Policy on Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) - Academic Policy for Doctoral Students

Last Revised: 
April 2017
Review Date: 
April 2020
Contact Name: 
Jason Borenstein
Contact Title: 
Director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs
Contact Email: 
borenstein@gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

The responsible conduct of research (RCR) is an increasingly significant component of the education and training of researchers. Policies from federal agencies have contributed to this change. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) updated its RCR policy, adding emphasis to the importance of in-person training. That same year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a new RCR training policy.

As a premier technological university at the cutting edge of education, research, and innovation, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is committed to providing leadership in the realm of ethics and RCR. RCR training is central to Georgia Tech’s mission to ensure that students are prepared with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally and with integrity. Consequently, Georgia Tech enacted the RCR Academic Policy for Doctoral Students described here.

Policy Statement: 

The RCR Academic Policy for Doctoral Students applies to all doctoral students who have an admit date of Fall 2011 or later. It includes students who enrolled in a master’s program in Fall 2011 or later but who have since transitioned to a doctoral program.

Doctoral students who are not covered by this Policy should refer to the applicability criteria listed in the Georgia Tech RCR Compliance Policy to determine if their source of funding requires RCR training: http://www.policylibrary.gatech.edu/research-support/responsible-conduct-research-compliance-policy.

This Academic Policy does not affect undergraduate students or postdoctoral researchers. However, they are still subject to grant and fellowship compliance requirements. 

The Requirements of the RCR Academic Policy for Doctoral Students
As part of their degree requirements, doctoral students admitted Fall 2011 or later must complete:

(1) an online CITI RCR course and (2) in-person RCR training.

(1) The Online Requirement
The online portion of the requirement, a CITI RCR course, must be successfully completed within 90 days of when applicable students begin the first full semester of their doctoral program. Information about the CITI RCR courses can be found here: rcr.gatech.edu/online-training/.

If a student goes past the 90 day time frame, a hold will be placed on course registration until the student completes the online training.

(2) The In-Person Requirement
Students covered by this Policy are required to successfully complete PHIL 6000 OR an academic program’s in-house RCR training approach. The in-house approach must be formally approved by the GT RCR Advisory Subcommittee of the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete in-person training within the first 12 months of their doctoral program. In general, applicable students who need to take PHIL 6000 will be expected to do so during the first summer session after they begin their doctoral program at Georgia Tech. Additional sections will be available during the fall and spring semesters for those students who would not be enrolled full time during the summer session.

RCR Core Topics Areas and the Criteria for In-House Training Approaches
A proposed in-house approach must include no less than eight instruction hours on the RCR core topic areas in a credit course. The RCR core topic areas are as follows:

(1) Authorship and publication;
(2) Collaborative research;
(3) Conflict of interest;
(4) Data acquisition, management, ownership, and sharing;
(5) Laboratory safety;
(6) Peer review;
(7) Policies regarding the use of human subjects in research;
(8) Policies regarding the use of vertebrate animals in research;
(9) The responsibilities of mentors and mentees;
(10) Research misconduct and policies for handling research misconduct; and
(11) Science and engineering in society.

An in-house approach to RCR training must include all of the above topic areas unless permission has been granted by the GT RCR Advisory Subcommittee to exclude one or more of the topics.

A graduate program must submit a proposal to the GT RCR Advisory Subcommittee by the first working day in November of the current academic year in order for the in-house proposal to be considered for the academic year that follows.  More information about the process can be found here: http://www.rcr.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/documents/RCR_MSPhDInHouseGuide.pdf

Approved In-House RCR Training Approaches
Students covered by this Policy are required to successfully complete PHIL 6000 OR an academic program’s in-house RCR training approach. Many of the in-house approaches are specific to a particular graduate program. Some utilize a single course; others utilize a combination of courses. The list of in-house RCR approaches is maintained at: http://www.rcr.gatech.edu/doctoral-courses.

Joint Graduate Programs
Doctoral students covered by this Policy who are part of a joint program must complete an online CITI RCR course within the initial 90 days of their first full semester as a doctoral student. If a student goes past the 90 day time frame, a hold will be placed on course registration until the student completes the training. These students are also subject to the in-person training requirement if they are enrolled and present at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus. Joint programs may submit a proposal to the GT RCR Advisory Subcommittee for approval of the in-person coursework at the partner institution. The GT RCR Advisory Subcommittee will apply the same evaluation criteria to such proposals as it does to a proposal for in-house training conducted at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech Graduate Students on International Campuses
Doctoral students covered by this Policy who are on Georgia Tech’s international campuses must complete a CITI RCR online course within the initial 90 days of their first full semester as a doctoral student. If a student goes past the 90 day time frame, a hold may be placed on course registration until the student completes the training. If these students enroll at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus for at least one semester, they should complete the in-person RCR training component the first semester that they are present on the Atlanta campus.

Tracking and Monitoring
The Administrator of Graduate Research Ethics Programs monitors student adherence to this Policy. However, doctoral programs must inform their students about this Policy.  Applicable doctoral students can check their RCR training status in DegreeWorks.

The Office of Sponsored Programs in conjunction with the Administrator of Graduate Research Ethics Programs is responsible for tracking compliance for students who require RCR training due to their source of funding.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Doctoral RCR Policy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document

Related Information: 
RCR Academic Policy for Doctoral Students website 
Responsible Conduct of Research website 
RCR Online Training
RCR Doctoral Courses 
RCR Compliance Policy
RCR Topics

Policy History: 
Revision DateAuthorDescription
06-2013Policy LibraryUpdate to policy
02-2012Policy LibraryPosted new policy
Map of Georgia Tech

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