Scientific Misconduct

No. 4-33 Rev. Date 11-08-05







To define a process by which scientific misconduct and fraud are investigated and managed. This policy is in concert with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.




National Science Foundation (NSF) document titled "Misconduct in Science & Engineering Research"

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regulations 42 CFR Part 50 published in the Federal Register Tuesday, August 8, 1989

WSU Policy 9-1


Scientific misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those 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.

Scientific misconduct is retaliation of any kind against a person who, acting in good faith, reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct.

An inquiry consists of preliminary information-gathering and preliminary fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or an apparent instance of misconduct has substance. The outcome of an inquiry is a determination as to whether or not an investigation is to be conducted.

An investigation is a formal examination and evaluation of relevant facts to determine whether or not misconduct has taken place.


A. Faculty members are entitled to due process. In general, due process seeks a clear, orderly and fair way of rendering decisions by providing procedural safeguards or procedural guarantees. Due process furnishes the structure for a wise and fair administration of justice in institutions of higher learning. Complaints or charges requiring due process may be originated by an individual or group (accuser) from outside or or from within the academic community, yet the process itself involves the academic community. The details of due process are spelled out in details in WSU Policy 9-1.

B. Individuals have a responsibility to report any scientific misconduct. Any individuals who believe an act of scientific misconduct has occurred or is occurring within the scope of work on a sponsored project, should notify the Provost and inform OSP.

C. Upon receipt of an allegation of scientific misconduct, the Provost shall immediately begin an inquiry. This inquiry is to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted.

D. Investigation procedures: If the inquiry leads to the conclusion than an investigation is necessary, it will be guided by the following considerations:

1. The investigative process must be thorough, fair and protective of the confidentiality and reputations of all participants.

2. An investigation should normally include an examination of all documentation, including but not limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls.

3. Those making accusations, those accused, and those who may have information related to the matter should be interviewed. Complete written summaries of each interview should be provided to the individual being questioned, and any comments should be appended to the summary, or reflected in a revised summary if the interviewer agrees.

E. Notification to external agencies: In the event that an investigation establishes scientific misconduct, the Provost, with the assistance of OSP, shall notify the sponsoring agency.

F. Institutional administrative actions:

1. WSU will take appropriate administrative actions against individuals when an allegation of misconduct has been substantiated. If the Provost determines that the alleged misconduct is substantiated by the findings, he or she will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with University Counsel.

2. The actions may include: withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where scientific misconduct was found, removal of the responsible persons from the particular project, letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, suspension, salary reduction, initiation of steps leading to possible rank reduction or termination of employment, and restitution of funds as appropriate.