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Research Ethics & Compliance

Responsible Conduct of Research

An integral part of the University of Alabama’s strategic plan is to advance research and scholarship to be consistent with a top‐tier university and to promote growth and national prominence in this area.

The University of Alabama is committed to creating a research climate that promotes faithful adherence to high ethical standards in the conduct of research and scholarship without inhibiting the productivity and creativity of persons involved in research.

The Office for Research Ethics & Compliance (OREC) was established to ensure University compliance with federal regulations, state and local laws regarding all aspects of responsible conduct of research which spans all areas of research. As part of this commitment, ORC has developed the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) program to devote to responsible conduct of research and ethics training and education.

For more information on Conflict of Interest or to report an issue, please email Emilee Belk at

Federal Requirements

National Science Foundation (NSF)

In 2007, the America COMPETES Act directed the National Science Foundation (NSF) to require that all funded students and postdoctoral researchers undergo training in the responsible conduct of research. This requirement became effective with all NSF awards (including continuations) received on or after January 4, 2010. All undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) RCR training.

Responsible Conduct of Research, §7009, requires UA to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research and applies to undergraduate, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, §7008, requires all NSF grant applications requesting postdoctoral researcher support to provide a description of the mentoring activities for these individuals (see below for examples of mentoring activities). The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation’s broader impacts merit review criterion. Any proposal requesting postdoctoral support that does not include a mentoring plan will be returned without review. In addition, any NSF funding that provides postdoctoral researcher support, annual and final reports must provide a description of how the mentoring was provided to these individuals.

Examples of mentoring activities include but are not limited to

  • Career counseling
  • Training in preparation of grant proposals, publications, and presentations
  • Guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills
  • Guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers in other disciplinary areas
  • Training in responsible professional practices

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

In 1990, the National Institutes of Health began requiring institutional training grant applications to describe formal and informal activities related to instruction on the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) which should provide instruction in scientific integrity and/or the responsible conduct of research. Public Health Service (PHS) policy on instruction in the RCR recognizes four core competencies.

Shared Values

  • Rules, Regulations & Policies
  • Research Misconduct

Planning Research

  • Protection of Human Subjects
  • Welfare of Laboratory Animal
  • Conflict of Interest and Commitment

Conducting Research

  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing & Ownership
  • Mentor – Trainee Responsibilities
  • Collaborative Research/Science

Reporting & Reviewing

  • Publication Practices & Responsible Authorship
  • Peer Review


UA currently utilizes Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) courses in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) for its online training in RCR. The CITI course in RCR is a comprehensive online training tool including seven RCR modules: research misconduct, responsible data acquisition & management, responsible authorship, responsible peer review, mentoring, conflicts of interest, and collaborative research. For additional training information please contact the ORC Specialist (link email).

CITI Instructions and Registration

University of Alabama faculty, staff, and students can access the CITI Program’s Responsible Conduct of Research Training through their existing myBama accounts. Access to CITI via myBama is ONLY for individuals with valid myBama accounts. UA users should log into the myBama CITI Login Portal using their myBama user name and password (NOTE: a separate CITI login is no longer required). All other non-UA investigators should go to to access the training.

The basic RCR course includes Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, Research Misconduct, Data Acquisition and Management, Responsible Authorship, Peer Review, Mentoring, Conflicts of Interest, and Collaborative Research. Upon successful completion of the RCR courses, a certificate will be provided.

The CITI RCR course fulfills NSF’s requirement for training in RCR and the NIH online requirement.


Below are the resources related to the Responsible Conduct of Research: