The Importance of Responsible Conduct of Research

The Importance of Responsible Conduct of Research

What is Responsible Conduct of Research? 

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is a set of professional standards for scientists that support research integrity during study planning, implementation, and reporting. The RCR standards center on four shared values: honesty, accuracy, efficiency and objectivity (Steneck, 2007).  Honest researchers are compelled to communicate information truthfully and uphold obligations and promises.  Accurate researchers avoid errors and report study findings with precision.  Efficient researchers are conscientious about being resourceful and avoiding waste.  Objective researchers take care to avoid bias.  Conversations around RCR typically center on education and training programs that prepare and continually develop responsible investigators who conduct research with integrity. 

Why is RCR important? 

RCR training is regulated by professional ethical standards, federal regulations, institutional policies, and personal responsibilities (Steneck, 2007).  Initially, RCR developed in response to research misconduct identified in federally funded projects. Both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) require researchers and students working on funded projects complete responsible conduct of research training.  The federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is responsible for investigating and documenting cases of research misconduct.  Today, many institutions focus on proactively training investigators in the responsible conduct of research to reduce cases of misconduct and to strengthen the rigor of the scientific enterprise. 

RCR Training

There are no mandated content areas for an effective RCR education or training plan; however, most comprehensive RCR programs typically involve these nine areas:

1)      Research Misconduct,

2)      Conflicts of Interest,

3)      Mentor/Trainer Responsibilities,

4)      Data Acquisition and Management,

5)      Collaborative Research,

6)      Peer Review,

7)      Authorship and Plagiarism,

8)      Human Subject Research, and

9)      Using Animals in Research.

CITI Program, the same organization that creates and maintains the content used to provide UOPX researchers online human subject research training, has a comprehensive compendium of RCR training materials. By summer 2016, the University of Phoenix IRB Office has plans to make the CITI online RCR training modules available to our researchers.   Adding an online RCR training program for University of Phoenix researchers supports the University’s commitment to growing faculty and doctoral student scholarship.

RCR Resources

In addition to formal RCR education and training programs, there are a number of resources and materials available online.  For example:

To report a case of research misconduct, or with questions about the responsible conduct of research, please contact Dr. Laura Brewer with the University of Phoenix IRB Office at



Steneck, N. (2007). ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research. Washington, D.C.: Health and Human Services.

About the Author

Laura Brewer
Laura Brewer
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