Printed on: 12/13/2018. Please go to http://policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the Policy or related document.
ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY

Research Misconduct

Responsible University Officer(s):

  • Vice President for Research

Policy Owner(s):

  • Associate Vice President for Research
  • Frances Lawrenz

Date Revised:

Sep 17, 2018

Effective Date:

Aug 31, 1995

POLICY STATEMENT

The University expects academic integrity from its employees at all times and in all circumstances. Employees may not engage in actions that constitute research misconduct in research or other scholarly activity.

Employees and other individuals who are involved in research, scholarly, and artistic activities under the aegis of the University must adhere to Board of Regents Policy: Academic Misconduct and must cooperate with the assessment and review of any allegation.

The University provides several ways to report suspected research misconduct.  Employees and students may consult privately with an appropriate University official before deciding whether to submit an allegation of research misconduct.  These steps are outlined under Administrative Procedure: Handling Reports of Research Misconduct.

If an allegation of research misconduct is made, the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) for the University pursuant to federal regulations will coordinate the review in the following stages:

  1. an allegation assessment to determine if the policy applies and if the allegation is sufficiently specific to warrant review;
  2. if appropriate, an inquiry to determine whether the allegation or related issues warrant further investigation;
  3. when warranted, an investigation to thoroughly examine evidence; and
  4. a finding and appropriate personnel action. If the investigation results in a finding of misconduct and a subsequent personnel action against the respondent, the respondent may request a formal hearing by following other University employment policies and procedures, as applicable.

The University prohibits retaliation against persons who in good faith report suspected misconduct, including research misconduct.  More information on retaliation, reporting retaliation concerns, and the consequences of filing intentionally false reports, is found in Administrative Policy: Retaliation, https://policy.umn.edu/operations/retaliation .

Students

Scholastic dishonesty by a student in the performance of academic work or sponsored research is a violation of the Student Conduct Code. Complaints of alleged scholastic dishonesty are resolved in accordance with established collegiate and Student Conduct Code policies and procedures. However, as required by federal regulations, in cases where a student is accused of misconduct while working on federally sponsored University research, the question of whether research misconduct occurred will be determined according to this policy and the sponsor's regulations.

Notification and Reporting Requirements

Many sponsors, including the National Science Foundation (45 CFR 689) and the Public Health Service (42 CFR 50) have published regulations regarding the inquiry and investigation of allegations of misconduct involving activities they are considering for funding or have already funded. These regulations contain requirements to report to these sponsors under certain conditions and at specified stages in the process. The Deciding Officer for the University is responsible for the preparation and submission of  any required notifications or reports. In addition, for Public Health Service proposals and awards, the University will also work with the Office of Research Integrity to assure compliance. If there is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, the Deciding Officer must notify the appropriate office of the sponsoring agency, and the appropriate law enforcement officials.

Interim Administrative Action

As provided by federal regulations (42 CFR, part 50, subpart A and 45 CFR, part 689), at any stage in the process of inquiry, investigation, formal finding, and disposition, the University may take interim administrative action to protect federal funds.

Confidentiality

Only those individuals with a need to know in order to perform their job duties will have access to research misconduct cases, as these are confidential proceedings. Disclosure about the status and outcome of the case is made in accordance with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

Time Limitations

Allegations of misconduct that occurred seven or more years prior to the submission of the allegation will not be considered unless the circumstances indicate that the alleged conduct was not reasonably discoverable earlier.

REASON FOR POLICY

To implement Board of Regents Policy: Academic Misconduct and to comply with federal regulations on research misconduct.

PROCEDURES

FORMS/INSTRUCTIONS

APPENDICES

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CONTACTS

SubjectContactPhoneEmail
Primary Contact Frances Lawrenz 612-625-2046 lawrenz@umn.edu
Anonymous/confidential reporting of legal/policy violations Toll Free Outside Reporting Service 1-866-294-8680 U Report

DEFINITIONS

Adverse Action
Any action that might deter a reasonable person from engaging in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services. Examples of adverse action include, but are not limited to: impeding the individual’s academic advancement; departing from any customary academic or employment practice regarding the individual; firing, refusing to hire, or refusing to promote the individual; transferring or assigning the individual to a lesser position in terms of wages, hours, job classification, job security, employment or academic status; and threatening or marginalizing an individual. In some situations, retaliatory conduct may also include inappropriate disclosure of the identity of the individual who has made a complaint protected by this policy.
Allegation
A disclosure of possible research misconduct through any means of communication. The disclosure may be by written or oral statement or other communication to an institutional official or through the University's misconduct reporting hotline.
Allegation Assessment
The step in the process where the allegation is assessed to determine whether the policy applies and if it is sufficiently credible and specific to warrant review.
Complainant
The individual or individuals who in good faith report or provide information about suspected or alleged misconduct.
Deciding Officer
The institutional officer (the Vice President for Research unless there is a conflict of interest) who makes the final determinations in the case and acts as the contact with any sponsors.
Fabrication
Making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
Falsification
Manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
Good Faith Participation
Reporting, or otherwise expressing opposition to, misconduct based on a reasonable belief that misconduct has occurred. Or, honestly participating in an investigation of misconduct or accessing conflict resolution services.
Inquiry
The step in the process to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.
Investigation
The step in the process to analyze all relevant information regarding the allegation and then determine whether sufficient evidence exists to find that research misconduct occurred.
Plagiarism
Appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research Integrity Officer (RIO)
The institutional official, usually the Associate Vice President for Research, with primary responsibility for directing the case from allegation review through disposition of the case.
Research Misconduct
The fabrication or falsification of data, research procedures, or data analysis; destruction of data for fraudulent purposes; plagiarism; abuse of confidentiality; or other fraudulent actions in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting the results of research or other scholarly activity. It is particularly important to distinguish research misconduct from honest error and the ambiguities of interpretation that are inherent in the scientific and scholarly process, but are normally corrected by further research.
Respondent.
The individual or individuals against whom the report or complaint has been submitted.
Retaliation.
Taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in reporting suspected or alleged misconduct, expressing opposition to alleged misconduct, participating in an investigation related to a misconduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution services (see also Adverse Action). A causal relationship between good faith participation in reporting and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred
Sponsor.
Any external entity, including, but not limited to, a company, agencies of the U.S. federal and state governments, foundations, industry associations, and others, that supports the scholarly work upon which the allegation is based.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Attorney, Office of the General Counsel
Provides advice in the appropriate protocol and practices.
Complainant
File good faith complaint or report of research misconduct.
Deciding Officer (DO)
Accept/approve allegation assessment and inquiry reports. Prepare and submit notifications and reports to sponsors. Make final determinations on allegations of misconduct and administrative actions.
Faculty Senate Research Committee
Advise the RIO on potential members of the panel. When requested, advise the DO on the appropriate disciplinary actions when misconduct has been found.
Inquiry/Investigative Panel
Evaluate the evidence, formulate conclusions, and prepare reports of inquiry or investigation.
Research Integrity Officer (RIO)
Assess allegations. Initiate and oversee inquiries and investigations. Notify respondent. Sequester physical evidence. Keep DO and others with a need to know apprised of progress of case. Write assessment report and file inquiry and investigation reports. Secure records.

RELATED INFORMATION

HISTORY

Amended:
September 2018 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision. 1. Incorporates the new standardized language for retaliation. 2. Promotes language about time limitations from a procedure into the policy statement. 3. Clarifies the role of the panel and its selection process, the correction of the scientific record, and process for challenging possible disciplinary actions.
Amended:
March 2018 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision.  Policy itself includes wording changes, incorporates the new standardized language for retaliation which will be included in all policies containing a retaliation section, and moves language about time limitations from a procedure into the policy.
  • Handling reports procedure deletes the time limitations section (moved to policy) and false accusations section (subsumed into new standard retaliation language in policy).
  • Inquiry procedure has wording clarifications to highlight anonymous reporting, role of the Research Integrity Officer and the correction of the scientific record.
  • Investigation procedure clarifies the role of the panel and its selection process, the correction of the scientific record and process for challenging possible disciplinary actions.
Amended:
July 2017 - Minor Revision. The section on Retaliation has been updated to be consistent with core language in Administrative Policy: Retaliation.
Amended:
April 2012 - Comprehensive Review. Minor edits for clarity. Title changed from Academic Misconduct to Research Misconduct.
Amended:
January 2008 - Added the ability to allow anonymous reports and to include an initial screening process for reviewing allegations. Added an appendix about securing physical evidence, an area of concern for federal regulators. Other changes were made to make the process more streamlined and efficient. New roles for Deciding Officer (DO) and Research Integrity Officer (RIO) amd Faculty Research Committee. Previously the VPR acted as the deciding officer and a Senior Administrator (SA), usually a dean, conducted the inquiry personally and/or coordinated the panel reviews. This process was time-consuming for most deans. Renaming the DO position is consistent with federal regulations and allows for another University official to act in this role if the VPR has a conflict of interest. Shifting the SA responsibilities from deans to the RIO or Associate Vice President for Research is intended to improve timeliness and accountability for the process.
Effective:
September 1995
Supercedes:
Administrative Procedures for the Board of Regents Policy: Academic Misconduct
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