Research Integrity


The Spartan Code of Honor Academic Pledge:

“As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor in ownership is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do.”

Portions retrieved 3/3/2016 from: “Academic Integrity at Michigan State University”


Research Integrity Requirements

Research integrity is foundational to our scholarship, creative work, and core identity as MSU Spartans. It is not only required by rules (including federal, state, research sponsors, and MSU’s research and training policies), integrity is essential for our research to have legitimacy and impact. Research integrity is so important to our development as scholars and creators that the Graduate School has developed minimum education requirements for all graduate students regarding the Responsible Conduct of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (RCRSA, RCR for short).

The Graduate School’s RCRSA program requires (a) initial, basic education, and (b) supplemental, refresher training (see diagram).


RCRSCA Basic Education Program Requirements


Master’s plan B and grad professional

CITI Modules Year 1

  • Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Authorship
  • Plagiarism
  • Research Misconduct

6 hours discussion-based training (complete before graduation)


Master’s Plan A students

CITI Modules Year 1

  • Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Authorship
  • Plagiarism
  • Research Misconduct

6 hours discussion-based training (complete before graduation)

CITI Modules Year 2
Complete 3 additional from specific list


Doctoral students

CITI Modules Year 1

  • Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Authorship
  • Plagiarism
  • Research Misconduct

6 hours discussion-based training (complete before finishing comprehensive examination and entering candidacy status, doctoral students starting in Fall 2020 or later)

CITI Modules Year 2
Complete 3 additional from specific list

Year 3 forward
3 hours of annual refresher training

Tracked automatically in Ability =  
Tracked by department in GradInfo =  

The basic education program consists of 3 requirements:

  1. Four (4) online CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) training modules. (Due by the end of the student’s first year).
  2. A minimum of 6 hours of face-to-face, discussion-based workshops. (Due by the time of graduation for Master’s students and before completing the comprehensive examination and entering candidate status for doctoral students). Each department or college has developed a RCRSCA plan including when and how to satisfy the discussion-based training hours. Please review this plan and verify with your Graduate Program Director. Options may include:
    1. Completing workshops offered by the Graduate School (each counts for 1.5 hours),
    2. Completing workshops offered by your academic unit,
    3. Completing approved coursework containing relevant content, and/or
    4. Participating in discussions with your advisor (group meetings or one-on-one discussions).
  3. Three (3) additional on-line CITI modules for Master’s Plan A and Doctoral students. These 3 additional CITI modules can be chosen from the supplemental modules listed in CITI. (Due by the end of the student's second year). 

In addition to the basic education requirements, all doctoral and graduate professional students must complete 3 hours per year of supplemental, refresher RCRSA education. This requirement could be met in the following ways:

  1. Completing additional CITI modules (from the supplemental modules listed in CITI, each module counts as 45 min)
  2. Completing additional face-to-face workshops from the Graduate School,
  3. Participating in specific, instructor-led RCRSCA activities in an academic unit,
  4. Holding one-on-one or group discussions with one’s advisor, and/or
  5. Other activities.

The Graduate School has compiled many resources for discussion-based completion of the RCRSCA requirements. Each department or college has developed a detailed RCRSCA plan including when and how to satisfy the discussion-based training hours. Please review this plan and verify with your Graduate Program Director.

The current basic RCRSCA education took effect January 1, 2017. All graduate and graduate professional students enrolling for the first time in spring 2017, or after, will follow the current RCRSCA education program with the following clarification: The requirement that doctoral students must complete their 6 hours of discussion-based training before the comprehensive examination applies to doctoral students starting in Fall 2020 or later. Doctoral students who started between Spring 2017 and Summer 2020 must complete their 6 hours of discussion-based training before graduation. Departments and programs may have more specific requirements to meet the discussion-based and annual training. Students who entered in fall 2016, or before, have the option of following the academic unit’s previous plan or the new requirements. Students should consult with their departments about which option works best with their program of study.

Documenting Completion of Requirements

The university’s training tracking system, Ability, will automatically record completion of all CITI modules and Graduate School workshops. Work with your department to document other forms of RCR training. Completion of the annual refresher education will be verified using the new student information system coming online in 2021 (details will be provided upon release of the system).

CITI Instructions

To complete the basic and supplemental CITI modules, follow these steps:

  1. Log-in to CITI using your MSU NetID and password.
    1. Click on the “CITI (actual training modules)” button below, or
    2. Go directly to the CITI Program website and click “log-in through my institution.”
  2. (For first-time MSU CITI users) Follow the “How to Enroll in CITI RCR Courses” steps from MSU’s Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).
  3. Under “Courses Ready to Begin”, click “Start” next to “MSU Graduate School RCR Requirements.”
  4. Complete the 4 basic modules by the end of your first year.
  5. For Master’s plan A and doctoral students, complete 3 modules from the “Supplemental Modules” also listed on this page. (Master’s: due before graduation; Doctoral: due before completing comprehensive exams and advancing to candidacy).

For additional CITI instructions, see the MSU Office of Regulatory Affairs’s RCR website and CITI website.

RCR memo - 8/29/16 (PDF)

MSU Responsible Conduct of Research Plans template 2016 (PDF)

RCRSCA Syllabus 2019-2020 (PDF)

MSU Office of Regulatory Affairs Responsible Conduct of Research page describing MSU’s RCR training requirements for all investigators, links to funding agency RCR requirements, and links for documenting instructor-led and discussion-based training for submission to Ability

MSU Policy on NSF Funded Research 2009 (PDF)

MSU RCR Plans (Click on your department)

THE LAB video

The long awaited release of "The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct" is now available for viewing on the ORI web site. The video simulation allows users to assume the role of a graduate student, post-doc, research administrator, or PI and make decisions that affect the integrity of research.