The University of California is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity in research across all levels of the organization, as set forth by UC policy.

See also the UC Office of Ethics, Compliance & Audit Services Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline, and the Responsibilities for Conduct & Administration of Research section of the Research Policy Library.

Among the most important responsibilities undertaken by a faculty member when he or she serves as Principal Investigator (PI) or  Lead Researcher (LR) on a research project is that of the scientific integrity of the project. If students, postdoctoral scholars, or other personnel perform work on the project, the PI/LR must ensure that these study team members have received proper training and education in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).

Federal research sponsors have implemented regulations requiring that training in RCR is provided to study personnel as a condition of certain awards, although it is expected that robust training in RCR should routinely be provided to all students, postdoctoral scholars and research personnel regardless of the funding source.


Jill Yonago Kay
Director, Research Policy

National Science Foundation (NSF) Requirement for RCR Training

As a recipient of National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, UCI must comply with Section 7009 of the America COMPETES Act, which mandates training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) for students and postdoctoral fellows who receive NSF funds (either stipends or salary support). The NSF has prepared Frequently Asked Questions regarding its RCR policy. UCI has developed an online training module, accessible through the UC Learning Center, that will satisfy the NSF requirement. The system will record information about individuals who complete the training under their UCInetID logon. The NSF also requires that Principal Investigators describe their RCR training plans in proposals, as well as verify whether training plans for postdocs and graduate students have been carried out for each year of projects where this requirement is relevant.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Requirement for RCR Training

Applicants for National Institutes of Health institutional training grants are required to describe formal and informal activities related to instruction on RCR as part of their proposal. The RCR program should provide instruction in scientific integrity and/or the responsible conduct of research.  Programs should include instruction in: conflicts of interest, responsible authorship, policies for handling misconduct, policies regarding the use of human and animal subjects, secure and ethical data use, data acquisition and analysis, mentor-mentee responsibilities and relationships, safe research environments, collaborative research, and peer review. NIH also endorses a discussion of the topics from a trainee and institution perspective. Applications without RCR plans are considered incomplete. Note that the NIH requires substantial face-to-face training, therefore the online module alone will be insufficient to meet the NIH training grant RCR requirement. Video conferencing can be used to augment not supplant face-to-face training.

Training in RCR at UCI

UCI Online RCR Training

Training in the responsible conduct of research at UC Irvine is available through the UC Learning Center. Log in using your UCInetID, then search for RCR. When you have completed the training, documentation will be recorded within the system.

UCI Graduate Level Course in RCR

Microbiology & Molecular Genetics 250 Responsible Conduct of Research is a graduate level course that covers all the subject areas in which NIH requires training.  It also satisfied the NIH's requirement for face to face interactions.

UCI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) RCR Programs

The ICTS has developed a robust program addressing key issues concerning the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) (see Table for details). Their program consists of five main components: 1) ICTS annual RCR workshop, 2) 3 separate Focused Flexible Accelerated Studies (FFASt) courses, and 3) journal club, seminars, and the annual retreat. ICTS faculty have been involved in overseeing the entire institutional network of RCR bodies (i.e., IACUC, IRB, hsCRO, IBC) and using this knowledge base the ICTS RCR program has evolved to include formal FFASt courses that provide additional insight into GLP (Barcode), the reproducibility of science (Rigor or Mortis), and a formal process for developing personalized core values that includes a strong RCR component (Welcome to the Core).  Please contact Marguerite Klumb ( for questions or additional information.

Overview of ICTS RCR Programs
RCR CourseFormatDurationOfferedTaken
ICTS RCR WorkshopLecture; Discussion8 hrsAnnuallyBiennially
ICTS-FASTt: GLP LiteLecture; Discussion8 hrsAnnuallyBiennially
ICTS FASTt; Rigor or MortisLecture; Discussion8 hrsAnnuallyBiennially
ICTS FASTt; Welcome to the CoreActive Learning; Lecture; Discussion16 hrsAnnuallyBiennially
ICTS; Journal ClubActive Learning; Lecture; Discussion18 hrsMonthlyMonthly

NSF Proposal Plans for Postdoctoral Scholar and Student Mentoring in RCR

Each proposal requesting funding to support postdoctoral researchers submitted to the National Science Foundation requires a description of the mentorship, RCR training and oversight activities planned for such individuals.  Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's Broader Impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities within the Project Description will be returned without review.  We have created a customizable RCR mentoring plan boilerplate, suitable for the NSF-required proposal section.

National Institutes of Health’s Bioethics Resources

The NIH Department of Bioethics website provides links for those interested in bioethics education, research involving human participants and animals, medical and health care ethics, and the implications of applied genetics and biotechnology.

Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty

Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty is an instruction manual for investigators preparing to establish their own laboratories. It is a comprehensive document with 13 chapters including how to secure a faculty position, staffing and operating a laboratory, mentoring, time and project management, funding opportunities, publications and intellectual property. The Guide was developed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund for an intensive training course. UCI has been given approval to provide this to our faculty and postdocs for non-commercial use.

DHHS Office of Research Integrity RCR Resources

The federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) website contains numerous educational resources and products. Visit this site periodically as more universities contribute to the inventory.

RCR Courses and Additional Resources for RCR Training

A selected list of resources for training in research ethics or the responsible conduct of research (RCR) was developed for UC Irvine and is available for individuals, courses, and workshop discussions: Options for RCR Training.

Research Misconduct

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

All individuals affiliated with UCI have an ethical responsibility to act if they suspect research misconduct has occurred. UCI's Policy on Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct is intended to help individuals fulfill this responsibility through appropriate actions such as raising questions, seeking perspective from peers or more experienced individuals, or making an allegation of research misconduct. This policy is based on the principle that quality research requires adherence to the highest standards of integrity in proposing, conducting, and reporting research.

Research Misconduct - Frequently Asked Questions

Research Misconduct is defined by federal law and University policy as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research records.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Improper practices that are not defined as research misconduct may be considered misconduct under other University policies including, but not limited to, conflict of interest, intellectual property, biosafety, use of human and animal subjects, financial management, use of University facilities, outside professional activities, employee relations and faculty-student relations.

Disputes related to research but that do not involve research misconduct or other misconduct should be resolved within the appropriate research group, center, or department.  Such disputes might relate to authorship, attribution of credit, confidentiality, access to or interpretations of data, simple negligence, differences of opinion, or honest error.

If you suspect that research misconduct has occurred, contact the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) at (949) 824-5796 to submit an oral or written complaint.  If you are unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct, you may consult with the RIO to discuss the incident informally.

The first stage in reviewing a complaint of research misconduct is a preliminary assessment to determine whether the complaint falls within the definition of research misconduct and whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry.

If the case proceeds to an inquiry, a panel of faculty members will be appointed to review the evidence and interview key witnesses.

If the inquiry panel concludes that there is evidence of research misconduct, a full investigation will be initiated.  For more information about the procedures at each stage of reviewing a complaint, please see the Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.

Information about confidentiality of the proceedings in a research misconduct case and other precautions to protect the rights of both the accused (respondent) and the complainant is included in the Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.  The rights of the respondent include the opportunity to testify, to retain representation, and (if there is no finding of research misconduct) reasonable efforts by the University to protect or restore the respondent’s reputation.

The best way to prevent research misconduct is to become aware of best practices in the Responsible Conduct of Research.  Consultation with senior research colleagues, as well as School and campus leaders, are invaluable resources.  In addition, there is a variety of training and educational materials available online


Jill Yonago Kay
Director, Research Policy

If you wish to report suspected research misconduct or if you have any questions about the content on this page.