Skip to Content

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training and Applying for an NIH Training Grant

The requirements are detailed at: NOT-OD-10-019: Requirement for the Instruction of Responsible Conduct of Research

The requirements for the K series are summarized at,

"Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research K01, K05, K08, K18, K22, K23, K25, K43 and K99/R00. All applications for support under this FOA must include a plan to fulfill NIH requirements for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Taking into account the level of experience of the applicant, including any prior instruction or participation in RCR as appropriate for the applicant's career stage, the reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the proposed RCR training in relation to the following five required components:

  1. Format - the required format of instruction, i.e., face-to-face lectures, coursework, and/or real-time discussion groups (a plan with only on-line instruction is not acceptable);
  2.  Subject Matter - the breadth of subject matter, e.g., conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics;
  3. Faculty Participation - the role of the mentor(s) and other faculty involvement in the fellow's instruction;
  4. Duration of Instruction - the number of contact hours of instruction (at least eight contact hours are required); and
  5. Frequency of Instruction - instruction must occur during each career stage and at least once every four years.

Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the summary statement will provide the consensus rating of the review committee." [Formatting added.]

You will find the above description under ‘Additional Review Criteria' in the Definitions of Criteria and Considerations for K Critiques.

Your training at NIH provides you with opportunities to fulfill all of these requirements in advance of submitting a K grant application. It is important to note that no single component of your RCR training is sufficient to cover the entire range of requirements, but the combination of face-to-face coursework, yearly required ethics case-study reviews, and in-lab training does. Additionally, given that the committee wants to see a robust and ongoing commitment to RCR training, demonstrating a breadth of experience over different stages of your training career is a positive.

Face-to-face RCR training opportunities at NIH:

  • Research Ethics full-day in-person workshop using lecture, small and large group discussions, and case studies to cover what the Office of Research Integrity identifies as the nine core RCR topics:
  1. Research Misconduct
  2. The Protection of Human Subjects
  3. The Welfare of Laboratory Animals
  4. Conflicts of Interest
  5. Data Management Practices
  6. Mentor and Mentee Responsibilities
  7. Collaborative Research
  8. Authorship and Publication
  9. Peer Review
  • Yearly ethics case study review sessions. These further address the requirement for faculty involvement in RCR training as they involve discussions between personnel at every career stage.
  • In-lab training, such as going through the appropriate Rigor and Reproducibility Modules with your PI.

Some advice:

  • Don't underestimate the importance of this section of your grant application. It can be and is used to rate applications as ‘UNACCEPTIBLE,' and NIH was known in the past for reliance on online training, putting our applicants at a disadvantage. The Office of Intramural Research, in collaboration with the Office of Intramural Training & Education, has taken steps to expand the NIH Intramural Research Program in-person RCR training but it is up to you when writing this section to ensure that the review committees understand that you have taken the opportunity to participate in them.
  • Online training is not considered sufficient for meeting any of the stated criteria, and little value is added to your application by mentioning it. In fact, noting online training can sometimes be detrimental to your application - (unless it is a specific course that is suited for your particular research and you are sure to note that you have already fulfilled all requirements.)
  • The K series grants are career development awards; just as you detail future research plans, you should also have developed a future (beyond your time at NIH) plan for meeting the ongoing RCR requirements in your next career stage. This can be a chance to demonstrate how you might translate the fundamentals of RCR training into action. For instance: How you may be preparing as a mentor to ensure that your mentees will learning best RCR practice; how your understanding of human subjects regulations goes beyond checking off the requirements you would have to describe in other sections of the application, and how you will ensure that your future lab will be organized from the beginning to foster an ethical research environment.