Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Institutional Plan
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) takes seriously its obligation to implement and support best practices in research. The University of Tennessee’s Office of Research & Engagement provides guidance and support for the implementation of training for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). In response to Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (42 U.S.C. 1862o–1) this RCR Institutional Plan has been developed to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.
Responsible and ethical conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in RCR is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers.
The RCR training courses are available to everyone at UTK and the UTK research community is encouraged to go through the training. However, the RCR training is mandatory for those supported by NSF and NIH as stated below and encouraged for everyone else anticipating support:
NSF requires that at the time of proposal submission to NSF, a proposing institution’s authorized representative certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. While RCR institutional plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, the institution is required to have a plan in place. NSF may request a copy of the plan at any time. This policy applies to all proposals submitted on or after January 4, 2010. For additional information and FAQs, visit the NSF Responsible Conduct of Research web site.
There is no action required by the PI at the time of proposal.
NIH requires that all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, and dissertation research grant must receive training in RCR. This policy is effective with all new and renewal applications submitted on or after January 23, 2010, and for all continuation (Type 5) applications with deadlines on or after January 11, 2011.
An RCR plan will need to be included within the proposal and in some cases, the solicitation may request that a copy of the RCR Institutional Plan be submitted with the proposal. In order to meet each programs requirement, follow the directions on the specific solicitation.
RCR Online Training Program
The UT Office of Research & Engagement has partnered with the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program to allow UTK affiliated researchers the opportunity to participate in online research ethics education. The CITI RCR course is also available to the entire UTK community and can be accessed through the Office of Research & Engagement website.
The CITI program is comprised of various learning modules:
- Basic Courses in the Protection of Human Research Subjects
- Biomedical Focus
- Social and Behavioral Focus
- Refresher Courses
- Good Clinical Practice Course
- Health Information Privacy and Security Course (HIPS)
- Laboratory Animal Welfare Courses for investigators and IACUC Members
- Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
UTK will also accept certificates of completion if an individual has completed RCR training while at a different institution or UT campus after a review of the other institution’s RCR program has been completed by the Office of Research & Engagement and found to be equivalent to the UTK training. Additionally, the individual must provide UTK with an official certificate of completion and the UT RCR Training Confirmation form.
The University recognizes that training in RCR is most effective in the context of the day-to-day activities of the trainees. Principal Investigators are expected to make RCR part of their discussions with postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students, which will foster interaction among faculty and students.
Face-to-Face Instructional Courses
In addition to the CITI online RCR course, trainees will have an opportunity to participate in a series of face-to-face programs/courses hosted by UTK. These programs are designed to allow trainees to discuss and expand upon the information gained through online training with their peers. The courses are facilitated by a subject matter expert and are conducted using case studies as well as interactive discussion between the trainees and facilitator.
The programs are conducted in four sessions, each being a minimum of two hours in length. The discussions and case studies for each of the sessions are fluid, but cover a predetermined set of topics specific to RCR. These topics include:
- Session 1: handling misconduct, conflict of interest, and contemporary ethics
- Session 2: mentoring, collaborative relationship, and peer review
- Session 3: human subjects, animal subjects, and laboratory practices
- Session 4: data management and responsible authorship.
Beyond these facilitated programs, additional face-to-face training courses are also available to the UTK community:
- IRB/Human Subjects
- IACUC/Animal Safety
- Biosafety Standards
- Radiation Safety
- Export Control
- Business Ethics
- Training in Mentoring Postdoctoral Researchers
These courses are offered throughout the year. Full description of these training courses and registration information is available on the Faculty & Staff Development page. These sessions are scheduled with ample time allowed for Q&A that encourages participation between the attendees and the trainer. These courses are taught by UTK experts in the respective areas.
Occurrence of RCR Training
UTK encourages Principal Investigators to promote that graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral researchers obtain the online RCR training soon after being hired on the sponsored project. Continual RCR training occurs through course instruction and faculty/student discussions.
The Office of Research & Engagement is the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) for certifying that the Institutional RCR Training Plan is in place at the time of proposal submission.
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) will be responsible for monitoring compliance of required RCR training, as follows:
- The Office of Sponsored Programs, as the contract/award receiving office will identify and document the RCR requirement as applicable on the internal award paperwork and the electronic research administration system. OSP will forward the information to the Sponsored Projects Accounting office, who will flag the requirement in IRIS.
- The OSP personnel will submit email notification to the project’s Principal Investigator, the Department Head, and the Department Business Manager about the RCR requirement and the UT RCR Training Confirmation form.
- When the RCR training is completed, the online system will issue a “Completion/Grade Report.” That report, along with the UT RCR Training Confirmation Form must be signed by the trainee and the PI. Both documents are then submitted to:
- Lesli Rowan
Office of Research & Engagement, Training Coordinator
1534 White Avenue, Blount Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996
Or via email to: email@example.com
- Lesli Rowan
- The OSP office will maintain receipt of the documents and cross reference the individuals that have met the RCR requirement with individuals identified in the IRIS payroll system as being employed on the sponsored project that requires RCR training.
- OSP will be responsible for following up with PI, Business Manager, and Department Heads if full compliance with the RCR training has not occurred.
RCR Program Assessment
The RCR Institutional Plan is intended to provide flexibility in content and delivery and to address the varying needs of different disciplines and career stages. This plan is a living document and as such the Institutional RCR Plan will be regularly assessed and monitored as educational outcomes are evaluated and best practices are increasingly developed to advance RCR education at UTK.
RCR Institutional Plan -- Created 12/4/09 -- Revised 2/26/13
1534 White Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-1840
Fax: (865) 974-2805
1534 White Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996-1529
Phone: (865) 974-9310
Fax: (865) 974-2805
Download the UT RCR Training Confirmation Form here.