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Responsible Conduct of Research

Letter to Faculty Regarding Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Faculty and staff members who receive federal funding to conduct research or to supervise student researchers are responsible for ensuring all work is done in compliance with University and governmental policies. The UC Merced Office of Research Compliance and Integrity will assist researchers in identifying and completing appropriate Responsible Conduct of Research training, instruction and guidance.

UC Merced student in lab

Human Subjects
Research projects that use people as subjects must be reviewed by UC Merced’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Information is available on our Human Subjects web page.

Animal Subjects
Research projects that use animals as subjects must be reviewed by UC Merced’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Information is available on our IACUC web page.
Federal Requirements
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy
Requirements for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research in National Research Service Award and Institutional Training Grants, NIH Guide, Volume 21, Number 43
The NIH requires each applicant for an Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) Research Training Grant (T32, T34) include explanation of an educational program in the responsible conduct of research. Applications without a plan for RCR instruction are considered incomplete. The NIH suggests the RCR instructional program include the following topics: conflict of interest, responsible authorship, policies for handling misconduct, policies regarding the use of human participants and animal subjects, and data management. The proposed plan must include the subject matter of the instruction, format of the instruction, degree of faculty participation, trainee attendance, and frequency of instruction.

Public Health Service Policy
In December of 2000, the Public Health Service (PHS) issued a policy requiring all researchers supported by PHS funding to complete a program of instruction in the responsible conduct of research. Congress has suspended the policy and has asked the PHS to review the format and content. The Office for Research Compliance and Integrity (ORCI) is revising the policy and plans to re-release it. The suspended policy required PHS supported researchers to engage in education on the following topics: data management and integrity, mentor/trainee responsibilities, publication practices and responsible authorship, peer review, collaborative science, human subjects, research involving animals, research misconduct, and conflict of interest and commitment. Research institutions nationwide are taking steps to implement RCR educational programs before the policy's re-release.

National Science Foundation
In addition, the recently enacted America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, will affect the National Science Foundation (NSF) in several ways. Section 7009 requires that institutions receiving NSF grant funds in which undergraduate, graduate students or postdocs are listed as research personnel must provide RCR training to those people. Please see the Federal Register announcement of the implementation of Section 7009 of America COMPETES Act.

In-Person Training
The Office of Research Compliance and Integrity will perform in-person RCR training for lab groups, graduate groups or classes, post-doctorate groups, etc., by request. All major RCR topics required by the federal regulations are included, but not limited to, conflicts of interest, human subjects research, animal subjects research, research misconduct, authorship and publication and more. In addition, the training can be tailored using specific case studies to reflect the specific field of research of the audience, e.g. biomedical sciences, engineering, or social and behavioral sciences. Training also includes materials prepared by the Office of Research Compliance and Integrity and distributed to the audience. All in-person training sessions must have at least eight people in attendance. To set up an in-person RCR training session for any campus group, please contact Leslie Teixeira-Porto at

Online Training
UC Merced has contracted with the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) to provide online training in RCR. These online courses are designed for faculty and staff members, graduate students and undergraduate students who are interested in or focusing on the research areas listed below. The courses satisfy federal regulations that require RCR training as a part of grant and contracts terms and conditions. The modules contain text and information about responsible conduct in research, case studies and quizzes relating to the areas or RCR.

Note: These RCR courses are not completed in lieu of the basic courses in human subjects or lab animal welfare.

UC Merced instructions for using the CITI course

Go to the CITI homepage and register to get started
Copies of Training Certificates
Once the training module is completed, print a copy of the training certificates by logging in to CITI, using your username and password and clicking the "Print" link under the Completion Reports column in My Courses.

If unsure which course to select, please contact the Office of Research Compliance and Integrity at or email Leslie Teixeira-Porto at

The RCR courses available include: 

  • Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research Course: For investigators, staff members and students in biomedical research
  • Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research Course: for investigators, staff members and students in social and behavioral research
  • Physical Science Responsible Conduct of Research Course: for investigators, staff members and students in physical science research
  • Humanities Responsible Conduct of Research Course: for investigators, staff members and students with an interest or focus in humanities research

RCR Training Videos