RUL 10.15.01 – Training in Responsible Conduct of Research

Authority: Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

History: First Issued: December 18, 2009. Last Revised: January 26, 2010.

Additional References:
Research Administration
Graduate School
Compliant Courses in RCR
Federal Register, August 20, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 160) [Page 42126]
National Science Foundation Award and Administration Guide NSF 10-1, January, 2010, section IV.B
National Institutes of Health NOT-OD-10-019

Contact Info: Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration (919-513-2148)


Core to the values of NC State University’s research enterprise is the highest standard of integrity in proposing, conducting and reporting research results.  Absent honesty and truth in the exploratory process, research is harmful to the body of human knowledge, damaging to the caliber of the institution’s standing and repute, and degrading of the public trust in our pursuit to better the human condition.  To this end it is important that all scholars, whether beginning their academic careers as an undergraduate student or reaching Nobel Laureate status, focus on ethical standards, defensible behavior, and sound decisions as part of their daily endeavors.


The purpose of this Rule is to establish the requirement for responsible conduct of research education for individuals required to have such education prior to working on federally-sponsored projects where the federal sponsor has mandated such education.  This rule should not limit the opportunity for responsible conduct of research training for all researchers and scholars on campus, rather it should serve as a catalyst by having those engaged in our federally-sponsored endeavors demonstrate leadership in ethical standards.


3.1 Undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars (hereinafter referred to as “participant”) working on a federally-sponsored project requiring a program of study in the responsible conduct of research must engage in a program of study designed to contribute to their knowledge and respect of high ethical standards.  The training must involve, at a minimum, enrollment in approved NC State University course work or completion of an approved on-line program in the responsible conduct of research as noted below in Sections 1 and 2. The approved course work or on-line programming must be complimented with voluntary participation in ethics symposia, seminars, lectures or other established settings.

3.1.1 Courses Available (Subject to additions or deletions)

To view a complete listing of the approved courses and approved on line programs as well as examples of ethics symposia, seminars, and lectures for consideration go to the “Compliant Courses in RCR” webpage (see Additional References). These courses are Pass/Fail as determined by the instructor of record.

3.1.2 On-line Programs of Study Available (Subject to additions or deletions)

3.1.3 The Foundations in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR 101) is delivered by Moodle and contains 6 modules each with reading assignments and 7 multiple-choice questions.  Five of the 7 multiple choice questions (70%) must be answered correctly in order to pass.

3.2 Examples of Ethics Symposia, Seminars and Lectures in which participants should participate

  • Professional society meetings, including national, regional and local chapters, often offer ethics awareness and training seminars.  Participants should capitalize on these opportunities.

3.2.1 The above are only suggestions.  Participants should seek and identify ethics awareness and training opportunities on their own.  Furthermore, it is imperative that participants document their participation in such programming and keep such documentation in their records.

3.2.2 Participants should also consult with their advisor, supervisor or department head and encourage RCR training opportunities within their department, laboratory, or coordinated research setting.

3.2.3 Participants must complete one of the approved courses or the on-line RCR 101 course as noted in Sections 1 and 2.

3.2.4 Noncompliance with this rule or failure of a course or the on-line program more than twice will constitute removal from federal funding that contains a responsible conduct in research requirement.  Participants may appeal re-appointment to such federal funding if and only if they pass a course or the on-line program at a future date.

3.3 Fulfillment of Federal Requirement

3.3.1 Postdoctoral scholars, graduate students and undergraduate students who are affiliated with federally-sponsored research that requires training in the responsible conduct of research will be notified by the Responsible Conduct of Research course administrator (hereinafter referred to as “administrator”) with information regarding this requirement.  If the participant has taken one of the prescribed courses then the participant will need to notify the administrator as to when they took the course, which faculty member taught the course, and the grade the participant received in the course.  Postdoctoral scholars who have taken a documented course equivalent to those offered by NC State University may request an exemption from the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean for Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) and Professional Development of the Graduate School.

3.3.2 Participants who have not taken one of the approved courses within the previous three (3) years are required to take either the online Foundations in Responsible Conduct of Research course within six (6) weeks from the date of appointment or enroll in one of the face-to-face courses the semester following their appointment on the NSF-funded grant.  The Foundations in Responsible Conduct of Research online course requires participants to notify the administrator when completed.  For those who choose to take a face-to-face course to fulfill the NSF requirement, the administrator will ascertain a passing grade at the end of the semester.

3.3.3 The Office of Sponsored Programs and Regulatory Compliance Services (SPARCS) will maintain a database of those who need to meet the federal requirements and the administrator will establish how and when the federal requirement was fulfilled by the participant.

3.3.4 If the participant does not successfully fulfill the federal requirement through passing either a face-to-face course or the online Foundations in Responsible Conduct of Research course, the administrator will notify the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration and procedures for removing the participant from the federally funded grant project will commence until such time as a course is successfully completed.