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Research is a fascinating intellectual activity with real-world implications; it also entails adhering to guidelines that assure research is conducted ethically and with the utmost respect for the rights of individuals (including privacy rights) as well as animal rights.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) assists researchers in determining what you’ll need to do to ensure that your research project adheres to compliance regulations and scholarly ethical standards.

Depending on the nature of your research, your project may be required to undergo full IRB Convened Board Review, it may qualify for Expedited IRB Review, or it may be considered Exempt Research. Your project’s Faculty Advisor will be able to explain the meanings of these categories. Information on submitting an application (including a request for expedited IRB review or a Claim of Exemption) can be found on the How to Submit page of the IRB website.

Research ethics include strict adherence to the concepts of Respect for Persons, Beneficence, and Justice, and require that subjects participating in a research project be provided with information that constitutes Informed Consent of the terms of their participation. Researchers should always undertake a careful Assessment of the Risks and Benefits of their potential research, and assure that the risks and burdens of research do not fall unduly on particular populations in their Selection of Subjects. These concepts are explained more fully in the Belmont Report that governs the practice of research.

Research involving animals or hazardous materials also requires special care, and approval must be obtained from relevant University oversight committees. Consult with your Faculty Advisor to correctly submit any necessary forms.

Research Waiver of Liability

As a student funded through CURF you must document that you are abiding by established university research guidelines and practices. All CURF-funded student researchers must complete CURF’s Waiver of Liability, which will be provided to you upon notification of your grant award. Students conducting research outside the US are required to provide International Travel and Emergency Contact information.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training information can be found at

You must:

  • Click "Log In"
  • Select "Log In Through My Organization"
  • Search for University of Pennsylvania
  • Click "Continue to SSO Login/Instructions" and log in with your PennKey
  • Select Add a Course or update your learner groups
  • Select the basic RCR training entitled “Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) for all other individuals, including NSF and NIH funded students and trainees”  
  • Then choose the one specific training that is most closely aligned with your project:  Biomedical Research, Engineering, Humanities, Physical Sciences, or Social, Behavioral, and Education (SBE) Sciences. If you have any doubt about which area is the most appropriate training, please consult with your faculty mentor.  

Note that RCR training will require several hours, so plan accordingly.  

After completion, you must upload your CITI Responsible Conduct of Research course Curriculum Completion Report through CURF's application portal in the post-award tasks.

Patent Policy Regulations for Research

As a student researcher your work may be subject to the university’s Patent Policy. If so, you may be required to complete and submit to CURF the Patent Policy’s Appendix A – “Participation Agreement.” Questions about whether and how to complete these documents should be addressed with your advisor.