C02.0 Academic Misconduct in Research and Scholarship
This policy outlines the steps to be taken in response to allegations of misconduct in research and scholarship. It describes a process for an examination of the facts, the protection of individual rights, and integration with other relevant review procedures – all under the general supervision at RIT of the Vice President for Research (VPR). This policy governs all faculty, staff, visiting scholars, scientists, and artists at RIT who have a written agreement with RIT to conduct research and scholarship at RIT; and students at RIT who propose or conduct research and scholarship.
II. Policy Statement
The Allegation means any good-faith written or oral statement of possible Research Misconduct communicated to the VPR.
That Complainant is the person who makes an allegation of Research Misconduct.
The Respondent is the person(s) against whom an allegation of Research Misconduct is directed and/or who is directed by the VPR to file a response. There can be more than one Respondent in any inquiry or investigation.
The Record shall refer to the Allegations, responses, documentation, and/or electronic information that is supplied, obtained, or reviewed by the VPR, or any investigative panel under this Policy. This information shall be maintained by the Office of the VPR in accordance with the provisions of RIT’s Record Management Policy (C22.0).
Any reference to days herein shall always mean calendar days; however, if the resulting calculation of days returns a due date falling on a weekend or a holiday on which RIT is closed, then that due date for purposes of this policy shall be the next business day on which RIT is open.
Conflict of interest, as it is used in this policy, is defined by policy C4.0 Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy.
B. Research Misconduct Definition.
Research Misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing or performing research, reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
Falsification means manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or selectively changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record, and doing so with the intent to falsify the research results.
Plagiarism means the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit or citation.
Research Misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
C. Other Forms of Misconduct
This policy addresses only Research Misconduct. Other behavior in the conduct or reporting of research and scholarship may occur that violates existing RIT policies, procedures, research-related contracts or non-disclosure agreements, federal or state regulations, including, but not limited to, those involving any type of harassment (see RIT Policy C06.0 and/or D19.0), human subjects or animal protections (see RIT Policy C05.0), or other norms of professional research behavior that threaten the integrity of research and scholarship at RIT, including failure to provide adequate citation to one’s own prior or concurrent works in research or scholarship where the writer(s) are required to note non-original use of the material. If the VPR receives any Allegation of these other forms of misconduct, the VPR shall review the Allegation and refer the matter to other appropriate office(s) at RIT pursuant to RIT Policy C0.0 Compliance Policy and Code of Ethical Conduct, or other appropriate RIT policy, and/or initially review the matter pursuant to Sections IV (A) or Section V (1) of this policy.
IV. Institution’s Duty to Ensure a Fair Process
Confidentiality of the Process. At all times during this process, all parties involved in an Allegation shall keep the process and proceedings confidential. Limited disclosures shall only be made to those inside or outside RIT whose administrative responsibility requires disclosure or if required to assist the parties in the process.
1. Role of the Vice President of Research (VPR) in this Policy.
The VPR shall have the responsibility of supervising the process of investigating Research Misconduct allegations. The VPR shall ensure the process is fair to all parties. Thus, on rare occasions, if all parties agree, the VPR has authority to modify reasonable deadlines or other procedural matters in this process, to maintain fairness. The VPR shall ensure that all parties involved in the process understand their role, the process, and their obligation to be impartial to all parties. The VPR shall ensure that any investigative panels engaged in this process have an orientation meeting that addresses panel procedures, report requirements, and mitigation of bias.
The VPR shall ensure that this policy and related procedures are consistent and compliant with the Federal Research Misconduct Policy provided by the Office of Research Integrity and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Interim Administrative Actions. At any stage of these proceedings the VPR shall have the authority on behalf of RIT to act to limit an immediate risk of liability or harm, subject to any restrictions imposed by applicable laws, regulations, and RIT policy. The VPR, in concurrence with the Provost, shall inform the affected parties in writing of the intent to perform specified necessary actions for the protection of human or animal subjects, students, faculty or staff, and the protection of the integrity of the research.
External Reporting. The VPR shall ensure any reports made by RIT under this policy are in compliance with state and federal regulations and other legally binding requirements of external sponsors. When externally sponsored research is involved, the Office of Sponsored Research Services shall be consulted regarding compliance and/or notification requirements of the external sponsor(s), and any other issues involving the research or RIT research records related to the allegations.
VPR Conflict of Interest. At any time in this process, if the VPR has a perceived conflict of interest in the Research Misconduct Allegation to be adjudicated, such that the conflict would appear to a neutral outside observer to reasonably threaten the VPR’s ability to impartially review the matter, the VPR shall inform the RIT Provost in writing of the conflict and remove themself from any role in the subsequent proceedings. In addition, if the Complainant or the Respondent believes that the VPR has a perceived or prima facia conflict of interest in the matter to be adjudicated, and the VPR has not already removed themself from this proceeding, either party may make a written request to the Provost (with notice to the VPR) to remove the VPR from their role in the proceedings. Such a request for removal shall require detailed justification and include any supporting documentation such that the Provost can decide whether a conflict exists. If the Provost decides no conflict exists, they shall inform the party making the request of this decision and its basis, in writing, within ten days of receiving the request. If the Provost decides a conflict exists, they shall notify both parties of this decision.
If the VPR steps down or the Provost decides the VPR has a conflict of interest, the Provost shall appoint the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs to assume the role of the VPR in this policy and move forward with this proceeding pursuant to this policy. If there is a perceived conflict of interest regarding the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs assuming the supervision of this proceeding, the Provost shall appoint another delegate to assume the VPR’s role in this proceeding. The Provost may also appoint a member of the VPR’s staff to act as a technical administrative specialist to assist their delegate in compliance with this Policy and its Administrative Procedures.
Records. The VPR shall be responsible for ensuring that a Record is kept of all documents and other materials submitted, requested, or reviewed by the VPR or any panels, and that this Record is maintained pursuant to the RIT Records Management Policy (C22.0).
2. Admission and Remedy by the Respondent.
If the Respondent admits in writing to the Research Misconduct alleged in the complaint, and remedies the perceived Research Misconduct in a way that is agreeable to both the Complainant and the VPR, there shall be no need for further inquiry or investigative proceedings. If a Respondent chooses to admit to the Research Misconduct after a Preliminary Inquiry Panel has begun deliberations, the VPR shall stay the panel’s proceedings until the matter is resolved. While such admission may shorten steps in this process and negate the need for the Preliminary Inquiry Panel or Full Investigative Panel, the Final Determination must still be carried out. If this situation occurs, the Complainant shall be informed in writing of this resolution but will not be provided a copy of the misconduct findings agreed and admitted to by the Respondent.
3. Respondent Leaving RIT.
If a Respondent leaves RIT at any time before a complaint is resolved, the University has a responsibility, under the purview of this policy, to continue the examination of the allegations and reach a conclusion regarding the complaint. As part of RIT’s cooperation with the processes of other involved institutions, the VPR may choose to share information discovered in the RIT process with those other institutions only after the complaint has been formally resolved and all due-processes within the purview of this policy have been followed and concluded.
V. Research Misconduct Process
The Research Misconduct evaluation process consists of five potential steps: (1) Initial Evaluation of the Complaint, (2) Preliminary Inquiry Panel, (3) Full Investigation Panel, (4) Appeal, and (5) Final Determination.
1. Initial Evaluation of the Complaint 140
The VPR shall review any Allegation of Research Misconduct or information otherwise made known to the VPR regarding alleged Research Misconduct. The VPR also may initiate their own complaint regarding alleged Research Misconduct. In this stage, the VPR shall review any relevant information, request additional information from 144 any relevant source(s) on the matter, and determine whether the Allegation or information fall 145 within the RIT definition of Research Misconduct.
Complaint Does Not Meet the RIT Standard of Research Misconduct. If the VPR determines that the complaint does not meet the threshold standard of Research Misconduct, the VPR shall inform the Complainant of this decision in writing, terminate the proceeding consistent with this policy, and maintain the record of these proceedings.
Other Policy Violations. If the VPR believes there has been some other policy violation(s), apart from the RIT definition of Research Misconduct, the VPR shall refer the alleged violation(s) to the appropriate RIT office or division.
Initial Response from Respondent. If the VPR determines the Allegation or information fall within the definition of Research Misconduct, then the applicable party or parties (hereafter, Respondent) shall be notified in writing. The Respondent shall be given a copy of this policy, a copy of the Complainant’s statement of allegation, with personally identifiable information withheld, , and be requested to respond to the allegation in writing along with any relevant documentation to the VPR within 20 days.
VPR Initial Determination. The VPR shall determine whether the Allegation or complaint, and materials received from the Respondent, could reasonably fall within the definition of Research Misconduct. If they do not, then the VPR shall inform the Respondent and Complainant of this decision in writing, terminate this proceeding consistent with this policy, and maintain the record of these proceedings. If the VPR determines that the materials do reasonably fall within the definition of Research Misconduct, the proceedings continue to the Preliminary Inquiry Panel phase.
2. Preliminary Inquiry Panel
Convening the Panel. The VPR shall convene a Preliminary Inquiry Panel (PIP) within 30 days of receipt of the Respondent’s response to the allegation unless the Agreement to Remedy was satisfactory. The purpose of the PIP is to determine whether a full investigation of the complaint is warranted.
Composition of the Panel. The PIP shall consist of three individuals, appointed by the VPR in concurrence with the Provost, who neither have a conflict of interest nor bias pertinent to the case, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation. All panel members shall be tenured faculty members from the RIT community. The PIP shall elect a chair from its members who is responsible for scheduling meetings, serving as contact for the committee, and delivering the committee’s final report.
Independence of the Panel. The VPR shall not be involved in nor be made privy to the deliberations of the PIP, nor attempt to influence the deliberations of the PIP. However, the PIP may request that the VPR designate an employee of the VPR or Office of Sponsored Research Services to provide administrative and technical procedural assistance to the panel and specifically assist in documenting the Record.
Avoiding Conflict of Interest and Bias. The VPR shall notify the Respondent of the proposed PIP membership 10 days before convening the panel. If the Respondent submits a written objection within 5 days to any proposed member of the PIP based on conflict of interest or apparent bias pertinent to the case, the VPR shall determine in concurrence with the Provost whether or not to replace the challenged member with a qualified substitute.
Charging the Preliminary Inquiry Panel. The VPR shall charge the PIP and provide them a copy of the Record of the proceeding so far, including the Complaint and supporting documentation, the Respondent’s filing and supporting documentation, and any other relevant materials the VPR obtained for the Record. If the PIP determines that it needs further information to fully answer the questions before it, the panel chair shall communicate in writing to the VPR an itemization of the information it seeks. The VPR shall make a written request to the appropriate parties or offices for this information on the PIP’s behalf. Subsequently, the PIP shall review the complete Record provided by the VPR and determine whether the panel finds by a preponderance of the evidence and by majority vote that:
the Record states facts that reasonably fall within the definition of Research Misconduct;
the conduct was not the result of honest error or differences of opinion but rather by acts or omission that were conducted either intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
the allegations are deemed to have substance such that there is sufficient cause to warrant a Full Investigative Panel to review the matter.
Preliminary Inquiry Panel Written Report. The PIP shall have 30 days to review the matter and provide a written report to the VPR with its conclusions and reasoning.
Response to the Report. The VPR shall disseminate a copy of the PIP report to the Respondent. The Respondent may submit written comments regarding the report to the VPR and those comments shall become part of the Record.
Termination of Proceedings. If the PIP determines that the complaint does not meet thresholds a), b), and c) above, the VPR shall inform the Respondent and Complainant of this decision in writing, terminate the proceeding consistent with this policy and maintain the Record of the proceedings.
Continuation of Proceedings. If the PIP determines that the complaint meets thresholds a), b) and c) above, the proceedings shall move to the Full Investigation Panel phase. Within 30 days of the VPR’s receipt of the PIP report, the VPR shall inform the Respondent and Complainant of this continuation in writing. The VPR shall determine whether any sponsor notifications are required.
3. Full Investigation Panel
Convening the Panel. The VPR shall in concurrence with the Provost appoint five members to a Full Investigation Panel (FIP) in consultation with the Chair of Academic Senate. The VPR shall convene the FIP within 30 days of receipt of the PIP report that recommends continuation of the proceedings.
Composition of the Panel. The FIP shall consist of individuals who neither have a conflict of interest nor apparent bias pertinent to the case, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation. All panel members shall be tenured faculty members from the RIT community. There shall be no overlap of membership from the PIP on the FIP for the same Research Misconduct matter.
Avoiding Conflict of Interest and Bias. The VPR shall notify the Respondent of the proposed panel membership at least 10 days before convening the panel. If the Respondent submits a written objection to any proposed member of the FIP based on conflict of interest or apparent bias pertinent to the case within 5 days, the VPR shall determine in concurrence with the Provost whether or not to replace the challenged member with a qualified substitute in consultation with the Chair of Academic Senate.
Charging the Panel. The FIP panel’s charge is to fully investigate and document the factual records surrounding the allegation, examine and evaluate the Record, and to determine whether Research Misconduct has taken place as alleged, or whether any other Research Misconduct by the Respondent has occurred, and to assess the extent and consequences of any Research Misconduct it finds. If the FIP determines that it needs further information to fully answer the questions before it, the panel chair shall communicate in writing to the VPR an itemization of the information it seeks. The VPR shall make a written request to the appropriate parties or offices for this information on the FIP’s behalf, possibly including information from expert consultants outside of the RIT community.
Panel Chair. The panel shall elect a tenured faculty member chair who shall organize and lead any meetings, serve as contact for the committee, and deliver the committee’s final report.
Independence of Panel. The VPR shall not be involved in nor be made privy to the deliberations of the FIP, nor attempt to influence the deliberations of the FIP. However, the FIP may request that the VPR designate an employee of the VPR or Office of Sponsored Research Services to provide administrative and technical procedural assistance to the panel and specifically assist in documenting the Record.
Report Timeline. From the date the FIP is charged by the VPR, the panel shall have 75 days to provide a written report to the VPR. If the FIP requires more than 75 days to complete its investigation and produce its report, it must petition the VPR for an extension and provide reasons to justify the extension.
Full Investigative Panel Written Report. This report shall set forth in detail all the documents and evidence reviewed, as well as all accepted facts and conclusions, and disputed facts and conclusions considered by the FIP. The FIP shall not make a recommendation regarding any disciplinary actions or disposition of the matter by RIT as part of its final report.
Opportunity for Respondent to Respond. After the FIP submits its report to the VPR, the Respondent shall be given 10 days to examine the report, and may choose to provide additional written responses or comments to the VPR. These comments shall become part of the Record of the proceedings.
Communication of Panel Findings. The VPR shall disseminate a copy of the FIP’s report, signed by all the members, to the Respondent and Complainant. The VPR shall inform the Complainant and the chairperson of the department or unit where the Respondent works of the FIP’s decision. The VPR and Sponsored Research Services (SRS) shall determine, if necessary, whether RIT is required to inform any sponsors or other entities of the outcome of the investigation.
Panel Decision Finding No Research Misconduct. If the FIP does not by secret vote with a 4 out of 5 vote, by a preponderance of the evidence, determine that there was Research Misconduct, they shall so state and support their reasoning by specific citation to the Record in their report to the VPR. The review of the matter under this policy shall then be terminated.
Panel Decision Finding Research Misconduct. If the FIP determines by secret vote with a 4 out of 5 vote, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Research Misconduct as defined under this policy has occurred, they shall so state and support their reasoning by specific citations to the Record in their report to the VPR.
4. Respondent’s Right to Appeal.
If a finding of Research Misconduct is determined by the FIP, the Respondent is allowed to appeal to the Provost. The Respondent shall have 10 days after being informed of the FIP’s findings to file a written appeal to the Provost. The Appeal shall be limited to the issue of a failure of the FIP to review all the relevant materials that were given to the panel or to follow appropriate procedures in the investigation.
Provost’s Decision on the Appeal. The Provost shall make a decision regarding the appeal, in writing, within 10 days of the receipt of the appeal. If the Provost denies the appeal, they shall do so in a written statement to the Respondent, copying the VPR, and the matter shall proceed to the Final Determination of the Investigation. If the Provost finds that there was a failure to follow appropriate procedures or a failure to engage all relevant materials, they may approve the appeal. The Provost shall then return the case to the same Full Investigative Panel with written instructions to review certain facts or procedures, or to take additional steps necessary to correct any defects in the investigative process, or to rehear or reconsider evidence. No new evidence may be introduced during this process unless approved by the Provost.
5. Final Determination of the Investigation
Finding of No Research Misconduct.
Restoring the Reputation of Respondent. If the FIP fails to determine that Research Misconduct occurred, reasonable effort must be made by RIT to restore the reputation of the Respondent in cooperation with the Respondent. However, if other policy violations appear to be unresolved, the VPR may refer such allegations to other RIT offices for further review.
Finding of Research Misconduct.
Appropriate Sanctions. If the FIP determined that Research Misconduct occurred, and an appeal was waived or denied, the VPR, in consultation and agreement with the Provost, shall determine appropriate sanctions. The sanctions that are within the purview of the VPR include: (1) indefinitely or temporarily suspending or terminating a research project; (2) removing one or more of the researchers from a research project; (3) replacing research project faculty, staff or students on a project or ordering supervisory faculty or staff be added to a research project; (4) limiting any RIT faculty, staff, or student, or any other party’s ability to work on aspects of a specific research project at RIT, all research projects at RIT, submit proposals for externally sponsored research at RIT, or be a PI for externally sponsored research at RIT; (5) limiting faculty, staff, or students’ ability to publish on aspects of a research project; (6) directing RIT to terminate all or some ability for researchers to charge expenses to a project account; (7) directing other RIT offices to withhold non-statutorily required payments to an individual or an entity; (8) directing other RIT offices that a non-statutorily required payment to a third party be cancelled; (9) directing that a proposal submitted to a sponsor be withdrawn, or requesting other applicable RIT offices to refund monies to a sponsor; or (10) directing RIT faculty, staff, or students to complete applicable training before certain research activities can occur or be continued.
If sanctions are to occur that are beyond those within the purview of the VPR, they shall be undertaken by the applicable office(s) at RIT after referral by the VPR, consistent with all other applicable RIT policies, timelines, and applicable requirements. Such sanctions, may include, but are not limited to, termination of employment or student status, revocation of tenure or degrees granted, formal reprimand or loss of certain privileges at the University, loss of salary, title, or rank, or access to University or research support services.
All decisions regarding sanctions are subject to RIT Policy E24.0 Faculty Grievance Policy, RIT Policy E30.0 Staff Grievance Policy, and/or RIT Policy D18.0, as applicable.
Notification to Respondent Regarding Sanctions. The VPR shall notify the Respondent of the determined sanctions, in writing, within 15 days of the expiration of the appeal period, or upon denial of any appeal.
Other Notifications. The VPR shall determine whether any agencies sponsoring the research, scholarly journals or publications, or other parties must be notified about the Research Misconduct outcome, including all journals in which fabricated, falsified, or plagiarized data or text may have been published or to which such data or text may have been submitted.
If other policy violations appear to be unresolved, the VPR may refer such allegations to other RIT offices for further review.
VI. Sanctions Against Allegations Not in Good Faith or Retaliatory Actions
Allegations Not Made in Good Faith. Good faith herein requires an individual to have an honest and reasonable belief that Research Misconduct has occurred. Should the VPR, the Preliminary Inquiry Panel, or the Full Investigation Panel determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the Allegations of Research Misconduct were not made in good faith, the evidence shall be stated in writing and the individual(s) making the Allegations shall be referred by the VPR to the applicable office(s) governing faculty, staff or student conduct for investigation and possible disciplinary actions, for violations of this RIT policy, or other applicable RIT policies.
Protecting the Positions and Reputation of Those Making Good Faith Allegations. If the VPR determines any individual is perceived to have engaged in retaliatory action against those making a good faith allegation of Research Misconduct, those individuals shall themselves be subject to referral to the applicable office(s) governing faculty, staff, or student conduct at RIT for investigation of violation of this and/or other relevant policies at RIT.
Responsible Office: The Office of the Vice President for Research
Effective Date: Approved April 10, 1991
Revised December 11, 1991
Edited to correct titles June 2008
Edited August, 2010
Revisions approved by University Council February 2, 2022