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. Pre-COVID-19, the GRAD 214 RCR course was offered in person at both Mission Bay and Parnassus. In 2023, GRAD 214 will take place entirely remotely from June 12 to 16, daily from 9 a.m. to 12 noon PDT, via Zoom.

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 first 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.

The GRAD 214 RCR 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
  • Biomedical Research and Human Subjects
  • Scientific Record Keeping and Data Management
  • Animals in Research: Animal Rights and Welfare
  • Diversity and Equity
  • Publication, Responsible Authorship and Peer Review Practices
  • The Art of Mentoring and Being Mentored
  • Conflicts of Interest: Science Outside of the Academy

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. As facilitators, they lead breakout group 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 (to be held May 24 and 31, from 1 to 2 p.m. PDT) and all of the scheduled classes (June 12 to 16, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT). 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. 

Contact Information

D'Anne Duncan, PhD
Assistant Dean of the Graduate Division
GRAD 214 RCR Course Director
[email protected]

Questions regarding the GRAD 214 course? Please contact:

Nancy Street, PhD
Contracted Associate Dean of the Graduate Division
[email protected]


Rigney Turnham, PhD
GRAD 214 Course Manager
[email protected]

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 Contacts

Sara Ackerman, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, UCSF Bioethics Program
Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences
RCR Course Director

Winston Chiong, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Neurology
Interim Director, UCSF Bioethics Program

Asha Robertson
RCR Course Manager