Archived Responsible Conduct of Research Policy for Postdoctoral Appointees, 2009-2019

1.  Responsible Conduct of Research Policy for Postdoctoral Appointees

 Please Note: Effective Spring 2020, the postdoctoral RCR training requirement will be transitioning to the Faculty/Staff Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program. If you have questions, please email Molly Starback, Director, Duke Postdoctoral Services, or Jenny Ariansen, Director, Advancing Scientific Integrity, Services and Training.

 All Duke University Postdoctoral Researchers (ie, in the employment category of Postdoctoral Associate, job code 3820, or Postdoctoral Scholar, job code 2898), are required to have training in conducting research responsibly.  NIH and NSF policies inform this requirement, but all Duke University Postdoctoral Associates and Scholars are required to receive RCR training on an ongoing basis.  This requirement is satisfied through participation in the Annual Postdoctoral Responsible Conduct of Research Orientation, combined with ongoing Graduate School Forums and informal mentor training.

 This requirement is outlined on the Office of Research Support RCR for Postdoctoral Researchers page, and in the Duke Postdoctoral Policy, Section 3: Expectations of Postdoctoral Appointees at Duke University:

  • The conscientious discharge of research or scholarship responsibilities, which may include teaching responsibilities for Postdoctoral Associates.
  • Conformance to standards of responsible conduct in research, including taking all current required training.
  • Compliance with good scholarly and research practice.
  • Maintenance of a laboratory notebook and/or other comparable records of research activity, which remain the property of Duke University upon termination.
  • Adherence to University standards regarding use of isotopes, chemicals, infectious agents, animals, human subjects, and the like.
  • Open and timely discussion with the Faculty Mentor regarding all facets of the Postdoctoral Appointee's research activities. Postdoctoral Appointees are encouraged to consult the AAMC Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors for suggested guidelines for the Postdoctoral Appointee-Mentor relationship.
  • Prompt disclosure to the Mentor regarding the possession and desire to distribute materials, reagents, software, copyrightable and potentially patentable discoveries derived from the Postdoctoral Appointee's research.
  • Collegial conduct towards members of the research group and others as described in the Duke University School of Medicine Honor Code of Professional Conduct and other relevant conduct policies pertaining to other schools at Duke University.
  • Compliance with Duke’s Workplace Expectations & Guidelines.
  • Compliance with all applicable policies and procedures of the University and the department/responsible unit.

The Annual Postdoctoral RCR Orientation is a day-long face-to-face seminar with didactic lectures followed by open discussion/Q&A with faculty panelists from both the School of Medicine and Arts and Sciences (one representative from each for each of the topics).  Case studies are employed as part of the discussion/Q&A process.  Orientation topics are selected from the nine core areas for RCR training identified by the US Office of Research Integrity and typically include the following:

  1. Research Misconduct
  2. Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities
  3. Research Ethics
  4. Data Management
  5. Peer Review
  6. Authorship

Sample Agenda for the Annual Postdoctoral RCR Orientation

Fall 2019 Postdoctoral Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Orientation Agenda
Thursday September 12, 2019
Penn Pavilion

8:30 am – 8:55 am


8:55 am - 9 am

Welcome and Introduction – Molly Starback, MSLS, Director, Duke Postdoctoral Services

9:00 am – 9:40 am: Authorship


Anne West, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurobiology


9:40 am – 10:20 am: Authorship Discussion

Chair:  Dr. Anne West

• Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, PhD, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Writing Studies, Thompson Writing Program
• Warren Grill, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering

10:20 am – 10:30 am


10:30 am – 11:30 am: Data Management

• Rebecca Beerman, PhD, Scientific Integrity Associate, Duke Office of Scientific Integrity

• Kindra King, PhD, Scientific Integrity Associate, Duke Office of Scientific Integrity

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Break and grab box lunches

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm: Managing Your Research Career Using an Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Dara Wilson-Grant, MSEd, LPC, Associate Director, UNC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

1:30 pm – 1:40 pm


1:40 pm – 2:20 pm: Misconduct

Donna Kessler, PhD, Research Integrity Officer, Duke University Medical Center

2:20 pm – 3:00 pm: Misconduct Discussion

Chair:  Dr. Donna Kessler


• JL Ariansen, MS, Scientific Integrity Associate, Duke Office of Scientific Integrity
• Jennifer Francis, PhD, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Accounting, Fuqua School of Business

3:00 pm – 3:10 pm


3:10 pm – 3:50 pm: Peer Review

Mohamed Noor, PhD, Dean of Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology

3:50 pm – 4:30 pm: Peer Review Discussion

Chair:  Dr. Mohamed Noor

• Scott Huettel, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
• Beth Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

4:30 pm – 4:45 pm

Closing Remarks & Adjourn

2.  Trent Center RCR Course

Postdocs may attend the Trent Center RCR Short Course in lieu of attending the day-long annual Postdoctoral RCR Orientation. The Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine course is open to postdoctoral researchers who are recipients of NIH training grants and is designed to fulfill that agency’s RCR requirements. The course is offered on an annual basis, and the 5 sessions include a 45-minute lecture followed by an hour of faculty-facilitated, small-group case discussions. Topics addressed include: (1) Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research; (2) Mentoring; (3) Research Misconduct; (4) Human Subjects in Research; (4) Publication and Authorship; (5) Intellectual Property and (6) Conflict of Interest.

3. Ongoing Training

For three subsequent years of their tenure as a postdoctoral researcher at Duke, postdoctoral appointees are required to take one of the Forum Series workshops offered by the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Services.

Postdoctoral appointees may also complete the School of Medicine Faculty and Staff RCR Program to build a stronger foundation in research integrity and ethics.

Once postdocs have completed the minimum requirements, they are encouraged to continue to broaden their understanding by discussing these topics further with their mentors and colleagues (see below for faculty participation).

Note:   If a postdoctoral appointee’s research involves human subjects, vertebrate animals or certain types of hazardous substances or equipment, they will be required to complete further ethical and safety training, as per Duke/departmental policies. Postdocs should consult with their department and PI to find out what training is required.

4.  Research Integrity / Misconduct Resources

Duke University strives to foster an atmosphere of honesty and trust in which pursuit of knowledge can occur. Integrity of research forms the foundation of respect among scholars and students and between the academic world and the public. All members of the university community share responsibility for maintaining this climate of trust. Click here for misconduct resources.

5.  Faculty Participation in RCR Training

 The NIH Notice of Policy Concerning Instruction in Responsible Conduct of Research (NOT-OD-10-019) notes the following:

Faculty Participation: Training faculty and sponsors/mentors are highly encouraged to contribute both to formal and informal instruction in responsible conduct of research. Informal instruction occurs in the course of laboratory interactions and in other informal situations throughout the year. Training faculty may contribute to formal instruction in responsible conduct of research as discussion leaders, speakers, lecturers, and/or course directors. Rotation of training faculty as course directors, instructors, and/or discussion leaders may be a useful way to achieve the ideal of full faculty participation in formal responsible conduct of research courses over a period of time.

 Suggestions for faculty participation:

  1. The Duke ASIST Office provides an RCR Toolkit and can give faculty advice, help with planning, or help with hosting your RCR discussion.
  2. Dedicate one lab meeting a month to discussion of RCR topics. Case studies are an effective way to involve your lab members in discussion of ethical dilemmas, providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions, role-playing, and problem solving.  Case studies and videos and an Instructors Manual  to help you with presentation and discussion of RCR topics may be found at the Office of Research Integrity website.
  3. Hold multi-lab and/or department-wide discussions of RCR topics, with rotating departmental faculty leading the discussions. Case studies and videos may be found at the Office of Research Integrity. Other case studies: Center for Clinical & Research Ethics, Case Studies; Ethics Education Library; ORI Casebook: Stories about Researchers Worth Discussing
  4. Screen a departmental or lab showing of The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct, an interactive movie in which you make decisions about integrity in research that can have long-term consequences. The simulation addresses RCR topics such as avoiding research misconduct, mentorship responsibilities, handling of data, responsible authorship, and questionable research practices.
  5. Screen a departmental or lab showing of The Research Clinic, an interactive training video for clinical and social researchers on the importance of appropriately protecting research participants and avoiding research misconduct. The Research Clinic allows you to assume the role of one of four characters and determine the outcome of the storyline by making decisions for each character.
  6. Have each lab member complete CITI on-line tutorials on conducting research responsibly, and then discuss during lab meeting. Five disciplinary tracks have been established. At the CITI site, register your Participating Institution as Duke Health RCR.

    As a departmental or lab group, attend one of the Graduate School RCR Forums (open to both students and postdocs; faculty encouraged to attend). Afterwards, hold a coffee or lunch discussion on how the topic relates to your research.

  7. The NIH Office of Research Integrity (ORI) Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Academies On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research can help you plan RCR training.


Duke Office of Postdoctoral Services