Research Misconduct Policy

This policy defines research misconduct and describes the procedures for handling allegations of research misconduct at Bradley University. The policy applies to faculty and staff involved in funded or unfunded research activities associated with the University.

Research misconduct in academe is an intolerable threat to the most fundamental purpose of a university: the striving for truth and knowledge. Dishonesty among academic researchers is uncommon relative to the large amount of scholarship in which colleges and universities engage, but violations of professional standards can occur in this as in other types of human pursuit. While research at Bradley University has traditionally and routinely been performed at a high level of quality and academic integrity, the potential consequences of misconduct are so serious that the University must provide policies and procedures to review, investigate, and report allegations of misconduct, even if cases will arise only rarely.

Bradley University expects research engaged in by members of the University community to conform to highest ethical standards. Anyone with concerns about impropriety in a research project should communicate those concerns through appropriate channels. If they cannot be communicated directly to the researchers involved, or if such action has an unsatisfactory result, then the concerns should be brought to a department chair, center director, college dean, or other appropriate administrator. If such communications are impractical or have an unsatisfactory result, the procedures outlined in the document provide a recourse.

NOTE: Researchers have the responsibility both to report apparent occurrences of misconduct and to take steps to correct the research record when they discover error.

In many cases, however, a person may not be able to determine whether the problem he or she perceives with a research project constitutes misconduct or error. The people listed in this document to whom formal allegations should be brought can provide guidance in ambiguous situations.

In the event of a case of alleged misconduct, all persons involved in the proceedings are expected to cooperate fully and to conduct themselves in an ethical manner. They have an obligation to strive for impartiality and objectivity, with ample respect for the care needed in reviewing allegations of misconduct and the personal and professional harm that can result from unfounded accusations. Confidentiality in the proceedings is to be preserved to the greatest extent compatible with effective and efficient response. All parties are to be treated justly and fairly and with due respect to their reputations and future professional opportunities. The proceedings should be conducted as expeditiously as possible, to arrive at the resolution of charges in a timely fashion.

Definitions

Research Misconduct: A behavior that fails to respect the intellectual contributions or property of others, that intentionally impedes the progress of research, that risks corrupting the scientific record, or that compromises the integrity of scientific practices. Research misconduct does not include unintentional error or honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data. Examples of research misconduct include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Falsification of data: fabrication of data, deceptive reporting of data, purposeful omission of conflicting data.
  • Misrepresentation: reckless disregard for the truth by stating or presenting a material or significant falsehood; or omitting a fact so that what is stated or presented as a whole states or presents a material or significant falsehood.
  • Plagiarism: representing of another’s work as one’s own.
  • Misappropriating other’s ideas: the unauthorized use of privileged information (such as violation of confidentiality in peer review), however obtained.
  • Interference: intentionally and without authorization taking or sequestering or materially damaging any research-related property of another used or produced in the conduct of research.
  • Material failure to comply with established requirements that relate to the conduct of research (e.g., for the protection of researchers, human subjects, animal subjects, or the public).
  • Misappropriating research funds, including but not limited to the diversion of external funds to purposes not appropriately related to the funded research project.

 

Complainant: A person who makes an allegation of scientific misconduct.

Respondent: The person against who an allegation of scientific misconduct is directed or the person whose actions are the subject of the inquiry or investigation. There can be more than one respondent in an inquiry or investigation.

Allegation: Any written or oral statement or other indication of possible scientific misconduct made to an institutional official.

Good Faith Allegation: An allegation made with the honest belief that scientific misconduct may have occurred. An allegation is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

Inquiry: The initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of scientific misconduct warrants an investigation.

Investigation: The formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred, and, if so, to determine the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.

Research Record: Any data, document, computer file, computer diskette, or any other written or non-written account or object that reasonably may be expected to provide evidence or information regarding the proposed, conducted, or reported research that constitutes the subject of an allegation of scientific misconduct. A research record includes, but is not limited to, grant or contract applications, whether funded or unfunded; grant or contract progress and other reports; laboratory notebooks; notes; correspondence; videos, photographs; X-ray film; slides; biological materials; computer files and printouts; manuscripts and publications; equipment use logs, laboratory procurement records; animal facility records; human and animal subject protocols; consent forms; medical charts; and patient research files.

Retaliation: Any action that adversely affects the employment or other institutional status of an individual that is taken by an institution or an employee because the individual has made a good faith allegation of scientific misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto or has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation.

Procedures for Handling Allegations of Research Misconduct

  1. Overview:
    • After possible research misconduct comes to the attention of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs, the review process for the case of alleged misconduct consists of two phases: inquiry and investigation. Procedures for each phase are described below. Also described are procedures for reporting to the funding agency (where applicable) and taking interim administrative action when serious circumstances call for immediate precautions. There are also provisions for appealing a determination of research misconduct.
  2. The Filing of a Complaint and the Initiation of an Inquiry:
    • If any administrative officer referred to herein has a conflict of interest in a case, then the next higher administrative officer will assume the responsibilities indicated or will appoint some other person to do so.
    • Allegations of research misconduct shall be reported to the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs. He or she may counsel confidentially any individual who comes forward with an allegation of misconduct. Some concerns brought to the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs may not fall within the scope of this policy and in such cases the individual will be referred to whatever institutional processes may be appropriate to the particular case (e.g., faculty grievance procedures).
    • If the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs determined that the concern does fall under the jurisdiction of this policy, he or she will discuss the inquiry and investigation procedures with the individual who had questions about the integrity of a research project (the complainant). It the complainant chooses to make a formal allegation, a written complaint must be submitted to the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs specifying both the alleged misconduct and the evidence that supports the allegation.
    • It is strongly encouraged that allegations not be made anonymously, for this precludes the acquisition of further pertinent information from the complainant. If the Board agrees to consider the appeal, it will do so in accordance with its own procedures and will be provided the Committee's final report and findings and the President's decision. The University will attempt to honor any requests by the complainant for anonymity; however, anonymity cannot be guaranteed if a formal investigation is initiated.
  3. Initial Response to Possible Misconduct:
    • If a formal complaint is filed, the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs must, within seven days, determine if:
      1. the alleged misconduct falls under the jurisdiction of the policy on research conduct
      2. there is sufficient cause to warrant an inquiry
    • If the answers to both questions are yes, an inquiry must begin as soon as possible. If the answer to either question is nb) If the answers to both questions are yes, an inquiry must begin as soon as possible. If the answer to either question is no, then the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs will notify the complainant of the negative decision. When the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs determines an inquiry is not merited, the complainant may refile the complaint with the President of the University Senate, who must initiate an inquiry.
    • If a formal complaint is not filed, the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs may still initiate an inquiry. Once aware of potential research misconduct, by whatever means, the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs is obligated to determine whether the evidence appears strong enough to merit conducting an inquiry.
    • Even if the subject of the allegations (the respondent) leaves the University before the case is resolved, the University will continue the examination of the allegations and reach a conclusion. If there is a finding of misconduct, the University will notify the institution with which the respondent is currently affiliated. Furthermore, the University will cooperate with other institutions' processes to resolve such questions.
    • The Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs initiates an inquiry by notifying in writing both the complainant and respondent that a request has been made to the Executive Committee of the University Senate to create a Research Standards Committee. It is the Research Standards Committee which conducts the inquiry and any subsequent investigation.

The Research Standards Committee

  1. Purpose
    • A Research Standards Committee shall be created to conduct the inquiry, and if merited, the investigation of the alleged research misconduct.
  2. Committee Membership
    • The Research Standards Committee shall consist of five full-time faculty members, appointed by the Executive Committee of the University Senate, and the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs, who shall participate as an ex-officio and non-voting members. Committee members should not have a close professional or personal affiliation with the complainant or the respondent in a given case. Committee members should be unbiased, have appropriate academic or other backgrounds for judging the issues being raised, and have no real or apparent conflicts of interest with the case being investigated.
    • Immediately upon creation of the Research Standards Committee, the Secretary of the University Senate will notify the respondent of the Committee's membership. The composition of the Committee may be challenged for cause by the respondent. Any respondent challenged to the Committee's composition must be submitted in writing to the Secretary of the University Senate within five days of the respondent being notified of the Committee's membership. The University Senate Executive Committee will decide the validity of a challenge for cause and appoint any needed replacements.
  3. Structure and Resources
    • The Committee will elect a chairperson and secretary, who will maintain Committee records. All records will be securely stored at the Office of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs. The Committee may call upon the Office of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs for support beyond maintaining records (e.g., any financial resources required for the Committee to call upon on-or off-campus consultants necessary to assist in reviewing a case).

Inquiry

  1. Purpose
    • In the inquiry, factual information is gathered and expeditiously reviewed to determine if an investigation of the charge is warranted.
    • NOTE: An inquiry is not a formal hearing, nor is it to conclude that misconduct has occurred; it is intended to separate allegations deserving of further and more detailed examination from frivolous, unjustified, or clearly mistaken allegations. An inquiry is undertaken to determine whether an investigation is to be conducted.
  2. Process
    • To initiate an inquiry, the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs shall:
      • inform the Executive Committee of the University Senate of the need for an inquiry
      • notify the respondent of the charges and the process that will follow.
    • Notification will be made in writing and copies will be securely maintained and held confidential in the Office of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs. The only role of the Executive Committee of the University Senate is to promptly form the Research Standards Committee. The Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs should provide the Executive Committee with the information necessary for the appointment of a Research Standards Committee that is neutral and possesses the needed expertise for the case.
    • NOTE: To the greatest extent possible, the inquiry proceedings will be kept confidential in order to protect the rights of all parties involved. All meetings of the Committee will be closed.
    • Cases that depend specifically upon the observations or statements of the complainant cannot proceed without the involvement of that individual in the Committee proceedings; other cases that can rely on documentary evidence may permit the complainant to remain anonymous to the Committee and the respondent.
    • The respondent is obligated to cooperate in providing the material necessary to conduct the inquiry and will be so informed by the Committee when the inquiry is initiated. Uncooperative behavior may result in immediate implementation of a formal investigation and appropriate institutional sanctions. The respondent will be given an opportunity to comment on the allegations during the inquiry and to respond to a draft copy of the inquiry findings. If he or she comments on that report, the comments may be made part of the final inquiry record. The respondent may address the Committee, if he or she desires. No party in an inquiry may be accompanied by or represented by legal counsel, but any person interviewed by the Committee may be accompanied by an adviser or observer of his or her choice.
    • Inquiries should be resolved expeditiously. The inquiry phase should be completed and the final report of the findings submitted to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs within 60 days of the initiation of the inquiry or within a shorter time period if so specified by a funding agency. If the Committee anticipates that the established deadline cannot be met, it should submit to the Provost a report citing the reasons for the delay and describing progress to date; it should also inform the respondent and other involved individuals. If the inquiry takes longer than 60 days to complete, the final report will include documentation of the reasons for exceeding 60 days.
    • The University will, to the greatest extent possible, protect the complainant against retaliation. Individuals engaging in acts of retaliation will be subject to grievance proceedings and/or disciplinary action.
  3. Findings
    • The completion of an inquiry is marked by the submission of the written report of the inquiry findings to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who shall render a decision on whether or not the allegations merit an investigation. The report is to state what evidence was reviewed, summarize relevant interviews, and describe the process and conclusion of the inquiry. It is to be sufficiently detailed to permit a later assessment of the reasons supporting the inquiry findings.
    • NOTE: The report and all other inquiry records will be retained in a confidential and secure file in the Office of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs for at least three years after the completion of the inquiry. This file will not become a part of the respondent’s employment or student record at the University unless a subsequent investigation results in a final determination of research misconduct.
    • (Some funding agencies claim the right of access to such a file if it involves any of their awardees.) The respondent and the complainant will be informed by the Research Standards Committee as to whether or not the allegations will result in an investigation.
    • In the case of allegations found to warrant an investigation, the existing Research Standards Committee will promptly initiate such an investigation.
    • If an allegation is found to be unsupported but has been submitted in good faith, no further formal action, other than informing all parties involved in the inquiry, will be taken. The record and findings of the inquiry, including the identity of the respondent, will be held confidential to the greatest extent possible to protect the parties involved.
  4. Reporting to the Funding Agency
    • An agency sponsoring a research project in which misconduct is alleged or suspected should be notified by the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs in writing as soon as the decision is made to undertake an investigation, and no later than on the date the investigation begins. Agency guidelines for such situations should be followed. A funding agency may reserve the right to be involved in an investigation, or to conduct an independent investigation--prior to, during, or after the University investigation--if the allegations are against one of its awardees. (In the case of Public Health Service (PHS) grants, notification is made to the Director of the Office of Scientific Integrity.)
    • The University also will notify the funding agency at any stage of the inquiry or investigation if it is ascertained that any of the following conditions exist:
      • An immediate health and/or environmental hazard is involved.
      • There is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment.
      • There is an immediate need to protect the interests of a person making the allegations or of the individual who is the subject of the allegations (and/or his/her co-investigators and associates, if any).
      • It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly.
      • There is reasonable indication of criminal violation (In the case of PHS grants, if the inquiry provides a reasonable indication of criminal violation, the Committee is to ask the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs to notify the PHS Office of Scientific Integrity within 24 hours of obtaining that information).
  5. Interim Administrative Action
    • After the University has notified the funding agency that an investigation is warranted, or that any of the conditions listed above exist, the agency may take interim action to protect the rights of involved parties, to protect the welfare of human or animal subjects of research, etc. Such action can range from minor restrictions, requests for assurances, or deferral of a continuation grant application, all the way to suspension of the grant.
    • Interim administrative action also may be taken by the University in the event that any of the conditions listed in above exist. Interim action does not imply a finding but is a precautionary measure necessitated by serious circumstances. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs may take such action when justified by the need to protect the health and safety of researchers, research subjects, or the interests of students, colleagues, or the general public. Such action can range from minor restrictions to suspension of activities of the respondent.
    • Interim administrative action should be taken in full awareness of how it might affect both the individuals and the on-going research within the University.

Investigation

  1. Purpose
    • The Research Standards Committee will initiate an investigation only after the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs decides that an investigation is warranted. The investigation broadens the scope of the inquiry and is the formal examination and evaluation of all pertinent facts to determine whether misconduct has occurred. The investigation should look carefully at the substance of the charges and examine all relevant evidence.
    • NOTE: The investigation findings and recommendations are advisory. They will be submitted to and reviewed by the President of the University who, in consultation with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will make the determination on the case.
  2. Process
    • Upon completing an inquiry and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs' finding that an investigation is warranted, the Research Standards Committee will initiate the investigation within 30 days of such an inquiry finding.
    • The Committee’s procedures in conducting the investigation should be in compliance with any agency guidelines that must be followed if the research is supported by external funding. The investigation may consist of a combination of activities including, but not limited to:
      • Review and copying of data, proposals, correspondence, and other pertinent documents at the University, at the granting agency, or elsewhere.
      • Review of published materials and of manuscripts submitted or in preparation.
      • Inspection of laboratory or other facilities and/or materials.
      • Interviewing of parties with an involvement in or knowledge about the case, including both the complainant and the respondent. Complete summaries of these interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the documentary record of the investigation.
    • All involved University parties are obligated to cooperate with the proceedings in providing information relating to the case. All relevant documentary information must be provided to the respondent in a timely manner to facilitate the preparation of a response. The respondent shall be provided the opportunity during the investigation to address the charges and evidence in detail and may address the Committee in person if he or she desires. The complainant also should have the opportunity to review the evidence to ensure completeness--to ensure, for example, that no key documents are missing.
    • NOTE: No party in an investigation may be accompanied by or represented by legal counsel when appearing before the Committee. However, each person being interviewed by the Committee may ask for a recess and consult outside the Committee room with an academic adviser of his or her choice.
    • To the greatest extent possible, the investigation proceedings will be kept confidential. However, it should be noted that confidentiality cannot be assured during an investigation, which is a much more formal, wide-ranging proceeding than an inquiry. All meetings of the Committee will be closed.
    • In the course of an investigation, additional information may emerge that justifies broadening the scope of the investigation beyond the initial allegations. The respondent should be informed when significant new directions of investigations are undertaken.
    • The Research Standards Committee is to notify the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of any major developments that could warrant interim action or that must be reported to the funding agency. In the latter case, such developments include disclosure of facts that may affect current or potential funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the funding agency needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest. Significant developments during the investigation will be reported in writing by the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs to the funding agency, as necessary, in accordance with agency guidelines.
    • Documentation of the proceedings in order to substantiate the investigation findings must be prepared and will be made available to the funding agency as required. After conducting its review, the Committee will prepare a draft report of findings, provide a copy to the respondent and complainant for comment, and then incorporate the respondent’s and complainant’s comments (if any) in the final report. This report must:
      • describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted;
      • describe how and from whom information was obtained;
      • detail the Research Standards Committee’s findings and the basis for those findings;
      • detail the Research Standards Committee’s recommendations for the resolution of the case, including correction of the research record if there is a finding of research misconduct or research error, and including sanctions recommended if there is a finding of misconduct (see below entitled “Resolution”);
      • include the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual found to have engaged in misconduct.
    • The Research Standards Committee then will submit the final report to the President of the University.
    • The investigation is complete when the President of the University has reviewed the report, made a determination on the case, and confidentially submitted the
      • President's determination
      • final report
      • a description of any sanctions to be imposed by the University, to the complainant(s), the respondent(s), each respondent’s department chair and college dean, the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs, the Provost, and the funding agency, if any.
    • The full report will be sent to the respondent; if there is more than one respondent then each will receive all those parts of the report that are pertinent to his or her role in the case. If the identity of the complainant is known to the Committee, he or she should be provided with those portions of the final report that address his or her role and opinions in the investigation. A copy of this report and all documentation relevant to substantiating the investigation’s findings will be kept in a secure and confidential file in the Office of the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs.
    • NOTE: If there is a final determination of misconduct, then the report will become part of the respondent’s employment or student file at the University. A funding agency may claim the right to examine this file if it involves an investigation of any of its awardees.
    • Investigations should be conducted as expeditiously as possible. An investigation ordinarily should be completed within 120 days of its initiation (including submission of the final report). However, the nature of some cases may render the deadline difficult to meet. If the Committee determines that the full process cannot be completed in 120 days, then an interim report is to be submitted to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs prior to the end of 120 days with a request for an extension.
    • If the investigation cannot be completed in 120 days and the research under scrutiny was supported by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), then the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs will submit to the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) a written request for an extension, including the interim report from the Committee on its progress to date and an estimate of the date of completion of the report. Any request for extension must balance the need for a thorough and rigorous examination of the facts and the interests of the respondent and the funding agency in a timely resolution of the matter. If the request is granted, the University will file periodic progress reports as requested by the OSI. Non-PHS funding agencies may have other guidelines or regulations to be followed.
  3. Findings
    • The Research Standards Committee findings of an investigation are to be submitted to the President of the University and should include one of the following:
      • No misconduct or serious research error was committed.
      • No misconduct was committed, but serious scientific or other research errors were committed.
      • Research misconduct was committed.
    • The President of the University will review the Committee report and findings and, within 30 days, and in consultation with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, make a determination on the case. Section 5, below (“Resolution”) details the follow-up action that must be taken after the determination is made.
  4. Appeal
    • NOTE: If the President’s determination is against the respondent, the respondent may, within 30 days of the distribution of that determination, file a written appeal with the President of the University for consideration by the Board of Trustees.
    • A time extension, where there is appropriate justification, may be requested of the President of the University. Either the findings, or the sanctions, or both, may be appealed. An appeal must be restricted to the body of evidence already presented, and the grounds for appeal must be limited to failure to follow appropriate procedures in the investigation, or arbitrary and capricious decision-making, or sanctions not in keeping with the findings. If the Board agrees to consider the appeal, it will do so in accordance with its own procedures and will be provided the Committee’s final report and findings and the President’s decision. The decision of the Board of Trustees is the final University determination.
    • No University sanctions, other than interim administrative action as described in Section C.5, will be imposed before an appeal has run its course; nor will findings be considered final until an appeal of the findings has run its course. Sanctions imposed by external agencies may be appealed through the procedures established by those agencies.
  5. Resolution
    • No finding of Research Misconduct
      • All persons and agencies informed of the investigation must be notified promptly of the finding of no misconduct. Notification will be made by the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs. The Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs will work with appropriate persons to counter any adverse publicity experienced by the respondent during the inquiry or investigation.
      • If the unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct are found to have been maliciously motivated, appropriate grievance procedures or disciplinary action may be initiated against the complainant. If the allegations, however incorrect, are found to have been made in good faith, no disciplinary measures will be taken and efforts will be made to prevent retaliatory action against the complainant.
    • No Finding of Research Misconduct, but Finding of Serious Carelessness or Serious Scientific or Other Research Error
      • All persons and agencies/organizations informed of the investigation must be notified promptly of the finding of no misconduct. The University will, however, consider means to correct the research record. In the event that the Committee discovers serious research errors, it will include in its final report specific recommendations for action, such as notifying editors of journals in which the respondent’s research was published or to which manuscripts were sent, other institutions with which the respondent has been affiliated, collaborators, professional societies, state professional licensing boards (if applicable), etc. The President of the University will follow up on these recommendations or refer them to another appropriate administrative official (department chair, dean, or other) or University Senate committee for follow-up action.
    • Finding of Research Misconduct
      • All persons and agencies/organizations informed of the investigation must be notified promptly of the finding of research misconduct. Notification will be made by the Assistant Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs.
      • NOTE: In its final report, the Research Standards Committee will recommend specific sanctions to be imposed on the respondent(s). Sanctions can range from removal from the research project, to a reprimand, to financial restitution, to termination of employment.
      • The President of the University will then be responsible for disposition of the matter through the University’s regular personnel procedures, and in conformity with the Faculty Handbook. Sanctions or other actions may also be taken by funding agencies. Other Research Standards Committee recommendations may include notifying editors of journals in which the respondent’s research was published or to which manuscripts were sent, other institutions with which the respondent has been affiliated, collaborators, professional societies, and, if applicable, state professional licensing boards or criminal authorities. The President of the University will follow up on these recommendations or refer them to another appropriate administrative officials (department chair, dean, or other) or University Senate committee for follow-up action.