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NSF Training Requirements

NSF TRAINING REQUIREMENT FOR RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH (RCR)

Summary of the NSF Requirement



For all proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) after January 4, 2010, the NSF requires UT Arlington to certify that it has a plan to provide training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research.  While training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, institutions are advised that they are subject to review upon request.  The following information outlines the University’s plan for RCR training and clarifies the responsibilities of NSF Principal Investigators (PIs).




 Applicability of the NSF Requirement

NSF expects institutions to be able to verify that those students (undergraduates and graduates) and postdoctoral researchers who receive NSF funds (support from salary and/or stipends to conduct research on NSF grants) will obtain RCR training. 

 University Policy for Implementation


The training requirement must be fulfilled within the first year after an award has been made, or before the student completes or departs the project.  For continuing projects, training will be required every four years after the initial completion.

To meet this requirement, UT Arlington has developed a web-based RCR training module that will be completed by all individuals affected by the NSF requirement.  The online RCR training module is available in the Profile System and may be accessed at https://www.uta.edu/ra/real/researchspace.php?view=7 using a UTA net ID and password to log in.  This training incorporates a range of RCR topics:


  • Research Misconduct
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Regulated Research Activities
  • Data Acquisition & Management
  • Authorship & Publication
  • Peer Review
  • Mentoring
  • Collaboration


In addition to the above online training requirement, it is recognized that individual faculty, departments, and/or colleges/schools may have their own RCR programs in place to mentor students in research.  The online training module detailed above is a broader supplement to these activities and will help ensure institutional compliance with sponsor requirements.  

All faculty and students conducting research are strongly encouraged to complete the online RCR training module even if they are not covered under this NSF requirement.  




Responsibilities  



The PI of the NSF award is responsible for ensuring compliance with requirements of the award, which includes facilitation of the training completion process and ensuring that all affected research staff are notified of the requirement.   




Procedures 

When an NSF grant proposal is awarded, Research Administration (Office of Grant & Contract Services) will send a notification to PIs, including information about the RCR training requirement.  It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that students (existing and new) supported by the NSF grant complete the RCR training requirement, preferably within 30 days, but no later than the first year of the project or before the student completes or departs the project.  When a new student is added to grant personnel, it is the PI’s responsibility to ensure they complete the RCR training requirement under the same timeline.

Routine monitoring (at least annually) will be conducted by Research Administration (Office of Regulatory Services) to ensure training requirements are being met. Monitoring will be conducted by contacting PIs that have active NSF awards and verifying that the grant personnel have completed training requirements. 

Additional RCR Information and Training Opportunities

The online RCR training module is a good introduction to the issues surrounding responsible conduct of research; however, there are many more resources available to ensure that students are informed, well-rounded, and prepared for a student (or future) career in research.  Faculty and students are encouraged to participate in the University’s RCR Institute.  The RCR Institute offers expanded educational programming and a certification program to support the efforts by departmental and individual faculty members to provide RCR training.  Participants will be recognized with a certificate and a transcript notation once they have completed the following within two years:

  • Complete the “General RCR Training” (online RCR training) module
  • Attend three RCR workshops offered by the RCR Institute
  • Complete four other RCR activities.

Departments and faculty mentors are expected to provide discipline-specific RCR mentoring to students to fulfill this requirement. (Examples of activities that fulfill this requirement include but are not limited to: formal or informal courses or class meetings that focus on one or more core areas of RCR training, online training offered by academic units or Research Administration, informal discussion with a mentor, lab meetings focused on a core area of RCR training, department sponsored events, or workshops focused on RCR training.)

For additional information about Responsible Conduct of Research, please visit:  

NSF Federal Register Notice on RCR Implementation

U.S. DHHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI)


Frequently Asked Questions

Are there types of proposals/awards that are exempt from the RCR requirement?

The RCR training requirement applies to new proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 4, 2010, to conduct research, which excludes, for example, conference, symposium, workshop, or travel proposals.

Who must receive the RCR training?

NSF expects institutions to be able to verify that those students (undergraduates and graduates) and postdoctoral researchers who receive NSF funds (support from salary and/or stipends to conduct research on NSF grants) will obtain RCR training. However, NSF anticipates that institutions will develop their RCR training programs in a manner that helps prepare the next generation of researchers, including the consideration of risks or other factors associated with student and postdoctoral researcher participation in research.

When and how often must the training be completed?

The training requirement must be fulfilled within the first year after an award has been made, or before the student completes or departs the project.  For continuing projects, training will be required every four years after the initial completion.

Do undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers have to receive RCR training before being identified on a proposal to NSF?

No, the RCR training plan must be in place at the time of proposal submission.  It is not required that the training be completed at that time. The institution plan for training should include when individuals are to receive the training.

Does the RCR requirement flow down to any subawardee identified on the project?

Yes. The RCR training requirement does flow down to all 3 subawardees, at any tier. The proposing institution must therefore ensure that these RCR requirements are appropriately addressed in the subaward instrument. NSF does not anticipate, however, that such subawards will be negotiated at the time of proposal submission.

Does a subaward to an international organization have to include the RCR requirement?

The RCR requirement flows down to all subawardees, including international organizations. If there are undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral researchers supported on the award to conduct research, they must be trained in the responsible conduct of research.

Do PIs have to report in annual or final reports on the RCR training?

PIs are not required to report on RCR training in annual and final reports.