Program Basics

 

RCR is a campus-wide program tasked with educating students, trainees, and scholars in the ethical foundations of research. The RCR program seeks to:

  • Underscore the central importance of truth, integrity, and transparency in research and scholarship.
  • Highlight the value and necessity of open and honest communication with colleagues and mentors.
  • Point out our responsibilities to the larger research community and public.
  • Emphasize how important it is to be proactive to ensure that our research environments are characterized by fairness, clarity, and respect.

In order to attain these goals, the Responsible Conduct of Research Program provides instruction and professional development related 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.

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.

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

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

National Science Foundation (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.

National Institutes of Health (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.

If you are applying for a grant please feel free to use the following language to describe the BU RCR program:

Responsible Conduct of Research Training at Boston University

Trainees under specified grant awards receive individual mentoring and instruction in connection with their training program. In addition, they will complete the institutional RCR Program, Advanced RCR for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers, which is offered by Boston University in partnership with Boston Medical Center, and takes place on both the Medical Campus and the Charles River Campus.

Content and format:
This program has two components:
1. Advanced RCR-Online Preparation consisting of Introductory RCR (a BU PowerPoint and quiz)and Intermediate RCR (three online modules from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)on Scientific Misconduct, Data Management and Publication); and 2. Advanced RCR Live consisting of four two-hour live core discussion workshops (or an approved alternative RCR course of at least eight hours). In these workshops, small groups of students and postdoctoral researchers discuss cases studies that address pertinent RCR topics, as defined by the NIH, including mentorship, integrity in data management, collaboration, publication, scientific misconduct, peer review, and conflicts of interest in research.

Duration:
The Online Preparation is to be completed in the first or second year of graduate training or the first semester as a postdoc. The four two-hour workshops are to be completed over not more than four semesters following completion of Online Preparation.

Faculty involvement:
The core workshops are guided by faculty Mentors and the BU RCR Director. Mentors receive one hour of training prior to the session in which they will serve. Since 2006, over 400 BU faculty members have participated as discussion facilitators or mentors. The Boston University RCR Education Advisory Committee (faculty and academic/compliance administrators) assists the University to oversee all RCR instructional programs (including alternative RCR courses) and to make strategic plans for further RCR activities at the University. Given the dynamic and interactive nature of the program, it is suited to provide opportunities for professional growth and for development of new insights and skills in individuals at a variety of levels. Senior fellows and career award recipients (including F33, K02, K05, and K24 awardees) who have previously completed or participated in the Advanced RCR may participate as RCR workshop Mentors in future years.

For more information, visit: http://www.bu.edu/researchsupport/compliance/responsible-conduct-of-research/

RCR Assurance and Verification

The BU RCR Plan states that PIs are responsible for specifying and monitoring completion of RCR instruction for required students and postdoctoral researchers. NSF grant applications contain assurances that the institution will verify that students and postdocs who are paid for research on an NSF grant will complete the BU RCR program. The steps of the assurance and verification are:

 

Research Compliance generates, on a monthly basis, a report of all new students and postdocs paid for research on covered NSF Awards.


Research Compliance then sends a reminder letter outlining each newly identified student and postdoc to their PIPrincipal Investigator View Boston University's policy on... specifically stating each individual’s RCR requirements. One month before each Advanced RCR workshop series begins, Research Compliance sends a workshop invitation to all individual NSF payees (advanced level) who have not completed their workshops. PIs will be notified of this as well.


PIs and department-level administrators are asked to assure that the students and postdocs make a commitment to meet their requirements. Undergraduates and master’s degree candidates must complete their online requirement within 30 days of notification. Doctoral and post-doctoral researchers who will be taking advanced RCR training must complete online training before registering for the four workshops. Doctoral students must complete all four live workshops by the end of their fourth year. Postdoctoral researchers are recommended to commence the four RCR workshops in the semester in which online preparation is completed. We recommend completion of the four workshops at the rate of at least one per semester. Training must be performed once every four years and at each new career stage.


Click here for more information regarding NSF RCR compliance guidelines.

 

The Office of Research Compliance will review all notices of grant awards to identify postdoctoral scholars, PhD students, and recipients of career development awards who will be receiving support through “covered” NIH grant programs that mandate Advanced RCR training . An email with an Advanced RCR sign-up form will be sent to these PIS. Completed forms containing the names of individuals required to take RCR will automatically be sent to the RCR Program.


Research Compliance then sends a reminder letter outlining each newly identified student and postdoc to their PI specifically stating each individual’s RCR requirements. One month before each Advanced RCR workshop series begins, Research Compliance sends a workshop invitation to all individual NIH payees (advanced level) who have not completed their workshops. PIs receive this notification as well.


PIs and department-level administrators are asked to assure that individuals on “covered” NIH grant programs make a commitment to meet their requirements. Undergraduates and master’s degree candidates supported by NIH funds must complete their online RCR programs within 30 days of notification. Doctoral and post-doctoral researchers taking advanced RCR training must complete online training before registering for the four workshops. Doctoral students must complete all four live workshops by the end of their fourth year. Postdoctoral researchers are recommended to commence the four RCR workshops in the semester in which online preparation is completed. We recommend completion of the four workshops at the rate of at least one per semester. Training must be performed once every four years and at each new career stage.

 

Several graduate programs/departments require that all trainees and post-docs undertake Advanced RCR training independent of funding status. It is the responsibility of PIs and department-level administrators to monitor their trainees for compliance with departmental policy. However, the RCR Program maintains status lists of all RCR participants, including those subject to a departmental mandate.

 

Near the end of each semester, Research Compliance will check the RCR Status Lists to ascertain whether NSF and NIH payees have completed their online requirements and are on track to complete the required live workshops. Research Compliance will notify payees and PIs of those payees who have not completed their RCR requirements or are not on track to timely completion. This noncompliance letter will be copied to the department chair and brought to the attention of the RCR Education Advisory Committee, Subcommittee on Compliance, and if necessary to Post-Award Financial Operations to assure improper salary charges are avoided.

How can Department-Level Administration Assist PIs with Compliance?

  • When placing students or postdocs on the payroll to be paid for research on an NSF award, verify that the PI has notified the payee of applicable RCR requirements.
  • Assist PIs to check the RCR compliance status of individuals on the BU RCR Individual Status Lists.
  • Assist the PI in assuring timely compliance by the payee, when a reminder letter has been received from Research Compliance.
  • Assist the PI in assuring immediate compliance by the payee, when a noncompliance letter has been received from Research Compliance.
  • When notified by Research Compliance or PAFOPost Award Financial Operations PAFO assists faculty and ..., take required steps regarding payroll status of any non-compliant individual.

Boston University adopted the BU RCR Plan in May 2010. The plan covers RCR responsibilities of principal investigators (PIs) on both NIH and NSF “covered” awards. The plan assigns responsibility to PIs for assuring that RCR covered individuals participate in and complete RCR instruction.

View plan