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Responsible Conduct of Research

As a premier academic and research institution, Vanderbilt University has an obligation to model, teach and actively promote the responsible conduct of research in scholarship and science. Research integrity is fundamental to good research and crosses all disciplines and areas of focus.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) require that all those engaged in either NIH- or NSF-funded research must also be educated in the responsible conduct of research (RCR).  Vanderbilt has developed programs to meet these requirements and to ensure that its students, faculty and staff, as appropriate, understand the issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research, and their obligations as individuals and members of the larger research community.

This website provides information and resources primarily to students, faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering and Peabody College in meeting these requirements.  Students, faculty and staff in the Medical Center should view the Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) Office website or contact the BRET Office at (615) 343-4611 for more information on the School of Medicine and Medical Center programs.

University Program

Vanderbilt’s approach incorporates online and discussion-based content based on the individual’s experience level and discipline.

Online Courses

Vanderbilt currently participates in the web-based Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI).  The CITI Course in RCR is required as baseline training for all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the School of Engineering, Peabody College and the natural science and social science departments in the College of Arts and Science. Vanderbilt has developed specific curricula in cooperation with CITI which vary by discipline.

Discussion-Based Sessions

In addition to online education, individuals are expected to participate in discussion-based sessions to further explore the issues and challenges in conducting ethical research and scholarship.  Graduate students in Peabody College and in Psychological Sciences participate in discussions throughout their first year of classes.

Graduate students in departments in Arts and Science (other than Psychology) and Engineering participate in a one-day RCR course, offered in May and August of each year.  Each graduate student is required to participate at least once during their graduate career at Vanderbilt.  (Graduate students in Biological Sciences and those in Chemistry who do biological research take the Medical Center’s course, instead.)

Information for Students and Postdocs

Medical Center RCR Program

Graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty working primarily in the Medical Center should check with the BRET Office for information on its RCR program.  This includes graduate students in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGP) and in Neuroscience, and in Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB).

The Department of Biological Sciences expects its graduate students to complete the Medical Center’s one-day RCR course, instead of the University Course.  Graduate students in Chemistry whose work involves biological research may also substitute the Medical Center course for the University one.  Students in both departments must complete the CITI online training program and participate in one or the other of the discussion courses.  Students should check with their department chair or DGS to determine how best to proceed.