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Academic Policy

19.048:  Fraud and Misconduct in Professional Research

Status:Approved on June 27, 1997Signatures and dates
on archival copy
Effective:when approved 
Issued by:Carol Blum 
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Numeric Index Policy and Procedure Alphabetical Index
  1. Purpose

    To establish an administrative process for dealing with misconduct in research, or allegations thereof, so that the integrity of work conducted at Ohio University is maintained, and so that Ohio University complies with federal regulations for institutional oversight of scientific misconduct, specifically as set forth in 42CFR50 for PHS supported research, particularly 42CFR50.103(d)(13,) and 45CFR689 for NSF supported research.

  2. Definitions

    1. Misconduct in research

      The term misconduct in research as stated in the aforementioned regulations and for the purposes of this policy, means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error, or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

    2. Inquiry

      The term inquiry, as stated in the aforementioned regulations and for the purpose of this policy, means information gathering and initial fact finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation.

    3. Investigation

      The term investigation, as stated in the aforementioned regulations and for the purposes of this policy, means formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred.

    4. Complainant

      The term complainant means the individual who makes the allegation.

    5. Respondent

      The term respondent means the individual against whom the allegation has been made.

    6. Whistleblower

      The term whistleblower refers to a university employee who, in good faith, makes an allegation of wrong doing.

  3. Policy Statement

    Misconduct in research is not consistent with the principles which Ohio University follows in fulfilling its mission of teaching, research, and public service, and will not be tolerated. If allegations of such misconduct are raised, the institution shall conduct a prompt and thorough investigation and impose appropriate sanctions when the allegation of misconduct has been sustained. Throughout the process the institution will strive to protect due process rights of those accused and, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those who in good faith report apparent misconduct.

  4. Implementation

    Implementation of this policy shall be performed in a manner consistent with the aforementioned regulations, specifically:

  5. Reporting

    Allegations of fraud or misconduct in research, scholarship or creative activity will be presented to the vice president for research.

  6. Pre-inquiry

    The vice president for research or his or her designee will conduct a pre-inquiry, or informal review to assist the complainant to formulate as clearly as possible the exact nature of the allegation and to determine if an allegation has any reasonable basis before beginning a formal process of review. In those cases involving allegations that pose serious threats to the health or welfare of human subjects or other involved persons, a pre-inquiry review will be omitted. Following informal review with the respondent, if the vice president or his or her designee determines that the allegation has no merit or does not fall under the definition of misconduct in research, the complainant and respondent will be notified of that decision.

  7. Inquiry

    An inquiry procedure shall be initiated immediately upon completion of the pre-inquiry review or, in cases involving the health or welfare of individuals, immediately upon receipt of an allegation of misconduct in research. The vice president for research will notify the respondent as soon as possible but no later than five days from receipt of the complaint or completion of the pre-inquiry review. This notification will be in writing and shall mark the beginning of the formal inquiry. At the time of notification, all relevant research records and materials will be secured by the office of the vice president for research and the dean of the respondent's college will be notified of the allegation. If an allegation of research misconduct is referred to Ohio university by a federal agency, the university will review the referral and, if appropriate, move directly into the investigation procedures outlined elsewhere in this policy.

    The vice president for research, in consultation with the professional relations committee of the faculty senate or other representative committee appropriate to the employment status of the respondent, shall appoint a panel and the chair of that panel to conduct an inquiry to determine if a full investigation is warranted. The panel shall consist of no fewer than three persons. The panel should include not only persons who have expertise in the discipline of the respondent(s), but also at least one other, unrelated scholarly discipline, and a member of rank or position similar to the respondent. Support staff will be provided by the vice president's office. The inquiry shall be completed and a written report submitted to the vice president for research within thirty calendar days from the date of notification to the respondent of the allegation of misconduct.

    The inquiry is the initial stage of formal information-gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether there is sufficient credible evidence of misconduct to warrant a full-scale investigation. The written report shall state what evidence was reviewed, summarize relevant interviews, and include conclusions of the inquiry. The panel will have access to and the assistance of all units or offices at the university in conducting its review. Contact with experts or witnesses outside the university will be authorized by the chair of the panel and made by the staff members assisting the panel. The respondent(s) will be interviewed as a part of the inquiry process and shall be given a copy of the report of inquiry. If they comment on that report, their comments will be made a part of the record. If the inquiry takes longer than thirty days to complete, the record of the inquiry shall include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the thirty day period.

    The panel shall maintain sufficiently detailed documentation of inquiries to permit a later assessment of the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted, if necessary. The documentation will be delivered to the vice president for research at the conclusion of the inquiry for maintenance in a secure manner for a period of at least three years after the termination of the inquiry.

    Within ten days following the completion of the inquiry, the vice president for research will review the recommendations of the inquiry panel and the written comments of respondent, if any are made, and determine, in consultation with the provost, whether to conduct an investigation, drop the matter, or pursue some other appropriate action. The dean of the respondent's college will be notified of the decision of the vice president. In cases where there are procedural or bias challenges or other problems identified in the inquiry process, the university may elect to proceed with an investigation or pursue other appropriate remedies, on advice of university counsel and in consultation with any affected federal agency. The course of action chosen will be reported to the respondent. An institutional settlement at the inquiry stage cannot bind the federal government.

  8. Investigation

    An investigation shall be initiated within thirty days of the determination by the vice president for research to proceed with the investigation. The vice president for research will notify the respondent and any federal agency that is providing support for research identified in the allegation of the university's decision to initiate an investigation. This notification will be written and will delineate the allegation of misconduct. In consultation with the professional relations committee of the faculty senate or other representative committee appropriate to the employment status of the respondent, the vice president for research shall appoint a committee of no fewer than five persons to conduct the investigation, and shall designate one of them as the chair. The committee shall include not only persons who have expertise in the disciplines of the respondent(s), but also at least one other, unrelated scholarly discipline, and a member of rank or position similar to the respondent. Support staff will be provided by the vice president's office. The committee shall be authorized to secure necessary and appropriate expertise from Ohio university and elsewhere, to augment the expertise represented by the committee membership. The committee will have access to and the assistance of all units or offices at the university in conducting its review. The vice president for research will take appropriate interim administrative actions to protect any federal funds involved in the allegation and insure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are carried out.

    The investigation is the formal review of an allegation of misconduct, with a formal examination and evaluation of relevant facts, to draw a conclusion about whether the evidence persuasively supports a finding that misconduct has occurred. The investigation normally will include examination of documentation, including the report of the inquiry panel, relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. The respondent(s) will be interviewed as part of the investigative process. Contact with experts or witnesses outside the university will be authorized by the chair of the committee and made by the staff members assisting the committee. Whenever possible, interviews should be conducted of all individuals involved, including the complainant and other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations; summaries of these interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file.

    An investigation should ordinarily be completed within ninety days of its initiation, including conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, and making that report available for comment by the respondent. The report, along with all documentation used in the investigation, and any comments provided by the respondent(s), shall be delivered to the vice president for research immediately upon completion.

    The vice president for research will review the report, all relevant documentation and any comments from the respondent(s), and forward the report with his or her recommendations to the provost for appropriate action. The provost, following review of the findings and recommendations with the respondent, shall determine what disposition to make of the case. The dean of the respondent's college will be informed of the provost's decision. The report of the investigation, and comments from the respondents, and the decision of the provost with regard to sanctions will be forwarded to any appropriate funding agency.

  9. Appeal

    1. Appeal procedure

      An appeal of the decision of the provost may be made by the respondent by petition to the professional relations committee of the faculty senate or other grievance committee appropriate to the employment status of the respondent(s). The appeal must be submitted in writing within fifteen days of notification and is restricted to the body of evidence already presented. The grounds for appeal are limited to failure to follow appropriate procedures in the investigation or arbitrary and capricious decision making. The grievance committee shall submit its recommendations to the president within fifteen days of notification and the president will make the final determination on the appeal and allegation.

    2. Due process considerations

      Precautions shall be taken against real or apparent conflicts of interest on the part of those involved in the inquiry or investigation. Diligent efforts, as appropriate, shall be undertaken to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed, and to undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those who, in good faith, make the allegations. In particular:

      1. The individual(s) against whom the allegation of scientific misconduct has been made shall be afforded prompt and thorough investigation, confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible under Ohio law, and an opportunity to comment on allegations and findings of the inquiry and/or the investigation before recommendations are made.

      2. It is the obligation of every employee at Ohio University to cooperate, in good faith, with inquires and investigations of possible misconduct. The privacy of those who in good faith report the apparent misconduct in research shall be protected to the maximum extent possible.

      3. It is the responsibility of the university to undertake diligent efforts, as appropriate, to restore the reputation(s) of the respondent(s) when allegations are not confirmed. These efforts may include notification of the finds to all agencies, sponsors, or other entities or individuals initially informed of the inquiry and/or investigation.

  10. Reports

    The university will comply with all reporting requirements concerning scientific misconduct on federally supported research. Project-specific information on such requirements is maintained in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

  11. Retaliation complaints

    For purposes of responding to whistleblower retaliation complaints, the vice president for research and graduate studies will be the university official responsible for establishing and implementing policies consistent with 42CFR50.103(d)(13) and the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) Guidelines for Institutions and Whistleblowers: Responding to Possible Retaliation Against Whistleblowers in Extramural Research (November 20, 1995) and will serve as the university's liaison to ORI. If the involvement of the vice president for research and graduate studies creates a real or apparent conflict of interest with the university's obligation to protect good faith whistleblowers, the president shall appoint a substitute responsible official who has no conflict of interest.

    A whistleblower who wishes to receive the procedural protection described by the ORI Guidelines shall file his or her retaliation complaint with the vice president for research and graduate studies within 180 days from the date the whistleblower became aware or should have become aware of the alleged adverse action.

    The university shall review and resolve all whistleblowers retaliation complaints in conformity with the processes outlined in the ORI Guidelines including notification to the whistleblower of the receipt of the complaint within ten (10) working days, and shall resolve the complaint within 180 days after receipt of the complaint. If the university fails to respond to the complaint within fifteen (15) days, the whistleblower may file the retaliation complaint directly with ORI.



Administrative Policy Manual

Andrea Swart revised this page
(http://www.ohio.edu/policy/19-048.html)
on May 2, 2017.
policy@ohio.edu

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