NSF Requires RCR Training

As announced in the Federal Register,

Effective January 4, 2010, NSF will require that, at the time of proposal submission to NSF, a proposing institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative certify that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research. … training plans are not required to be included in proposals submitted to NSF, institutions are advised that they are subject to review upon request.

…NSF also will modify its standard award conditions to clearly stipulate that institutions are responsible for verifying that undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF to conduct research have received RCR training. [target date – October 1, 2009]

The Federal Register notice also summarizes public comments submitted in response to the NSF’s proposed plan back in February, and there are links to the pre-publication summary for the National Academy of Engineering’s workshop entitled Ethics Education and Scientific and Engineering Research: What’s Been Learned? What Should be Done? (NAE also has an Online Ethics Center) and the Website for an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Global Science Forum workshop entitled Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct. UMass Amherst offers the National Digital Library for Ethics in Science and Engineering.

For those interested in working to improve ethics education for graduate students in science and engineering, the NSF has a funding opportunity available through the aptly named Ethics Education in Science and Engineering program.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which resides within the Department of Health & Human Services, has taken an interest in these NSF doings, not surprisingly, and is blogging on them. I’m sure they would appreciate any and all comments you might have.

And lest any institutions think the NSF is unlikely to ever verify their verification of satisfactory completion of RCR training, I have two words for you: effort reporting.

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