Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

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Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

The MSU College of Engineering takes seriously the responsibility to train students in the responsible conduct of research.  All graduate students within the College are required to participate in appropriate RCR training each academic year. 

As of Fall 2021, the process for completing and recording RCR training has changed. Additional details are provided below.

What are the Training Requirements?

MSU has established minimum requirements for RCR education for graduate students at MSU, which vary by year in program and degree type. All students are required to complete online, asychronous training through and at least 6 hours of discussion-based training through approved workshops, seminars, or courses. For more details, please visit the Research Integrity website hosted by the MSU Graduate School.

How do I complete the training?

You must log in to the CITI Program website using your MSU NetID and password. Note: you will not receive credit at MSU for completing CITI modules unless you are logged in using your MSU credentials! You can find instructions for logging in towards the end of the Graduate School's webpage.

How can I complete the discussion-based training?

The College of Engineering has developed an online, asychronous, discussion-based, non-credit course that allows students to meet the requirement for 6 hours of discussion-based training. This online class is the recommended method of completing discussion-based training for all new engineering graduate students starting in Fall 2020 or later. The class is designed to complement the first year CITI modules, and focuses on one topic per week for a total of four weeks. This class is run through D2L (Desire2Learn, the MSU course management system) and is offered twice a year. New graduate students are generally enrolled automatically by their departments during their first semester (fall or spring). Other graduate students who wish to take this course should watch for enrollment instructions for the spring semester offering.

In addition to taking this online course through the College of Engineering, graduate students may meet discussion-based training requirements by:

  • Register for and participate in discussion-based workshops offered through the MSU Graduate School
  • Participate in RCR-focused seminars offered by the College of Engineering, typically as part of the "Lunch & Learn" series (note that only RCR-designated seminars count, and you must complete the attendance form to receive credit)
  • Enroll in a regular MSU course that includes RCR training; such classes must specify in the syllabus that students can earn RCR hours and must submit participation information directly to MSU (recent examples in the College of Engineering include EGR 891 Section 002: Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists, and CMSE 890 Section 005: CyberAmbassadors Communications, Teamwork, Ethics and Leadership training for Muldisiplinary Research Teams)
  • Discuss RCR in the context of your research or discipline with your advisor, and request credit for these conversations through GradPlan (see page 18 of the GradPlan job aid for graduate students).

How can I complete the "annual refresher" training (for PhD students only)?

PhD students must complete a minimum of 3 hours of RCR training each year, starting in the third year of their program and continuing until graduation. Typically students meet these requirements by participating in workshops, seminars, or courses organized by the Graduate School or the College of Engineering; one-on-one conversations with your advisor about RCR can also be used towards the annual refresher training, as can additional CITI modules beyond those required in years 1 and 2. Note that you cannot "work ahead" or "bank hours" to meet this requirement; for example, completing 6 hours of training in the third year only counts for the year 3 requirements - you will still have to complete at least 3 additional hours in year 4, and each subsequent year.

How is my RCR training recorded?

Your participation is automatically tracked (in the MSU Ability system) when you complete modules and designated RCR workshops, seminars, and courses hosted by the MSU Graduate School or the College of Engineering. This includes the Engineering RCR Discussion Hours D2L course.  Once uploaded to Abilty, courses are automatically added to GradPlan (additional information is available here). To receive training credits for RCR discussions with your advisor, you must make a request through GradPlan (see page 18 of the GradPlan job aid for graduate students).

What counts as an hour of RCR training?

Ability is set up to record RCR training in 15-minute increments, and each workshop, seminar, or course tracked through Ability is set up as a specific number of training minutes. For example, RCR workshops hosted by the MSU Graduate School typically count as 1.25 hours (75 minutes) of training, while "Lunch and Learn" seminars hosted by the MSU College of Engineering typically count as 1 hour (60 minutes) of training. RCR training should be reported in 15 minute increments (e.g., a 12 minute conversation with an advisor should be reported as 15 minutes of training, while a 38 minute conversation should be reported as 45 minutes of training). Note that this is a change from the College policy prior to Fall 2021, which had allowed "rounding up" to the nearest whole hour when reporting it in RTTS.

What about RCR training completed before Fall 2021?

CITI modules and Graduate School workshops that you completed prior to Fall 2021 should have been tracked in Ability and be available for you to add to your RCR training report in the new GradPlan system (see page 15 of the GradPlan job aid for graduate students). You will need to request credit for discussions with your advisor through GradPlan, and can do so for conversations that happened in the past. For other activities that were not automatically tracked in Ability, such as the College Orientation or "Lunch and Learn" seminars in Fall 2021 or earlier, you will need to work with the graduate coordinator in your program to have the training information added to your GradPlan record manually.

What happened to RTTS?

RTTS (Research Training Tracking System) was used prior to Fall 2021 for engineering graduate students to report RCR training that they had completed. Training reported in RTTS is **NOT** automatically transferred to the new GradPlan system. Students who recorded their training in RTTS should download PDF copies of all of their training reports and work with the graduate coordinator in your program to have the training information added to your GradPlan record manually.

Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • I am a BAE, BME or CMSE graduate student; do I have to do RCR? Yes. All graduate students affiliated with the MSU College of Engineering are required to complete RCR training each year.
  • I am a non-thesis (or coursework-only) MS student in Engineering; do I have to do RCR? Yes. All graduate students affiliated with the MSU College of Engineering are required to complete RCR training each year.
  • I am a Linked BS+MS or dual-enrolled student; do I need to complete RCR training? Yes. You are considered simultaneously an undergraduate and graduate student, and all graduate students must complete RCR training each year.
  • I did RCR last year; do I have to do it again this year? Yes. RCR is an annual requirement and must be completed each year while you are a graduate student.
  • I am graduating this semester; do I need to do RCR? RCR is a graduation requirement and must be completed prior to graduation. Please check with the graduate coordinator in your program to ensure you have fulfilled all requirements to earn your degree.