Responsible Conduct of Research

Guide to Developing an RCR Plan

For Institutional Training and Career Development Programs such as T32, T34, T90/R90, TL1, K12, K30

Download the RCR Plan Worksheet (PDF).


This RCR Plan Worksheet is meant as a guide to help Washington University investigators develop appropriate RCR education plans in compliance with current NIH requirements. Individual Principal Investigators are responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring, and reporting on his/her RCR education plans.

Washington University offers various RCR educational programming that may be utilized by Washington University investigators. Washington University does not offer individualized development, implementation, or monitoring services for RCR Plans. For questions regarding specific requirements, please refer to the NIH Update to Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research.


NIH requires RCR plans for Institutional Training and Career Development Programs to address three main areas: target audience, instructional content, and compliance. Specific requirements related to each of these areas is provided below.

Target Audience

Who will be provided with RCR instruction?
NIH requires that all trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training award receive instruction in responsible conduct of research (RCR). Institutional programs are encouraged to provide instruction for all individuals associated with the program of training regardless of their source of support.

Description of RCR Instruction

Describe the RCR instruction that will be provided.

Key Points

  • Providing a record of previously received RCR instruction is beneficial.
  • Plans must include substantial face-to-face instruction. Online instruction is not considered adequate as the sole means of instruction.
  • Participation of research training faculty members is required.
  • Acceptable programs generally involve at least eight contact hours
  • A semester-long series of seminars/programs is preferred over a single seminar or one-day workshop.
  • Participation must be monitored.

Find Washington University RCR educational resources

Program for Ethical and Responsible Conduct in Science and Scholarship

PERCSS is a Washington University-specific RCR education program that offers face-to-face ethics workshops and eight (8) online learning modules in subject areas recommended by NIH. Washington University investigators are encouraged to use PERCSS programming as a component within their RCR Instruction Plans. PERCSS alone will not satisfy the NIH requirement. Boilerplate language for PERCSS is available on the program website. For help locating other existing resources, visit RCR Education at WUSTL.

Guidance for describing instruction in the plan

For each form of instruction, provide a description of the five instructional components:

  1. Format: A combination of didactic and small-group discussions (e.g., case studies) is highly recommended
  2. Subject Matter: NIH provides recommended subjects such as:
    • conflict of interest— personal, professional, and financial
    • policies regarding human subjects, animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
    • mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
    • collaborative research including collaborations with industry
    • peer review
    • data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership
    • research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
    • responsible authorship and publicationthe scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research
  3. Faculty Participation: Participation of research training faculty members is highly encouraged. Training faculty may contribute as discussion leaders, speakers, lecturers, and/or course directors.
  4. Duration of Instruction: Instruction should involve substantive contact hours between the trainees/fellows/scholars/participants and the participating faculty. Acceptable programs generally involve at least eight contact hours.
  5. Frequency of Instruction: Instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage. Institutional training programs are strongly encouraged to consider how to optimize instruction for the particular career stage(s) of the individual(s) involved.


How will completion of appropriate RCR instruction be recorded and maintained?
The plan must describe how participation in and successful completion of instruction will be recorded. It is expected that course attendance is monitored and that a certificate or documentation of participation is available upon course completion. Records that demonstrate this must be maintained.