C02.0 Misconduct in Research and Scholarship
Faculty and the administration of universities are responsible for maintaining the highest level of intellectual integrity and conduct in the areas of research and scholarship for their faculty, administrators, students and staff, visiting scientists and scholars, and all others under the auspices of the university. In order to deal with allegations of misconduct, it is necessary to have published policies and procedures which, while addressing the issue of misconduct, do not discourage innovation and creativity.
These procedures may have four stages:
An inquiry to determine whether the allegation or related issues warrant further investigation,
An investigation to collect and thoroughly examine evidence when warranted,
A formal finding,
Appropriate disposition of the matter.
Institutions must ensure due process to all parties.
The mission of a higher educational institution demands of faculty, staff and students the highest possible dedication to ethical standards by anyone engaged in research, development, or scholarship. Misconduct in scholarship and research by any member of the Rochester Institute of Technology community threatens the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity which are the basis of a scholarly community.
It is important to note that any new policies and procedures to deal with allegations of violations of the integrity of research must be consistent with and incorporated into existing institutional policies and procedures for employment and academic conduct. Rochester Institute of Technology must be vigilant to provide all parties with appropriate due process. It is reasonable to expect that different situations may require specific accommodations to insure the protection of the rights of all involved individuals. Rochester Institute of Technology should be alert to possible harm to any parties throughout the process.
This policy outlines the steps to be taken in response to all allegations of misconduct in scholarship and research. It describes a process for an objective examination of the facts, protection of individual rights, and integration with other relevant review procedures, all under the general supervision of the vice president for research. The procedures outlined are guidelines only and may be adjusted as needed to accommodate special circumstances (e.g. allegations which originate outside the university). They will also comply with the reporting and other requirements of external sponsors, particularly as they relate to the time of reporting possible misconduct. When externally sponsored research is involved, the Office of Sponsored Research Services shall be consulted regarding compliance with the requirements of the external sponsor(s).
Misconduct in research, research training, or scholarship is defined as the fabrication or falsification of data (such as deceptively selective reporting, including the purposeful omission of conflicting data with the intent to falsify results), plagiarism (the misappropriation of the ideas or works of others, including the unauthorized use of privileged information, however obtained) or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted in the scholarly community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activity. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. Material failure to comply with federal requirements for the protection of researchers, human subjects, or the public, or for ensuring the welfare of laboratory animals, is also considered misconduct under the federal regulations governing the conduct of research; offenses of this type may also be investigated using the procedures in this section.
Written and signed allegations together with any supporting documentation of misconduct by faculty, staff, visiting scientists and scholars, students and all others under the auspices of the Rochester Institute of Technology should be sent directly to the vice president for research. If the vice president for research determines that the concern is properly addressed through policies and procedures designed to deal with misconduct in research, the inquiry and investigative procedures should be discussed with the individual who has questions about the integrity of a research project. If the individual chooses not to make a formal allegation but the vice president for research believes there is sufficient cause to warrant an inquiry, the matter should be pursued; in such a case, there is no "complainant" for the purposes of this document. Some concerns brought to the vice president for research's attention may not fall within the scope of the policies and procedures developed to address misconduct. Regardless of the nature of the concern, the vice president for research should seek to assist in its resolution through whatever institutional processes may be appropriate to the particular case, such as referral to the department chairman, the Department of Human Resources, or the faculty grievance procedure.
Even if the respondent leaves the university before the case is resolved, the university has a responsibility to continue the examination of the allegations and reach a conclusion. Further, Rochester Institute of Technology should cooperate with the processes of other involved institutions to resolve such questions. The vice president for research shall have the responsibility for determining that the procedures utilized and the reports made are in compliance with state and federal regulations and with sponsor guidelines. If the vice president for research determines that the allegations fall within the definition of misconduct, the vice president for research will immediately initiate an inquiry. The respondent will be informed of the procedure and invited to respond. The chairperson of the department or unit where the member of the university community works, as well as the appropriate dean or responsible administrative officer, will be notified, in confidence, at the same time. To insure complete fairness, if the complainant or the respondent believes that the vice president for research has a conflict of interest in the matter to be adjudicated, and the vice president for research has not already stepped aside, either may make a written request to the president to appoint a substitute for the vice president for research's role in the procedure. Upon receiving a written request, the president will determine whether the vice president for research should be replaced in this specific matter and, if so, by whom. Notwithstanding any other provision of this policy, if the respondent at any time shall admit an offense and agree to sanctions which are acceptable to the vice president for research or the designated replacement for the vice president for research, there shall be no need for further proceedings outlined in Sections D and E. However, the Final Determination Procedures in Section G must be carried out.
Preliminary Inquiry Procedures
Whenever an allegation or complaint involving the possibility of misconduct is made, the vice president for research should initiate an inquiry -- the first step of the review process. In the inquiry stage, factual information is gathered and expeditiously reviewed to determine if an investigation of the charge is warranted. An inquiry is not a formal hearing; it is designated to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from frivolous, unjustified, or clearly mistaken allegations. The inquiry will be carried out in a manner that affords the respondent written notice of the charges and an opportunity to be heard, while at the same time asking to preserve the confidentiality of the inquiry proceedings.
A preliminary inquiry shall be conducted by a panel of three members of an Ad Hoc Committee on Misconduct in Research. It is the responsibility of the vice president for research to ensure that the inquiry is conducted in a fair and just manner. This Ad Hoc Committee will be appointed by the vice president for research in consultation with the Academic Senate. Individuals chosen to assist in the inquiry process should have no real or apparent conflicts of interest bearing on the case in question. They should be unbiased, and have appropriate backgrounds for judging the issues being raised.
The respondent and complainant may have counsel present at all times to speak on their behalf, provided such counsel is a member of the Rochester Institute of Technology community and is not a lawyer admitted to practice. The panel shall elect its chair. The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation. The membership of the panel should include sufficient expertise to assure an understanding of the issues involved in the allegations. The panel may be enlarged by the vice president for research in consultation with the Academic Senate to include one or more individuals from other institutions.
The vice president for research should assume responsibility for disseminating the information to the appropriate individuals. Normally notification should be made in writing and copies filed in the office of the vice president for research. The safety and security of all documents must be assured.
When the inquiry is initiated, the respondent should be reminded of the obligation to cooperate by providing material necessary to conduct the inquiry. Uncooperative behavior may result in an immediate investigation and other institutional sanctions.
Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations of misconduct, Rochester Institute of Technology should strive to resolve cases expeditiously. Deadlines should be established to facilitate the process. It is recommended that the inquiry phase be completed within thirty (30) days of the initial written notification of the respondent. A 30-day period is consistent with the 1986 PHS (Public Health Service) guidelines and the 1987 NSF (National Science Foundation) regulations. If the committee anticipates that the established deadline cannot be met, a report citing the reasons for the delay and progress to date should be submitted for the record and the respondent and appropriately involved individuals should be informed. The respondent is expected to permit access to appropriate documents that are relevant to the proceedings. Within thirty (30) days after the date of the written complaint, the panel will prepare a written report of the preliminary inquiry which details the evidence reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and presents the conclusions reached. The report will be given to the vice president for research. The respondent will also be given a copy of the report. The respondent may make written comments on the report, and those comments will become part of the record.
Full Investigation Procedures
If the inquiry panel concludes, by majority vote, that a full investigation is warranted, such an investigation will be initiated within thirty (30) days of the completion of the written report of the preliminary inquiry and any sponsoring agency or agencies will be notified of the decision to proceed. A new panel of five members will be appointed by the vice president for research in consultation with the Academic Senate. The panel shall elect its chair. The guidelines for membership of the new panel shall be the same as for the inquiry committee, but there should be no overlap of membership. The investigation will normally include examination of all documentation, including, but not limited to, relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. The respondent will have five working days to review the documentation. Wherever possible, interviews should be conducted with all involved in making the allegations or against whom allegations are made, as well as with others who might have relevant information. The respondent and complainant may have counsel present at all times to speak on their behalf, provided such counsel is a member of the Rochester Institute of Technology community and is not a lawyer admitted to practice. The investigation need not be limited to an examination of the particular misconduct in research or in scholarship alleged, but, with prior notice to respondent and an opportunity to be heard, can be broadened to include other research or scholarship. Within sixty (60) days after initiation of the investigation, the panel will submit, to the vice president for research, detailed documentation to substantiate the findings of the investigation.
Rochester Institute of Technology will provide respondents with an additional appeals process at this point through a written appeal of the investigative committee's decision. Appeals should be limited to failure to follow appropriate procedures in the investigation or arbitrary and capricious decision making. New evidence may warrant a new investigation. An appeal to the president can be made within ten (10) working days after a finding has been made. The president's decision is final.
Final Determination Procedures
As soon as the alleged misconduct is either substantiated or judged to be not substantiated, any agency or agencies sponsoring the research or scholarly activity must be notified by the vice president for research. If the investigation determines that misconduct did not occur, efforts must be made to restore the reputation of the respondent. If the investigation determines that the misconduct did occur, the full investigative panel may make recommendations to the vice president for research as to the disposition of the matter. The vice president for research shall notify all journals in which fabricated, falsified, or misappropriated data have been published, or to which such data have been submitted. If disciplinary action is recommended, the vice president for research will determine the final disposition.
Sanctions Against Inappropriate Retaliatory Actions
Any member of the university determined to have taken retaliatory action against any person (s) making, in good faith, an allegation of misconduct may also be subject to disciplinary action. Should either the inquiry or the investigation show that the allegations of misconduct were not made in good faith, the individual(s) making the allegations may be subject to disciplinary actions including dismissal or expulsion.
This policy may be amended from time to time in accordance with applicable governance procedures of Rochester Institute of Technology.
Approved April 10, 1991
Last revised December 11, 1991
Edited to correct titles June 2008
Edited August, 2010