Responsible Conduct of Research Topic Areas

The Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified "areas of importance" in the responsible conduct of research (RCR). Responsible conduct of research includes the following topic areas.

Academic and research integrity

Understanding best practices around scholarly writing and communications, open access/institutional repositories, falsification/fabrication/plagiarism, research conduct standards, and other academic and research integrity topics.  

Conflicts of interest in research

Understanding conflicts encountered by researchers, including financial or business-related conflicts or conflicts associated with research collaborations, are an essential part of responsible conduct of research.   

Ethical peer review

Understanding the peer review process and the responsibilities of reviewers, including maintaining confidentiality and security in the peer review process, is an essential component of conducting responsible research.  

Fiscal responsibility in research

Understanding how to effectively manage project budgets, research travel, and ensuring compliance with sponsors and policies (especially when working with research-appropriated funds), is an important part of responsible research.  

Human subjects research

Students should consider several ethical issues in conducting research with human participants or subjects, including (but not limited to) risks and benefits to research participants or subjects, informed consent, at-risk populations, confidentiality, and the role of institutional review boards in approving such research. 

Intellectual property

Familiarity with management, protection, and licensing of researchers' intellectual property. Resources for understanding the rights of faculty and students to intellectual property and information about patents, and licensing, can be found on the Research Support and Resources page.  

Research collaboration

Understanding best practices for research collaboration and the ethical issues that may arise from such scholarly research collaborations, particularly in cross-institutional collaboration, is critical to conducting responsible research.

Research misconduct

Fabrication, Falsification, and Plagiarism (FFP) constitute research misconduct. Therefore, understanding the regulations and policies governing research misconduct and how to report an allegation of research misconduct is an integral part of responsible research.  

Research with hazardous materials

Students must conduct research that promotes the safety of researchers, research participants, and the research environment. Researchers using biohazardous material, radioisotopes, or other potentially hazardous materials should be sure to obtain appropriate approvals for use, adequate training necessary to properly handle and dispose of hazardous materials, and follow proper safety procedures. Questions or concerns regarding research safety should be directed to the Office of Regulatory Research Compliance (ORRC).

Responsible authorship

Awareness of ethical issues related to accepted practice in research publication, authorship, and the responsibilities of the author(s) to research participants and subjects and to the scholarly community is an essential aspect of conducting responsible research. 

Responsible mentorship

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of mentors and trainees in research activities to avoid conflicts that can arise from such a relationship. Best practices such as individual development plans and mentorship agreements foster responsible research collaboration and an environment of trust between mentors and their advisees. 

Safe research environments

Research should take place in environments that promote inclusion, foster collaboration, and are free of sexual, racial, ethnic, disability, and other forms of discriminatory harassment.  

Secure and ethical data usage

Responsibly acquiring, selecting, analyzing, and retaining data, as well as the confidentiality and ownership (including IP and copyright concerns) of data, electronic data collection and storage, and privacy concerns related to data all constitute responsible conduct of research. 

Welfare of animals in research

The ethical principles and federal regulations governing research involving animals, treatment of animals, and institutional animal care and use committees are an essential part of the responsible conduct of research.