Graduate Students

Basic Science Graduate Students — GRAD 214

The Graduate Division coordinates an annual course, GRAD 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. Typically, each spring quarter, the course is offered at both Mission Bay and Parnassus. 

RCR instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. See information below if you are an advanced graduate student who needs to take the RCR course again. 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 GRAD 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.

In 2022 GRAD 214 will take place entirely remotely from June 6-10, every day, 9 a.m. - noon PST via Zoom.

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

  • Scientific Misconduct and Ethics in Science: Plagiarism, Falsification and Fabrication of Data
  • Animals in Research: Animal Rights and Welfare
  • Scientific Record Keeping and Data Management
  • The Art of Mentoring and Being Mentored
  • Publication, Responsible Authorship and Peer Review Practices
  • Diversity and Equity
  • Conflicts of Interest: Science Outside of the Academy
  • Biomedical Research and Human Subjects 

This course is required for first-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.

Advanced basic science graduate students (for students who took RCR 4 years prior)

NIH mandates that trainees on an NIH institutional research training grant, individual fellowship, career development award (institutional or individual), research education grant, dissertation research grant, or other grant programs that have a significant training component have a minimum of eight hours of formal instruction at least once during each career stage and at least every four years. Training is expected to be in-person, interactive, and iterative (ie. not a repetition of earlier training).

At UCSF, advanced students meet this requirement by serving as discussion group facilitators for GRAD 214 -- they lead breakout groups discussions and participate in the discussion forums on the collaborative learning environment (CLE). Discussion group facilitators are required to attend two 1-hr training sessions and all of the scheduled classes (see above for details of dates and times). Discussion group facilitators contribute their own thoughts, ideas, suggestions and questions, and encourage deeper reflection and further discussion. Responsibilities include:

1. Providing a space for students to discuss the topics freely, fostering respectful discourse

2. Watching for signs of distress, dissent, conflict or struggle and seeking assistance from the course director

3. Encouraging participation from all students

4. Offering your own contributions to the discussion topics

Students will receive a certificate of completion after taking the refresher course. More information for spring 2022 coming soon.

Contact Information

Elizabeth Silva, [email protected]
Associate Dean of Graduate Programs GRAD 214
RCR Course Director

Carlos Martinez, [email protected]
Course Coordinator

Social Science Graduate Students

RCR course and CITI online training

The Responsible Conduct of Research Course for Clinical Researchers (RCR) course helps clinical researchers learn how to address the ethical issues that inevitably arise in research. The course is comprised of video lectures, readings, case studies, and weekly real-time small group discussions via Zoom. It addresses requirements and regulations for human-subjects research, including IRB approval and consent. Key topics include research ethics, conflicts of interest, research misconduct, authorship, and ethical challenges related to research in resource-poor countries.

Responsible Conduct of Research is a 7-week online course. Participants are expected to devote at least 4 hours per week to individual work and small group discussion via Zoom. Topics include:

  • Clinical Research Regulations and IRB Review
  • Informed Consent
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • What is Research Misconduct and Why Does It Matter?
  • Big Data and Genomic Research Ethics
  • 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 RCR 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.

Online RCR course contact information

Anita Ho, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, UCSF Bioethics Program
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia Centre for Applied Ethics
RCR Course Director

Barbara Koenig
Professor, UCSF School of Nursing
Director, UCSF Bioethics Program
RCR Senior Course Advisor

Asha Robertson
RCR Course Manager