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Research Integrity Training Policy

Emerson College expects faculty, staff, and students to conduct their work, including sponsored projects and research, with the highest degree of integrity. Likewise, federal sponsors are increasingly imposing requirements for grantee institutions to demonstrate the proficiency of their investigators in the ethical considerations inherent in research. These requirements reflect a shared societal concern for the proper stewardship of public dollars in support of research, the ethical treatment of human subjects, and the humane care and use of animals in research. Emerson College shares these commitments and therefore mandates the following training requirements. This policy constitutes minimum standards set forth by Emerson College. Specific sponsors may have more stringent training requirements, in which case investigators supported by those sponsors are required to adhere to those requirements.

There are three areas of research integrity training covered by this institutional policy:

  • I. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training (for those supported under externally funded research grants)
  • II. Protection of Human Subjects training (for ALL individuals conducting research with human subjects, regardless of funding source)
  • III. Animal Care and Use training (for ALL individuals conducting sponsored research with vertebrate animals)

I. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

Applicability: This RCR training requirement applies only to externally sponsored research. The policy does not apply to other types of externally sponsored/funded projects. For example, externally sponsored projects that are primarily creative or artistic in nature, or grants supporting instruction or service delivery are not covered by this policy. This policy also does not apply to internally funded research.

To provide for this, Emerson has subscribed to the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) to provide online training. All faculty, staff, and student researchers supported under externally sponsored research projects are required to complete the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) online training course. Individuals shall register on the CITI site, affiliate themselves with Emerson College, and choose the appropriate RCR course based on the individual’s discipline (e.g., Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Physical Sciences etc.). Upon completion of the course, the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship will automatically receive a completion notification for the individual which will be made available to external sponsors by request. Training certifications are valid for a period of three years, after which time it is the individual’s responsibility to complete a “refresher” CITI module.

Sponsor funds will not be released to the Principal Investigator of a sponsored project until documentation of his/her completion of the RCR course is received. It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure each current or future member of his/her research team supported by sponsor funds (including students) also completes the training course.

Faculty, staff, and students conducting research activities not supported under externally sponsored projects are not required to complete this training, but are strongly encouraged to do so. Emerson College has purchased a campus-wide membership to the CITI training site and all members of our community are encouraged to utilize this resource.

Additionally, faculty are encouraged to consider ways in which the training course may be incorporated into their course work to enhance student understanding of research ethics.

II. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Protection of Human Subjects Training

Applicability: This IRB training requirement applies to all faculty, staff, or students conducting activities that meet the definition of human subjects research, regardless of whether those activities are externally funded, internally funded, or unfunded. Individuals needing clarity on whether their activity meets the definition of human subjects research should contact the IRB Chair, whose contact information is listed on the Faculty Research Webpage (link).

Requirement: Individuals conducting human subjects research are required to complete the CITI Institutional Review Board (IRB) online training course made available through the Office of Faculty Research Webpage (link). Individuals shall register on the CITI site and affiliate themselves with Emerson College. Upon completion of the course, the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship and the Chair of the Emerson College IRB will automatically receive a completion notification for the individual which will be made available to external sponsors (if applicable) by request. Training certifications are valid for a period of three years, after which time it is the individual’s responsibility to complete a “refresher” CITI module.

Faculty, staff, and students are reminded that no research with human subjects may be conducted without the advance review and approval of the Emerson College IRB. IRB protocols will not be approved without documentation of the completion of the required training by the Principal Investigator. It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure each current or future member of his/her research team (including students) engaged in human subjects research also completes the training course.

Additionally, faculty are encouraged to consider ways in which the training course may be incorporated into their course work to enhance student understanding of the ethical considerations involved in human subjects research.

III. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Training

Applicability: This IACUC training requirement applies only to faculty, staff, or students conducting externally funded research with vertebrate animals.

Requirement: Individuals conducting research with vertebrate animals are required to complete the CITI Lab Animal online training course. Individuals shall register on the CITI site and affiliate themselves with Emerson College. Upon completion of the course, the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship will automatically receive a completion notification for the individual which will be made available to external sponsors (if applicable) by request. Training certifications are valid for a period of three years, after which time it is the individual’s responsibility to complete a “refresher” CITI module.

Faculty, staff, and students are reminded that no research with vertebrate animals may be conducted without the advance review and approval of the Emerson College IACUC. IACUC protocols will not be approved without documentation of the completion of the required training by the Principal Investigator. It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure each current or future member of his/her research team (including students) engaged in animal research also completes the training course.

Additionally, faculty are encouraged to consider ways in which the training course may be incorporated into their course work to enhance student understanding of the ethical considerations involved in the use of animals in research.


In order to assist Emerson College researchers in meeting institutional and sponsor requirements for research integrity training, the College is now a member of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). This paid subscription provides online training modules in the three key areas of research ethics listed above.

Investigators conducting research that is externally sponsored or which involves human or animal subjects (regardless of funding status) must complete the appropriate training module(s) before beginning their funded research.

To complete the training, please visit the CITI website and complete the following steps:

  • Click on “New Users Register Here”: Follow the prompts to register and affiliate yourself with Emerson College. This is essential so that Emerson receives proof of your completion of training via a system generated notification.
  • Select the appropriate course(s) (e.g., Responsible Conduct of Research, Human Subjects Research, Lab Animal Research) and the appropriate learner group (e.g., Social/Behavioral Research, Humanities, Physical Sciences, etc.)
  • Complete the online readings and quizzes. You may log in and out of the system as many times as you need. It is recommended that you NOT try to complete the training in a single session. Each time you log in, you will be able to continue from where you previously left off. You can repeat quizzes and readings as many times as needed.

If you need assistance registering with the system or additional information, please contact Liz Demski, Associate Vice President for the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship.