NIH Responsible Conduct of Research Guidelines Updated

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Office for Research Protections     |     Education

NIH has recently provided new updates on their existing policy and guidance for responsible conduct of research (RCR) instruction. NIH defines RCR as "the practice of scientific investigation with integrity, which involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research." Education and training in the responsible conduct of research is fundamental to science and the public good. Here at Penn State, we aim to do our part in ensuring RCR education is accessible and current. Departments and programs are encouraged to adopt these new guidelines into their research ethics instruction, including RCR curriculum and professional development activities.

These guideline changes apply to all NIH Institutional Research Training Grants, Individual Fellowship Awards, Career Development Awards (Institutional and Individual), Research Education Grants, Dissertation Research Grants, or other grant programs with a training component that requires instruction in responsible conduct of research as noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Institutions are expected to begin incorporating these changes for the 2022-2023 academic year.  Visit the FY 2022 Updated Guidance: Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research page for further information regarding the NIH RCR update.

Updated NIH RCR Guidance

Format of Instruction

  • Video-conferencing may now be consisdered as a secondary option for formal face-to-face instruction.

Frequency and Timing

  • Consider moving from a broad-based to a more discipline-specific approach to RCR instruction for advanced students who have been exposed to the full range of RCR topics early in their scientific training.

Subject Matter (changes are in bold)

  1. conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial – and conflict of commitment, in allocating time, effort, or other research resources
  2. policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  3. mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  4. safe research environments (e.g., those that promote inclusion and are free of sexual, racial, ethnic, disability and other forms of discriminatory harassment)
  5. collaborative research, including collaborations with industry and investigators and institutions in other countries
  6. peer review, including the responsibility for maintaining confidentiality and security in peer review
  7. data acquisition and analysis; laboratory tools (e.g., tools for analyzing data and creating or working with digital images); recordkeeping practices, including methods such as electronic laboratory notebooks
  8. secure and ethical data use; data confidentiality, management, sharing, and ownership
  9. research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  10. responsible authorship and publication
  11. the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research


Please visit our website to learn more about our RCR offerings and resources. If you'd like to request a RCR presentation for your classroom, lab, or professional development group, please complete this form.

Note: With the exception of the new RCR guidelines described above (NOT-OD-22-055), the previous policy and guidance remain in place NOT-OD-10-019.