Institutional RCR Plan

Many funding agencies require that institutions have an official plan to meet federal guidelines for education in the responsible conduct of research. The University of Arizona has adopted the following plans to comply with requirements from federal funding agencies to provide training in the responsible conduct of research.

Download the University of Arizona NSF RCR Plan (PDF)
Download the University of Arizona RCR Plan for NIH, NSF, and NIFA (PDF)

Institutional Plan to Provide Responsible Conduct of Research Training

The responsible and ethical conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in the advancement of knowledge through research and scholarship in all disciplines. Consequently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) consider Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) education essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers. Each agency has particular requirements for RCR instruction. This institutional plan outlines the programming in place at the University of Arizona (UA) designed to meet those requirements.

The University of Arizona RCR Certificate Program

The University of Arizona offers certificate programs in RCR education designed to meet NIH, NSF, and NIFA guidelines. Details regarding each certificate can be found on pages 2-4 of this document. The certificate program consists primarily of a workshop series designed to cover the broad range of topics covered under the rubric of RCR.

The Value of RCR
Fulfillment of federal requirements in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training is just one, albeit very useful, component of training generations of University of Arizona researchers in the highest professional standards. Professional excellence in research includes a dedication to integrity. Education in the responsible conduct of research meets more than just regulatory standards and requirements. It also promotes ethical professional values and behaviors.

Workshop Topics

  • The RCR workshop topic areas include but are not limited to:
  • Animal Subjects Protection**
  • Collaborative Science
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Lab Safety**
  • Human Subjects Protection**
  • Mentor/Trainee Relationships
  • Peer Review
  • Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
  • Research Misconduct

**Special Note: At the University of Arizona, research with human subjects, animals, and biological, chemical and/or radioactive agents require specific training requirements that are additional to and are not satisfied by the RCR training requirements described in this Institutional Plan for RCR training.

Workshop Schedule
The current schedule of workshop offerings is posted here.

Training Completion Deadline
The certificate program must be initiated within 30 days of the Postaward date and completed within one calendar year after the Postaward date. See the specific requirements below for additional instructions.

Tracking and Verification of Hours
Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that all students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the relevant award complete the RCR training requirements as described above. Individuals should keep documentation of the RCR training they receive, including all workshops and face-to-face discussions with faculty mentors. All RCR Certificate programs will be tracked through the university's enterprise learning management system, EDGE Learning.

RCR Workshop Attendance Policy:
To receive credit for completing an RCR workshop, you must arrive on time and be present for the full duration of the workshop. 

Monitoring Compliance
The University of Arizona, through the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, is responsible for certifying that the RCR training plan is in place and verifying certificate completion. Beginning in September 2014 EDGE Learning will be the primary tool for this verification.

Consequences of Noncompliance
Noncompliance with the NIH requirements for RCR training may result in the forfeiture of research funds and sanctions against future NIH or other federal agency research funding, in addition to any institutional sanctions pursuant to relevant UA personnel or other policies.

National Institutes of Health RCR Certificate

NIH RCR Policy
NIH requires all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars supported by NIH training grants, career development awards, and dissertation research grants to receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research. For the complete NIH policy, please visit

Contact Hours Required
The University of Arizona requires a minimum of nine (9) hours of RCR instruction to earn the NIH RCR Certificate. However, more hours are encouraged.

Instructional Format
At least 7.5 hours must be comprised of live instructional formats such as workshops, academic course hours, and face-to-face discussions with faculty mentor(s) and peers. The University of Arizona encourages NIH-funded scholars, trainees, and fellows to participate in as much live instruction as possible. No more than 1.5 hours of supplemental online instruction in RCR may count toward the RCR Certificate.

Earning the Certificate
UA offers an NIH RCR Certificate to acknowledge the fulfillment of the NIH requirement. Earning the certificate requires a minimum of nine (9) hours of RCR instruction, which may be fulfilled either through an approved course for academic credit or the workshop-based curriculum below. Up to three (3) hours of RCR instruction led and facilitated by faculty mentors on a more informal basis may count toward the certificate. The workshop-based curriculum consists of the following:

Core Workshop: 1.5 hrs
Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research (choose one of the following):

Five Elective Workshops: 7.5 hrs

  • Select from RCR Workshop Series
  • Up to three (3) hours of supplemental instruction from faculty mentor(s) may count toward the elective requirement.

National Science Foundation RCR Certificate

Training Requirement and Scope
Consistent with National Science Foundation ("NSF") policy and the America COMPETES Act, the University of Arizona (the "University") mandates that all postdocs, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and senior personnel supported by NSF to conduct research must complete a NSF Responsible Conduct of Research ("RCR") Certificate. Completion of the NSF RCR Certificate requires engaging in online instruction in 1) the responsible and ethical conduct of research, and 2) mentoring and mentorship best practices. 

Instructional Format
To complete the University's NSF RCR Certificate, learners must complete the following two (2) online courses (register here): 

  1. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) - Basic (offered through the CITI Program
  2. MENTOR Institute Training Level 1 (available in EDGE Learning)

Deadline for Completion of NSF RCR Certificate and Scope of Requirement
For faculty and senior personnel named on all NSF proposals submitted on or after July 31, 2023:  

  • A completed NSF RCR Certificate must be on file in EDGE Learning no later than 30 days after the Notice of Award. 

For students and postdoctoral researchers supported on all NSF grants, regardless of submission date: 

  • A current NSF RCR Certificate of completion must be on file in EDGE Learning no later than 30 days after first being paid on the grant. 

Frequency of Instruction
Ethical standards and best practices in research and mentoring are constantly evolving. The University therefore requires that students and trainees renew their NSF RCR Certificate at each subsequent stage of their training. For example, a student who completes their undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and a postdoctoral fellowhsip at the University, and who is supported by NSF during each of those stages, will be required to complete the NSF RCR Certificate a total of three times - once at each stage. 

Faculty and senior personnel are required to complete the NSF RCR Certificate once but are strongly encouraged to engage in supplemental continuing RCR education throughout their career. 

National Institute of Food and Agriculture RCR Certificate

NIFA requires that all program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in a research project funded by NIFA receive RCR training. Documentation of the training is subject to review by NIFA upon request. For the complete policy, please see Article 7 of NIFA's research terms and conditions:

Earning the Certificate
The NIFA RCR Certificate may be earned by completing the requirements for the NSF RCR Certificate outlined above.

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