Responsible Conduct of Research

The College of Social Science Responsible Conduct of Research Program

The College's Program
Online Tutorial and Exam
Workshop with College Faculty (see workshop schedule)
Individual Meeting with Participants


In August 2007, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (P.L. 110-69) (a.k.a. COMPETES) was enacted by the U.S. government. Section 7009 of this Act requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a protocol that ensures that anyone receiving support from the Foundation for educational programs, science, or engineering research provides "appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to participating undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers."* Beginning January 4, 2010, the NSF requires any institution submitting a grant proposal to the Foundation certify that it has a Section 7009 compliance plan. To meet this requirement, Provost Wilcox and Vice-President Gray asked MSU colleges to ensure and document that the "necessary training and education will be done for students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF grants."

Following consultation with the College Social Science (CSS) Chairs and Directors, Dean Marietta Baba asked the College Research Committee to develop a program on the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) that would 1.) serve the interests and needs of all relevant CSS students and employees, 2.) fulfill the requirements adopted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), 3.) meet the current standards and anticipated regulatory policies of the National Institute of Health (NIH)**, and 4.) satisfy the spirit of the directive from the Provost and Vice-President for Research.

The College of Social Science Research Committee spent the 2009-10 academic year designing a program that fits the ethos shared across the social, behavioral, and economic sciences faculty for conducting research, producing scholarship, and mentoring the next generation of scientists.

Please note: The Graduate School is offering a series of workshops related to the RCR. Require individuals may participate in any of these workshops; however, participation in the Graduate School workshops does not fulfill the requirements of the College's RCR program.
The College's Program

The approved CSS Program on the Responsible Conduct of Research contains three core parts:

  • Two online tutorials and examinations provided by the CITI group (totaling approximately 5 hours);
  • A two-hour workshop provided by College faculty; and
  • A one-hour annual face-to-face discussion between each applicable individual and his or her mentor or project supervisor

The program must be completed in the sequence outlined above. Please note: participants will not be admitted to the College workshop without proof of successful completion of the two CITI modules. After you have completed all three parts during the first year, you will need to complete only Parts 1 and 3 in succeeding years. You will not need to attend the College workshop a second time. All applicable individuals must initiate this training within the first semester of commencing work on an NSF-funded project or your financial support may be terminated after the first semester. At this time, we are just encouraging all other graduate students to participate in this program of training before they begin conducting research.

Part 1:

Online tutorial and examination provided by the CITI group (approximately 5 hours)
The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online component of the RCR program that every applicable individual will complete involves two parts. One is the traditional human subjects' projects training that we all must complete before submitting an IRB application. The other is a specific course on the responsible conduct of research. This online training covers all aspects of RCR.

While the CITI program provides many courses, required individuals must take the following two CITI tutorials: under question 1, select Group 1 MSU investigators for the IRB training, and under question 3, select either the RCR for Social & Behavioral Research or the RCR for Humanities course. Each of these courses can be found under your CITI account by clicking on the line entitled Add a course or update your learner groups for Michigan State University (MSU). You may wish to consult with your supervisor or mentor about which course you should take.

Before beginning the CITI modules, create a profile (see instructions here).

Part 2: Two hour workshop provided by a group of College faculty
The College's RCR workshop will be offered several times throughout the year. The workshop will discuss the RCR issues within the MSU context, specifically highlighting MSU relevant policies under each of the RCR areas. In addition, the participants will also meet in two small groups for 30 minutes each with faculty to discuss case studies in two of the eight RCR areas during the workshop.

Part 3: One hour annual face-to-face discussion between each applicable individual and his or her mentor or project supervisor
During this component of the RCR, the program planners ask each faculty member to speak with their mentees about three items:

data access, security, and stewardship practices;
authorship guidelines and plagiarism concerns; and,
best practices around collaboration with colleagues at MSU and elsewhere
This discussion should be completed annually with each applicable individual (individually or in lab setting) and reported to the unit's graduate secretary. The committee and the Graduate School believes that this face-to-face approach serves an important role of instilling in students and relevant employees, the very best practice for conducting responsible scholarship and research that is specific to your particular discipline, profession, or field.

You will also learn about these and other relevant topics during your CITI online training and participation in the College workshop. Nevertheless, because not everyone's practices are identical, the College Committee and the Graduate School strongly agreed that it was important that you hear from your mentor about a number of topics.

Over the coming years, we will adjust our RCR program to reflect changes in the regulatory environment, University policy and resources, and our experiences delivering the program. The committee invites your input into this training process to ensure that we meet the NSF and University requirements and that we are practicing the highest standards of research.