National Science Foundation RCR Training


Please review the commonly asked RCR training questions related to the NSF. For more information about NSF requirements concerning RCR training, please see the NSF’s Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).

NSF RCR Training FAQs

Who needs RCR training?
NSF requires RCR training for all undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers included on all full proposals.

When should RCR training take place?
NSF requires that an individual complete RCR training within 60 days of their start date on these awards. NSF allows an institution to determine the frequency of RCR training. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this training is valid for three years.

What topics should RCR training cover?
NSF does not specify topics to cover in RCR training. However, you may wish to consider providing training in the following research integrity topics:

  • Conflicts of interest—personal, professional, and financial
  • Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
  • Mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Collaborative research including collaborations with industry
  • Peer review
  • Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing, and ownership
  • Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
  • Responsible authorship and publication
  • The scientist is a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.

Keep in mind that while these nine areas of interest may be relevant to your NSF-funded research, you are not required to provide training in these specific areas. You may identify other research integrity-related issues that are more relevant to the work of your trainees.

How should RCR training be delivered?
Unlike NIH, NSF does not specify any required RCR training methods. This training can be delivered in a face-to-face setting (such as group or lab meetings, seminars, or courses), or through online resources, such as those linked elsewhere on the OVCRI Responsible Conduct of Research page. NSF does not specify a required duration for RCR training, but they recognize that training needs may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the research or needs of the students.

How should RCR training be documented?
PIs are responsible for maintaining documentation of the RCR training their personnel receives. This training should be documented in the RCR Reporting System. PIs will receive an annual reminder about this obligation, but we strongly encourage you to document this training as it is completed and within 90 days of the NSF award.