What is Responsible Conduct of Research?
Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is defined by the National Institutes of Health 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.”
The DHHS Office of Research Integrity describes RCR as “good citizenship applied to professional life.” In this context, Research is defined as a systematic experiment, study, evaluation, demonstration, or survey designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge (basic Research) or specific knowledge (applied Research) by establishing, discovering, developing, elucidating, or confirming information about, or the underlying mechanism relating to, the subject matter of any academic discipline (not just the physical sciences) in any university setting and includes development of a Research plan. This definition is intended to include scholarship and all creative works.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is committed to upholding the public confidence in the integrity of the research and scholarship conducted at our institution and believes scholarly integrity is critical to fulfillment of the University’s objectives as a public institution of higher education. The responsibility of research integrity rests with everyone participating in research activities. The most effective way to support the university’s interest in discovering and disseminating knowledge is to support standards of academic integrity in a climate of responsible research. Such integrity includes not only the avoidance of wrongdoing, but also the rigor, care, and accountability that are the hallmarks of good research and scholarship. Those who lead and supervise research have a responsibility to create an environment that encourages high standards through open discussion, publication, emphasis on quality, appropriate supervision, maintenance of accurate and detailed records, and the fair assignment of responsibility and credit in the specific discipline.
For additional understanding of the broader concept of RCR, please visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The DHHS Office of Research Integrity has composed an overview document that serves as a summary of RCR information that is made available to the public.
Within this document you will find information pertinent to:
- Responsible Conduct of Research per professional codes, government regulations, institutional policies, personal convictions
- An overview of Research Misconduct
- Data Management Practices including Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
- Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities
- Responsible Authorship and Publication Best Practices
- Peer Review
A downloadable PDF of the entire document can be accessed here.
University of Tennessee Specific Resources
The UT Knoxville research community is fortunate to have at its disposal an abundance of resources to aid in the discovery, proposal, or publication process. In partnership with the University Libraries, the Office of Research and Engagement has outlined university specific resources, including available trainings to promote the Responsible Conduct of Research.
The University Libraries provide a myriad of services and resources to further assist you with understanding and resolving research integrity and responsibility concerns. These include:
- Subject Specific Research Guides
- Citation Formats and Style Manuals
- Citation Management Programs
- Research Consultations
- The Scholarship Collaborative
- Online Tutorials
The libraries also provide research relevant trainings and events which can be accessed on their website. These include workshops offered by the Scholars’ Collaborative, including workshop topics available upon request which will be conducted for groups of four or more.
Institutional Research Resources for UT
Responsible Conduct of Research is interwoven within many of the policy and procedures of the university that govern activities of faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Provided below are links to applicable policies and guidance.
- University of Tennessee Knoxville Faculty Handbook
- Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Policy
- Thesis and Dissertation Review and Approval
- Thesis and Dissertation Resources
- Individual Development Plan Program
- Research Tools
- Grantseeker’s Toolkit
- NIH Resources
- University of Tennessee Policy on Misconduct in Research and Service
- University of Tennessee Conflict of Interest Policy
- General Research Policy Page
- RCR Institutional Plan
For information on accessing specific assistance and proposal support information please visit the website of the Office of Sponsored Programs. The OSP is focused on facilitating proposal processing and submission; reviewing, negotiating and accepting contracts; and managing awards.
The UT Office of Research and Engagement has partnered with the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program to allow UT Knoxville affiliated researchers the opportunity to participate in online research ethics education. The CITI program is comprised of various learning modules, including several for RCR.
The Office of Research Integrity holds workshops each semester as an element of its commitment to provide comprehensive and accessible training in Responsible Conduct of Research to our campus population. Different topics in RCR are discussed with more than one opportunity to access the materials for each of them.
One of the most preventable forms of research misconduct is plagiarism or the perception of plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as the use of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Occasionally early forms of plagiarism have similarities with errors in paraphrasing, improper citations, and/or failure to use quotations adequately. The University of Tennessee is committed to identifying preventable risks to our research faculty, staff, and students; and then availing critical resources and trainings to increase knowledge and build competencies related to the research record.
Find more information on iThenticate, including your departmental users and ORE support staff.