NSF Training Requirement - Research Misconduct

Applies to all personnel supported by NSF grants

General Requirements

As a result of the America COMPETES Act, NSF  implemented a  training  requirement for Research Misconduct effective 1/4/10. The requirement is for institutions to develop and implement a Research Misconduct training policy for undergraduates, graduates and Post-Doc researchers "supported" by NSF sponsored research. Please note: "NSFOIG will view support in the same context that supported is used when provided as acknowledgement on a publication. Thus salaries, supplies, materials, etc." per Peggy L. Fischer Associate Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General, NSF.

 This has become one of the Certifications and Assurances the Sponsored Research Office  endorses every time a NSF proposal is submitted.  The awardee institutions "bear primary responsibility for prevention and detection of research misconduct and for the inquiry, investigation, and adjudication of alleged research misconduct."

Trouble viewing the above? On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (Second Edition) - read for free online now!

Defining Misconduct

According to NSF OIG, Research Misconduct is defined as the following:

(a) Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing or performing research funded by NSF, reviewing research proposals submitted to NSF, or in reporting research results funded by NSF.

1. Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

2. Falsification means manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

3. Plagiarism means the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.

4. Research, for purposes of paragraph (a) of this section, includes proposals submitted to NSF in all fields of science, engineering, mathematics, and education and results from such proposals.

(b) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

Proposal Requirements

An institution must:

a) have a training plan (pdf) established to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.  Per the  Grant Proposal Guide,  the College's certification to this is required for each proposal,

b) training plans are not required to be included in the proposals to NSF, but NSF has advised institutions that the training plans are subject to review upon request,

c) institutions must designate one or more persons to oversee compliance with the RCR training requirement and

d) institutions are responsible for the verification process in asserting undergrads, grads and Post-Docs supported by NSF have received training in RCR.

University Action

The College has established an initial plan for the Responsible Conduct in Research training protocol and is developing verification processes.  All NSF supported undergraduate students, Graduate Students,Post-Docs must take the appropriate training modules provided by CITI.  Additionally, advanced training will be required according to discipline.

The NSF RCR training matrix (pdf) has been added to the Grant Office/Preaward website but  remains  a work in progress. It is the College's intention to work with students, faculty, and staff to continuously improve the initial plan so that we may provide broader training in the proper conduct of research to include other ethical academic and business practices common in the University environment.

In the meantime, NSF Beta Sites for Resources on Ethics Education in Science and Engineering are available:

Ethics in Science and Engineering National Clearinghouse at UMASS .

The Online Ethics Center at the National Academy of Engineering .

Additional resources are available at the Office of Research Integrity website.