The Responsible Conduct of Research Course for Postdocs will be offered next in the winter of 2024.

The information on this page is for UCSF postdocs engaged in basic science research seeking to meet the NIH requirements for training in responsible conduct in research. If you are a clinical fellow, regardless of your research program, please go to the RCR for Clinician Scientists.

The UCSF Responsible Conduct of Research Program for Postdoctoral Scholars (RCR-PS) is a course designed to satisfy NIH and NSF requirements for training in the responsible conduct of research for those with postdoctoral appointments. Unique to the postdoctoral training experience, the RCR-PS program utilizes a combination of faculty presentations and virtual case study discussions during each session.

Responsible Conduct of Research Course for Postdocs

Offered to UCSF postdocs in a postdoctoral title code (Postdoctoral Scholar Employee - 3252; Postdoctoral Scholar Fellow - 3253; Postdoctoral Scholar Paid Direct - 3254; Postdoctoral Scholar Part-time - 3255; Postdoctoral Scholar Interim - 3256), RCR-PS is an eight-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 discussions to address contemporary debates at the interface between biomedical science and society.

RCR-PS is offered once a year during the winter quarter, meeting weekly for eight weeks. Registration for the course opens in the preceding November/December.

Each 2-hour session includes a combination of a brief faculty presentation; critical in-person discussion of one to two case studies in pairs or small groups; and a large-group general discussion of the case studies and overall topic. Topics Include:

  • Societal implications of scientific misconduct
  • Scientific entrepreneurship and the university-industry interface and conflicts of interest
  • Collaborative science: data management, sharing, and ownership
  • Responsible authorship, publication, and peer review
  • Animal welfare in research
  • Biomedical research and human subjects
  • Mentor and mentee responsibilities and relationships
  • Racism in science 

In addition to online training and discussion of case studies, postdocs also are able participate in an online ethics forum, thereby providing a valuable opportunity for additional interactive discussion. The online ethics forum provides a way for postdocs to continue class 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.

The course website also serves as a centralized repository of RCR-PS resources and information and is a site where postdocs from different campus locations can form a community and maintain contact.

In accordance with NIH requirements, postdocs who are at UCSF longer than four years will have an opportunity to take the RCR-PS course again.

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

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 funding agency to inquire about additional requirements beyond those provided in RCR-PS.

For Postdocs Applying to an NIH Fellowship (e.g., F or K awards)

Applicants will 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.

RCR-PS current contact

[email protected]
Office for Postdoctoral Scholars