The NIH NOT-OD-10-019 describes Informal RCR Instruction as continuous learning that occurs in the course of daily laboratory interactions and in other scholarly activities throughout the research training experience. Some examples include participation in research ethics-focused mentor and peer discussions, team meetings, self-study, or seminars. Informal RCR Instruction is expected to be completed in addition to the formal CHOP RCR training courses (i.e., CITI RCR, RCR 1, RCR 2) and is recognized as an essential component of the research training experience. 

Informal RCR Instruction plans are developed during year two of the fellowship appointment or K award start date by the trainee/NIH-funded early career investigator in conjunction with their faculty mentor/PI. Plans are discipline specific and individually tailored. Copies of the plans and relevant documentation are retained at CHOP by the trainee/NIH-funded early career investigator and faculty mentor/PI. Click here to access a form for tracking your informal RCR activities.

Informal RCR activities, along with the formal RCR courses, must be reported within the RCR Training Plan section of selected grant applications and progress reports (i.e., Institutional Training Grants, Individual Fellowships and Career Development Awards). If an RCR Training Plan is incomplete and receives an “unacceptable” rating by the grants review committee, it could delay the release of funding.

The strategies listed below provide ideas for facilitating informal learning about RCR topics:

  • Integrate core RCR topics into lab, staff, and research team meetings, including: Authorship and Publication Practices, Collaborative Science, Conflicts of Interest, Data Responsibilities, Intellectual Property, Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities, Peer Review, Research Ethics, Research with Animals, Research with Human Subjects, Research Misconduct, Researcher and Society and Safe Laboratory Practices
  • Utilize informal educational methods, including question and answer sessions, case studies, individual conversations, and small group discussions of RCR issues
  • Facilitate discussions on research ethics issues that are discipline-specific
  • Encourage research trainees and staff to actively lead/participate in discussions on discipline-specific professional standards of practice
  • Encourage research trainees and staff to explore the CHOP Research Institute RCR Web site for access to self-study materials, policies, and other educational resources
  • Incorporate RCR education and activities into individual professional development plans