Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Pre-Doctoral Graduate Students

All graduate students receive training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). The goal of this training is to incorporate ethics and professional development into the basic science curriculum using different strategies. Participation in RCR instruction is required of all students. Attendance is monitored by sign-in sheets and faculty observation during small group discussions.

RCR training at UT Southwestern has five components:

The quality of the training is assessed using quantitative measures where possible, faculty reports from discussion sessions, and annual performance evaluations for each student. Continuous quality improvement is accomplished by student evaluations and instructor comments.

Orientation Week Training Session

These sessions are required of all incoming students (3 hours lecture and discussion). 

Topics for Session 1 (discussions conducted by an assistant dean)

  • Academic integrity     
  • Institutional policies    
  • Expectations of UTSW          

All students are given a copy of the UTSW Graduate School of Biomedical Science Policy on Academic Integrity, with a group discussion of its topics.

Topics for Session 2 (discussions conducted by an assistant dean)

  • Scientific culture at UTSW    
  • Mentor choices          
  • Coursework   
  • Choosing lab rotations           
  • Time management    

Topics for Session 3 (discussions conducted by the dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences)

  • Expectations of students       
  • Strategies for success in graduate school     
  • Mentor/mentee relationships 

Courses on RCR

These courses are required of all students.

Practicing Science with Integrity (1 credit hour; 5 hours lecture and discussion, Fall of 1st year)

Topics covered through lectures and 10 small group discussions:

  • Goals of education in RCR    
  • Scientific misconduct
  • Everyday practice of ethical science
  • Genetics and human research          
  • Codes of ethics          
  • Plagiarism      
  • Animal research         

Faculty: Lectures are presented by an assistant dean and the Co-Director and participants of the UTSW Program in Ethics in Science and Medicine. Small group discussions are held concurrently, immediately following each lecture. Approximately 30 faculty members share the responsibility to lead these discussions on a rotating basis.

Ethical Data Management  (1 credit hour; 5 hours lecture and discussion, Spring of 1st year)

Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions:

  • Data management and reproducibility
  • Data and image manipulation
  • Authorship
  • Intro to Clinical Research Ethics       

Faculty: Lectures are presented by an assistant dean, the Vice Provost for Basic Science, the Director of the Live Cell Imaging Facility and a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology. Small group discussions are held concurrently, immediately following each lecture. Approximately 30 faculty members share the responsibility to lead these discussions on a rotating basis.

Ethics in the Scientific Community (1 credit hour; 5 hours lecture and discussion, Fall of 2nd year)

Topics covered through lectures and small group discussions:

  • Plagiarism, authorship, citation          
  • Peer review    
  • Technology transfer   
  • Laboratory practices  
  • Conflict of interest      
  • Intellectual property   

Faculty: Lectures are presented by an assistant dean, faculty member in the Division of Research Ethics, and the Vice President for Technology Development. Small group discussions are held concurrently immediately following each lecture. Approximately 30 faculty members share the responsibility to lead these discussions on a rotating basis.

RCR Refresher Workshops

These workshops are required of all students during their 4th year.

Students in their 4th year of training at UT Southwestern gather in small groups by graduate program (e.g., Cancer Biology 4th year students or Neuroscience 4th year students) to view and discuss the video “The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct,” produced by the NIH Office of Research Integrity. These sessions are run by the Assistant Dean, with support from members of the program faculty, and include interacting with the different scenarios in the video. Participation is required and monitored. To help promote active and lively discussion in a less formal atmosphere, food and beverages will be provided.

Laboratory Group Training

This training is required of all mentors and pre-doctoral/postdoctoral trainees.

Mentors in individual lab groups discuss the individual lab policies on maintaining a notebook correctly, authorship, student and other member contributions to the scientific community, etc., with their students and postdoctoral trainees. This discussion reinforces the students’ understanding of RCR issues discussed during orientation and coursework, while applying it to everyday laboratory situations.

UT Southwestern Program in Ethics in Science and Medicine 

Students are able to access the web resources, lectures, seminars, and publications provided by the UT Southwestern Program in Ethics in Science and Medicine throughout their education in graduate school. This site provides a calendar of ethics-related programs and grand rounds, links to resources, and interactive case studies.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Either of the two courses below meets the ethics requirement for the mandatory Postdoctoral Certificate Program in Research. This requirement must be fulfilled within the first two terms of postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern.

  • Division of Basic Science Ethics Course (1.0 Credit Hour): To promote research integrity, required activities include video recorded lectures with short evaluation submissions, web-based lessons on plagiarism, and a lab group discussion.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research for Postdoctoral Scholars  (1 credit hour; meets weekly): *Note: Advance permission will be required before you may register for this course, as it is intended for those needing the course to meet NIH trainee (T32 or F32) RCR requirements at this time. 

This course includes activities to teach and promote research integrity, and to meet the responsible conduct of research (RCR) requirements of NIH trainees (supported by NRSA T32 or F32). Attendance will be required at weekly faculty-led sessions and the trainee must complete an online plagiarism tutorial.