Research Misconduct Policy
Op4.01-7 Research Misconduct Policy
Missouri State University is committed to the ethical conduct of research. The administration, faculty, students, and staff of the University share in the responsibility for preserving the integrity of research. All members of the University community are responsible for promoting the highest ethical principles in each academic discipline. The following procedures conform to the Public Health Service Rule 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 93. While 42 CFR Part 93 applies to all individuals who may be involved with a project supported by, or who have submitted a grant application to, the Public Health Service (PHS), this Missouri State policy applies to all individuals engaged in University research whatever the funding source.
I. Definition of Research Misconduct
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
- Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
- Falsification is 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.
- Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
- Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion. (§ 93.103, 42 CFR Part 93).
II. Requirements for Finding of Research Misconduct
A finding of research misconduct requires that –
- There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community;
- The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
- The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
III. Delegation of Authority and Responsibility
The President delegates to the Institutional Official (IO)/Provost responsibility for:
- Designation of a Research Integrity Officer (RIO)/Director of Research Administration for assessing allegations of research misconduct and determining when such allegations warrant inquiries and for overseeing inquiries and investigations.
- Fostering a research environment that discourages misconduct in all research.
- Dissemination of policy and maintenance of records related to misconduct in research.
- Appointment of an individual or a committee to conduct inquiries and investigations
into allegations of research misconduct. If extramural funds are involved the IO determines
whether law, regulation, or the terms or conditions of the award:
- require notification of the sponsor;
- specify time limits; or
- require other actions to assure compliance.
The IO, at his/her discretion, may delegate his/her responsibilities outlined above, to another University official/employee.
The IO and RIO coordinate with the committee appointees, the Office of Research Administration, and other concerned parties to assure compliance in the following areas:
- Assurance of appropriate confidentiality or anonymity, fairness, and objectivity of proceedings.
- Assurance of a full and complete inquiry, investigation, and resolution process.
- Assurance that no real or apparent conflicts of interest arise in those appointed to pursue this process, that they have the appropriate disciplinary expertise, and that due regard is given to the prevailing standards of the field.
- Maintenance of confidentiality of records, in accord with established university policy, relating to the investigation and resolution of incidents of misconduct in research.
- If appropriate or required, the Institutional Official shall notify concerned parties such as sponsors, co-authors, collaborators, editors, licensing boards, professional societies, and criminal authorities of the outcome of investigations, taking care to clear the name of anyone falsely charged.
- Protecting, to the maximum extent possible, the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of research misconduct, and those against whom allegations of misconduct are not confirmed.
- Efforts to restore the reputation of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed.
IV. Inquires and Investigations into Allegations of Misconduct in Research
Existing campus policy and procedures assert the responsibility of Principal Investigators in maintaining ethical standards. All individuals associated with Missouri State University should report observed or suspected research misconduct to the IO and/or the designated RIO.
An allegation should, in addition to stating the nature of the suspected misconduct, present the evidence that leads the reporting individual to believe that an incident of research misconduct has occurred.
The RIO will promptly respond, as outlined below, to each allegation or other evidence of possible misconduct.
If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct he or she should contact the Office of the Provost or Office of Research Administration and ask to speak with the RIO so as to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described do not meet the definition of research misconduct, the IO/RIO will, if applicable, refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.
The informal discussion of possible research misconduct, as well as all subsequent stages in this procedure will be, as far as is practicable, treated as strictly confidential.
The following describes procedures to be followed once an allegation or other evidence of misconduct is received.
- PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT
The RIO will promptly assess the reported incident to determine if it constitutes a bona fide allegation of research misconduct—i.e., does the alleged incident fit the definition of research misconduct and is the evidence sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified? If it is concluded that a bona fide allegation of research misconduct has been made, the misconduct procedure enters its inquiry phase.
- Upon receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the RIO, in consultation with
other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and
committee chair as soon after the initiation of the inquiry as is practical. The purpose
of the committee is to conduct an inquiry to determine whether there is sufficient
substance to the allegation to warrant a formal investigation.
The inquiry committee must consist of individuals (typically deans, department heads, and/or faculty members) who do not have unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with those involved with the inquiry and should include individuals with the appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the inquiry.
The purpose of the inquiry is not to reach a final conclusion as to whether misconduct occurred or who was responsible. This preliminary phase of information gathering and fact-finding should take no more than sixty (60) calendar days from the receipt of the allegation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If the inquiry phase must be extended beyond sixty (60) days, the reasons for doing so should be documented.
- The RIO notifies the Respondent (the individual about whom misconduct allegations
have been made) that an inquiry is being undertaken and of the procedure and timeline
that will be followed; indicates the membership of the inquiry committee; and describes
the nature of the misconduct allegation(s).
- The Respondent has five (5) days to challenge, in writing, the committee's membership based on bias or conflict of interest. The RIO will determine whether to replace the challenged member with a qualified substitute.
- At the time of notification, and in the course of the inquiry, or of any subsequent
investigation, the RIO will sequester such information as is necessary to protect
the integrity of the investigation.
- Where appropriate, the respondent will be provided copies of, or reasonably supervised access to, the research records.
- All records of the Missouri State’s research misconduct proceeding will be retained for seven (7) years after the proceeding's conclusion, or for seven years (7) after any Office of Research Integrity proceeding – whichever is later.
- If the research at issue receives or has received federal funding, and, at any point
during an inquiry or subsequent investigation, it is ascertained that any of following
seven (7) conditions pertain, the campus will notify the sponsoring federal agency
(for example, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the Department of Health and
Human Service (DHHS)):
- Health or safety of the public is at risk, including an immediate need to protect human or animal subjects;
- HHS resources or interests are threatened;
- Research activities should be suspended;
- There is reasonable indication of possible violations of civil or criminal law;
- Federal action is required to protect the interests of those involved in the research misconduct proceeding;
- The research institution believes the research misconduct proceeding may be made public prematurely so that HHS may take appropriate steps to safeguard evidence and protect the rights of those involved; or
- The research community or public should be informed.
- In the case of federally funded research, Missouri State will take appropriate interim administrative actions to protect federal funds and insure that the purpose of the federal financial assistance is carried out.
- Confidentiality will be provided to those involved in the research misconduct inquiry as required by 42 CFR § 93.108, and as allowed by other applicable law.
- A written report of the inquiry shall be prepared by the committee, in consultation
with the RIO and the University’s legal counsel as necessary, that describes:
- the name and position of the respondent;
- a description of the allegations of research misconduct;
- the federal support, including, for example, grant numbers, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing federal support;
- evidence that was reviewed;
- summary of any interviews conducted; and
- a conclusion – the basis for recommending or not recommending that the allegations warrant an investigation.
- The individual(s) against whom the allegation was made (respondent) shall be given
a copy of the report of inquiry, and shall be invited to comment in writing. On a
case-by-case basis, the RIO may provide the complainant a copy of the inquiry report,
or relevant portion of it, for comment. When comments are provided they will be included
in the record.
- The respondent(s) and complainant(s), if applicable, shall have fourteen calendar days to submit to the RIO comments on the inquiry report.
- The respondent’s and complainant’s comments received will be considered part of the final report.
- Upon receipt of the inquiry report, the IO, will make in writing, the determination
of whether an investigation is warranted. Records of the inquiry, including all documentary
evidence, interview notes, the inquiry report, and the IO’s written determination
shall be maintained in a secure manner for at least seven (7) years.
- If an inquiry is terminated before its completion, a report of the planned termination, including the reasons for such an action, should be made to those federal funding agencies that require it (the Office of Research Integrity of DHHS, for example).
- The inquiry report and supporting documentation will be provided to relevant authorized federal agencies upon request.
- If it is determined that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a formal investigation, the RIO shall (within 30 calendar days) initiate the process as follows:
- Upon receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the RIO, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair as soon after the initiation of the inquiry as is practical. The purpose of the committee is to conduct an inquiry to determine whether there is sufficient substance to the allegation to warrant a formal investigation.
- An Investigative Committee is appointed to determine whether research misconduct has
occurred, and, if so, to make recommendations with respect to the imposition of disciplinary
sanctions. The investigation phase should be completed within 120 days from the appointment
of the investigative committee, unless circumstances warrant a longer period. If the
investigation stage is extended beyond 120 days the reasons for doing so should be
- The investigative committee is appointed by the RIO, in consultation with other institutional
officials, as appropriate. It will be comprised of at least three (3) members. A larger
committee may be appointed if, in the opinion of the RIO, it would facilitate the
investigation. The investigative committee may or may not contain members that served
on the inquiry committee.
The investigation committee must consist of individuals (typically deans, department heads, and/or faculty members) who do not have unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with those involved with the investigation and should include individuals with the appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the respondent and complainant, and conduct the investigation.
- The investigative committee is appointed by the RIO, in consultation with other institutional officials, as appropriate. It will be comprised of at least three (3) members. A larger committee may be appointed if, in the opinion of the RIO, it would facilitate the investigation. The investigative committee may or may not contain members that served on the inquiry committee.
- When federal funding is involved, the pertinent agency shall be informed that an investigation
will be initiated within 30 days of the IO's determination that there exists sufficient
evidence to warrant an investigation of research misconduct.
- An investigation should take no more than 120 calendar days unless circumstances warrant a longer period. If an investigation must be extended beyond 120 days, an extension of the investigation will be requested from the relevant agency, if such an extension request is required by the agency. The extension request should include an explanation for the delay, an interim report on the progress to date, an outline of what remains to be done, and an estimated date of completion.
- The RIO will notify the Respondent(s) in writing that an investigation is being undertaken,
will inform him/her of the allegations that are under investigation, as well as of
the composition of the investigative committee and the procedures and timeline that
will be followed in the course of the investigation. In the event that new allegations
arise in the course of the investigation, the respondent will be so notified in writing.
- The Respondent has five (5) days to challenge, in writing, the committee's membership based on bias or conflict of interest. The IO will determine whether to replace the challenged member with a qualified substitute.
- The investigation committee must:
- Use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation;
- Take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased investigation to the maximum extent practical;
- Interview each respondent, complainant, and any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent, and record or transcribe each interview, provide the recording or transcript to the interviewee for correction, and include the recording or transcript in the record of the investigation; and
- Pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of any additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion.
- Confidentiality will be provided to those involved in the research misconduct investigation as required by 42 CFR § 93.108, and as allowed by other applicable law.
- If an investigation is terminated before its completion, a written report of the planned termination, including the reasons for such an action, should be made to those federal funding agencies that require it (the Office of Research Integrity of DHHS, for example).
- Missouri State will notify relevant federal funding agencies if, during the course of the investigation, facts are disclosed that may affect current or potential federal funding for individual(s) under investigation or that the federal agency needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.
- When the investigation is completed, the investigative committee shall prepare, and
submit to the IO/RIO, a written report of the results, reviewing the facts, and stating
the committee's findings. The RIO shall make the report available to the Respondent(s)
for comment. On a case-by-case basis, the RIO may provide the complainant a copy of
the investigative report, or relevant portion of it, for comment.
In distributing the draft report, or portions thereof, to the respondent and complainant, the RIO will inform the recipient of the confidentiality under which the report is made available and may establish reasonable conditions to ensure such confidentiality. For example, the RIO may require that the recipient sign a confidentiality agreement.
- The respondent(s) and complainant(s), if applicable, shall have fourteen calendar days to submit to the IO comments on the investigative report.
- The respondent’s and complainant’s comments received will be considered part of the final report.
- In a separate communication to the IO, the investigative committee shall offer its recommendations with respect to disciplinary sanctions, if any.
- When the investigative committee's report, and the respondent's comments, have been
received, the IO, in consultation with the RIO as necessary, will:
- If appropriate and/or required, communicate the committee's report and findings to relevant agencies external to the University.
- Based upon a reading of the Investigative Report and any comments thereon, the IO will make a determination of whether or not research misconduct has been committed. The IO will issue a Final Report to the ORI or any external funding agency that requires it. The final report to ORI, for example, must describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained, the findings and the basis for the findings, and include an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the campus. Documentation to substantiate an investigation's findings will also be made available to the Director of ORI.
- When a final decision on the case has been reached, the RIO will normally notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing.
- An Investigative Committee is appointed to determine whether research misconduct has occurred, and, if so, to make recommendations with respect to the imposition of disciplinary sanctions. The investigation phase should be completed within 120 days from the appointment of the investigative committee, unless circumstances warrant a longer period. If the investigation stage is extended beyond 120 days the reasons for doing so should be documented.
- DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE:
- The Provost/IO, together with other applicable administrative officials, decides whether or not to initiate disciplinary processes based on the findings of the research misconduct proceedings. Disciplinary processes initiated will proceed in accordance with the provisions of the Faculty Handbook, Employee Handbook, or Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.
- The IO shall report any disciplinary actions taken by the campus to ORI and to any other external funding agency that requires it.