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1. What is RCR?

RCR stands for Responsible Conduct of Research. The responsible and ethical conduct of research is critical for excellence, as well as maintaining the public trust in research, both for individual students, professors, and staff and for Cornell as an institution. Education in RCR is essential in the preparation of future researchers and scholars.

2. Why do I need to complete RCR training?

As part of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, the National Science Foundation introduced a new requirement, effective January 2010, for educating all undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) awards. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and United States Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) now also require students and other personnel involved in their awards to complete RCR training. Individuals who do not complete required RCR training cannot be paid beginning one week after their training deadline expires, and cannot be reinstated to the award until the training is complete.

Aside from these grant-driven requirements, some Cornell departments and professors may require their students to complete training in RCR.

3. Who needs to complete RCR training, and what are the requirements?

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) awards:
  • All trainees (undergraduates, graduate students, or postdoctoral fellows) who receive salaries or stipend support for conducting research under an NSF award for any amount of time must receive training in RCR (more details can be found on the NSF website and the Cornell RCR Training Requirements page). Faculty or staff working on NSF grants need not complete RCR training. This requirement does not apply to conference, symposium, workshop or travel awards.

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards:
  • All trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training award, career development award (individual or institutional), research education grant, or dissertation research grant must receive RCR training (more details can be found on the NIH website and the Cornell RCR Training Requirements page). This policy applies to the following programs and other NIH-funded programs that specify an RCR training requirement: 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.

    For NIH training awards, online RCR training alone is not sufficient to meet NIH regulatory requirements. Trainees should contact their Training Grant Directors for guidance on what supplemental activities are required.

  • United States Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) awards:
  • All program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and staff participating in a USDA-NIFA research project must receive RCR training (more details can be found on the Cornell RCR Training Requirements page).

  • Other funding agencies:
  • At this time, no other sponsors require RCR training as a condition of all awards, but training may be required in some specific funding announcements or Notices of Awards. The Principal Investigator and Department Administrators should review the terms of each award to determine if RCR training is required.

  • Incoming Graduate Students:
  • Beginning September 2015, all incoming graduate students pursuing research degrees will be required to successful complete a short, "Foundational" course in RCR by the end of their second semester of enrollment into the Graduate School. For more information and FAQs specific to this requirement, please see "Cornell RCR Requirements for Incoming Graduate Students" on the RCR Home Page.

4. What is CITI?

Cornell has contracted with a third party, Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), to provide an online training in RCR.

5. How do I take a CITI RCR course?

To start your CITI training, go to and click on "Take the Training." Log-in with your Cornell NetID and password and choose the RCR course that is most relevant to your area of research. Taking any one will satisfy your RCR training requirement, provided that you complete all the modules within the course and receive a grade of 80% overall.

6. Which RCR course should I take?

If you need to take RCR training to comply with an award requirement, you must take one of the 5 "Full" online RCR courses offered through CITI. You should select the course that is closest to your area of research. The "Short" courses are only intended for students who are engaged in research but not paid under a federal award requiring RCR training.

7. How long does it take to complete the online course in RCR?

A full RCR course can take up to 4 hours to complete. A short course can be completed within 2 hours. These online courses can be taken at any time, and you also do not need complete the entire course in one sitting. Once you complete any of the modules, you may take the test and exit the program. When you log in the next time, CITI will allow you to start from where you left off.

8. What should I do if I did not earn 80% or greater passing marks in the CITI RCR course?

At the end of each module, your test score for that module is displayed. If you have scored less than 80%, you should review the material and re-take the test. If you must re-take any test, do so before completing all modules and generating a completion certificate. Once the certificate is generated, your grade is fixed. If you do complete the course with a total score of less than 80%, please contact the RCR Administrator ( for assistance.

9. Will the online CITI course satisfy my RCR training requirement?

The online course meets the RCR training requirement for NSF and USDA-NIFA awards, but for NIH awards, the online training is only one component of the required RCR program. Trainees funded on NIH awards should contact their Training Grant Directors for guidance on what supplemental activities are required.

10. What is the deadline for completing RCR CITI training?

All students and postdoctoral researchers paid under awards requiring RCR training are required to complete the RCR CITI training within 60 days of being appointed to the award.

11. How frequently does the RCR CITI training need to be completed?

Cornell requires that the RCR CITI training be taken only once.

12. Does the CITI RCR training count towards required training for human participant research, humane care and use of animals, or financial conflicts of interest?

No. There are separate training requirements for researchers working with human subjects, personnel utilizing and/or handling animals for research, teaching and testing, or those named as research personnel on NIH funded awards. Visit the ORIA website ( for more information on these training requirements.

13. I have completed a similar training at Cornell or at another institution. Do I still need to take the online course provided by CITI?

If you have taken RCR training, either through CITI or another program, please send your course completion certificate to, and RCR compliance staff will determine whether or not your prior training meets Cornell requirements.

14. What do I do if I am told to complete RCR training that I don't think I am required to take?

If you believe you have received an email about RCR CITI training in error, email

15. Do I need to take RCR training if I am volunteering or participating in a sponsored project for course credit?

No. Only students and postdoctoral researchers who are directly supported from salary or stipends paid by applicable awards and conducting research are subject to the RCR training requirement.

16. Are faculty or staff working on sponsored grants required to take RCR training?

No. At this time, only students and postdoctoral researchers are required to complete the RCR training.

17. What are the consequences of not completing the RCR training requirements?

Any individual who does not complete the RCR training within the time frame allocated will be removed from the award, can no longer be paid on the award, and cannot be reinstated to the award until training is complete.

18. How will PIs and Department Administrators be notified of RCR requirements on an award?

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) inserts any applicable RCR requirement as a "Deliverable" in the Award Distribution notice sent to PIs and Department Administrators. ORIA sends monthly reminder emails to PIs regarding new awards with RCR requirements, as well as reminders to students and postdocs who have not fulfilled their RCR training requirements.

19. When submitting a proposal to NSF, NIH, or USDA-NIFA, what information regarding RCR training must the PI describe in the application?

Unless explicitly requested by the proposal solicitation or funding announcement (for example, an NSF-IGERT), the RCR training plan does not need to be described in the proposal. However, ORIA does provide a template for NIH training grant applications, if needed.

20. What should I do if I suspect that research misconduct has occurred?

Any member of the University community who suspects that research misconduct has occurred should read Policy 1.2 on Academic Misconduct, which describes the process for reporting and how confidentiality will be protected. Regardless of whether you are a faculty member, a member of the staff, or a student, you should report your concerns to the Dean of the Faculty. While Policy 1.2 contains detailed information about the process, generally speaking, the Dean of the Faculty will conduct a preliminary Inquiry into the allegations and then, if warranted, refer the matter to the appropriate Dean of the college or unit head to conduct a formal Investigation. If the affected research is supported by sponsored funds, or if there is need for protection of people, equipment or funds, the Vice Provost for Research will be notified so that he/she can take the necessary administrative actions, and notify sponsors if appropriate or as required by sponsor regulations. If misconduct is found to have occurred, the Dean of the Faculty will take appropriate next steps that may include repairing any damage the misconduct has caused (notice to publishers, etc.) and imposing an appropriate disciplinary penalty. Throughout the process, those conducting the review are charged with taking all reasonable precautions, consistent with the need for a complete and comprehensive review, to maintain confidentiality and to protect the rights and legitimate interests of both the person making the disclosure and the subject of the review.