USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture RCR Training


Please review the commonly asked RCR training questions related to the USDA-NIFA. For more information about USDA-NIFA requirements concerning RCR training, please see the USDA's Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research.


Who needs RCR training?
For awards subject to February 2013 Research Terms and Conditions and those awards issued subsequently, program directors, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project must receive training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

When should RCR training take place?
USDA-NIFA does not specify a timeframe within which RCR training must be completed. You are encouraged to provide the training shortly after receiving your grant.

What topics should RCR training cover?
USDA-NIFA expects RCR training to cover, at a minimum, issues related to authorship and plagiarism, data and research integration, and reporting misconduct. You may find it beneficial to include other topics in your RCR training, including the nine NIH core areas that are generally acceptable for training programs:

  • 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 as 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 USDA-NIFA-funded research, you are not required to provide training on each of these topics. 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, USDA-NIFA 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. USDA-NIFA does not specify a required duration for RCR training, though it is expected that the training will meet the content requirements above and will be sufficient enough to meet the needs of the individuals taking the training.

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