Postdocs & Research Staff

UCSF Responsible Conduct of Research Course for Postdoctoral Scholars (RCR-PS)


RCR-PS is a nine-hour, six-session course designed to satisfy NIH and NSF requirements for training in the responsible conduct of research. Unique to the postdoctoral training experience and primarily aimed at basic scientists, the RCR-PS course utilizes a combination of faculty presentations and in-person case study discussion to address contemporary debates at the interface between biomedical science and society.

RCR-PS takes place each year beginning in the last week of January and meets weekly for six weeks until the first week of March. The course is offered at both Mission Bay and Parnassus campuses, but we are only able to offer the course once per year. Registration for the course opens in December.

Each 1.5-hour session includes a combination of a brief faculty presentation; critical in-person discussion of 1-2 case studies in pairs or small groups; and a large-group general discussion of the case studies and overall topic.

  • Conflicts of Interest: Scientific Entrepreneurship and University-Industry Interface
  • Responsible Authorship and Publication
  • Animal Welfare in Research
  • Science in the Genomic Era: Biomedical Research and Human Subjects
  • Scientific Recordkeeping: Data Management, Sharing and Ownership
  • Societal Implications of Scientific Misconduct

In addition to in-person training and discussion of case studies, postdocs also are required to participate in an online ethics forum, which provides a valuable opportunity for increased interaction. It is a way for postdocs to continue classroom discussions; ask questions of faculty and peers; post relevant articles, resources, and case studies; share their own experiences; and voice their concerns and opinions. The website is password-protected and all comments remain confidential.

Attendance at all six sessions is required to receive a certificate or course completion.

NIH Requirements

In general, NIH requires RCR training at each stage of training (graduate, postdoc, etc). RCR-PS is a necessary, but not always sufficient, component of training in responsible conduct of research. Please be sure to contact your funder to inquire about additional requirements beyond those provided in RCR-PS.

For Postdocs Applying to an NIH Fellowship (e.g. ,F and K award)…

Use this template to describe the format for RCR-PS.

Applicants will also need to describe the format they will use to provide continuing and ongoing training and instruction in research ethics/RCR (using their own faculty) throughout the year for each year of the trainees’ fellowship. These may be lectures, panel discussions, or colloquia providing refreshers on topics covered in RCR-PS (see Subject Matter), but they may also cover topics of specific ethical concern in the trainees’ field not covered by RCR-PS.

For RCR-PS questions, please contact 
Christine Des Jarlais
Assistant Dean for Postdocs and Career Development
RCR-PS Program Director