Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) denotes good citizenship in research conduct. Faculty, students and staff who report their work honestly, accurately, and objectively promote public trust in research and model ethical research practices for future generations of scholars.

RCR includes most of the professional activities that are part and parcel of research. The Human Subjects Protection Program has developed a series of booklets specific to the nine federally-defined Responsible Conduct of Research areas:

  1. Animal Welfare
  2. Collaborative Research
  3. Conflict of Interest and Commitment
  4. Data Management and Acquisition
  5. Human Subject Research Protections
  6. Mentoring
  7. Peer Review
  8. Responsible Authorship and Publication
  9. Research Misconduct

RCR Training Requirements and Resources

RCR training is required for all students on NSF grants, as well as some NIH training awards, and PHS traineeships. At USC, each department or school bears responsibility for ensuring that their grant recipients satisfy the terms attached to their funding. NSF funded students are certified by the Office of Compliance (OOC). Additional requirements for RCR training are mandated at the discretion of individual USC departments/schools.

The RCR resources below include links to federal requirements, online ethics courses and other education materials. OPRS offers education sessions on RCR for interested faculty, staff, and students. Contact oprs@usc.edu for more information.

USC RCR Resources

Federal RCR Resources

Other RCR Resources

RCR Booklets

Tablet/Smartphone Readable Versions

Using Animal Subjects in Research
Describes the ethical and regulatory requirements associated with the use of animal subjects in research.  Case studies and reference lists are provided.


Collaborative Research
Guidance on preparing, managing and terminating collaborative research relationships. Readers will have a better understanding of the responsibilities involved in sharing work and credit in a joint research venture. Case studies and reference lists are provided.


Conflicts of Interest and Commitment
This booklet presents an overview of conflicts of interest, as well as case studies and reference lists.


Data Management and Acquisition
Discusses how circumstances in which data must be protected to secure the intellectual property inherent in new inventions and protect the confidentiality of human research subjects. Explains legal/ethical issues related to ownership of data collected in an academic environment. Case studies and references are provided.


Human Subjects Research
Information about the responsible conduct of human subjects research. Key human subjects research definitions are provided as well as a concise historical overview of how the federal regulations came about. The Informed Consent process and Institutional Review Boards are also discussed. Case studies and reference lists are provided.


Mentoring USC Student Researchers
A resource for USC faculty, students, postdoc researchers and staff involved in mentoring relationships. Mentor/mentee expectations and responsibilities are discussed. Case studies and reference lists are provided.


Peer Review
A look at some of the issues authors and reviewers face as they prepare grant proposals and literature for publication.


Responsible Authorship and Publication
An overview of the issues involving publication and authorship as well as a model academic policy on authorship. Case studies and references are provided.


Avoiding Being Penalized: Research/Scientific Misconduct
An overview of research misconduct including historical and contemporary examples, guidelines on reporting misconduct, and a description of the investigatory process. The booklet includes case studies on research misconduct and reference lists.


Other Human Subjects Research Booklets