Responsible Conduct of Research Certification

About the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

“In general terms, responsible conduct in research is simply good citizenship applied to professional life.” 
– Office of Research Integrity, Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research

Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is the process researchers and scholars follow to ensure that their work is original, honest, and well-intended. The outcomes can be trusted and may contribute to generalizable knowledge. Often RCR coincides with professional practices and regulatory compliance. All professional scientists and scholars are expected to conduct themselves with integrity, honesty, and in accordance with professional expectations. RCR is not just doing research, but doing it well.

The following topics constitute the 12 core subject areas of RCR, as identified in the university Scientific Integrity Plan (SIP).

    • Conflicts of interest
    • Ethical use of human and other animal subjects in research
    • Authorship and publication
    • Peer review
    • Data acquisition, management, ownership and sharing
    • Data reproducibility
    • Mentoring
    • Research misconduct policies
    • Financial management
    • Whistleblower ethics
    • Collaborative research
    • The scientist as a responsible member of society

Who Needs to Be Certified in the Responsible Conduct of Research? 

      • Undergraduate, graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, new-career investigators supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) or National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) must be RCR certified within one year of the award.
      • The requirements stipulated by the federal funding agencies are similar, but not identical.
      • The Scientific Integrity Plan (SIP) is in place detailing UNM’s ethics education and include all federal funding agency requirements with the intention of meeting requirements issued by other entities (such as Department of Education) who will release their own requirements in the future. 
      • NSF: Effective January 4, 2010, institutions applying for financial assistance from NSF must certify that they have a plan to provide appropriate RCR training and oversight to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers.
      • NIH: Effective January 25, 2010, NIH requires RCR instruction for all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, or dissertation research grant.
      • NIFA: In February 2013, NIFA issued requirements for program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in the research project to receive appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research and that documentation of such training will be maintained.
      • AIRE and Graduate Studies recommends that all members of the academic community who are engaged in research or who support the practice of scholarly inquiry participate in some level of research ethics training

For more information, refer to the university Scientific Integrity Plan (SIP).


Certificates of completion for RCR/research ethics expire after four years. If upon certificate expiration you are still a UNM graduate student, postdoc, or new career faculty supported by federal funding you will need to get re-certified. To do this, complete the recertification online module. Once complete, contact AIRE director Dr. William Gannon ( to set up a time for a re-certification interview. That interview will simply consist of a discussion with the director about ethics or integrity issues that you may have encountered in the last four years, how those issues were handled (without too much detail), and recommendations for improvement of the research ethics pedagogy to improve the program.  Thank you so much for your participation!