NORTHERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY

SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT

INITIATED: January 1, 1999

APPROVED: January 1, 1999

Date reviewed and updated: July 6, 2009

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to define and describe procedures which promote high research standards, deal with suspected anomalies in intellectual honesty, and protect the rights and reputation of all parties involved in instances of alleged misconduct.

APPLICABILITY

All faculty, staff, and students.

POLICY

1.0       DEFINITION OF TERMS

1.1       “Misconduct in science” or “misconduct” means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.  It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

1.2       “Inquiry” means information gathering and initial fact finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation.

1.3       “Investigation” means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred.

2.0       STATEMENT OF POLICY

Faculty, academic staff, and students of Northern Michigan University have the right and responsibility to create, seek, and state knowledge freely and openly and to strive for academic excellence.  Recognizing that honesty in the conduct of academic research is fundamental to its integrity and credibility and to the maintenance of public trust in the University, Northern Michigan University adopts the following policy:

2.1       It is the policy of the University to expect ethical behavior from all members of the academic community and to maintain the integrity of professional ethics as they conduct research and scholarly activities.

2.2       Scientific misconduct is prohibited at the University and may be cause for discipline or dismissal.

3.0       PROCEDURES FOR IMPLEMENTATION

3.1       Inquiry upon allegation or other evidence of possible misconduct.

3.1.1    a.   Reports of possible misconduct in science shall be directed initially to the                                              

                 person with immediate responsibility for the work of the individual against

                 whom the allegations or reports have been made.  The person receiving such a

                 report or allegation is responsible for either resolving the matter or

                 encouraging the submission of a formal written allegation or report.

                 Immediate supervisors will be kept informed of all activities at this stage.

            b.   Upon receipt of formal written reports of scientific misconduct, the person

                 immediate responsibility for the work of the individual against whom the

                 allegations have been made shall immediately inform, in writing, his/her

                 respective Dean and/or the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, and

                 the person against whom the allegations have been made.  This report must

                 detail the nature of the alleged misconduct and identify the individual(s) filing

                 the report.

3.1.2    The Dean of Graduate Studies & Research or Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall appoint an individual or individuals to conduct a prompt inquiry into the allegation or report of misconduct.

a.   The individual or individuals conducting the inquiry shall prepare a written report for the Dean and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs describing the evidence reviewed, summarizing relevant interviews, and including the conclusions of the inquiry.

b.   The inquiry must be completed within 60 calendar days of its initiation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period.  If the inquiry takes longer than 60 to complete, the individual or individuals conducting the inquiry shall notify the Dean and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and the individual against whom the allegation was made and what the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period are.  These reasons shall be documented and included with the record.

c.   The individual against whom the allegation was made shall be given a copy of the report of the inquiry by the Dean or Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and shall have an opportunity to respond to the report within ten working days or receipt.  Should the individual against whom the allegation was made request additional time to respond, up to an additional ten working days shall be agreed to and granted by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Any response must be in writing, and will become a part of the record of inquiry.

d.   To protect the privacy and reputation of all individuals involved, including the individual who in good faith reported possible misconduct and the individual against whom the report is made, information concerning the initial report, the inquiry and any resulting investigation shall be kept confidential and shall be released only to those having a legitimate need to know about the matter.

3.1.3    If the inquiry concludes that the allegation of misconduct is unsubstantiated, and investigation is not warranted, the reasons and supporting documentations for this conclusion shall be reported to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs who shall be responsible for reviewing the conclusion of the inquiry.  If the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs concurs in the conclusion that an investigation is not warranted, his/her determination and all other supporting documentation from the inquiry shall be recorded and the record maintained confidentially in the Office of Research Development for a period of three years after the termination of the inquiry.  The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall provide a formal letter of exoneration to the individual against whom the allegation was made.  This action should be in addition to any action taken in Section 5.3 of this policy.  If the inquiry determines that an investigation is warranted, the procedures in Section 3.2 shall be followed.

3.2       Investigation of reported misconduct in science

3.2.1    If an investigation is determined to be warranted under Section 3.1, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs shall so inform the President of the University.  The President of the University shall immediately appoint a committee to conduct the investigation.  The committee shall be composed of impartial faculty members possessing appropriate competence and research expertise for the conduct of the investigation, and no faculty member having responsibility for the research under investigation, or having any other conflict with the University’s interest in securing a fair and objective investigation, may serve on the investigating committee.  If necessary, individuals possessing the requisite competence and research expertise who are not affiliated with the University may be asked to serve as consultants to the investigating committee.

3.2.2    The investigation must be initiated within 30 days of the completion of the inquiry.  The investigation normally will include examination of all documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. Interviews should be conducted of all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegations is made, as well as others who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations.  Summaries of interviews conducted shall be prepared, and provided to the parties interviewed for their comment or revision.  These summaries shall be a part of the record of the investigation.

3.2.3    The individual making the allegation and the individual against whom the allegation is made, and all others having relevant information shall cooperate fully with the work of the investigating committee, and shall make available all relevant documents and materials associated with the research under investigation.

3.2.4    The investigation should ordinarily be completed within 120 days of its initiation.  This includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of the findings, making the report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the President of the University.  If the investigating committee determines that it cannot complete the investigation within the 120 day period, it shall submit to the President of the University a written request for an extension explaining the need for delay and providing an estimated date of completion.  If the research under investigation is funded by an agency within the Public Heath Service (PHS), the procedures under Section 4.4 of this policy shall also apply.

3.2.5    The final report of the investigation shall be prepared by the Committee Chair conducting the investigation.  It shall be presented to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President of the University.  It shall be the responsibility of the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research to forward the report to the office of the appropriate funding agency concerned.  The report shall  include:

            a.   Name(s) of the individual(s) against whom the allegations were made;

            b.   The proposal(s) or grant number(s) involved;

            c.   The nature of the allegations and the name(s) of the individual(s) who made

                 them;

            d.   The University policies and procedures under which the investigation was

                 conducted;

            e.   How and from whom the information was obtained in the investigation;

            f.   The findings of the investigation and their basis;

            g.   An accurate summary or the text of views of the individual(s) under

                 investigation;

            h.   A statement of whether the evidence of scientific misconduct is sufficient to

                 warrant discipline or dismissal under the applicable faculty or academic staff

                 personnel procedures.

3.2.6    A copy of the investigating committee’s report shall be provided to the individual being investigated.  The President of the University or appropriate administrative   officer shall afford the individual under investigation an opportunity to discuss the matter prior to taking action under Section 4.0 of this policy.

3.2.7    Upon completion of the investigation, all documentation substantiating the finding and recommendation of the investigating committee, together with all other information comprising the record f the investigation, shall be transmitted to    the Office of Research which shall maintain the confidential record for a period of three years.

4.0       REPORTING TO OFFICE OF SCEINETIFIC INTERGRITY (OSI) WHERE RESEARCH IS FUNDED BY PHS GRANTS

            Where research is funded by an agency within PHS:

4.1       A determination that an investigation should be initiated under Section 3.3.1(c) must be reported in writing to the OSI Director on or before the date the investigation begins by the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research.  The notification should state the names of the individuals against whom the allegations of scientific misconduct have been made, the general nature of the allegations, and the PHS application or grant numbers involved.

4.2       During the course of the investigation, the granting agency should be apprised of any significant findings that might affect current or potential funding of the individual under investigation or that might require agency interpretation of funding regulations.

4.3       The OSI must be notified at any stage of an inquiry or investigation if the University determines that any of the following conditions exist:

            a.   There is an immediate health hazard involved;

            b.   There is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment;

            c.   There is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person making the

                 allegations or of the individual who is the subject of the allegations as well as

                 his/her co-investigators and associates, if any;

            d.   It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly;

            e.   There is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation.  In that

                 instance, the University must inform OSI within 24 hours of obtaining that

                 information.

4.4       If the University is unable to complete the investigation within the 120-day period, as described above, the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research must submit to the OSI a written request for an extension and an explanation of the delay, including an interim progress report and an estimated date of completion of the investigation.  If the request is granted, the University must file periodic progress reports as requested by the OSI.  If satisfactory progress is not made in the institution’s investigation, the OSI may undertake an investigation of its own.

4.5       If the University plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all the relevant requirements, a report of such planned termination which includes a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made to the OSI, which will then decide whether further investigation should be undertaken.

4.6       Upon completion of the investigation, the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research at the University will     notify OSI of the outcome in a report which shall include the information and documentation specified in Section 3.2.5 of this policy.

5.0       OTHER ACTION FOLLOWING COMPLETION OF INVESTIGATION

5.1       If the allegation of scientific misconduct is substantiated as a result of an investigation, the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research shall notify the agency, if any, sponsoring the research project, of the results of the investigation.  In such a case, the individual involved will be asked to withdraw all pending abstracts and papers emanating from the scientific misconduct, and the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research will notify editors of journals in which relevant papers appeared.  In addition, other institutions and sponsoring agencies with which the individual has been affiliated shall be notified if, based on the results of the investigation it is believed that the validity of previous research by the individual under investigation is questionable.

5.2       Where scientific misconduct is substantiated, the University will take appropriate action, which may include discipline or dismissal, with regard to the employment status of the individual or individuals involved.  Applicable personnel rules, policies, and procedures set forth in applicable collective bargaining agreements and related University policies shall govern discipline or dismissal actions resulting from an investigation of scientific misconduct.

5.3       Where allegations of scientific misconduct are not substantiated by the investigation, the University shall take actions, as appropriate, to help restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct, and to protect the  positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, have made allegations.

REFERENCES


None.

INITIATING DEPARTMENT/DIVISION

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs