Ethics and Compliance

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is an overarching philosophy for every aspect of the College's research and scholarly activity.  Within this philosophy, Amherst College is committed to creating and maintaining a research environment that conforms to the highest ethical principles, fosters intellectual honesty and integrity, encourages research advances of the highest quality, and supports a culture of mutual respect, inclusion and belonging. 

The College follows federal, state, local and College policies in conducting responsible and ethical research and looks to requirements by federal funding agencies, including NSF, NIH, and USDA, amongst others, to provide best practices, standards and procedures for our research community within the policies outlined below.

Amherst College RCR Policy and Training Plan

While education on the responsible and ethical conduct of research occurs across the curriculum, our RCR policy and training plan provides specific guidance for undergraduate students, post-baccalaureate fellows, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, senior personnel, and staff members conducting research through the College in astronomy, biology, biochemistry/biophysics, chemistry, environmental studies, geology, neuroscience, physics, and psychology, as well as those conducting research involving human subjects, and those conducting research under certain federal grants (NSF, NIH and USDA). 

Training topics are tailored to the educational level of the researcher and the discipline of the project, and may include: Collaborative Science; Conflict of Commitment; Conflict of Interest; Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership; Ethics Education; Mentorship and Mentor Training; Peer Review; Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship; Research Misconduct; Research Involving Animals; Research Involving Human Subjects. Follow the link to the full RCR Policy and Training plan below.

RCR Training Policy and Plan  

Financial Conflict of Interest 

All grant seekers are required to disclose any significant financial interest prior to submitting a proposal, in order to identify any potential financial conflicts of interest within their proposed research. Furthermore, all grant recipients will be required to complete Financial Conflict of Interest training.

Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (Controller's Office)

Additional Policies Pertaining to RCR

Scientific Research Misconduct Policies and Procedures (Faculty Handbook)

Whistleblower Policy (College-wide Ethics Policies)


Compliance Committees

The following Amherst College research advisory committees provide oversight of the research enterprise to ensure compliance with related aspects of the RCR program, policies and standards. 

  • Human Subjects Committee (IRB)

  • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

  • Laser and Radiation Safety Committee

Investigators conducting research in any of the areas overseen by the committees are required to submit information on their project (i.e. proposal, research plan, budget) for committee review and approval prior to submitting proposals for external funding and/or engaging in College-sponsored research activities. 

For external funding proposals, it is strongly recommended that you reach out to the appropriate compliance contact in the early stages of proposal development. They may require approval of your research plan prior to submitting your proposal or additional training.

Links to Additional Information

Compliance Committees - An Overview

Compliance Contacts 

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Policies

Instructions for Reporting Possible Animal Welfare Violations 

Radiation Safety Program