Amherst College Responsible Conduct of Research Training Plan

Amherst’s Office of the Dean of the Faculty holds overall responsibility for compliance with Amherst’s Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training. The Associate Dean of the Faculty has direct, day-to-day oversight of compliance questions. The Grants Office supports compliance efforts.

Project Investigators (PIs) who conduct research in the sciences are responsible for ensuring that student researchers or baccalaureate/postdoctoral fellows they supervise complete RCR training.


The America Competes Act of 2007 established new guidelines that require research and education proposals to present a plan for “appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.”  This plan is intended to demonstrate that Amherst College is in compliance with this regulatory requirement.

Who needs to receive training?

Amherst students, post-baccalaureate fellows, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows conducting research in astronomy, biology, biochemistry/biophysics, chemistry, environmental studies, geology, neuroscience, physics, and psychology are required to complete RCR training.

In addition, the following researchers are required by Amherst College to complete RCR training:

  1. Amherst students and post baccalaureate/postdoctoral fellows in any discipline (e.g., computer science, mathematics, and the social sciences) who are paid through NSF or NIH grants
  2. Students and baccalaureate/postdoctoral fellows from other colleges doing research in any department who are paid through NSF or NIH grants

Training policy

  • RCR training at Amherst College is provided through the online CITI RCR training program, and through faculty-student discussions.  
  • Researchers subject to the training requirement are expected to complete online training before beginning their research projects.

 Project investigator and student researcher responsibilites

  • PIs are responsible for notifying student and baccalaureate/postdoctoral fellows in their labs of the need to complete RCR training.
  • PIs submitting NSF or NIH proposals agree to comply with Amherst’s RCR training and mentoring requirements by signing Amherst Grant Routing Form. On this form, PIs indicate they have reviewed Amherst’s RCR training plan and will comply with the plan’s training and mentoring requirements. This form must be completed before their proposal can be submitted to NSF or NIH for review.
  • Researchers identified as subject to RCR training are required to complete the appropriate CITI modules for the research being undertaken. PIs will determine which training program is most appropriate for students and post baccalaureate/postdoctoral fellows who work in their labs.

Documentation of training

The CITI Training Coordinator is responsible for documenting completion of online RCR training. Both the CITI Training Coordinator and Comptroller’s Office maintain documentation for each participant who is subject to the RCR training requirement. Such participants will be required to demonstrate that they have begun online training before beginning their research.

Review of the RCR training plan

Amherst’s Compliance Committee, with input from the Associate Dean of the Faculty and Comptroller, will review and make recommendations for its improvement. Final approval of changes to the plan rests with the College’s chief academic officer, the Dean of the Faculty.


Student- includes undergraduate, graduate, and  high school students

PI- Project investigator

RCR- Responsible Conduct of Research

CITI- Collaborative Institutional Training Institute