United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) RCR 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, May 2022, and currently effective under NIFA General Terms and Conditions, Grants and Cooperative Agreements, October 2016, 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 sub-awardees and sub-recipients.
  • 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.

On a timely basis, from receipt of the 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.

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 sub-award or PSA).

  • Training Through Own Institution - For participants involved in 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 Integrity & Compliance as necessary.
  • 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 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.