Integrity in Research and Scholarly Activity
The Faculty of the College supports the policy that honesty and integrity are essential in all creative and scholarly activity and in the public utterances of results of these endeavors. To promote this policy, attention of the College community must be directed to the following issues:
Encouragement of Intellectual Honesty
Nothing can substitute for a pervasive attitude of intellectual honesty in the College environment. A commitment to the ethical standards of scholarly endeavors by all its practitioners is absolutely essential. At a minimum these standards include: open communications, submission of work for peer review, avoidance of conflict of interest, and commitment to self-regulation. Although security classification (governmental or private) may, in some instances, limit the scope of the first two standards, such restrictions will not preclude communication with or review by appropriately authorized individuals. The encouragement of intellectual honesty is not the responsibility of a few but must be accepted by all persons in the College. In particular, senior members of the Faculty and Academic Administration must set an example for all by assiduously complying with standards of intellectual honesty and must convey to all the ethos of scholars and the technical requirements of publication as well as the ethical standards of personal conduct associated with the role of mentor. By maintaining high standards, these individuals create a climate which discourages dishonesty and fosters unquestionable integrity. A positive attitude of intellectual honesty does more to prevent dishonesty than any other single factor.
Discouragement of "Success At Any Cost"
It is undesirable to eliminate productivity and success as determinants for promotion and recognition. To do so would discourage achievement and ambition and may markedly attenuate scholarly activities. To avoid a "success at any cost" academic environment, the College should emphasize quality rather than mere quantity of research, especially publication. It should be recognized that pressure for more publications may not be explicit, but hidden pressures for more frequent reports and papers will prevail if responsible individuals are mute on the subject. An active and frequently expressed attitude stressing quality rather than quantity is necessary.
Should academic misconduct (as defined below) associated with scholarly or professional activity, research (including private consulting), or presentation of results be apparent to any member of the College community, a report must be made immediately to the appropriate authority and a review of the alleged misconduct initiated. The review process will progress through four stages:
- An informal inquiry to determine whether the allegation or related issues warrant further investigation;
- When warranted, a formal investigation to collect and thoroughly examine evidence;
- A formal finding; and
- Appropriate disposition of the matter.
During the inquiry and investigation process the College will notify the appropriate funding agencies if: there is an immediate health hazard involved; an immediate need to protect sponsor funds or equipment; an immediate need to protect the interests of the individual(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; it is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly; or there is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation. If there is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation, the College must notify the appropriate funding agencies within 24 hours of obtaining that information. The College will take appropriate interim administrative actions during the inquiry and investigation process to protect public or private funds supporting the research and scholarly activity, and ensure that the purposes of the financial assistance are being carried out. The College will undertake diligent efforts during the inquiry and investigation process to protect the positions and reputations of those who, in good faith, make allegations of misconduction. Even if the respondent leaves the College before the case is resolved, the College has the responsibility to continue the examination of the allegations and reach a conclusion. Further, the College should cooperate with the processes of other involved institutions to resolve such questions. If the College plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made to the appropriate funding agency.
It is the responsibility of scholars, researchers, and administrators to create and sustain an atmosphere where honesty and integrity in the conduct of scholarly activity and research are paramount and ensure that these qualities are maintained in the results of such endeavors. Further, it is the particular responsibility of individual scholars and researchers to ensure that the quality of published works is maintained. (Here, "published works" is taken to mean all products of scholarly endeavors presented for the edification and/or enjoyment of others.) This responsibility also extends to documentation prepared for the purposes of securing assistance in the pursuit of scholarly activity or research. It includes recognizing and citing the accomplishments of others, full acknowledgement of all contributors, careful review of products prior to publication, conferring of co-authorship to those, and only those, who have made a significant contribution, and the ability and willingness of all authors to publicly defend their contribution to the published results.
It is the responsibility of the College administration and faculty to make undergraduate and graduate students aware of the College policies governing the conduct of scholarly activities and research, and make them aware that they are covered by the policy while conducting research.
It is the responsibility of all members of the College community to ensure that any review process dealing with allegations of academic misconduct adhere to the following imperatives:
- The process used to resolve allegations of academic misconduct will seek to minimize damage to any area of study.
- Vigorous leadership will be provided in the pursuit and resolution of all charges.
- All parties will be treated with justice and fairness with particular attention paid to individual reputation.
- Procedures will preserve the highest attainable degree of confidentiality compatible with an effective and efficient response.
- The integrity of the inquiry and investigation process will be maintained by painstaking avoidance of real or apparent conflict of interest in that no individual or group, directly or indirectly associated with the conduct of the review, shall in fact or appearance, experience gain (material or otherwise) from its outcome.
- Procedures will be as expeditious as possible leading to the resolution of charges in a timely manner.
- Pertinent facts and actions will be documented at each stage of the process.
- Once allegations are resolved, the appropriate Officers of the College will discharge their responsibilities both internally--to all involved individuals--and externally--to the public, the sponsors of the scholarly activity, the appropriate journals, and the appropriate segments of the academic or scientific community, to the extent that is appropriate and allowable.
Guidelines and Procedures for Dealing with Academic Misconduct
Definitions of Academic Misconduct
Although it may be more specifically defined at the school, departmental, or discipline level, academic misconduct is broadly defined to include fraudulent behavior such as: fabrication or falsification, plagiarism, misappropriation, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the particular scholarly community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly endeavors. It also includes material failure to comply with requirements for protection of researchers, human subjects, or the public, or for ensuring the welfare of laboratory animals, or failure to meet other material legal requirements governing research. Misconduct also includes retaliation of any kind against a person who reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith. Further, it can include unwarranted reference to an exonerated case of misconduct (Section III.E.4.b. below) or accusations of misconduct when such accusations are made in bad faith (Section III.E.4.b.iii. below). It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of results of scholarly activity.
More precise definitions of the first three types of misconduct mentioned above are as follows:
- Falsification ranges from fabrication to deceptively selective reporting and includes the purposeful omission of conflicting data with the intent to condition or falsify results.
- Plagiarism means appropriating the ideas, methods, or written words of another, without acknowledgement and with the intention that they be taken as the work of the deceiver.
- Misappropriation which is the unauthorized use of privileged information (such as violation of confidentiality in peer review) for gain (material or otherwise), however obtained.
Procedures to be Followed for Alleged Academic Misconduct
Any member of the College community who becomes aware of an apparent instance of academic misconduct in scholarly activity or research has the responsibility to try to resolve the issue directly with the party or parties involved. If direct consultation is inappropriate or unsuccessful, the Department Chair of the accused or an appropriate administrative officer if the accused has no Department Chair should then be informed immediately. If the Department Chair of a higher administrative officer of the College is the accused, the next higher administrative supervisor will be informed. Inability to successfully resolve the issue at the administrative level requires the initiation of an informal inquiry. In all instances, persons giving information in good faith about questionable conduct should be protected against reprisals.
In all proceedings, it is essential that confidentiality be maintained to the extent practicable. The mere suspicion of wrongdoing, even if totally unjustified, is potentially damaging to an investigator's career. Confidential handling of information about an investigation must be the responsibility of all involved. Thus, information concerning any investigation should be available only to those who need to know. Ideally, an inquiry should remain totally confidential until the results are established with reasonable certainty. Indeed, if the investigation were to conclude that no wrongdoing occurred, the suspicion should be obliterated from memory. However, this ideal is difficult or impossible to attain. Nonetheless, unwarranted reference to an exonerated case, so as to impugn, may, in itself, constitute misconduct. This situation may, however, be made easier by recognizing that scholarly endeavors and results should always be open to inspection, evaluation, and criticism. In this spirit, all involved should be encouraged to accept an investigation of alleged misconduct as part of the process of the search for truth.
Informal Inquiry. The alleged incident should be reported immediately to the appropriate Dean (or higher administrative officer if the Dean is the accused) who will appoint a review committee. At the time the committee is appointed, the appointing officer will provide written notice to the Provost, the accused, and the accuser indicating that an informal inquiry has been initiated and the nature of the alleged offense. The committee will consist of three tenured Faculty members: one selected by the appointing officer, one selected by the Faculty Affairs Committee or equivalent from the School in which the accused is a faculty member, and one selected by the individual under review. To ensure necessary and appropriate expertise for the inquiry, the assistance of a faculty member in the specific discipline from outside the College to serve in an advisory capacity may be requested by the appointing officer.
The committee will convene, be given a written charge by the appointing authority accompanied by all available information pertaining to the alleged misconduct, elect a chair, and review the charges. The review will afford the affected individual(s) an opportunity to comment on all allegations and subsequent findings of the informal inquiry. The review may include interviews of parties and witnesses and collection of additional information. If necessary, the committee may seek assistance from outside the College by a request to the Provost. Documentation will be maintained of all proceedings to ensure that a later assessment may determine whether an investigation should be initiated or the matter dropped.
The committee will attempt to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The informal inquiry is to be completed within forty-five calendar days of its initiation (issuance of the charge to the committee by the appointing authority) unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. The documentation of the inquiry shall include the reasons for exceeding the forty-five day period. If a majority of the committee concludes that substantial evidence of misconduct does not exist, the confidential record of the inquiry will be forwarded by the appointing authority to the Provost for retention for a required period of three years, along with a recommendation that the matter be considered closed and nothing be placed in the personnel files of the individual charged with misconduct. If a majority of the committee concludes that substantial evidence of misconduct exists, the confidential record of the inquiry shall be forwarded by the appointing authority to the Provost with a recommendation that a formal investigation be initiated. The inquiry report will include evidence reviewed, interview summaries, and conclusions of the inquiry. The affected individual(s) will receive a copy of the inquiry, and, where relevant, the source(s) of external funding for the research will be informed of the committee's recommendation that the matter be considered closed because misconduct does not exist or that a formal investigation is going to be initiated.
Formal Investigation. During the formal investigation the College will continue to take appropriate administrative actions to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, have made allegations of scientific misconduct; to maintain confidentiality to the maximum extent possible during the proceedings; to obtain (internally or externally) necessary and appropriate expertise; to avoid any real or apparent conflict of interest of any participant; and to protect public or private funds supporting the research and scholarly activity.
The Provost, or a designee of the Provost, will initiate a formal investigation with a charge to the Grievance and Hearing Committee (see Handbook Section III.B.4.c.) within fifteen calendar days of completion of the informal inquiry. Such charge will be accompanied by all information and records compiled and generated, during the informal inquiry. The Grievance and Hearing Committee will formally accept the charge within seven calendar days by written notification to the Provost at which time the Provost will inform the appropriate funding agencies (if any) that a formal investigation has been initiated. Funding agencies will be notified on or before the date the investigation begins. Notification will contain only the information required by the funding agencies.
The Grievance and Hearing Committee will conduct a formal investigation in accordance with Section III.B.7 and other appropriate Sections of this Handbook with particular attention to the provisions of Sections III.B.12 and III.B.14 as applicable. The formal investigation will afford the affected individual(s) an opportunity to comment on all allegations and subsequent findings of the investigation, which shall be completed as soon as possible and no later than 100 calendar days from acceptance of the charge by the Grievance and Hearing Committee. Should the investigation disclose facts that may affect current or potential funding for the person under investigation, or information that funding agencies need to know to ensure appropriate use of funds and otherwise protect the public interest, the College will promptly advise the appropriate funding agencies.
If, during the investigation, it becomes evident that completion of the formal investigation cannot be accomplished within this specified period, the Provost will be promptly given written notification of any justified delay and a request for a reasonable extension of time. Such notification will, if required, be forwarded to appropriate funding agencies by the Provost. In instances where such delay is approved, the Grievance and Hearing Committee will provide to the Provost, a written interim report prior to the initial 100 day completion date.
Should the investigation disclose evidence that academic misconduct has occurred in areas not specific to this particular investigation, the Provost will be informed in writing. It is incumbent on the Provost to take appropriate action in such instances.
Formal Finding. On completion of its formal investigation the Grievance and Hearing Committee will issue a written report to the Provost containing a Formal Finding and recommendation of action to be taken by the College. The Formal Finding will reflect the majority opinion of the Grievance and Hearing Committee and contain a summary of the committee's proceedings and deliberations. With regard to misconduct the Formal Finding will contain one of several possible conclusions by the Grievance and Hearing Committee, including:
- A finding of fraudulent misconduct.
- A finding of serious misconduct short of fraud.
- A finding that no culpable conduct was committed, but serious errors were discovered.
- A finding that no fraud, misconduct or serious error was committed.
Disposition. The Grievance and Hearing Committee, in its Formal Finding, shall recommend the nature and severity of disciplinary action to the Provost for review. Such recommendations may include:
- Removal of the respondent(s) from a particular project.
- Letter(s) of reprimand.
- Special monitoring of future work.
- Salary reduction.
- Rank reduction.
- Termination of employment.
- Appeal/Final Review. Each respondent has the right to appeal the Grievance and Hearing Committee's findings and recommendations on the grounds of failure to follow appropriate procedures or arbitrary and capricious decision making. Such appeals will be made in writing to the Procedural Review Committee (Section III.B.4. above) or as specified in Section III.B.7. of this Handbook within fifteen calendar days of acknowledged receipt of the Formal Finding. Action on such appeals will be in accordance with the accepted procedures of the Procedural Review Committee or Section III.B.7. of this Handbook. In all cases, decisions reached by such review will be final.
Notification when Misconduct is Established. Where misconduct is established, the Provost shall take steps necessary to clarify the public record. This action may take the form of public announcements, published retractions, and disassociation with published papers or abstracts. When required, the Office of Research Integrity of the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, or other agencies shall be fully informed in order to comply with applicable laws, regulations, and contractual arrangements. If appropriate, formal notification will be provided to other concerned parties not previously notified of the incident. These may include:
- Sponsoring agencies, funding sources
- Co-authors, co-investigators, collaborators.
- State professional licensing boards.
- Editors of journals in which fraudulent research was published.
- Professional societies.
- Where appropriate, law enforcement authorities.
- Action to be Taken When Misconduct is not Established. If misconduct is not established, all records and other written material associated with the Informal Inquiry, Formal Investigation, and the Formal Finding will be retained by the Provost for a period of three years. The College in consultation with the exonerated individual(s) shall consider whether a public announcement would be harmful or beneficial in restoring any reputations that may have been damaged. An exonerated individual has the right to prevent a public announcement of the results of the hearing as they relate to that individual.