Misconduct in Federally Funded Scientific Research Activities

     No. 9-19      Rev.   Date 6-2-94

 

I. REFERENCES

Misconduct in Science and Engineering, Final Rule, Federal Register, 5/14/91

PPMs 9-9 through 9-15, Academic Due Process

II. PURPOSE

In order to comply with the Federal Government's certification requirements for participation in certain federally sponsored projects, the University sets forth specific policies for the conduct of scientific research activities sponsored in whole or in part by federal funds and establishes these compliance procedures for investigating allegations of misconduct in such activities.

These policies and procedures are not intended to modify, nullify or supersede the procedures established and set forth in PPMs 9-9 through 9-15. The procedures outlined therein concerning academic due process will be followed in investigating allegations of misconduct in science and in offering protection to those who bring such allegations, except when specific modifications of those procedures are required in order to comply with federal law or regulation. Procedures for investigating non-federally sponsored projects are solely contained in PPMs 9-9 through 9-15.

III. POLICY

To create and disseminate knowledge through scientific research and scholarship is a significant responsibility of the University. In order to fulfill this responsibility, all members of the University community who conduct or supervise scientific research activities must act in an ethical manner, to maintain the integrity and truthfulness fundamental to true research and scholarship.

To this end, the University must assume responsibility for investigating and reporting alleged or apparent misconduct in scientific research activities by its faculty, staff, and students. At the same time, the University must assume responsibility for protecting innocent scholars from harassment or interference with their academic freedom, and for protecting those who report allegations of misconduct from retaliation.

IV. DEFINITIONS

For the specific purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

A. Misconduct or Misconduct in Science

Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

B. Scientific Research Activities

Includes research, research training, applications for support of research or research training or related activities.

C. Inquiry

Information-gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation.

D. Investigation

The formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred.

V. PROCEDURES

The University, through the Office of Grants and Contracts, will make an annual certification to the Office of Scientific Inquiry (OSI) and other appropriate federal agencies, as required, that it has a specific policy in place for reviewing, investigating and reporting allegations of misconduct in science in connection with federally sponsored scientific research activities.

Allegations of misconduct in scientific research activities shall be received by the dean of a college or appropriate supervisor in writing. The dean or appropriate supervisor will report, in confidence, any such allegations to the provost, who will acknowledge receipt of the allegations in writing to the accuser.

University employees who know or have reason to know that this policy is being or has been violated must take action to report the situation. Failure to do so may result in the initiation of disciplinary procedures against said employees in accordance with existing policies in PPMs 9-9 through 9-15.

After a review of the allegations, the provost may seek a confidential meeting with the accuser to determine whether the matter falls within the purview of this policy and procedure. Upon consultation with the University Legal Counsel, the provost must decide within 15 days whether to initiate an inquiry and inform the accuser in writing of this decision.

VI. COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY

A. Establishment

If the provost decides that an inquiry is needed, he/she will inform the respondent in writing of the decision. He/she will then establish a three-member Committee of Inquiry, designate its chair, and inform the respondent, in writing, of the committee membership and chair, and the notice of inquiry. Committee members should be faculty who, in the judgment of the provost, have the appropriate seniority and knowledge to assess the alleged misconduct and have no conflict of interest that would interfere with an objective review. The respondent must be informed by the committee in writing of the allegations, advised of the initiation of the inquiry process, and asked to provide information. The respondent's department chair or program director and dean or appropriate supervisor should also be notified, in confidence, of the allegations and pending inquiry.

B. Challenge

The respondent may challenge the composition of the Committee of Inquiry for cause by notifying the committee chair of his/her objections in writing within five (5) calendar days of receiving the notice of inquiry. If individual members of the Committee are challenged, the chair shall rule on the objections, and the provost shall fill any resulting vacancy. If the chair is challenged, the chair of Faculty Senate shall rule on the challenge and fill any resulting vacancy.

C. Charge

The provost shall charge the Committee of Inquiry in writing to conduct a discreet inquiry based on communication with the respondent and the accuser, while keeping the identity of the accuser and the respondent confidential to the maximum extent possible and attempting to protect the accuser, who acts in good faith, from retaliation. The purpose of the inquiry is to determine if there is sufficient reason to believe that misconduct has occurred. The inquiry should be limited to activities necessary to determine whether to recommend a formal investigation.

D. Report

The inquiry must be completed within 60 calendar days following receipt of the written allegations or the record of the inquiry shall document reasons for exceeding this period. A written report shall be prepared that identifies the evidence reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, states the conclusions of the Committee, and includes comments from the respondent thereon.

E. Possible outcomes

If the Committee finds that there are insufficient grounds to justify an investigation, it will make its recommendation to that effect in writing to the provost, along with its report and file, of which no additional copies will be made. If the provost agrees with the recommendation, he/she will dismiss the allegations and so notify in writing the respondent, the accuser, the appropriate dean, department chair, program director and any others who were formally made aware of the allegations and inquiry. The provost will retain the complete file on this matter for a minimum of three years as protected personnel related information.

If the provost disagrees with the recommendation to dismiss the allegations, he/she will initiate the investigation, and notify the appropriate dean, department chair, program director, respondent and accuser, in writing, of the initiation of the investigation.

If the inquiry finds cause to believe that the allegations were not made in good faith, the provost will initiate disciplinary procedures against the accuser in accordance with existing policies in PPMs 9-9 through 9-15.

If the Committee of Inquiry determines and recommends to the provost that sufficient grounds exist for an investigation, it will begin within 30 days following completion of the inquiry. The provost will notify the appropriate dean, department chair, program director, respondent and accuser of initiation of the investigation in writing.

VII. COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION

A. Establishment

The provost in consultation with the department chair or program director and dean of the college of appropriate supervisor of the respondent, will appoint a committee composed of at least three faculty members familiar with the research methods involved in the alleged misconduct, including at least one faculty member whose academic appointment is outside the college of the accused. Precautions against real or apparent conflicts of interest will be taken. The provost will designate the committee chair and inform the respondent, in writing, of the Committee membership and chair and the notice of investigation.

B. Challenge

The respondent may challenge the composition of the Committee of Investigation for cause by notifying the Committee chair of his/her objections in writing within five (5) calendar days of receiving the notice of inquiry. If individual members of the Committee are challenged, the chair shall rule on the objections, and the provost shall fill any resulting vacancy. If the chair is challenged, the chair of Faculty Senate shall rule on the challenge and fill any resulting vacancy.

C. Investigation

Within 120 days, the Committee of Investigation shall complete its investigation and submit a report to the provost. The investigation shall include examination of all pertinent information including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence and memoranda of telephone calls. Whenever possible, interviews will be conducted with all individuals involved either in making the allegations or against whom the allegations are made, as well as any other individuals who might have information pertinent to the allegations. Complete summaries of these interviews must be made available to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file. The respondent shall have the right to respond to the allegations and information collected, with or without assistance from others such as collaborator(s), professional associate(s) and personal attorney(ies), as the respondent so chooses.

During the course of the investigation, the provost will keep the federal agency involved apprised of any developments which disclose facts that may affect current or potential agency funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the federal agency needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protects the public interest.

D. Report

A report detailing the actions of the Committee of Investigation, including its findings and conclusions, will be submitted to the provost within the 120-day period allowed. If the investigation cannot be completed in the 120-day period, a written request for an extension of time must be made to the appropriate federal agency. This request must include an explanation for the delay, an interim report on the progress to date, an estimate of the date of completion of the report and other necessary steps. If the request is granted, the University must file periodic progress reports as requested by the appropriate federal agency.

The provost will summarize the findings and communicate the findings and conclusions of the Committee and his/her judgment to the appropriate administrators, the respondent, the accuser, the Office of Scientific Inquiry and/or other appropriate federal agency(ies). He/She will retain a complete copy of the entire report and proceeding for three years as protected personnel related information. In addition, the University will undertake diligent efforts, as appropriate, to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when such allegations are not substantiated and also undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, made the allegations.

VIII. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES

If the investigation substantiates the allegations of misconduct in scientific research activities, the provost will initiate appropriate disciplinary procedures under existing policies and procedures applicable to the circumstances (PPMs 9-9 through 9-15). In addition to this, he/she will notify the appropriate federal agency and/or the Office of Scientific Inquiry of the final outcome of the investigation. This final report must describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom relevant information was obtained, the findings and conclusions of the Committee together with the grounds in support thereof and include the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions imposed by the institution.

IX. NOTIFICATION OF FEDERAL AGENCY

If federal funds are involved in the alleged misconduct, the provost will notify the relevant federal agency prior to the commencement of an investigation. At a minimum, the notification will include the name of the person against whom the allegations of misconduct have been made, the general nature of the allegations, and the federal application or grant number(s) directly involved.

At any stage of an inquiry or investigation, the appropriate federal agency must be informed by the provost if it is ascertained that any of the following conditions exists:

1. There is an immediate health hazard involved.

2. There is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment.

3. There is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the individual(s) who is the subject of the allegations as well as his/her co-investigators and associates, if any.

4. It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly.

5. There is a reasonable indication of a possible criminal violation.

In the last instance, notification must be made within 24 hours of obtaining the information. The provost will take whatever interim administrative action is necessary and appropriate to insure the protection of the University and the funds of any granting agency, and insure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are carried out. He/she may also notify any editors or publishers of research data, as may be appropriate under the circumstances.

X. NOTIFICATION AND CONSENT OF EMPLOYEES

The University will take reasonable steps to notify and inform its scientific and administrative faculty/staff/students of the policies and procedures which govern scientific research activities at the University and the importance of compliance with those policies and procedures. In furtherance of this end, the University will require each applicant for federal research funding for a sponsored project to sign a consent form indicating his/her receipt of a copy of this policy and willingness to comply with its terms.


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