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Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Institutional Plan

Additional Information


Sarah Pruett
Director, Research Integrity Compliance
1534 White Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-9918

E-mail: spruett1@utk.edu



The University of Tennessee, Knoxville takes seriously its obligation to implement and support best practices in research. The University of Tennessee’s Office of Research and Engagement provides guidance and support for the implementation of training for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).  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 UT and the UT research community is encouraged to go through the training. However, the RCR training is mandatory for those supported by NSF, NIH and USDA NIFA as stated below and encouraged for everyone else anticipating support:

NSF (COMPETES Act, 42 U.S.C. 1862o-1)

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.

There is no action required by the PI at the time of proposal.

NIH (NOT-OD-10-019)

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 program’s requirement, follow the directions on the specific solicitation.


USDA NIFA requires that program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project receive appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research and that documentation of such training will be maintained. Grantees are advised that the documentation of the training is subject to NIFA review upon request. This policy is effective for awards subject to the February 2013 (and subsequent) Research Terms and Conditions.

There is no action required by the PI at the time of proposal.

RCR Online Training Program

The UT Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) has partnered with the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program to allow UT affiliated researchers the opportunity to participate in online research ethics education. The CITI RCR course is also available to the entire UT community and can be accessed through the Office of Research and Engagement CITI compliance training website.

The UT CITI program is comprised of various learning modules:

Along with this training option, UT will accept certificates of completion (within 3 years) 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 and Engagement and found to be equivalent to the UT training.

Additionally, the individual must provide UT with official CITI “completion/grade report” and the UT RCR Training confirmation form. The CITI completion/grade report is your ONLY proof of training. UT does not provide any certificate or other documentation that you have completed the training. Keep a copy for your records and provide a copy to your PI and/or Business Manager.

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 – Schedules To Be Determined

In addition to the CITI online RCR course, trainees will have an opportunity to participate in face-to-face programs/courses hosted by the Office of Research and Engagement. These programs are designed to allow trainees to discuss and expand upon the information gained through online training with their peers. The programs are facilitated by a subject matter expert and are conducted using case studies as well as interactive discussion between the trainees and facilitator.

These training courses are offered by the Office of Research and Engagement on a rolling basis. These sessions are scheduled with ample time allowed for Q&A that encourages participation between the attendees and the trainer, and are taught by UT experts in their respective areas.

Occurrence of RCR Training

UT 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.

Monitoring Compliance

The ORE is the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) for certifying that the Institutional RCR Training Plan is in place at the time of proposal submission.

The ORE will be responsible for monitoring compliance of required RCR training, as follows:

  1. The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) which is part of the ORE, 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.
  2. The ORE Training Coordinator will submit e-mail 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.
  3. When the RCR training is completed, the online system will issue a “Completion/Grade Report.” That report must be signed by the trainee and the PI and then submitted via e-mail to: oretraining@utk.edu
  4. The ORE will maintain receipt of the documents and cross reference the individuals that have met the RCR requirement with individuals identified as being employed on the sponsored project that requires RCR training.
  5. The 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 UT.

RCR Institutional Plan — Created 12/4/09 — Revised 10/31/13