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Responsible Conduct of Research

“Responsible conduct of research is defined as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research.” - NIH

As a premier academic and research institution, Vanderbilt University has an obligation to model, teach and actively promote the responsible conduct of research in scholarship and science. Research integrity is fundamental to good research and crosses all disciplines and areas of focus, and is increasingly viewed as an essential component of training, regardless of a researcher's source of funding.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) require that all those engaged in either NIH- or NSF-funded research must also be educated in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Vanderbilt has developed programs to meet these requirements and to ensure that its students, faculty and staff, as appropriate, understand the issues surrounding the RCR, and their obligations as individuals and members of the larger research community.  Vanderbilt's approach to RCR training incorporates online and discussion-based content based on the individual's experience level and discipline.  The RCR series covers core norms, principles, regulations, and rules governing the practice of research.

All graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in certain departments are expected to complete training in responsible conduct of research (RCR). In addition, dependent upon the program in which the student or trainee is enrolled, they may have additional RCR requirements for ongoing training.  Note that the RCR training at Vanderbilt fulfills both the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation requirements. 

This page and the information contained within it only applies to Vanderbilt graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. For information that relates to RCR training and requirements for Vanderbilt faculty, individuals should contact the schools in which the faculty member is appointed.


RCR for Graduate Students

All new graduate students are required to take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) course for their discipline during their first semester of study. Some are also required to participate in additional discussion-based RCR education, prior to completing their degrees. Each graduate program has defined the content of the discussion-based program for its students, based on the specific training needed within that disciplines. To find out more about your department’s requirements, please check with the department chairman or director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

RCR for Postdoctoral Fellows

All new postdoctoral researchers are required to complete the CITI course during their initial year of appointment. In addition, as part of their annual reappointment, postdocs and their mentors must discuss how they will address additional RCR education during the coming year.  The plan for ongoing RCR training needs to be detailed in the annual Individualized Development Plan (IDP). For specific questions, please contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.


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