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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4116



Responsible Conduct of Research

Academic Policies and Procedures

 

Responsible Conduct of Research

Date of Current Revision:  May 2016

Primary Responsible Officer: Director of Sponsored Programs

 

Responsible Conduct of Research

 

All research that involves human subjects must follow the policies developed by the Human Subjects Committee. All research that involves animal subjects must follow the policies developed by the UCM Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. For additional information see Human Subjects Review.

 

Research Misconduct Policy and Investigative Procedures

 

I. Introduction

 

The University of Central Missouri’s mission relies upon the principles of honesty and openness in the pursuit of academic excellence and innovation within an environment of public trust. Thus, integrity in research is critical. As a recipient of federal research and development funds, the University is required to implement institutional procedures to address allegations of research misconduct. This policy and procedures document provides information on the roles and responsibilities of those involved in an inquiry/investigation that results from an allegation of research misconduct and is intended to guide the prompt and objective resolution of such allegations.

 

II. Scope

 

This policy is applicable to all members of the University’s research community, including, but not limited to, faculty, staff, and students and it is applicable to all research or related activities at the University, regardless of funding source.

 

III. Explanation of Research Misconduct

 

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting or disseminating 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 honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

 

A finding of research misconduct requires that:

 

a. There is a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community;

b. The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and

c. The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not that the alleged misconduct occurred).

 

IV. Involved Parties and Responsibilities

 

A. Research Integrity Officer

 

UCM’s Research Integrity Officer is the Director of Sponsored programs. The Research Integrity Officer has primary responsibility for implementing the University’s policy and procedures related to research misconduct. These responsibilities include:

  •Meeting with people in confidence who are unsure if they should bring an allegation;

  •Receiving allegations of research misconduct;

  •Assessing allegations of research misconduct to determine whether an inquiry is warranted;

  •Sequestering and maintaining relevant data and other evidence;

  •Communicating with respondents, complainants, and witnesses regarding the process;

  •Appointing fact finder(s) for the inquiry and members of the investigation committee;

  •Ensuring that no person with an unresolved potential or actual conflict of interest is involved in the process;

  •Protecting those involved with the process from retaliation;

  •Notifying and providing reports to federal agencies and other sponsors, as necessary or required by law; and

  •Maintaining records of the research misconduct process for a period of seven (7) years from the date of the receipt of an allegation, regardless of whether the allegation resulted in an inquiry or investigation.

 

The Research Integrity Officer may delegate some or all of his/her responsibilities as deemed appropriate and must not participate if he/she has an actual or potential conflict of interest.

 

B. Complainant

 

The complainant is the person who makes an allegation of research misconduct. Complainants are not limited to members of the University community. The complainant’s responsibilities include maintaining confidentiality and, unless the complainant chooses to remain anonymous, cooperating with the inquiry and investigation.

 

C. Respondent

 

The respondent is the person against whom an allegation of research misconduct is directed and who is the subject of research misconduct proceeding. Additional respondents may be identified during an inquiry or investigation. The respondent’s responsibilities include maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the inquiry and investigation.

 

D. Witness

 

A witness is a person who has been identified as having information regarding any relevant aspect of an investigation. To the extent available, witnesses will be interviewed during the investigation and are expected to cooperate.

 

V. General Provisions

 

A. Reporting Allegations of Research Misconduct

 

Members of the University community have an obligation to report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the Research Integrity Officer. Allegations of research misconduct can be submitted orally or in writing, and they can be made anonymously. Others outside of the University community may make a report as well.

 

An allegation of research misconduct should include a detailed description of the alleged misconduct, the individual(s) involved in the misconduct, and any other supporting evidence or documentation.

 

B. Statute of Limitations

 

Allegations regarding research misconduct that occurred more than six (6) years ago are not subject to this policy and procedures. Exceptions to this rule are as follows:

 

  •The respondent continues or renews an incident of alleged research misconduct that occurred before the six-year limitation through the citation, republication or other use for the potential benefit of the respondent of the research record that is alleged to have been fabricated, falsified or plagiarized.

 

  •If the appropriate funding agency or the University, in consultation with the funding agency, determines that the alleged misconduct, if it occurred, would possibly have a substantial effect on the health or safety of the public.

 

 C. Confidentiality

 

All parties involved in the research misconduct process shall strive to maintain confidentiality of information to the extent consistent with a fair and thorough process and as allowed by law.

 

D. Retaliation

 

UCM prohibits retaliation against any person who makes a good faith allegation of research misconduct or who otherwise participates and cooperates in the investigation of such. Complaints of retaliation should be made to the Research Integrity Officer.

 

E. Protecting Reputations

 

UCM will take all reasonable and practical steps to protect the reputations of good faith complainants, witnesses, fact finders, and investigation committee members. Additionally, when requested and as appropriate, UCM will make reasonable and practical efforts to protect or restore the reputation of respondents alleged to have committed research misconduct but against whom no finding was made.

 

F. Completion of Cases

 

Generally, all inquiries and investigations will be carried through to completion and all significant issues should be pursued diligently. However, in some instances, a case may be closed during the inquiry or investigation for reasons such as the respondent admitting guilt, a resolution with the respondent has been made, or for other reasons deemed appropriate by the Research Integrity Officer.

 

VI. Procedures

 

A. Initial Assessment

 

Upon receipt of an allegation of research misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will make an initial assessment as to whether the allegation is sufficiently credible, specific, and falls within the scope of this policy.

 

If, after assessing the allegation, the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegation is sufficiently credible, specific, and falls within the scope of this policy, the research misconduct review process will be initiated with the Inquiry Phase.

 

If, after assessing the allegation, the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegation is not sufficiently credible, specific, and/or does not fall within the scope of this policy, the allegation will be formally dismissed. In such instance, the respondent(s) need not be notified of the allegation. However, the Research Integrity Officer may notify the complainant that the allegation will not be pursued under this policy.

 

 

B. Inquiry Phase

 

1. Purpose

 

An inquiry consists of preliminary fact-finding to decide whether a formal investigation should be initiated. The purpose is not to make a final determination on the validity of the allegation based on the merits.

 

2.  Timing

 

An inquiry should be completed in sixty (60) calendar days from its initiation by the Research Integrity Officer to submission of the written report by the fact finder. The fact finder may request an extension of this time frame by submitting a request and reasons for the extension to the Research Integrity Officer. If extenuating circumstances exist warranting an extension, it may be granted.

 

3. Notifying the Respondent

 

Within ten (10) calendar days of the determination to initiate an inquiry, the Research Integrity Officer will notify the respondent of the allegation in writing. The written notification should include:

  •The specific allegation(s) being evaluated;

 The rights and responsibilities of the respondent, including:

  •The respondent’s duty to cooperate;

  •The non-retaliation provision and consequences of engaging in retaliation; and

  •The respondent’s right to respond to the inquiry report;

  •The role of the fact finder;

  •A description of the inquiry process;

  •A copy of this policy and procedures document.

 

4. Sequestering the Research Record

 

On or before the date the respondent is notified of the inquiry, the Research Integrity Officer will promptly take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research conduct proceeding, inventory the records and evidence, and sequester them in a secure manner, except when the research records or evidence encompass scientific instruments shared by several users, in which case custody may be limited to copies of the data or evidence as long as the copies are substantially equivalent.

 

Research records form the record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from scientific inquiry. Research records generally include, but are not limited to, research proposals, laboratory records (both physical and electronic), progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, and journal articles.

 

5. Investigative Committee Appointment and Responsibilities

 

The Research Integrity Officer will appoint an ad hoc committee that is tasked with the responsibility of fact finding. This committee should have appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation and must have no personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with the complainant or respondent. An outside fact finder may be appointed if deemed appropriate by the Research Integrity Officer.

 

The Research Integrity Officer should provide the following to the fact finder:

 

  •Purpose of the inquiry;

  •Definition of research misconduct;

  •Time frame for completion;            

 • Identification of the respondent;

 •Specific allegation(s) being evaluated;

 

 Responsibilities of the fact finder, including:

 

  •Initial review of evidence, including review of research records;

  •Interviews of complainant, respondent and/or other witnesses, as deemed necessary and appropriate during the inquiry; and

  •Preparation of an inquiry report;

  •A copy of this policy and procedures document.

 

The fact finder is responsible for determining whether the allegation of research misconduct warrants an investigation based on an initial review of the available evidence.

 

6. The Inquiry Report

 

At the conclusion of an inquiry, the fact finder prepares a written report for the Research Integrity Officer that summarizes findings and recommendations. This report becomes a permanent part of the record, must include sufficient detail to allow the Research Integrity Officer to make a determination of whether or not a full investigation is warranted, and should include the following elements:

 

  •Committee members names and titles

  •Name and position of the respondent;

  •Description of any funding sources (e.g., grant numbers, grant applications, etc.), including pending proposals;

  •Description of the allegation(s);

  •Summary of evidence reviewed;

  •Summary of information obtained in any interviews conducted;

  •Basis for the fact finder’s recommendation for each allegation.

 

A copy of the report will be provided to the respondent for comments. When it would be helpful to the inquiry, the complainant may also be given an opportunity to comment on parts of or the entire report as well. The respondent and complainant (if applicable) are given five (5) calendar days to provide comments. Any comments provided will be attached to the report when it is given to the Research Integrity Officer and will remain attached to the report as it moves through the investigation and decision phase.

 

7. Completion of the Inquiry Phase

 

If, based upon a review of the inquiry report, the Research Integrity Officer determines that no investigation is warranted, the research misconduct proceedings end and the parties will be so notified. No further action will be taken by the University, except to make an effort restore the reputations of those involved as appropriate and notify funding agencies if specifically required to do so under the circumstances.

 

If, based upon a review of the inquiry report, the Research Integrity Officer determines that an investigation is warranted, the proceedings will enter the Investigation Phase and an investigation committee will be convened.

 

C. Investigation Phase

 

1. Purpose

 

The purpose of an investigation is to determine, based on a preponderance of the evidence, whether research misconduct has occurred and, if so, to determine the responsible person and the nature and seriousness of the research misconduct.

 

2. Preliminary Issues

 

a. Notifying Federal Agencies or Other Sponsors

If it is determined that an investigation is warranted, relevant federal agencies and other sponsors should be informed in a timely manner, as deemed appropriate or necessary by the Research Integrity Officer. If the research is funded by Public Health Service (PHS), the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) must be provided notice, including the inquiry report, a copy of this policy and procedures, the research records and other evidence considered during the inquiry, and the charges for the investigation to consider, within thirty (30) calendar days.

 

b. Interim Administrative Action

When an investigation is initiated, interim administrative action may be implemented to protect the interests of complainants, respondents, students, faculty, staff, colleagues, human subjects, sponsors, or the University while the investigation proceeds. Possible actions include temporary suspension of the research.

 

c. Sequestering Additional Information

The Research Integrity Officer will take all reasonable or practical steps to take custody of and sequester in a secure manner any additional research records and evidence needed to conduct the investigation that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry.

 

3. Timing

 

The Investigation Phase will begin within thirty (30) calendar days of the determination that an investigation is warranted. The investigation should begin and continue in a prompt manner and should conclude with submission of the investigation report no more than one hundred twenty (120) calendar days after commencing. The investigation committee may request an extension of this time frame by submitting a request and reasons for the extension to the Research Integrity Officer. If extenuating circumstances exist warranting an extension, it may be granted.

 

4. Notifying the Respondent

 

Within ten (10) calendar days of the decision to commence an investigation, the Research Integrity Officer will notify the respondent of the decision in writing. The written notification should include:

 

  •The specific allegation(s) being evaluated;

  •The rights and responsibilities of the respondent, including:

  •The respondent’s duty to cooperate;

  •The non-retaliation provision and consequences of engaging in retaliation; and

  •The respondent’s right to respond to the investigation report;

  •The role of the investigation committee;

  •A description of the investigation process;

  •A copy of this policy and procedures document.

 

5. Appointment of the Investigation Committee and Responsibilities

 

The Research Integrity Officer will appoint an investigation committee consisting of at least three full time faculty members. The investigation committee members should have appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation and must have no personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with the complainant or respondent. Depending on the circumstances of the allegation, the investigation committee may include individuals outside of the UCM community. The Research Integrity Officer may consult with appropriate University officials when determining the composition of the investigation committee. It is preferred for all faculty members serving on the committee are tenured.

 

The respondent will be notified, in writing, of the proposed composition of the investigation committee and given an opportunity to object to any proposed member based on a personal, professional, or financial conflict of interest. The respondent must submit any objections within seven (7) calendar days of notification of the proposed composition of the investigation committee. The Research Integrity Officer makes the final determination of whether any such conflict exists and thus necessitates a change to the investigation committee’s composition.

 

Once the investigation committee has been finalized, the Research Integrity Officer should provide the following to the investigation committee:

 

  •Purpose of the investigation;

  •Definition of research misconduct;

 • Requirements for a finding of research misconduct;

  •Time frame for completion;

 • Identification of the respondent;

  •Specific allegation(s) being evaluated;

 

Responsibilities of the investigation committee, including:

 

 • Examination of evidence, including review of all relevant documentation;

  •Interviews of complainant and respondent;

 • Interviews of witnesses as deemed necessary and appropriate; and

  •Preparation of a final investigation report;

  •A copy of this policy and procedures document.

 

The investigation committee is responsible for conducting a thorough examination of all facts and evidence relevant to the investigation and determining, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether research misconduct occurred and, if so, determining the responsible person and the nature and seriousness of the research misconduct. The investigation committee must use diligent efforts to ensure the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented. Interviews of the respondent, complainant, and any witnesses should be recorded and transcribed. An interviewee will be given an opportunity to review the recording or transcript for correction. The investigation committee may also identify, in the course of its duties, if there are issues that would justify broadening the scope of the misconduct proceeding beyond the initial allegation(s). If the scope of the proceeding is broadened, the respondent will be notified of the expanded scope.

 

6. The Investigation Report

 

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigation committee summarizes its findings and recommendations in a written report to the Research Integrity Officer. This report should include the following elements:

 

  •Names of investigation committee members;

  •Name and position of the respondent;

  •Description of any funding sources (e.g., grant numbers, grant applications, etc.), including pending proposals;

  •Description of the allegation(s);

  •Summary of evidence reviewed;

  •Summary of information obtained in any interviews conducted;

 

A statement of findings for each allegation of research misconduct identified during the investigation. Each statement of findings must:

 

 •Indicate whether research occurred and, if so, also identify: (1) the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; (2) whether the research was falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism; and (3) whether it was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly;

  •Summarize the facts and the analysis that support the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent;

  •Identify the specific funding sources; and

  •State whether any publications and/or pending grant applications need correction or retraction;

  •Any recommendations regarding corrective actions.

 

A copy of a draft investigation report will be provided to the respondent for comments. The respondent should also be given copies of, or supervised access to, the evidence on which the report is based. The respondent has thirty (30) calendar days to comment on the draft investigation report. When it would be helpful to the investigation, the complainant may also be given an opportunity to comment on parts of or the entire report as well. The respondent and complainant (if applicable) are given thirty (30) calendar days to provide comments. After considering the comments, the investigation committee may revise its draft report as appropriate and prepares its final investigation report. Any comments provided will be attached to the final investigation report. Recordings and transcripts from all interviews should also be attached. The final investigation report and all attachments are then submitted to the Research Integrity Officer.

 

7. Completion of the Investigation Phase/Institutional Decision

 

The Research Integrity Officer will make a decision following his/her review of the investigation committee’s final report. The Research Integrity Officer may accept the findings and recommendations of the report, come to a different conclusion on all or some of the findings and recommendations, or return the report to the investigation committee for further fact-finding or analysis. In the event that the Research Integrity Officer’s determination varies from that of the investigation committee, he/she must explain in detail the reasons for rendering a different decision on the matter. The Research Integrity Officer’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.

 

When there has been a finding of research misconduct, possible corrective actions include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

  •Letter of reprimand

  •Special monitoring of future work

  •Probation

  •Removal from a particular project

  •Suspension

  •Rank and/or salary reduction

  •Termination/expulsion

 

8. Final Notifications

 

The Research Integrity Officer will notify the respondent of the final decision in writing, including a copy of the final investigation committee report with all attachments. This notification will outline plans for any corrective actions imposed. Appropriate University officials will also be notified of the outcome, and the complainant may be notified as well if the circumstances warrant such notification.

 

All federal agencies and other sponsors initially informed of the research misconduct proceeding must also be promptly notified of the final determination. The Research Integrity Officer will ensure that the investigation report, his or her decision, and a description of any pending or completed corrective actions are reported to federal agencies or other sponsors with applicable terms or regulations within thirty (30) calendar days of the decision.

 

UCM Ethics Policy

Ethics Procedure

Whistleblower Procedures

             

Revision History:

Established and archived prior to 1999

Edited for web links, formatting and plain language. Approved December 2015

Ethics in Research Document replaced with Research Misconduct Policy and Investigative Procedures May 2016

Responsible Conduct of Research Section IV.M. moved to II.K. February 2017.

Previously annotated as IV.N Responsible Conduct of Research.  Renamed Responsible Conduct of Research for alphabetical listing, grammar and spell check, and transitioned into policy library April 2017