Responsible and Ethical Conduct in Research

The responsible and ethical conduct of research is important for multiple reasons. First, it is critical for ensuring rigorous science. Additionally, it is important for maintianing public trust in the research process. NSF, NIH, and other Federal agencies require Universities to ensure researchers receive training on how to conduct their research ethically and responsibly. In addition to ensuring rigorous data collection, results, and reporting of the research, responsible and ethical research includes:

  • treating students and colleagues fairly and with respect;
  • conducting peer review with the highest ethical standards; and
  • protecting proprietary information and intellectual property from inappropriate disclosure.
  • The NSF “Proposal & Award Policies and Procedure Guide” provides detailed information about the assurances required of all grant applicants and award recipients. Background information and details on institutional responsibilities pertaining to RECR are documented in Part II: Award, Administration and Monitoring of Grants and Cooperative Agreements, Chapter IX: Grantee Standards, Part B: Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR).
  • NSF's policy requires ALL researchers supported by NSF funds, including the PI, Co-PIs, post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduates, be training in RECR.
  • Thus, if students or post-docs are receving funds, either salary or support stipends, from an NSF grant, they must take RECR training.
  • The PI and co-PIs must take RECR training regardless of whether salary support is provided.
  • 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 also applies to any other NIH-funded programs supporting research training, career development, or research education that require instruction in responsible conduct of research as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements.
  • The purpose of the NIH “Update on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research”[3] is to update the agency’s policy on instruction in the responsible conduct of research, to convey some of the consensus best practices that have evolved in the research training community over the past two decades, and to provide access to additional information that may be useful to institutions and individuals in meeting their obligations under NIH policy.
  • Both NSF & NIH require grants under review to be kept confidential. Reviewers of such grants must sign a confidentiality certification prior to accessing the grants.
  • Many publishers require journal articles to be kept confidential during the review process
  • Confidentiality of a grant or journal article means no sharing, even within your own research group (e.g. students or post-docs). If you are intersted in sharing grants or journal articles under review, ask the Program Officer or Journal Editor for permission. Get the permission in writing. In the absence of written permission, you may be violating Federal agency or Journal policy.
  • Also remember that unless the Agency releases peer reviewer identities, you must keep the identities of your fellow peer reviewers confidential throughout the review process.
  • NIFA (USDA) Peer Review Confidentiality Policy
  • NIH states that uploading grants, or portions of grants, to online AI tools is a violation of NIH's Peer Review Confidentiality and Integrity Policy. See NOT-OD-22-044 for more info.
  • NSF states that uploading grants, or portions of grants, to online AI tools is a violation of NSF's Peer Review Confidentiality and Integrity Policy. See NSF Notice to the Research Community: AI in NSF Merit Review for more info.
  • Even sharing grants internally is prohibited by both agencies.
  • For other agency policies, ask the Office of Research Administration at UA, or the Federal agency Program Officer. It is better to ask first, than risk damaging the integrity of the research process.

Training Requirements in the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (42 USC 1862o–1), as amended, requires that each institution that applies for financial assistance from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RECR) to undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel supported by the proposed research project. Such training must include mentor training and mentorship. Additionally, instruction in responsible conduct of research is required for all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Research Training Grants, Individual Fellowship Awards, Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual), Research Education Grants, Dissertation Research Grants, or other grant programs with a training component that requires instruction in responsible conduct of research (RCR) as noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Note: The most recent NSF Guidance on RECR took effect July 31, 2023.

    • This policy and related procedures are designed to assist faculty, postdoctoral, graduate, postbaccalaureate, and undergraduate researchers funded through an NSF grant or an NIH grant with a required training component in completing training in RECR/RCR.
    • Training Participants. Undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, graduate, postdoctoral, faculty and senior researchers who are contributing to an NSF- or NIH-funded research effort as part of a current/active NSF or NIH grant are required to satisfactorily complete a training course. Also, students who receive NSF scholarship support must take the training, if conducting research is included as part of their academic program.
    • NOTE: This training requirement does not apply to S-STEM scholarships or the Noyce program, if there is no expectation of research as part of the academic program.
    • Training Timeframe. PIs are responsible for ensuring researchers, including the PIs and Senior Personnel, supported through their grant(s) complete training at the start of work on the research project and no later than thirty (30) days immediately following the initiation of NSF- or NIH-funded research.
    • After the grant has started, PIs should notify the Research Compliance Officer (RCO) of any new personnel anticipated to receive salary or stipend (or scholarship) from such a grant.
    • Training Methods. Researchers are required to complete the training available through the CITI Program [4] online training modules. Researcher can register for the program by affiliating with the University of Akron in CITI, and adding the appropriate Responsible Conduct of Research course. Note: NIH training requirements may vary.
    • Instructions for Researchers – Completing the RECR/RCR Training Requirement. The faculty researcher will direct trainees to use the online tool. Trainees should register for the CITI Program. 
    • TRAINING ADMINISTRATIONThe RCO will inform PIs of this training in RCR/RECR requirement during the pre-award/proposal preparation process. Personnel listed on the grant, when submitted, will receive an email instruction for completion of the training, if Just-In-Time or Award notice is received.  Personnel shall complete the training within 30 days of the award being received by the University of Akron.  The RCO will also check in bi-annually with the PI and Post-award office, to determine whether additional personnel are receiving support from the grant.  Such personnel will be required to take the RECR training.

NSF Policy


NHI RCR policy

CITI Training Online