SARI is a responsible conduct of research (RCR) education program for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at Penn State.

SARI is a responsible conduct of research (RCR) education program for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at Penn State.  The SARI program is designed to create an awareness of ethical principles and established professional norms in the performance of all activities related to scholarship and research.  The goal of this program is to foster trust among scholars and researchers and to increase the public’s support for research.

All scholars confront ethical issues, and training can be beneficial to prepare graduate students to address ethical challenges that may arise in their work. Penn State requires RCR training for all graduate students to ensure the ethical conduct of research and scholarship at the University. In addition, funding agencies including NIH, NSF, and NIFA have requirements for RCR training for students, postdoctoral researchers, and other trainees.

Penn State’s SARI program has two components:

  • Online Training: Completion of at least one online course in CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative):  Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), Human Subjects Research (IRB), or Animal Research (IACUC).  The RCR course is recommended for AEPS Ph.D. students.  Researchers funded by National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) must take the RCR course in CITI, as outlined in the terms and conditions of all NIFA grants.  Note: The online CITI training is different from the CATS submission trainings, which do not count toward SARI credit.
  • Discussion-Based Education: Participation in a minimum of 5 hours of in-person, discussion-based educational activities that address topics related to the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is required by all AEPS graduate students before graduation. This is a one-time requirement that does not need to be fulfilled each year.  A 2-hour workshop offered each spring by Department of Plant Science faculty, 1 hour is offered in AEPS 502, and 3 hours are offered in AEPS 515.  Certain Rock Ethics events can also count for SARI credit.  The Office of Research Protections (ORP) offers workshops for SARI credit in the Fall and Spring SemestersOnly 2 of the 5 hours required can be obtained from workshops outside of the Department of Plant Science. 

AEPS graduate students must complete both the online and discussion-based SARI components.  The ORP highly recommends the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course be taken in the first year of enrollment.  SARI is tracked in LionPath by the AEPS Graduate Program Coordinator.

Ph.D. students who completed SARI requirements for a M.S. degree do not have to complete additional SARI requirements. However, CITI training for human subjects or animal research protocols must be renewed every three years.