United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) RCR Requirements

PI/PD Ensures Required RCR Training of All Participants on NIFA-Funded Projects

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⇒ PI/PD Responsibilities               ⇒ When to Train

⇒ Subs                                              ⇒ How to Train

Award Requirements. NIFA states that “[b]y accepting a NIFA award the grantee assures that program directors, faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and any staff participating in [research or research-related awards (i.e. research, education and extension)] receive appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research..."  (Initially effective under NIFA Research Terms and Conditions, February 2013, and currently effective under NIFA General Terms and Conditions, Grants and Cooperative Agreements, December 26, 2014, Provision IV.)

  • Applicability. RCR training is required by accepting a research or research-related award (i.e., research, education and extension) funded by NIFA.  This includes grants, cooperative agreements and special projects.
    • The RCR training requirements in a NIFA award flow down to subawardees and subrecipients.
  • Exceptions. RCR training is not required under: 1) Formula Funded Programs, 2) the 1890 Facilities Program, 3) the Small Business Innovation Research Program, or 4) awards to individuals.
  • FAQs. See answers about NIFA RCR training compliance

►Auburn University Plan. Auburn University has adopted and maintains a RCR Training Plan.  


►PI/PD Training Oversight Continuing Responsibilities. On a timely basis, from receipt of award throughout the duration of the NIFA project, PIs are responsible for: 1) Identifying all known persons who will participate in the project, and 2) Ensuring their timely RCR training before participation or payment from the project

  • Include PIs, Co-PIs, PDs, Co-PDs and any additional known faculty, students (undergraduates and graduates), postdoctoral researchers and staff participants.
  • Include paid and unpaid participants.

►Subs. All persons who will be "participating in" the project at a sub tier must complete RCR training before participation or payment from the project, whether paid or unpaid (e.g., under a subaward or PSA).

  • Training Through Own Institution. For participants involved at a sub tier, the first resource for RCR training is their own institution/organization. In this case, which most frequently occurs, the institution/organization must verify compliance with the RCR requirements of the NIFA General Terms and Conditions to the AU Office of Sponsored Programs.
  • Training Through Affiliation with AU. Sub participants may affiliate with AU on the CITI website to complete RCR training only if 1- their institution/organization cannot verify compliance with the RCR requirements of the NIFA General Terms and Conditions or they are not participating in the project under an institution/organization and 2- the AU Office of Sponsored Programs approves and provides direction for the affiliation, coordinating with the Office of Research Compliance as necessary.

►When To Train: Before Participation or Payment from the NIFA project

  • Before Award or Modification to Scope of Work Processing.  Before OSP processes the award or modification to scope of work, all known persons who will participate on the project must complete RCR training
  • After Initial Processing. All persons added to the project must complete RCR Training before participation or payment from the project. 
  • Before Training Expiration. Training of participants in an ongoing NIFA project must be extended before their RCR Training Certificate expires five (5) years after the completion date. See "Training Expiration and Extension," below.

►How To Train: Online via CITI

  • New CITI Users.  
  • Registered CITI Users. To complete RCR training, login to CITI, click "Add a Course or Update Learner Group" and add the appropriate RCR course. 
    • Basic or Refresher Stage?  You must complete the RCR Basic course before taking the Refresher course.
    • Which RCR Course?
      • CITI offers RCR training for various participant learner groups: 1) Biomedical Sciences (includes modules for Human and Animal Subjects Research), 2) Social, Behavioral and Education Sciences (includes a module for Human Subjects Research only), 3) Humanities (same), 4) Engineering and Computing (same), and 5) Physical Sciences (no module for either Human or Animal Subjects Research). 
      • NIFA’s desired RCR training content lines up with the modules in the RCR Biomedical Sciences course. However, your role and activities determine final course choice. Some NIFA participants choose Social, Behavioral and Education Sciences RCR training.
      • You must choose a RCR Course other than Research Administration.
  • Training Expiration and Extension. A CITI RCR Training Certificate earned by completing the RCR Basic course expires after five (5) years. Completing an appropriate RCR Refresher course extends a Training Certificate for another five (5) years.
    • Manual RCR Refresher Enrollment. If you have completed the RCR Basic Course, login to CITI, click "Add a Course or Update Learner Group" at your Main Menu and add an appropriate RCR Refresher course. 
      •  See "Which RCR Course?" above. You must choose a RCR course other than Research Administration.
    • Automatic RCR Refresher Enrollment. You may receive an email from CITI informing you that your RCR training is expiring and enrolling you in a RCR Refresher course. Use the login in the email to access CITI, complete the Refresher course and extend your Training Certificate.  
      • Exception. If you are a participant and you are automatically enrolled in the Research Administration RCR Refresher course, you must choose another RCR course. Login to CITI, click "Add a Course or Update Learner Group" and add an appropriate RCR Refresher course. See "Which RCR Course?" above.
  • ​​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.