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Responsible Conduct of Research

Purdue is committed to research integrity and the responsible conduct of research. To ensure that all researchers are trained to conduct their research in an informed and responsible manner, Purdue has implemented a Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Standard (S20), effective July 1st, 2020. In parallel, the Graduate School maintains a requirement for all graduate faculty and graduate students. RCR topics include authorship, mentoring, peer-review, conflicts of interest, plagiarism, data management, and reproducibility of research results. The standard applies to all faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students of the University who design and conduct research and/or report and publish research outcomes. It has two components:

  1. general online RCR training offered through the CITI Program, and

  2. research field-specific RCR training that includes discipline-based discussion.

The two components are complementary, with the online training providing basic information on core topics to consider in efforts to conduct research in a responsible manner, and the field-specific training providing an opportunity to discuss these issues with colleagues. The deadline for training completion varies by training and researcher types, as detailed in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About RCR

Question

Answer

Why do I need to complete the training?

National survey results indicate that the public is increasingly concerned about the integrity of the scientific process and the robustness of reported results. Purdue aims to maintain and promote a culture of research integrity among all who conduct research in our system, from the newest researcher to the most experienced. Training in the responsible conduct of research provides exposure to important current information faced by researchers. In addition, several federal sponsors (NSF, USDA/NIFA, NIH) require training on RCR as a condition of granting research funding.

Who at Purdue has to take the training?

All researchers at Purdue, defined as persons who are responsible for the design, conduct and reporting of research. It includes the following categories of employees and students:

  • Faculty, trainees, and staff who design and conduct research and/or report and publish research outcomes
  • Graduate students who are enrolled in a Ph.D. or master’s program with a research thesis or component, and
  • Undergraduate students involved in a research project or conducting student-initiated research.

Why do experienced researchers have to do this training?

As one of the world’s leading research universities, Purdue has an obligation to maintain and promote a culture of research integrity and train researchers to conduct research responsibly. We aim to raise awareness about ethical issues in conducting research in every discipline through online content training and open discussions among peers. Modeling responsible behavior, particularly to novice researchers, is an important element in the maintenance of a culture of research integrity. Seasoned researchers (even those who do not believe that they have ever experienced RCR problems) can continue to contribute to Purdue’s robust climate of research integrity by (1) taking the training themselves, (2) promoting Purdue’s RCR training standard to all those in their labs, and (3) encouraging ongoing, open conversations about RCR as a regular and critical part of the research process.

What training am I supposed to be doing?

There are two separate RCR training components for researchers to complete: (a) an online course in CITI, and (b) field-specific training.

The first component involves completing one of two basic online CITI courses depending on the career level of the researcher: Undergraduate researchers are required to complete the RCR Basic Undergraduate course, and those beyond the undergraduate level complete the RCR Basic course for Faculty, Postdoctoral, and Graduate Students.

The second component, RCR Field-Specific training, can be fulfilled in any number of ways, with the intention being interactive, in-depth consideration of RCR issues with colleagues in one’s field of research (or aligned fields). For example, it can involve participation in lab discussions of any RCR topic(s). It can involve participation in college or department discussions of any RCR topic(s).

How long will it take to complete the training?

It will take most researchers between two and four hours to complete the online training. In addition, two hours minimum of research field-specific training is required.

How often do I need to complete the training?

One time only during your Purdue career. The only exception is if a sponsor requires you to renew your training.

When do I need to complete the training?

General Online RCR Training
Category Deadline for Completion
Current Faculty and Research Staff (not paid from grants) July 1, 2021 (or within 120 days of employment start date)
Graduate Students (PhD and MS programs, not paid from grants) 60 Days from the start of Graduate Studies
Undergraduate Students (conducting research, not paid from grants) 30 Days from start of work on a research project
All Researchers Paid from Grants 30 Days from the date of first payroll from grants
Research Field-Specific Training
All Researchers July 1, 2022 or within 12 months of the start date of their employment or involvement in a Purdue research project

What happens if I don’t do the training?

RCR training is required for all active researchers at Purdue. All researchers benefit from awareness of RCR issues that impact how their research is conducted and, ultimately, received by the larger community of scholars. To date, Purdue researchers have overwhelmingly accepted and endorsed the new standard. Non-compliance, if it emerges, will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Repercussions include suspension of rights to (a) submit grant proposals, (b) submit protocols for regulatory review, and (c) participate on graduate student committees (for faculty).

Who can I contact for help?

For questions, email RCRTraining@purdue.edu.

I have already completed other CITI trainings, such as for Human Subjects, Animal Research, Biosafety, Export Control. Why am I being asked to also take this RCR training course?

All researchers at Purdue are required to complete the basic RCR training course in CITI. Researchers who conduct research involving human and/or animal subjects, lasers, rDNA, export control restrictions, etc., must also take specialized training in those areas. Please review the researcher training decision tree to identify the type(s) of research training required for your research program.

Completing General Online RCR Training

Purdue uses the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) for researcher online training, including RCR training. For each assigned RCR module, review of the materials and completion of the quiz takes about 30 minutes. Based on this estimate, completion of the required modules will take approximately two hours for undergraduate researchers and four hours for faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student researchers. Researchers may choose to complete the course in multiple sessions rather than all in one session. A minimum score of 80% is required to pass the assigned core RCR online course. Materials can be reviewed multiple times and quizzes can be repeated until a passing score is attained.

Detailed guidance for completion of the general online RCR training requirement is available here.

Completing Research Field-Specific RCR Training

Whereas online training in RCR provides basic information on core topics to consider in efforts to conduct research in a responsible manner, field-specific training provides an opportunity to discuss these issues with colleagues. Field-specific RCR training is not a “one size fits all” and is perhaps best considered within the contexts of specific RCR issues faced by a given research field.

RCR Field-Specific training can be fulfilled in any number of ways, with the intention being interactive, in-depth consideration of RCR issues with colleagues in one’s field of research (or aligned fields). For example, it can involve participation in lab discussions of any RCR topic(s). It can involve participation in college or department discussions of any RCR topic(s).

In addition, Purdue offers a number of courses focused on “ethics”, all of which include an opportunity to discuss RCR topics. A current list of ethics courses is available here. Completing one of these courses fulfills the field-specific RCR training requirement. Purdue undergraduate and graduate students can register for these courses directly, as appropriate, and then use the RCR tracking application to indicate completion. Non-students can request a fee remission for auditing an ethics course through the formal process that includes completion and submission of the form available here.

Purdue’s Research Integrity Office also conducts customized RCR workshops that can be taken to help satisfy requirements for field-specific training. Please contact Purdue’s Research Integrity Officer, Professor James Mohler (jlmohler@purdue.edu), to arrange for one of these workshops or to find out more about the offerings provided through the Graduate School Professional Development Office.

Tracking Your RCR Training

Tracking General Online RCR Training

Once you have completed your online training within CITI, your training records will be automatically downloaded so that Purdue will know that you've completed this component of the requirement.

Tracking Research Field-Specific RCR Training

Individual researchers are in the best position to provide updates regarding their own field-specific training. Researchers should provide their updates here (click on the My RCR Training tab at the top of the page).

Researchers who do not complete their training by the designated deadlines will receive an email notification to do so.

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