National Science Foundation (NSF) RCR Requirements

Observations from NSF Plagiarism Investigations and Strategies to Prevent Plagiarism


NSF Grant General Conditions implement Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act and require 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, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel participating in the proposed research project, including-

  1. mentor training and mentorship;
  2. training to raise awareness of potential research security threats; and
  3. Federal export control, disclosure, and reporting requirements".

( Pub. L. 110–69, title VII, §7009, Aug. 9, 2007, 121 Stat. 680 ; Pub. L. 117–167, div. B, title III, §10337, Aug. 9, 2022, 136 Stat. 1553; See also NSF 23-1 Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide, Chapter IX.B.1-2., Effective January 30, 2023)

  • Applicability - RCR training is required of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other senior personnel supported by the proposed research project. Such training must include mentor training and mentorship. This includes hosted students who receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.  The RCR training requirement applies to the breadth of research disciplines that NSF funds and the requirements flow down to sub-awardees, at all tiers.
  • FAQs - NSF has issued Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) guidance about the training requirements.

On a timely basis, from receipt of award throughout the duration of the NSF project, PIs are responsible for:

  1. Identifying all known personnel (faculty, staff, postdocs, and students) who will participate in the project AND
  2. Ensuring their timely RCR training before participation or payment from the project. 
  • Including students and postdocs who "receive NSF funds" by way of salary, stipend, or scholarship to
  1. Conduct research on the NSF grant, and/or
  2. Engage in research as part of their academic program. 
  • PI Training. Beginning August 2022, Auburn University requires all research personnel to complete RCR Training at least every three years. 
  • Before Participation or Payment from the NSF Project
  • Before Award or Modification to Scope of Work Processing - Before OSP processes the award or modification to scope of work, all known research personnel (faculty, staff, postdocs, and students) who will participate in the project must complete RCR training. 
  • After Initial Processing - All research personnel added to the project must complete RCR Training before participation or payment from the project. 
  • Before Training Expiration - Training of research personnel participating in an ongoing NSF project must be extended before their RCR Training Certificate expires three (3) years after the completion date. 
  • Online via CITI Program
  • New CITI Users - 
  • Registered CITI Users - To complete RCR training, login to CITI, click "Add a Course or Update Learner Group" and add AU Basic RCR Training for ALL Faculty, Staff, Postdocs, and Students course. 
  • Training Expiration and Extension -  A CITI RCR Training Certificate earned by completing the RCR Basic course expires after three (3) years.  The Basic RCR course must be completed again to renew the certificate.
  • Transferring Training Credits to Auburn University - If you would like to receive credit at Auburn University for CITI RCR modules previously taken at another institution, follow these CITI requirements to affiliate with AU and transfer credit. Modules transferred may or may not match the required modules in the AU RCR course you select.  You may need to complete additional modules to get full credit for the AU course.