Responsible Conduct of Research Policy for Postdoctoral Appointees

Please Note: Effective Spring 2020, the postdoctoral RCR training requirement has transitioned to the Faculty/Staff Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Program, as outlined below. The previous postdoctoral RCR policy is archived here. If you have questions, please email Molly Starback, Director, Duke Postdoctoral Services, or Jenny Ariansen, Director, Advancing Scientific Integrity, Services and Training.

Duke University postdoctoral researchers are appointed in one of two categories:

    1.  The employment category of Postdoctoral Associate, job code 3820.
    2.  The non-employment, or training, category of Postdoctoral Scholar, job code 2898.

All postdoctoral appointees are required to have training in the responsible conduct of research.  This requirement is outlined on the Office of Research Support RCR for Postdoctoral Researchers page, and in Duke Postdoctoral Policy, Section 3: Expectations of Postdoctoral Appointees at Duke University.

RCR training requirements are as follows:

1.   Postdoctoral Associates and Scholars must complete at least one RCR course from the Duke Faculty/Staff Responsible Conduct of Research Program within 90 days of joining Duke.

2.  Ongoing RCR training: The Duke Faculty/Staff Responsible Conduct of Research Program requires all faculty and staff (including Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Scholars) to complete one online, self-directed RCR-100 course every three years AND one collaborative, in-person RCR-200 course every three years.

3.   Postdoctoral Scholars funded by specific NIH programs: T32, T35, T90/R90, T15, D43, F05, F32, K01, K02, K07, K08, K12, K22, K23, K25, K99/R00, KL1, KL2, R25, T37, TU2, U2R or any other NIH-funded programs supporting research training, career development, or research education that require 8 hours of interactive responsible conduct of research education as stated in the relevant funding opportunity announcements, must also complete the following:

  • The Trent Center for Bioethics RCR Short 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 in the fall, and the 5 sessions include a 45-minute lecture followed by an hour of small-group case discussions. Topics addressed may include: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research; Mentoring; Research Misconduct; Human Subjects in Research; Publication and Authorship; Intellectual Property; and Conflict of Interest.

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.

2.  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.

3.  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 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


Office of Postdoctoral Services - Policies