RCR Program Basics

RCR instruction is available to all students and postdoctoral researchers in the sciences* and engineering, and may be required by your program director, mentor, or principal investigator. If you are not a “covered individual” paid from a “covered award” (defined below), ask your program director, mentor, or principal investigator whether you should complete RCR instruction.

*Science is broadly defined to include all fields of science, e.g., physical, mathematical & statistical, computer, biological, biomedical, social, economic, and behavioral sciences.

What is RCR?

The Responsible Conduct of Research Program provides instruction and professional development relating to the following topics:

  • Mentor/Mentee Responsibilities
  • Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship
  • Peer Review
  • Collaborative Science
  • The Scientist as a Responsible Member of Society, and the Societal Impacts of Scientific Research
  • Research Misconduct/Whistle-blowing
  • Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment

Separate detailed instruction is provided by the University and required for those engaging in human subjects research, animal research and laboratory research.  Such instruction is provided through the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees (IACUCs) and institutional Laboratory Safety Program.  However, RCR instruction will usually touch upon:

  • human subjects research,
  • research involving animals, and
  • safe laboratory practices

if appropriate to the audience.

When is RCR required?

  • A student’s degree program or postdoctoral fellow’s school may require completion of the RCR program.
  • For regulatory compliance purposes, RCR instruction is required by NSF and NIH for students and postdoctoral researchers, if they are “covered individuals” on “covered awards” as defined below.

Definitions: Covered Awards and Covered Individuals

NSF: All NSF awards to BU or BMC, made on proposals submitted on or after January 4, 2010, are covered awards. Covered individuals include all undergraduates, graduate students, or postdoctoral researchers who receive financial support from these covered awards to conduct research.

NIH: All NIH training grants* to BU or BMC, regardless of date of proposal submission, are covered awards. Covered individuals include all “trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support” from covered awards. This includes all students and all postdoctoral researchers who receive financial support and participate, at any time, as beneficiaries of the program supported by the training grant.

*NIH training grants include awards under the following programs: D43, D71, F05, F30, F31, F32, F33, F34, F37, F38, K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K12, K18, K22, K23, K24, K25, K26, K30, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, R36, T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TU2, and U2R and any other NIH-funded programs supporting research training, career development, or research education that require instruction in responsible conduct of research as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements.

Postdoctoral researchers: For purposes of the RCR program, postdoctoral researchers include individuals who have received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and are engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path (NIH letter: definition of postdoctoral scholar). This includes all Boston University postdoctoral fellows and postdoctoral associates (and senior postdoctoral associates) (see Academic Research Job Family) and may include others who do not currently have these titles but fit the functional definition.

What Is the BU RCR Program?

BU RCR is offered at three cumulative levels: undergraduate, master’s degree candidate, and doctoral degree candidate or postdoctoral researcher. Learn more and get started!

RCR Program Training

Additional Information

RCR Status Lists are updated and posted at the end of each semester.

In unusual or special circumstances, participants and principal investigators may petition our office for exceptions to some of the completion requirements. Contact rcr@bu.edu for petition procedures.