Scholarship and Research Integrity: SARI @ PSU

The GoalSARI Logo

SARI @ PSU is a responsible conduct of research (RCR) education program for students, postdocs, and faculty at Penn State. SARI (Scholarship and Research Integrity) is designed to create an awareness of ethical principles and established professional norms in the performance of all activities related to scholarship and research. Ultimately, our goal is to further foster trust among scientists and to increase the public’s support for research.


All scholars confront ethical issues in their professions. Training is critical to prepare students and researchers to address ethical challenges that may arise when conducting research. Both the NIH and NSF have requirements for responsible conduct of research (RCR) training for students, postdoctoral researchers, and other trainees working on research supported by either agency. Following the precedent of the NIH and NSF, Penn State requires RCR training for all graduate students, post-docs, and new faculty to ensure the ethical conduct of research at the University.


How do I fulfill SARI @ PSU requirements?

Undergraduate students performing research sponsored by the NSF, NIFA, or an NIH training grant must complete SARI @ PSU requirements. Undergraduate students performing research that may be included in, or lead to, a publication or other research report, should also participate in SARI @ PSU. Undergraduate students must complete the responsible conduct of research online course offered through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) to fulfill SARI @ PSU. Students conducting human subjects or animal research will also need to take the appropriate CITI Program course for human subjects research (IRB) or animal research (IACUC); students should consult with their mentor/adviser or program director for more information.

There are two parts to SARI @ PSU for graduate students: an online course offered through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) and a minimum of five hours of discussion-based activities. Each graduate department or program has a specific SARI @ PSU plan. SARI is tracked in LionPath by a graduate program administrator. 

Part 1: Online

The CITI course you should take is specified by your program in their SARI @ PSU plan. Most students should take the responsible conduct of research (RCR) course.  For some SARI programs, the CITI course in human subjects research (the "IRB" course) has been designated. Students should check with their graduate program director for information on which CITI Program course to take. 

Part 2: In-person

Graduate students must also complete at least five hours of discussion-based activities that can be offered by their department and/or by the Office for Research Protections. Each graduate department or program establishes what can count toward this SARI requirement; for example, some departments may offer their own workshops or incorporate SARI into a required course. Graduate Program Administrators are responsible for tracking in-person information and reporting in LionPath. The Office for Research Protections also offers workshops that can count toward SARI credit; please note that only two hours of the required SARI discussion-based activities can come from ORP workshops. See the SARI Workshop Schedule for upcoming events. Attendance at an ORP-sponsored SARI event is automatically recorded as a “Comment” in the In-Person level in LionPath.  The ORP will not mark a level complete; this is the responsibility of the Graduate Program. 

Postdoctoral researchers must complete an online course offered through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) to fulfill SARI @ PSU. Consult with your mentor/adviser or program director to determine the appropriate CITI Program course; CITI options include responsible conduct of research, human subjects research (IRB), or animal research (IACUC). The faculty advisor will monitor participation.

Postdocs are encouraged to attend the Office for Research Protections' many educational workshops. See the SARI Workshop Schedule for upcoming events.

Since 2011, all new University full-time faculty are required to participate in SARI @ PSU activities. New faculty have 12 months from date of hire to complete the SARI @ PSU requirement, which consists of two hours of RCR educational activities. This requirement may be met through: 

  • any CITI online course (responsible conduct of research, human subjects research, or animal research),
  • two hours of discussion-based activity, or 
  • a combination of activities 

Eligible discussion-based activities include participation in workshops focusing on the responsible conduct of research or equivalent professional ethics-related content. Workshops may include those offered by SARI (see the list of upcoming SARI events), other Penn State units, or by another institution or at a professional conference.

SARI @ PSU participation should be self-reported to ORP via the SARI@PSU Faculty Portal. Completion of any CITI course will be automatically recorded in the faculty member’s profile. SARI @ PSU participation records will be shared annually with campus administrators, college deans and department heads. 

SARI@PSU Faculty Portal

Continuing education requirement:

Every three years (by the 48th month of employment at PSU, and every three years after that), faculty must report one hour of SARI @ PSU continuing education activity. These requirements can be met by any of the SARI @ PSU activities described above, or by completing an online “refresher course” offered by CITI.

Are you?

Doctoral students who completed SARI requirements for a masters degree do not have to complete additional SARI requirements. However, please note if students are conducting human or animal research, their CITI training must be renewed every three years. SARI requirements can be marked “complete” in LionPath and "how attempted" should be marked as “filed petition” in the drop down box.

If you are new to SARI requirements, in addition to our webpages you can also learn more at the SARI Milestones Helpful Information wiki. To see the wiki, you may first have to authenticate with your home organization. To do this, search for "Penn State" and then click on "select."

Starting Fall 2018, SARI is tracked as a Milestone in LionPath. Graduate program administrators are responsible for keeping track of students’ progress for fulfilling their SARI @ PSU requirements in LionPath. Program administrators also receive updates about SARI @ PSU, as well as information about upcoming educational events via email. Program administrators can see the full list of resources about tracking SARI in LionPath at the SARI Milestones Helpful Information wiki. Note: student attendance at an ORP-sponsored SARI event is automatically recorded in LionPath by the ORP.

SARI Program Plan Development for Colleges

Information and tools for planning your college's or graduate program's SARI @ PSU educational program:

SARI @ PSU Program Plan:  SARI@PSU Program Development Template

We have complied links to recommended RCR resources. We also have a page of infographics devoted to research misconduct.

If you need language to verify Penn State's RCR training, feel free to copy and paste the language found at the following link into your grant proposals, or anywhere that a description of the SARI @ PSU is required:

For assistance please contact us at

See the slides for September 20, 2018 event "Data Management: Accepted Practices for Ownership, Collection, and Storage"

See the slides for October 10, 2018 "Image Manipulation"

See the slides for February 15, 2019 "How to Publish in Peer-Reviewed Journals"

See the slides for February 27, 2019 "Data Ethics"

See the slides for March 14, 2019 "Science Advocacy:  Translating Science for the Public and Policy-Makers"

See the slides for September 26, 2019 "Responsible Research: Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism"

See the slide for October 9, 2019 "Copyright for Researchers"

Do you have more questions?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.