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Responsible Conduct of Research

Caltech researchers are expected to adhere to the highest professional standards in the conduct of research.   As set out by the Faculty Handbook, faculty members are charged by the Institute with the responsibility  to safeguard the basic principles of research integrity, academic freedom, and public interest.  When government funds are involved in the support of research, the Institute's accountability to the government and the public requires that the investigators take particular care to obey all rules and regulations of the government and the sponsoring agencies. 

Students are expected to also follow these same principles and rules.  As part of their education, students are expected to take specialized training in research ethics and responsibility.  There are two situations in which this is mandated by federal law.

National Institutes of Health

Students that are funded through NIH grants, work with human or vertebrate animal subjects, or are required as part of their Option curriculum have to meet a NIH requirement for training in specific areas as described in the Caltech Guide to Sponsored Research, Chapter 3.   In order to meet the NIH requirement, Caltech requires that all trainees supported by NIH funds take Biology course 252 "Responsible Conduct of Research".

National Science Foundation

Training in Responsible Conduct of Research is also required of students and postdoctoral scholars funded on NSF awards/grants, including the GRFP program, where the award resulted from a proposal submitted January 2010.  In order to satisfy the NSF mandate, the Caltech RCR plan requires that students and postdocs supported from NSF funds as described above shall take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program.* 

To access the Caltech CITI modules, always log in through Access.Caltech; look under "Self Service" section and follow the link "Research Ethics Education (CITI)", which will take you to the CITI website.  After you have filled out your profile information, go to the main menu and select "California Institute of Technology Courses", then select the "NSF Required Students and Postdocs: Basic Course".  You will need to read and agree to the "Assurance Statement" then you can begin the actual course modules. You only need to do the required modules for the basic course unless you work with an animal model or human subject, then you will need to consult with your advisor and choose the appropriate optional module(s).  You may log out anytime and return to finish a module.  You must login through Access.Caltech each time you wish to continue working on the course.  You must complete all modules with a passing score to get credit for the course and satisfy the NSF RCR requirement.

* If a student or postdoc can document having passed a similar, qualifying program at Caltech or another institution, Caltech will accept that in place of completing Caltech's program. You must submit documentation in the form of a transcript or certificate to the Graduate Office to receive credit for previous work. A passing grade in Bi 252 is an acceptable alternative to passing the CITI online RCR course.