Responsible Conduct of Research


Overview

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is central to Emory University's mission and is an expectation of the research community at large. The Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) is involved in RCR in a number of ways including investigations into allegations of research misconduct, and acting as a resource to the Emory research community. ORIC also offers a number of options for RCR training. These include both online and in-person training options.

Scientific rigor, transparency and reproducibility are integral to the responsible conduct of research. Research sponsors expect researchers to conduct research in a manner that promotes scientific integrity, enhances confidence and reliability in research, and improves research rigor and transparency. Outlined below are the expectations set forth by the NIH and NSF with regard to rigor and reproducibility in research, data sharing policies for each of the agencies, and guidelines and resources for achieving best practices in the conduct of scientific research.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH has updated grant application instructions and review language in order to promote rigor, transparency, and reproducibility in NIH-funded research, focusing on the following four areas:

  • Scientific premise of proposed research: the NIH expects applicants to describe the general strengths and weaknesses of prior research being cited by the applicant as crucial to support the application.

  • Rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results: the NIH expects strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results. This includes full transparency in reporting experimental details so that other may reproduce and extend findings.

  • Consideration of relevant biological variables: biological variables such as sex, age, weight, and underlying health conditions should be considered in animal study designs and analysis. In particular, the NIH expects that sex as a biological variable (SABV) will be factored into research designs, analyses, and reporting.

  • Authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources: authentication of biological and chemical resources include, but are not limited to, cell lines, specialty chemicals, antibodies, and other biologics. Authentication is critical to the ability to reproduce the results of research.

New Grant Guidelines for Rigor and Reproducibility for NIH Applications (PDF)

Rigor and Reproducibility in NIH Applications – Resource Chart (PDF)

Reviewer Guidance on Rigor and Transparency (PDF)

Reviewer Guidance to Evaluate SABV in NIH Applications (PDF)

NIH webpages for rigor and reproducibility

NIH grants webpage for rigor and reproducibility

NIH Data Sharing Policy

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF has set forth a framework to improve reproducibility, replicability, and robustness in NSF-funded research, intending to improve quality of question formulation, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of studies yielding negative results.

NSF Framework (PDF)

NSF Data Sharing Policy

Rigor and Reproducibility Resources

Below are additional resources and guidance for enhancing rigor and reproducibility in research:

National Institutes of Health (NIH), the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have training requirements regarding Responsible Conduct of Research. See below for information on their specific requirements.

NIFA requirements

As of February 2013, NIFA requires Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for certain NIFA awards. The RCR requirement extends to "program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project". For additional information on the requirement, see page 5 here.

Online training via the CITI RCR modules will meet this requirement. Please consult the "Training" tab on the left-hand margin of this page for more information on online and in-person training opportunities as well as documentation options

NSF requirements

On January 4, 2010, new requirements concerning the training and education of students (undergraduate and graduate) and Post Docs associated with NSF grants became effective. The new requirements were announced as part of the implementation of Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, which is a condition of NSF awards. The requirements call for:

"[A]t the time of proposal submission to NSF, a proposing institution's Authorized Organizational Representative [is required to] certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research"

See Government Regulations Website

All Emory University undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers receiving NSF funds (salary/stipends) or NSF scholarship/stipend support to engage in research or if conducting research is included in their academic program that is receiving NSF support, are required to take the RCR training if the NSF grant proposal was submitted on or after January 4, 2010, are required to take the RCR training module available below.

Those interested in fulfilling the NSF RCR training requirements can do so by completing the appropriate CITI RCR training course.

Please be advised that all Postdocs and Students (graduate and undergraduate) associated with NSF grants are required to document their completion of RCR training in ELMS.

If you have questions, contact us at oric@emory.edu.

NIH requirements

A new updated policy applies to all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 25, 2010, and all continuation applications with deadlines on or after January 1, 2011, went into effect on January 25, 2010. Find here additional information regarding the NIH RCR training requirements (PDF).

Principal Investigators of NIH grants that fall under this requirement are required to keep records indicating completion of this requirement. Completion of RCR training can be documented in the Emory Learning Management System. Personnel associated with NIH grants are strongly encouraged to document their training completion in this system. 

If you have questions, contact us at oric@emory.edu.

There are a number of different resources/options available at Emory to complete the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirements of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, including but not limited to, programs offered by the Laney Graduate School and the School of Medicine Office of Postdoctoral Education.

In collaboration with your school, the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance offers both in-person and online options for those who need to complete their training. Online training alone is insufficient to satisfy NIH RCR training requirements. We strongly recommend that those who need assistance in completing their RCR training review the training requirements.

For additional information on the training opportunities offered by our institution, see below.

In addition, you can take advantage of the use of the Emory Learning Management System (ELMS) to keep up with your training hours. Postdocs and students (graduate and undergraduate) associated with NSF grants are required to document their completion of RCR training in ELMS. Personnel associated with NIH grants are strongly encouraged to do so as well. For more information, go to Documentation.

Online training-CITI RCR

Emory offers CITI modules as a resource for those interested in obtaining training/instruction on the Responsible Conduct of Research.Not all funding agencies/groups allow for only online RCR training/instruction so it is recommended that you check the specifications of your RCR requirements from the funder of your grant.

Directions on how to access the CITI modules are below.

  • Log in to CITI

  • If you have not previously added a Responsible Conduct of Research course, click on "Add a course or update your learner groups for Emory University"

  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the Section on Responsible Conduct of Research, choose one of the selections that best fits your area of concentration:

    • Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research Course
    • Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research Course
    • Physical Science Responsible Conduct of Research Course
    • Humanities Responsible Conduct of Research Course
    • Responsible Conduct of Research for Engineers
    • Responsible Conduct of Research for Administrators
  • Then click "Continue"

  • Then click on "Enter" for the respective Responsible Conduct of Research Course on your updated list of "My Courses" and begin the course.

If you have any questions, please contact oric@emory.edu.

In Person

ORIC is planning to offer semi-annual in-person training sessions to supplement your school or division training on topics related to RCR.

Investigators may contact us to schedule in-person training sessions of "Compliance Case Studies," which include a presentation and Question & Answer period. The sessions provide exposure to issues that have arisen in research settings and relate to topics referenced in the NIH notice.

Documentation

A number of funding agencies require Responsible Conduct of Research training as a condition of their grants, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and certain grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A number of different resources/options exist around campus, including but not limited to the Program for Scholarly Integrity, the Responsible Conduct of Research for Postdocs/Fellows course, and CITI RCR modules, to assist you in ensuring that this requirement is met.

Currently, we are keeping a list for individuals to document their RCR training in one central location via the Emory Learning Management System (ELMS). The following personnel are required to document their completion of RCR training in ELMS:

  • Postdocs and students (graduate and undergraduate) associated with NSF grants

  • Program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in a qualified USDA NIFA research project

  • Personnel associated with NIH grants are strongly encouraged to do so as well.

In order to document your completion of RCR training in ELMS:

  • Use your Emory NetID to log into ELMS
  • Under the "Self Service" tile, Click "Find Learning"
  • In the Search field, you can either search the course "Federal RCR Requirements" or the course number "210005"
  • Select "Enroll"
  • Click "Submit Enrollment"
  • Click "Launch"
  • Once you have enrolled in the course simply complete the questionnaire

Individuals are encouraged to update their information as it changes.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact us at oric@emory.edu.