaining research data. Proper methods for record keeping and electronic data collection and storage in research. Defining what constitutes data; keeping data notebooks or electronic files; data privacy and confidentiality; data selection, retention, ownership, and analysis; data as legal documents and intellectual property, including copyright.
Issues regarding research involving animals. Definition of research involving animals, ethical principles for conducting research on animals, Federal regulations governing animal research, institutional animal care and use committees, and treatment of animals.
Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
The purpose and importance of scientific publication, and the responsibilities of authors. Collaborative work and assigning appropriate credit, acknowledgments, appropriate citations, repetitive or fragmentary publications, sufficient description of methods, corrections and retractions, conventions for deciding on authors, author responsibilities, and the pressure to publish.
Conflict of Interest and Commitment
Definition of conflicts of interest and how to handle conflicts of interest. Types of conflicts encountered by individual researchers and institutions. Includes conflicts with collaborators; publication; financial conflicts; obligations to other constituencies; and other types of conflicts.
Research collaborations and issues that may arise from such collaborations. Includes setting ground rules early in the collaboration, avoiding authorship disputes, and sharing materials and information with internal and external collaborating researchers.
Issues related to the ethical conduct of research involving human participants. Definition of human participant research, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy of data and patient records, risks and benefits, preparation of a research protocol, institutional review boards, adherence to study protocol, proper conduct of the study, and special protections for targeted populations (children, minorities, and the elderly).
Mentor / Trainee Responsibilities
The responsibilities of mentors and trainees in predoctoral and postdoctoral research programs. Role and responsibilities of a mentor, conflicts between mentor and trainee, collaboration and competition, selection of a mentor, and abuse of the mentor/trainee relationship.
The purpose of peer review in determining merit for research funding and publications. Definition of peer review, impartiality, how peer review works, editorial boards and ad hoc reviewers, responsibilities of reviewers, privileged information and confidentiality.
The meaning of research misconduct and the regulations, policies, and guidelines that govern research misconduct. Discussions of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism; error vs. intentional misconduct; institutional misconduct policies; identifying misconduct; procedures for reporting misconduct; protection of whistleblowers; and outcomes of investigations, including institutional and Federal actions.