Graduate Students

basic science students | social science students

Basic Science Graduate Students — BMS 214

The Graduate Division coordinates an annual course, BMS 214, entitled "Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research" (RCR). This course meets the NIH requirements for training in the Responsible Conduct of Research required of all graduate students. Each spring quarter, the course is offered at both Mission Bay and Parnassus.

Using lecture and case study formats, this course is designed to address key issues affecting the responsible conduct of scientific research, including:

  • Scientific Misconduct: Plagiarism, Falsification and Fabrication of Data
  • Scientific Record Keeping and Data Management
  • Animals in Research: Animal Rights and Welfare
  • Human Subjects in Research
  • Publication, Responsible Authorship and Peer Review Practices
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Mentoring and Being Mentored


This course is required for second-year graduate students enrolled in UCSF’s basic science graduate programs. Graduate students will be prompted to register for the course by their program administrators. BMS 214 runs for seven consecutive weeks; identical sessions are offered at Parnassus and Mission Bay every week.  For spring 2018, Wednesday sections will be held at Parnassus from 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. beginning April 4 (Room N517). Thursday sections will be held at Mission Bay, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., beginning April 5, in Genentech Hall, Auditorium. See a save the date with more information and the 2018 BMS 214 syllabus.


Advanced basic science graduate students in their 6th year may audit the RCR-PS program for postdocs.
Contact Information

Elizabeth Silva Associate Dean of Graduate Programs BMS 214 RCR Course Director

Social Science Graduate Students
CTSI RCR course and CITI online training

The UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute's (CTSI) online hybrid course in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) helps researchers learn how to address the ethical issues that inevitably arise in research. The course addresses requirements and regulations for human-subjects research, including IRB approval and consent, conflicts of interest, research misconduct, authorship, and ethical challenges related to research in resource-poor countries.

CTSI's online hybrid RCR course is a 7-week course with additional required weekly 1-hour facilitated WebEx live discussion sessions. Participants are expected to devote at least 4 hours per week to individual work and online peer interaction. Topics include:

  • Assessment of Risks and Benefits in IRB Review
  • Practical Issues in IRB Review
  • Informed Consent
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • What is Research Misconduct and Why Does It Matter?
  • Authorship
  • Research in Resource-Poor Countries

  • The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program's RCR series addresses core norms, principles, regulations, and rules governing the practice of research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) require certain categories of researchers to receive RCR training. RCR is increasingly viewed as an essential component of training, regardless of a researcher's source of funding.

    The CITI online RCR series consists of a basic course, complemented with a set of additional modules of interest, and a refresher course.

    The CITI Human Subjects Research (HSR) series covers the historical development of human subject protections, as well as current regulatory information and ethical issues. The HSR series consists of modules from two basic tracks, Biomedical (Biomed) and Social-Behavioral-Educational (SBE), and a set of Additional Modules of Interest. Many of the basic modules have corresponding sets of refresher modules that are intended to provide learners with a highlighted review of what was covered in the basic modules.

    The CITI Program's biomedical HSR content was expanded significantly in 2004 to include content for social and behavioral researchers (SBR). The CITI Program joined the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York (BRANY) in May 2016 in order to better address the educational needs of investigators, staff, and students in the global research community.

    Basic HSR modules are suitable for all persons involved in research studies involving human subjects, or who have responsibilities for setting policies and procedures with respect to such research, including Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).

    Content and Audience

    The CITI RCR courses are suitable for any person involved in research, ranging from upper-level undergraduates to senior faculty. Particular emphasis is given to the educational needs of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. NIH requires at least some categories of trainees to have in-person discussions about RCR; CITI's courses can be used to complement these activities. CITI's courses may also be used independently of a classroom or other in-person settings.

    The CITI RCR basic course covers essential topics to be a responsible researcher: authorship, collaborative research, conflicts of interest, data management, financial responsibility, mentoring, peer review, plagiarism, research misconduct, and research involving humans and animals. CITI also goes beyond the standard core and offers modules on topics such as export controls, social and environmental issues relating to engineering research, and social responsibilities as a researcher.

    The UCSF CTSI online hybrid course and CITI RCR and Human Subjects Research training are a necessary, but not always sufficient, component of RCR training. Please be sure to contact your funder to inquire about additional requirements beyond current course offerings.

    In general, however, NIH requires several components of training in RCR including:

    • Formal RCR and Human Subjects Research training
    • Refresher RCR instruction at each stage of training (e.g., graduate, postdoc, etc)
    • Continuing informal or formal training in research ethics throughout the year
    • The involvement of departmental research faculty in supplemental and continuing instruction in research ethics.

    RCR instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. It is highly encouraged that initial instruction during pre-doctoral training occurs as early as possible in graduate school. UCSF graduate students are required to take BMS 214 in their second year.

    To meet the above requirements, instruction in RCR may take place, in appropriate circumstances, in a year when the trainee, fellow or career award recipient is not actually supported by an NIH grant.

    Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI)

    Online RCR course contact information: Marsha Michie Assistant Professor, UCSF School of Nursing CTSI RCR Course Director Neha Kaul CTSI RCR Course Co-director Barbara Koenig Professor, UCSF School of Nursing CTSI RCR Senior Course Advisor Asha Robertson CTSI RCR Course Manager