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NSF RCR Requirements in Proposal Preparation and Award Administration

Proposal Administration - In submission of a proposal by the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) for funding, the AOR is required to provide certain proposal certifications. This certification process will occur concurrently with submission of the proposal.

  • Certification Regarding Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR): The AOR is required to complete a certification that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research.

Additional information on NSF’s RCR policy is available in the Awards Administration Guide. While training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, institutions are advised that they are subject to review upon request.

Awards Administration - Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

1. Background

The responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in RCR is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers. Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (42 U.S.C. 1862o–1) requires that "each institution that applies for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project."

The language specified below provides NSF’s implementation of Section 7009.

2. Institutional Responsibilities

a. An institution must have a plan in place to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. As noted in GPG Chapter II.C.1e, institutional certification to this effect is required for each proposal.

b. While training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, institutions are advised that they are subject to review, upon request.

c. An institution must designate one or more persons to oversee compliance with the RCR training requirement.

d. Institutions are responsible for verifying that undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF to conduct research have received training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.