The National Science Foundation (NSF) views the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RECR) as critical for achieving excellence and maintaining public trust in science and engineering. Consequently, effective July 31, 2023, NSF is requiring everyone – from undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and other senior personnel – involved in any NSF-funded research grant to undergo RECR training.  NSF also requires mentoring training for faculty and senior personnel. Details of this new requirement are posted here, Chapter II.D.1.d(iv) (page II-6) and IX.B (page IX-3) of the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide posted by NSF in January, 2023.

RECR training involves not only a responsibility to generate and disseminate knowledge with rigor and integrity, but also commitments to:

  • Conduct peer review with the highest ethical standards;
  • Diligently protect proprietary information and intellectual property from inappropriate disclosure; and
  • Treat students and colleagues fairly and with respect.

The Iowa State Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) recommends the following processes to meet NSF’s new RECR requirement (These procedures also include modules on mentorship to fulfill that new requirement as well). All training options will be available starting July 1, 2023:

1. Faculty members and senior personnel

All faculty members and senior research personnel involved in NSF-funded projects are required to take the online CITI Training modules, as follows.

  • Initial RCR training: Take the full RCR Basic Course through CITI Program, which now also includes these two new modules:
    • Data Management (RCR-Basic) (ID 20896)
    • Mentoring and Healthy Research Environments (RCR-Basic) (ID 20983)
  • Refresher RCR training:

Option 1- If it has been more than three years since you have completed this course, you are required to re-take the full RCR Refresher Course, including these two refresher modules:

  • Data Management (RCR-Refresher) (ID 15664)
  • Mentoring and Healthy Research Environments (RCR-Refresher) (ID 15667)

Option 2- If you completed the full Refresher RCR course within the past three years, you only need to complete these two new modules:

  • Data Management (RCR-Basic) (ID 20896)
  • Mentoring and Healthy Research Environments (RCR-Basic) (ID 20983)

2. Graduate students (Masters and PhD) and Postdoc fellows

  • Take the same three Online CITI training options provided above,

OR

  • Take the 1 credit GR ST 565 course which will be updated to meet these requirements starting the 2023 fall semester.

3. For Undergraduate students

  • Take the same three Online CITI training options provided above,

OR

  • Take the appropriate honors courses on RCR approved in your College (e.g. Hon 322E which will be updated to meet these new requirements starting 2023 fall semester).

The OVPR recommends refresher RCR training, including these two new modules, be taken every 3 years. It is the responsibility of the PI to assign training to anyone joining the NSF-funded project before they start working on it. Arrangements are being made to assign the training through LEARN@ISU or the new training platform (Workday Learning) when developed.

Training Audit

The OVPR will introduce an auditing program for RECR training to ensure the institution is meeting these Federal requirements. This will verify adherence to make sure the university aligns with expectations from Auditors from NSF and other agencies who will be conducting audits of the RECR training program. In future, no personnel charges to NSF grants will be processed by the Finance department, unless RECR training is confirmed.

For any follow-up questions, please contact the Office of Research Ethics administrative assistant, Bette Maybee at bjmaybee@iastate.edu.