The term responsible conduct of research (RCR) is often, but not always, used interchangeably with research ethics. RCR refers to a realm that examines the ethical dimensions of research and what a researcher's ethical and legal obligations are while conducting research. For example, a paramount ethical concern in the RCR realm is that researchers report their data in an honest, sincere, and competent manner.
In the United States, the topic areas normally covered within RCR education and training are influenced primarily by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These topics include authorship, conflicts of interest, mentoring, peer review, and research misconduct. In more recent years, RCR has grown to include a topic that is sometimes referred to as the social responsibilities of researchers, which simply stated examines the researcher's obligations to society.