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RCR Toolkit

Researchers at all stages of their career should utilize this toolkit to enhance their understanding and implementation of ethical research practices: 

Who is a Researcher?

The Principal Investigator (PI)
The Principal Investigator (PI) is charged to conduct objective research that generates independent, high quality, and reproducible results. The Principal Investigator is responsible for the management and integrity of the design, conduct, and reporting of the research project and for managing, monitoring, and ensuring the integrity of any collaborative relationships. Additionally, the Principal Investigator is responsible for the direction and oversight of compliance, financial, personnel, and other related aspects of the research project and for coordination with school, department, and central administration personnel to assure research in is conducted in accordance with federal regulations and university and sponsoring agency policies and procedures.

Co- Principal Investigator
Individuals who share the responsibilities of the project with the PI

The Co-Investigator is an individual recognized by the university and the PI as someone who makes a significant contribution to a project. The Co-Investigator is an individual who the PI relies on to assume responsibilities of the project above other personnel such as Research Assistants.

Research Assistant
Research Assistants are persons hired or students mentored by faculty to assist in carrying out a particular research agenda. 

Researcher Responsibilities

In addition to following applicable laws and regulations, Drexel University expects Principal Investigators and all research staff to adhere to ethical principles and standards appropriate for their discipline. In designing and conducting research studies, researchers and research staff must have the protection of the rights and welfare of research participants as a primary concern.

  • Researchers and Research Staff know which of the activities they conduct are overseen by the Human Research Protection Program, and they seek guidance when appropriate.
  • Researchers and Research Staff identify and disclose financial interests according to Drexel’s policy and regulatory requirements and work with the Office of Research & Innovation to manage, minimize, or eliminate financial conflicts of interest.
  • Researchers employ sound study design in accordance with the standards of their discipline. Researchers design studies in a manner that minimizes risks to participants.
  • Researchers determine that the resources necessary to protect participants are present before conducting each research study.
  • Researchers and research staff recruit participants in a fair and equitable manner
  • Researchers employ consent processes and methods of documentation appropriate to the type of research and the study population, emphasizing the importance of comprehension and voluntary participation to foster informed decision-making by participants.
  • Researchers and research staff have a process to address participants’ concerns, complaints, or requests for information.
  • Researchers and research staff meet requirements for conducting research with participants and comply with all applicable laws, regulations, codes, and guidance; the Drexel’s policies and procedures for protecting research participants; and the IRB’s determinations.
  • Researchers and research staff are qualified by training and experience for their research roles, including knowledge of applicable laws, regulations, codes, and guidance; relevant professional standards; and the Organization’s policies and procedures regarding the protection of research participants.
  • Researchers maintain appropriate oversight of each research study, as well as research staff and trainees, and appropriately delegate research responsibilities and functions.
  • Researchers and research staff follow the requirements of the research protocol
  • Researchers and research staff follow reporting requirements in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, codes, and guidance and Drexel’s policies
  • if the PI is unavailable to conduct or direct this research personally, as when on sabbatical, leave, or vacation, to: (1) arrange for a co-investigator to assume research related responsibilities in the researcher's absence, and (2) to notify the IRB in writing of this change prior to the absence.
  • In the event that employment with the university is discontinued, to do one of the following with each approved/active study prior to leaving the university: 1) transfer the study to a new principal investigator, or 2) close the project. These changes must be sent in writing to the IRB by submitting modification request. This modification must be submitted prior to the termination of employment.

Federal RCR Requirements

NIH Policy

NSF Policy

USDA Policy

Researchers at all stages of their career should participate in Responsible Conduct of Research training. Trainees and others seeking RCR education may use the Drexel web-based CITI RCR modules to fulfill these requirements. However, some agencies require live training as well as CITI training to fulfill these requirements. Researchers should strive to constantly improve their responsible conduct of research practices through other professional development offerings when possible. 

Log-in or sign up for CITI research training by going to Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program, and click on the “New Users Register Here” link on their website. Select “Drexel University” as your Participating Institution from a pull-down menu. 


Authorship is the primary way that researchers are recognized for their contributions in a research project. As research has become increasingly interdisciplinary, it is important now, more than ever to understand different authorship cultures and have authorship discussion early to ensure all contributors expectations are aligned. 

Authorship Agreement 

It is best practice for all researchers in a study to enter into an authorship agreement prior to conducting work. Conversations and meetings should occur often to ensure that all contributors are on the same page. An Authorship Agreement template is available here [PDF]

Changes in Authorship

All contributors should recognize that authorship and authorship order can change as the project progresses to better reflect the actual contributions to the project. Changes to authorship should be decided upon mutually by all contributors. 

Disagreements in Authorship 

It is the responsibility of each contributor to openly discuss authorship in the very beginning stages of each project. Contributors should utilize an authorship agreement and file it in a secure location.  

Things to consider when determining authorship: 

  • Did the contributor play a meaningful role in project design, data acquisition, data analysis, or data interpretation? 

  • Did the contributor add to the written product (drafting or major revisions)? 

  • Did the contributor have authority to approve the final product to be sent for production? 

Although some people involved may be involved in the project as described above there are instances when the individual may not rise to the level of substantive contribution. These individuals should be listed in the acknowledgements. Examples of contributions that do not rise to the level of authorship: 

  • Data collection or analysis without contributing to the design of these processes  

  • Copyediting or creating tables or figures 

  • Providing funding for the project 

If a disagreement arises between contributors regarding the authorship order, authorship credit, content of the article or any other matter related to publication, the individuals should make every effort to resolve the disagreement themselves. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) offers a resource for handling authorship disputes for new researchers: 

If a resolution is not able to be reached, the parties should submit an authorship dispute mediation request. The research integrity officer and the deciding official will review the matter and come to a final decision.  

If you have other questions, please direct them to


According to COPE Journals and publishers should have core practices that are well described and publicly documented that describe their processes for handling allegations of misconduct, policies for requirements for Authorship and Contributorship and a process for managing potential disputes, and a complaint and appeals process. Additionally, publications should have clear definitions of conflicts of interest and a process for handling conflicts. 

Your Rights as an Author 

Drexel University Libraries has guides related to your rights as an author and retaining your copyright

Self-Study for Authorship and Publications 

Submission and Publication Fees

As an author, you may have to pay for the submission to a journal as well as the publication of a journal depending on the type of journal you are submitting to. A traditional journal is generally based on a reader-pays model, whereas open access journals are always based on an author-pays model. 

  • Pre-acceptance Fees
    • Submission Fees. Both subscription-based and open-access journals may charge a fee when you submit. This fee is typically $50-$125 and help fund the editorial and peer review process. 
    • Membership Fees. Some open access journals charge a one-time membership fee that covers editorial and peer review administration and possible publication of a certain number of manuscripts per year.
  • Post-acceptance Fees
    • Page/color printing charges cover the cost of printing in traditional journals. Some journals charge per page ($100-$250 each) and/or per color figure which can range $150-$1000 each. In some cases, supplementary materials may also incur a charge.
    • Publication Fees are charged by some open access journals post-acceptance, the fees are know as Author Publishing Charges (APCs)  and can range from $800-3,900. 

Predatory Journals

Beware of predatory journals that take advantage of the open-source payment model to receive payment in return for minimal peer review and processing. 

8 Ways to Identify a Questionable Open Access Journal

Directory of Open Access Journals

Open Access Journals

Open Access Journals provide immediate and unrestricted access to research. This means that the article is freely accessible to readers and freely available for copying, distribution, and derivative work, as long as the original author is acknowledged.

Drexel University Libraries

Self-Study Topics 

Dissertation and Theses

Global Serials Directory

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Services

Collaborative Science

One of the cornerstones of propelling forward the scientific record is collaboration. Collaboration provides access to specific expertise or resources that may not be available on your research team. It is imperative that all researchers engaged in collaborative research understand their roles and responsibilities. 

Self Study

Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

Data Responsibilities

Many of our funding partners have data management policies which relate to how the research conducted would conform to policies on the dissemination and sharing of research results. These requirements include creating a data management plan that informs the funder: what data and products are being produced by the project and what is your plan for managing these data or products. Drexel University provides the Drexel community with access to LabArchives, an Electronic Notebook software that can assist you in hosting your data. An appropriate DMP should include:

  • Roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in data activities

  • Types of data that will be generated 

  • How the data will be stored, shared, and preserved 

  • What Data formats will be used  

  • How long data sharing and access will be maintained after the life of the project and how any associated costs will be covered and by whom 

    • If data is preserved by a third party, note their preservation plans 

Drexel University Libraries has a wealth of Research Data Management Resources, including a link to a Data Management Plan Tool. 

Data storage and repositories  

Using a research data repository increases transparency and promotes research collaboration opportunities. Drexel University Libraries hosts a Guide for locating the best data repository that fits the need of the research that you are conducting. 

Federal Policies 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Freedom of Information Act 

NSF Data Management Plan Requirements

NIH Data Sharing Policy 

NIH Rigor and Reproducibility Training Modules 

These modules were developed by NIH, and focus on rigor and reproducibility 

Module 1: Lack of Transparency 


Discussion Material

Module 2: Blinding and Randomization 


Discussion Material 

Module 3: Biological and Technical Replicates 


Discussion Material

Module 4: Sample Size, Outliers, and Exclusion Criteria 


Discussion Material

Improving Reproducibility in Research  

Module 1: Experimental Design Learning Module 

Module 2: Analysis/Reporting Learning Module

Intellectual Property

Mentor/Mentee Responsibilities

Research Misconduct

Ownership of Research

Drexel University owns the data produced through research. Ownership places the responsible stewardship of research data with the institution and places all primary responsibility for meeting all obligations with Drexel. 

The PI of any project is the custodian of data generated by research, and bear primary responsibility for the technical, programmatic, fiscal and administrative requirements of the project. This includes direct responsibility for the collection, retention and storage of data. Drexel researchers have the right to decide on the direction of their investigations, publish their findings with academic and scientific communities and pursue future research. Drexel researchers are expected to work in partnership with the appropriate university administration to manage and protect research data and materials produced at the university. 

Access to research data

Sharing of research data and materials that are commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings with members of the University community, external collaborators, and others for legitimate purposes is essential to the development of knowledge and advancement of scientific inquiry.

Research data and materials shall be made publicly available to the extent feasible while minimizing harm to the legitimate interests of the University, to research subjects, and to other parties, subject to Drexel University policy and to legislative, regulatory, contractual, ethical or other obligations, including but not limited to whether providing such public access would be cost prohibitive.

Where necessary to assure needed and appropriate access, the University has the option to take custody of the data in a manner specified by the Executive Vice Provost of Research.

Researchers may utilize research data for projects, or portions of projects they have worked on with the permission of the PI. If the PI and the Researcher cannot reach an agreement, the Researcher may escalate the issue with the appropriate Dean or Department head to mediate the access to data. If all other methods are exhausted, the issue may be escalated to the Executive Vice Provost of Research & Innovation. In the case of final escalation, The Executive Vice Provost of Research & Innovation will weigh the information and provide the ultimate determination.