[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 37 (Thursday, February 26, 2009)]
[Pages 8818-8819]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-4100]



Responsible Conduct of Research

AGENCY: National Science Foundation (NSF).

ACTION: Request for public comment on requirement for students and 
postdoctoral researchers involved in NSF proposals to be educated in 
the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR).


SUMMARY: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is soliciting public 
comment on the agency's proposed implementation of Section 7009 of the 
America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in 
Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (42 U.S.C. 1862o-1). 
This section of the Act requires that ``each institution that applies 
for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and 
engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan 
to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and 
ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate 
students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed 
research project.''

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Ethical and responsible conduct of research 
is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and 
engineering. Consequently, education in the responsible and ethical 
conduct of research is considered essential in the preparation of 
future scientists and engineers. The COMPETES Act focuses public 
attention on the importance of the national research community's 
enduring commitment and broader efforts to provide RCR training as an 
integral part of the preparation and long-term professional development 
of current and future generations of scientists and engineers.
    A wide array of information exists to help inform RCR training. For 
example, many professional societies as well as governmental licensing 
authorities for professional scientists and engineers have adopted 
policies or best practices that might be usefully considered. In 
addition, research is illuminating existing practices surrounding 
ethical issues, and providing an evaluation of pedagogical innovations 
in ethics education. A recent NSF-funded workshop entitled Ethics 
Education: What's Been Learned? What Should be Done? was held by the 
National Academies of Science & Engineering. Information about the 
workshop, as well as additional resources, are available at: http://www.nae.edu/nae/engethicscen.nsf/weblinks/NKAL-7LHM86?OpenDocument. A 
brief notice about the workshop's main themes is forthcoming in The 
Bridge, Volume 39, Number 1--Spring 2009, which will be available 
online in mid-March at: http://www.nae.edu/nae/bridgecom.nsf?OpenDatabase. NSF is adding ``the responsible and ethical 
conduct of research'' as a Representative Activity in the listing of 
Broader Impacts Representative Activities available electronically at 
    NSF is committed to continue its funding of research in this 
important area through programs such as Ethics Education in Science and 
Engineering (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13338&org=NSF&sel_org=NSF&from=fund) and to promote the development 
and implementation of effective practices through its education and 
training programs. The agency will also continue to explore other 
mechanisms to support the academic community's efforts in providing 
training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research.
    Proposed Implementation Plan: Effective October 1, 2009, NSF will 
require that at the time of proposal submission to NSF, a proposing 
institution's Authorized Organizational Representative must certify 
that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and 
oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to 
undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who 
will be supported by NSF to conduct research. While training plans are 
not required to be included in proposals submitted, institutions are 
advised that they are subject to review upon request. NSF will modify 
its standard award conditions to clearly stipulate that institutions 
are responsible for verifying that undergraduate students, graduate 
students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by NSF to conduct 
research have received RCR training.
    In addition, NSF will support the development of an online digital 
library containing research findings, pedagogical materials, and 
promising practices regarding the ethical and responsible conduct of 
research in science and engineering. The

[[Page 8819]]

development and evolution of the digital library will be informed by 
the research communities that NSF supports, and it will serve as a 
living resource of multimedia materials that may be used to train 
current and future generations of scientists and engineers in the 
responsible and ethical conduct of research.
    Invitation to Comment: The Foundation welcomes public comment on 
any aspect of the proposed Implementation Plan. Issues that responders 
may wish to address include, but are not limited to, the following:
     What challenges do institutions face in meeting the new 
RCR requirement?
     What role should Principal Investigators play in meeting 
NSF's RCR requirement?
     There are likely to be differences in the RCR plans that 
institutions develop to respond to this new requirement. What are the 
pros and cons of exploring a diversity of approaches?
     How might online resources be most effective in assisting 
with training students and postdocs in the responsible and ethical 
conduct of research?
     Discuss possible approaches to verifying that the 
requisite RCR training has been provided.
    Comments: Comments regarding NSF's proposed implementation should 
be e-mailed to [email protected] by March 31, 2009. Please include your 
comments in the body of the e-mail and in an attachment. Include your 
name, title, organization, postal address, telephone number, and e-mail 
address in your message.

implementation of the America COMPETES Act, contact Jean Feldman; Head, 
Policy Office, Division of Institution & Award Support; National 
Science Foundation; 4201 Wilson Blvd.; Arlington, VA 22230; e-mail: 
[email protected]; telephone: (703) 292-8243; fax: (703) 292-9171.

    Dated: February 23, 2009.
Suzanne H. Plimpton,
Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.
[FR Doc. E9-4100 Filed 2-25-09; 8:45 am]