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Regulation of Research

Regulation of NSF-supported research can be broken down into 3 areas.

  • Research Misconduct
  • Research Involving Human Participants
  • Animal Welfare

Research Misconduct

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. The Office of the General Counsel handles the adjudication of misconduct recommendations by the Office of the Inspector General, advising the Director and Deputy Director regarding a final disposition of the matter. OGC also works with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science and Technology Council to coordinate the diverse parts of the Federal research and development enterprise to help establish a government-wide policy addressing research misconduct. NSF's regulations relating to research misconduct can be found at 45 C.F.R. Part 689 (


NSF is a signatory to the common rule assuring the protection of human subjects involved in federally supported research. NSF's regulations can be found at 45 C.F.R. Part 690 ( The policy set forth in the common rule applies to all research involving human subjects conducted, supported or otherwise subject to regulation by a federal agency. The Office of the General Counsel handles all legal issues resulting from the application of this policy to NSF supported research. OGC also participates in government-wide policy initiatives concerning this subject matter.


OGC also handles all legal issues relating to animal welfare requirements that must be adhered to by NSF grantees. While NSF has not promulgated regulations pertaining to these requirements, any NSF grantee performing activities using vertebrate animals, must comply with the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. §§2131-59) ( and the Department of Agriculture's regulations at 9 C.F.R., Subchapter A, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4) ( Additionally, grantees using marine mammals in NSF research activities must comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1361-1421h) ( Grantees should consult the Grant Policy Guide for guidance.

Disclaimer: The materials on this web site do not constitute legal advice. You should consult with an OGC attorney before acting on or convey to someone outside NSF any interpretation of these materials.