Postdoc Mentoring At UC Irvine And The Responsible Conduct Of Research


The America COMPETES Act of 2007 (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) directed the National Science Foundation (NSF) to require grantees to implement mentoring and training in the responsible and ethical conduct of research for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. In November 2009, NSF published a revised Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 10-1,, which is effective for proposals received or due on or after January 4, 2010. The PAPPG refers to NSF's implementation of Section 7008 of the America COMPETES Act on mentoring requirements for postdoctoral researchers, including the stipulation that the mentoring plan must not exceed one page.


Each NSF proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a separate section within the 15-page Project Description, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. (For proposals received on or after April 6, 2009, the mentoring plan must not exceed one page.) Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's Broader Impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities within the Project Description will be returned without review. The Broader Impacts document can be found at

Draft "boilerplate" proposal language for NSF-required separate section on mentoring activities (to be customized for each project):

Mentoring for Postdoctoral Researchers (separate section)
The Principal Investigator (PI) commits to devote significant ______% time to mentoring postdoctoral researchers, including 1) an initial interview to assess career goals and developmental needs, 2) a written compact outlining duties, responsibilities and goals, 3) meetings at least ____________ (monthly) to discuss progress toward project goals, and 4) periodic __________ (quarterly) written and filed evaluations by both the postdoctoral research and the faculty mentor. These mandatory meetings will make use of specialized documents and forms, as well as other development resources available through the Graduate Resource Center (  These formal mechanisms are intended also to stimulate supplementary discussion on guidance, career development resources available for the postdoc, opportunities for collaboration, including diverse and interdisciplinary researchers, and to strengthen a meaningful mentoring relationship. The UCI Postdoctoral Scholar Professional Planning Guide will serve as a foundation for these discussions.  As needed, the PI will recommend tools available on campus, including grant preparation workshops, teaching skills training at the UCI Teaching, Learning and Technology Center or _________ (departmental program), and training in professional practices, including mandatory responsible conduct of research (RCR) training (discussed below).

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
The plan to provide appropriate mentoring, training and oversight in the ethical and responsible conduct of research (RCR) will leverage campus resources. Required campus training includes three campus-designed Web tutorials: Animal Care & Use Tutorial, required for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocols; Research Tutorial, required for Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols involving Protected health information (PHI); and Human Research Tutorial, required for all IRB protocols. UC Irvine is a Participating Institution in the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), a Web-based training program that includes Basic Courses in the Protection of Human Research Subjects: Biomedical Focus, Social and Behavioral Focus, Refresher Courses, and other RCR courses.  RCR courses available to postdoctoral scholars and graduate students include, for example the longstanding MMG250, which covers the traditional ethical conduct of research issues for students in Biological Sciences and the School of Medicine.  

Campus Climate (optional, supplemental information):  The ethical and responsible conduct of research is a campus priority.  In 2005, UCI was among the first research universities to earn full accreditation from the Association for Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP).  In 2008, UCI was awarded a National Postdoctoral Association “Bring RCR Home” Seed Grant designed to complement and strengthen RCR Training. The newly-established Graduate Resource Center (GRC) provides coordinated services, resources and professional development activities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.  Topics include mentoring and effective communications, career planning, entrepreneurship, grant writing, and collaborative science.  The GRC also provides an orientation for new postdoctoral scholars, which includes an introduction to RCR training and expectations.   In addition, the UCI Postdoctoral Association provides other social and community development activities for postdoctoral scholars and their families.  UCI maintains the following postdoctoral Web resources:
UCI’s membership in the San Diego Research Ethics Consortium:
UCI Postdoctoral Scholars Web page:
Graduate Resource Center:
Proposal Preparation Skills:
Animal Subjects Tutorial:
Human Subjects Tutorial:

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