Responsible Conduct of Research

UNC Charlotte is committed to fostering a culture of integrity and excellence in research. Central to this commitment is the promotion and embrace of responsible conduct of research (RCR), a cornerstone of ethical and professional investigative practice in the academic community. RCR encompasses a range of key principles, including integrity, objectivity, transparency, collaboration, respect for intellectual property, human subjects protections, animal welfare, and responsible data management. The Office of Research Protections and Integrity (ORPI) administers the University’s program of RCR training. This program is designed to comply with federal sponsor regulations, ensuring that our researchers – students, faculty, and staff – receive comprehensive RCR education in line with national standards. If you have questions about RCR, please contact

What is RCR?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), RCR is “the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles for all activities related to scientific research.” The principles of RCR extend to all components of the research enterprise. Some topics relevant to RCR include the following:

  • Plagiarism
  • Authorship
  • Collaborative Research
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Human and Animal Subjects Research
  • Data Acquisition, Analysis, and Management
  • Mentoring
  • Peer Review
  • Research Misconduct
  • Research Security and Transparency

RCR Education

RCR education at UNC Charlotte promotes integrity, transparency, and excellence in research. As part of the graduate curriculum, all doctoral students must complete a course focused on research ethics. RCR training is also required for personnel (including students) who are supported to conduct research under certain awards sponsored by the NSF, USDA NIFA, and NIH. These requirements are summarized in the table below:

SponsorPersonnel Subject to RCR Training RequirementTraining Options
NSF Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs who receive NSF support to conduct research. Note: For proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023, the requirement also includes faculty and other senior personnel. CITI RCR course or a University Research Ethics course
NIHTrainees, fellows, participants, and scholars supported by any NIH training award, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, or dissertation research grant. Programs included in the requirement are as follows: D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R. For other training/development programs, the requirement for RCR training is stated in the FOA.Face-to-face training (e.g., through a University Research Ethics course)
USDA NIFAProgram directors, faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and any staff participating in a NIFA research project.CITI RCR course or a University Research Ethics course

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF requires RCR training for students and postdocs who receive NSF support to conduct research (2007 America COMPETES Act; Federal Register of 08/20/2009). The Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (NSF 23-1) extends this requirement to faculty and other senior personnel supported by new proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023. Per the NSFsenior personnel includes (co) Principal Investigator(s) and Faculty Associates (faculty members). Training may be completed via the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program or another institutionally approved Research Ethics course. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH requires RCR training for all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, or dissertation research grant. (NOT-OD-10-019NOT-OD-22-055). The following programs are explicitly included in this requirement: D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R; for other training/development programs, the requirement for RCR training is stated in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

To comply with NIH requirements, training must involve face-to-face, discussion-based components that support engagement and interaction. Except in certain cases (i.e., short-term programs), video conferencing or online modes of training are not sufficient to fulfill NIH requirements. NIH endorses at least 8 contact hours of RCR instruction during each career stage (i.e., undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, predoctoral, postdoctoral, and faculty levels) and at least once every four years. For graduate students, the University offers multiple Research Ethics courses that fulfill RCR requirements for the NIH. 

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, published RCR training requirements in its February 2013 Research Terms and Conditions. Subsequent to this policy, all NIFA awards entail that program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project receive appropriate RCR training. At a minimum, acceptable training must cover authorship and plagiarism, data and research integration, and reporting misconduct. For fulfillment of its requirements, NIFA specifically endorses the RCR courses available online through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program, but a passing score in a University Research Ethics course is also acceptable.

University Research Ethics Courses

Courses that cover the topics listed by NIH (NOT-OD-10-019) fulfill the RCR education requirements for NSF, NIH, and NIFA. These are as follows:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research (GRAD 6302/8302)
  • Research Ethics in Biological and Behavioral Sciences (PHIL 6240/8240, GRAD 6240/8240)
  • Careers in Bioscience: Professional Development and Responsible Conduct (BIOL 6260/8260)
  • Doctoral Seminar in Special Education Research (SPED 8671)
  • Research Design in Public Policy (PPOL 8602)
  • Ethical and Professional Issues in Psychology (PSYC 6107 / HPSY 8107)
  • Applied Research Methods (RSCH 8210)
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (OPTI 8107)
  • Ethics and Integrity in Health Research and Practice (HLTH 8601)
  • Research Design and Quantitative Methods in Psychology (HPSY 8102)
  • Research Methodologies in Behavioral Sciences (OSCI 8102)
  • Research Design Fundamentals (GEOG 8131)

When taken together, the following courses fulfill the RCR requirements for NSF, NIH, and NIFA:

  • Bioinformatics: BINF 6151, BINF 6152, and BINF 6153
  • Business Administration: BDBA 8100, BDBA 8110, and BDBA 8120
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: NUDN 8441, NUDN 8442, NUDN 8443, NUDN 8444, NUDN 8160, and NUDN 8260. A face-to-face meeting regarding Conflicts of Interest is also required.

CITI Online Training

A variety of discipline-specific RCR courses are available on demand through the CITI program at no cost to University faculty, students, and staff. RCR courses address topics of Conflict of Interest and Commitment; Plagiarism; Authorship; Data Management; Reproducibility; Collaboration; Peer Review; Mentoring; and Research Misconduct. Depending on the discipline, additional topics may include Human Subject Research; Animals in Research; and Environmental/Social Dimensions of Engineering Research. In general, CITI training does not satisfy NIH requirements for RCR education. However, the following courses fulfill NSF and NIFA requirements:

  • Engineering: RCR
  • Biomedical Sciences: RCR
  • Physical Sciences: RCR
  • Humanities: RCR
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: RCR
  • Administrative: RCR

To add an RCR course to your CITI curriculum, follow these steps:

  1. Register for a CITI account:
    1. On the main CITI page, click “Register” to create an account.
    2. Enter “University of North Carolina at Charlotte” for your organization, then complete the guided registration process.  Note for individuals who used CITI training at other institutions:  You may log into your account from your prior institution and in your main screen choose “Add Affiliation.”  Select “University of North Carolina at Charlotte” and complete any other required information when prompted.
  2. Log into your CITI Program account.
  3. Scroll to “Institutional Courses.”  Select “View Courses” beside the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  4. Scroll down to “Learner Tools for University of North Carolina at Charlotte.”  Click “Add a Course.”
  5. A series of questions will appear.  Skip Questions 1-6.  For Question 7 “Responsible Conduct of Research (Not for IRB purposes),” select the course that most closely matches your discipline.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Submit.”
  6. The RCR course will be added to your “Institutional Courses” page.

For CITI-related RCR questions, contact the Office of Research Protections and Integrity at

I completed a CITI course for the IRB. Does this fulfill my RCR training requirement?
No. CITI’s IRB and Social and Behavioral Research training courses do not address all topics relevant to RCR and are not acceptable substitutes for an RCR course.

How much time do I have to take the training?
The time allotted for RCR training depends on the source of your research support. If your support is from the NSF or NIFA, you must complete training within 4 weeks of receiving a notification from If your support is through an NIH training or development award, you must complete and report your training within 5 months of the initial training notification.

What happens if I don’t complete RCR training on time?
If you fail to complete and report an approved RCR training program within the time specified, ORPI will send you a past-due notification and copy your department chair or your dean. A 1-month grace period will be allotted to comply with the training requirement. Personnel who fail to complete and report an approved RCR training program within the grace period will be removed from the funded project until an approved course is successfully completed.

I received a notification about required training, but I think this is a mistake. What should I do?
Please email with a detailed explanation of your concerns so that ORPI staff can investigate.

I received a notification about required training, but I already completed an approved course. What should I do?
First, confirm that you passed an approved CITI RCR course or an approved University Research Ethics course within the past 4 years. If your training is any older, you will need to repeat a training course. Otherwise, please email with either of the following:
(1) CITI: certificate of completion (as a reminder, CITI is not sufficient for the NIH training requirement) OR
(2) Graduate Research Ethics course: course number, year, and semester you passed the course

I completed CITI RCR training at another university. Do I need to repeat it, or can I receive credit at UNC Charlotte?
If your training was completed within the past 4 years, it may be transferable. Confirm that the course was completed within the last 4 years. If so, please send your record of completion (including the modules and scores) to ORPI staff will follow up with you if re-training is necessary.

How long does CITI RCR training take?
Depending on your reading speed, your discipline, and whether you follow all links, you should expect to complete a CITI course in 2-5 hours. Keep in mind that you may sign in and out as often as needed. CITI tracks your progress through the course.

Do I have to pay for CITI training?
No. UNC Charlotte has purchased an institutional license that provides the University community with free access to CITI’s RCR training courses. You will need to affiliate your CITI account with UNC Charlotte. If you are registering for a new account, enter “University of North Carolina at Charlotte” for your organization. If you have an account from a previous institution, log in, and on your main screen click “Add Affiliation.”  Select “University of North Carolina at Charlotte,” and complete other required information when prompted.

Are Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) students required to take RCR training?
Yes. RCR training is required for all students supported by an NSF grant, including undergraduates receiving NSF stipends while participating in an REU program. In fact, REU proposals must include a description of plans for student professional development, including training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

Will I receive University course credit for completing CITI RCR training?
No. CITI courses do not confer University course credit.

UNC Charlotte Resources

Log into your CITI account to access a free RCR course applicable to your field of study:

  • RCR Course Options:
    • Engineering
    • Social and Behavioral
    • Physical Sciences
    • Biomedical
    • Humanities
    • Administrative

Office of Research Integrity (ORI) Resources

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Resources

National Science Foundation (NSF) Resources

National Academies Resources

National Center for Principled Leadership & Research Ethics