Responsible Conduct of Research - ISU Office of the Vice President for Research

Responsible Conduct of Research

A community of scholars, Iowa State University is dedicated to the pursuit of truth in all endeavors. The entire academic community at Iowa State University is responsible for maintaining high standards of academic integrity in research and scholarly activities.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) includes such ethically important topics as authorship practices, the sharing of resources, confidentiality, research misconduct (fabrication, falsification and plagiarism), conflicts of interest, export controls, compliance with regulations governing the appropriate usage of grant funds, and compliance with federal regulations governing research involving humans, animals, biohazards and radiation. The document "What Every Researcher Should Know: The Responsible Conduct of Research" provides essential definitions and explanations.

Principal investigators, as role models for students and research staff, set the standards for the responsible conduct of research in their units. The Office of the Vice President for Research assists by providing resources for training, interpretation of policies, and guidance on handling ethical dilemmas and breaches.

The VPR organization is charged by federal and state agencies with assuring the responsible conduct of research and assisting in investigations of alleged misconduct. The Office for Responsible Research (ORR), which reports to the VPR, should be your first point of contact for matters relating to the responsible conduct of research.

Principal Investigators

When the university assigns responsibility for the execution of research, it must be certain that the principal investigator (PI) has demonstrated a capability for independent scholarship as well as a commitment to maintain the highest level of integrity in their scholarly activities. The university's guidelines for PI eligibility  incorporate criteria to help meet this standard. All persons desiring to conduct independent research must be approved to serve as a PI. Failure to conduct research responsibly may result in loss of the right to serve as a PI.

RCR Training Requirements

Some funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as units within Iowa State University, require researchers to be trained in the responsible conduct of research. For more information, see RCR Training Requirements and Resources.

Training and Informational Links

Training and information about the Responsible Conduct of Research may be obtained at the following sites.

Reporting a Concern

To find out about what constitutes a reportable incident and the mechanisms for reporting, contact the relevant office (see table). The Iowa State University Ombuds Office can also assist you if have concerns about possible misconduct. The Ombuds Office cannot accept formal complaints, but it can help you determine where to report your complaint if you choose to do that.

To report a concern anonymously, use the Hotline.


To find out about specific Iowa State University policies governing responsible research, refer to these links:

Related Resources


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