The Catholic University of America
Faculty Handbook Part III
Policies, Procedures and Services
Research Misconduct
 
Approved by: Academic Senate
History: Issued -- October 21, 1999
  Revised --
   
Related Policies:  
Additional References:  
Responsible Official: Provost tel. (202)-319-5244
 

I. Introduction

It is an ethical obligation of all faculty and others holding teaching and/or research appointments to actively contribute to an environment of intellectual honesty and integrity. Research must be conducted and the results disseminated honestly, accurately and fairly. Reports of alleged acts of research misconduct shall be investigated pursuant to the Procedures below.
As a community of scholars and a research institution, the University recognizes the need to provide vigorous leadership in the pursuit and resolution of all charges of misconduct in research. At the same time, it seeks to ensure that the process used to resolve allegations of misconduct does not damage scholarly research itself and that the procedure affords full protection to the rights of the individuals against whom the allegations of misconduct are made.
 
This policy is applicable to all full and part-time employees (including student employees, researchers and journal contributors) who hold teaching or research appointments. This policy incorporates materials pertaining to allegations of misconduct in research as developed by the Association of American Universities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Bar Association, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Public Health Service (PHS).
Federal regulations pursuant to the Public Health Service Act and the National Science Foundation Act require that the University notify the Federal agency sponsoring the research if allegations are determined to require Investigation involving research, research training, applications for support of research or research training, or relation activities. Such additional regulations are included in Section 7 of Part III of this policy.
II. Definition of Misconduct in Research
"Misconduct" means
  1. fabrication or falsification,[1] misappropriation,[2] interference[3], or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out, reporting or otherwise claiming results from research;
  2. material failure to comply with Federal requirements for protection of researchers, human subjects, or the public or for ensuring the welfare of laboratory animals;
  3. failure to meet other material legal requirements governing research; or
  4. retaliation of any kind against a person who reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith. 
  5. misuse or misappropriation of federal, state, or other funds awarded for the conduct of particular projects of research.
Misconduct does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
III. Procedures for Resolving Allegations of Misconduct
Section 1. Reporting Allegations of Research Misconduct
1.1 It is the responsibility of members of the University community to report research misconduct when they have reason or cause to believe that misconduct has occurred. The responsibility to pursue specific allegations of research misconduct and to determine whether such conduct has occurred belongs to the University.
1.2 [An] Allegation(s) of research misconduct committed by a University faculty/staff member(s) or student employee(s) ("Respondent") may be brought by a University faculty/staff member or student or any individual outside the University ("Complainant") and shall be directed to the attention of the Provost by way of a written Complaint which shall state the nature of the Respondent's alleged research misconduct. The Provost will, within two (2) business days, transmit the allegations to either the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies or the Associate Provost for Sponsored Research, or other designee if necessary (Administrator) for consideration and action. The Provost shall also send a letter of acknowledgement to the Complainant, informing him/her of the name and address of the Administrator and including a copy of this statement of Policy and Procedures. If the Administrator notifies the Provost that he or she has a conflict because of the party(ies) or the subject matter, the case shall be referred back to the Provost for a new selection.
1.3 If the Respondent leaves the University before the case is resolved, he or she shall have a continuing obligation to cooperate and the University shall have a continuing responsibility to investigate the allegations to a conclusion.
1.4 A charge that Complainant's allegations have not been brought in good faith shall be handled according to the same procedures as for a charge of research misconduct.
Section 2. Determination Regarding Advancement to Inquiry Stage
2.1 Within ten (10) business days of receipt of the Complaint from the Provost, the Administrator shall review the Complaint to decide whether or not the allegations as stated in the Complaint merit advancement to the Inquiry stage.
2.2 If the Administrator determines that the allegations stated in the Complaint do not merit advancement to the Inquiry stage, he or she shall so inform the Complainant in writing and state the reasons for not pursuing an Inquiry. Where appropriate, the Administrator shall assist in the redirection of the Complaint to other University officials. The Complainant has the right to appeal the Administrator's determination by letter to the Provost, who shall render a decision within ten (10) business days from the receipt of the appeal and notify the Complainant by letter.
2.3 If the Administrator determines that the allegations of the Complaint merit advancement to the Inquiry stage, he or she shall so notify the Provost. Within three (3) business days the Provost shall select the members of the Inquiry Panel, which shall consist of the designated Administrator (who shall also serve as the Chair), two (2) faculty members, and one alternate faculty member. Members of the Inquiry Panel shall serve until the completion of the Inquiry stage.
Section 3. Inquiry
3.1 The Inquiry is an informal investigative process to establish whether the allegations of the Complaints should be referred to an Ad Hoc Committee of the Academic Senate (Senate Committee) to determine if misconduct has taken place.
3.2 The Inquiry Panel shall have discretion to determine the procedures it will employ in its investigation within the requirements prescribed in Section 3.3 to 3.9 and will secure any necessary and appropriate expertise to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence.
3.3 Within seven (7) business days of selection of members of the Inquiry Panel, the designated Administrator shall notify the Respondent, by hand or certified mail, of the initiation of the Inquiry and shall provide him/her with a copy of this statement of Policy and Procedures. The written notification shall include the following: identification of the research project in question and the specific allegations stated in the Complaint; identification of the funding involved (if any); list of members of the Inquiry Panel; notification of the Respondent's right to challenge the appointment of a member of the Panel for bias or conflict of interest; and the Respondent's right to submit a written response to the allegations and to the final Inquiry Report. The notification shall also address the Respondent's obligation as an employee of the University to cooperate and the need to maintain confidentiality during the Inquiry and any subsequent proceedings. All notifications provided to the Respondent also shall be provided to the Complainant.
3.4 The Respondent shall be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations within ten (10) business days of receiving notification from the Inquiry Panel. A copy of the Respondent's response shall be forwarded to the Complainant.
3.5 Within five (5) business days of receiving the Respondent's response, the Complainant may submit to the Inquiry Panel a written reaction addressing matters raised in the response.
3.6 An Inquiry must be completed within sixty (60) business days of the appointment of the Panel unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If the Inquiry takes longer than 60 business days to complete, the record of the Inquiry shall include the Administrator's documentation of the reasons for exceeding the time period.
3.7 A written Inquiry Report shall be prepared by the Administrator. The Report shall state the name and title of the committee members and experts, if any; the allegations; any PHS or NSF support; a summary of the inquiry process used; a list of the research records and other evidence (if any) reviewed; summaries of any interviews; and the determination as to whether an investigative proceeding before a Senate Committee is warranted, and, if such a proceeding is not recommended, whether any other actions should be taken. All evidence considered by the Inquiry Panel shall be maintained in a file by the Administrator. If, in the judgment of the Panel, confidential sources must be protected, a separate file that does not indicate confidential sources shall be prepared for use in possible future proceedings and to be made available to the Respondent upon request.
3.8 Both the Respondent and the Complainant shall be entitled to receive a copy of the Panel's Report and shall have an opportunity to comment. The Respondent's and the Complainant's comments to the Report, if any, shall be made part of the record.
3.9 If in the process of the Inquiry a settlement of all issues is reached that is satisfactory to all parties, or if the Inquiry Panel determines that no further proceeding is warranted, the Report of the Panel shall be preserved pursuant to Section IV of this document, and no further action by the University shall be taken.
3.10 If the Inquiry Panel determines that the matter shall be referred to a Senate Committee foran Investigation, the Administrator, within three (3) business days, will so inform the Respondent and the Complainant, and shall forward the Panel's Report to the Chair of the Academic Senate and to the General Counsel who shall designate a Special Counsel for this proceeding.
Section 4. Investigative Proceedings before the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee of the Academic Senate
4.1 Within ten (10) business days of receiving the Panel's report, the Academic Senate shall constitute an Ad Hoc Hearing Committee consisting of five Tenured Senior Faculty members. One of the Committee members will be designated by the Senate to serve as Chair. The Senate will also designate, in ranked order, a number of alternates. Any appointee who cannot render an unbiased judgment will so notify the Chair of the Academic Senate and be relieved of service.
4.2 The charge of the Senate Committee is to decide whether misconduct has occurred and to recommend such sanctions or disciplinary actions as may be appropriate. If the Senate Committee decides that the Complaint does not warrant a further proceeding and decides not to assume jurisdiction, it shall so inform the Provost, the designated Administrator, the General Counsel, and the Complainant and Respondent(s) by written letter. The letter shall state the reasons why, in the opinion of the Committee, the allegations do not warrant further proceeding.
4.3 If the Senate Committee determines that a Hearing is to be conducted, it shall deliver to the Respondent, by hand-delivery or certified mail, a written statement from the Chair of the Committee explaining with particularity the factual basis for the alleged research misconduct and outlining the procedures to be followed in the Hearing (including dates, times and location); listing the members of the Committee; granting an opportunity to the Respondent to challenge the membership of the Committee if there is evidence that its member(s) has/have bias or conflict of interest; and providing other pertinent information depending on the source(s) of research funding.[4]
4.4 The Respondent shall have the right to present his/her own evidence at an oral hearing and to cross-examine other witnesses who may appear at the hearing (cf. Also 4.7). He or she will be permitted to have an academic or administrative advisor and/or legal counsel, and will be responsible for payment of his/her own expenses, if any, for such counsel. Unless the allegation involves a charge leading to potential faculty dismissal, counsel shall be advisory and not
active.[5] The Respondent may waive a hearing and may respond to the charges in writing.
4.5 The University shall be represented at the Hearing by the Special Counsel and shall have the burden of establishing that the Respondent has engaged in research misconduct by a preponderance of evidence. Neither the Special Counsel nor any person involved in the investigation or presentation of a matter shall participate in any way in the decisions of the Senate Committee or of the Provost or the President.
4.6 The Senate Committee will examine all relevant documentation presented to it by the Special Counsel or that it otherwise acquires, such as, but not limited to, relevant research data, forms, protocols, proposals, publications, correspondence, computer files, laboratory notebooks, photographs, videos, memoranda of telephone calls, etc. The Committee shall not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence but may admit any evidence that is judges to be relevant, reliable and of probative value in determining the issues involved.
4.7 Whenever possible, witnesses able to provide evidence supporting and/or refuting the charges shall be heard by the Senate Committee. The Complainant is expected to provide evidence and testimony supporting the charges. Witnesses unable to appear before the Committee shall be allowed to present their evidence in a written, sworn statement to the Committee. Such statements shall be included as part of the investigatory file and shall be available to the Respondent. The Respondent shall have the right to submit a written comment about the statements and may submit, through the Committee, one set of questions about the statement which shall be answered by the witness within three (3) business days of receipt of the questions.
4.8 The Senate Committee will secure any expertise that it deems necessary and appropriate in order to carry out its investigation. The Committee shall promptly notify the Provost of any developments during the course of the investigation that disclose facts that may affect current or potential Federal funding.[6]
4.9 The Senate Committee will conduct all hearings in private.
4.10 No transcribed record of the hearing will be taken unless special funds are made available to the Senate Committee for this purpose. A tape recording may be made. Adjournments will be granted to enable the Respondent or the University to investigate evidence if a valid claim of surprise be made, and every effort is to be made to conduct the hearing in an informal, amicable way.
4.11 If in the course of the proceeding additional information emerges regarding other alleged misconduct by the Respondent, the Senate Committee shall consult with the Provost regarding modifications in the scope of the proceeding. If new allegations are included in the proceeding, the Respondent shall be so informed. The jurisdiction of the Committee will continue to be limited to determination of misconduct as defined in Part A, II.
4.12 The work of the Senate Committee should be conducted as expeditiously as possible and shall be completed within sixty (60) business days of its formation by the Academic Senate[7]. If, in an extraordinary case, the Senate Committee requires additional time, it shall request it from the Provost in writing.
4.13 The Report of the Senate Committee regarding research misconduct shall be transmitted in writing to the Provost and shall include findings of fact, conclusions and recommended sanctions or disciplinary actions, if any. The findings will be based solely on the hearing record that shall include all documents received in the course of the proceeding[8].
4.14 Within three (3) business days of the completion of the Report, the Complainant and Respondent shall be sent, by hand delivery or certified mail, copies the Report of the Senate Committee by its Chair. If there is more than one Respondent, each shall receive all parts that are pertinent to his/her role. The Complainant and the Respondent shall begiven an opportunity to respond in writingto the Report of the Committee before final determination by the Provost. Such responses must be submitted to the Provost within five (5) business days of receipt of the Report.
Section 5. Disposition
5.1 The Provost shall determine the sanction(s) or disciplinary actions to be taken after consideration of the recommendations of the Committee. If the determinations differ from the recommendations of the Senate Committee, the Provost shall explain the reasons in writing. Sanctions or disciplinary actions shall meet the requirements of any applicable University rules. Within seven (7) business days of receipt of the full Report of the Committee, the Provost shall send to the Complainant and Respondent, by hand or certified mail, a letter indicating his/her conclusions, and sanctions and disciplinary action, if any, to be imposed, with a copy to the Chair of the Senate Committee.
Section 6. Appeal
6.1 The Respondent or Complainant may appeal the findings and/or sanctions imposed by the Provost. Grounds for appeal must be limited to allegations of prejudicial failure to follow appropriate procedures or of gross miscarriage of justice. Any appeal must be filed with the President of the University within ten (10) business days after the party has received the Report of the Senate Committee.
6.2 If, within thirty (30) business days after the Senate Committee's determination, the Respondent discovers new and material evidence that he or she reasonably believes to be probative, he or she may describe the evidence in writing submitted to the President who, in consultation with the Provost, shall decide whether the new evidence warrants a re-opening of the Investigation.
6.3 The decision of the President is final.
Section 7. Notification requirements in cases involving Public Health Service Act funds or National Science Foundation Act Funds.
7.1 If Public Health Service (PHS) funds are involved, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) must be notified in writing of the University's decision to initiate an Investigation, not later than the date the Investigation begins. This notification shall include the name of the Respondent(s), the general nature of the allegation, and the PHS application or grant number(s) involved.
7.2 The Provost must also notify the ORI if the University ascertains at any stage of the Inquiry or Investigation that any of the following conditions exist: immediate health hazard; immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment; immediate need to protect the interests of the individuals affected by the Investigation; or probability that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly. The Provost must also notify the ORI if the University ascertains at any stage of an Inquiry or Investigation that there is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation in which case ORI must be informed within 24 hours. If the University plans to terminate an Investigation or Inquiry without completing all relevant requirements under 42 CFR 50.103(d), a report of such planned termination, including reasons for such termination, shall be made to ORI, which will then decide if further investigation is warranted. When the case involves PHS funds, the institution cannot accept an admission of scientific misconduct as a basis for closing the case or not undertaking an investigation without prior approval of ORI.
7.3 If National Science Foundation (NSF) funds are involved, the Provost must notify the NSF if a initial Inquiry supports a formal Investigation. In additional the Provost must notify NSF even before deciding to initiate an Investigation or as required during an Investigation if (i) the seriousness of the apparent misconduct warrants; (ii) if immediate health hazards are involved; (iii) if NSF's resources, reputation, or other interests need protecting; (iv) if Federal action may be needed to protect the interests of a subject of the investigation or of others potentially affected; or (v) if the scientific community or the public should be informed.
7.4 All Federal agencies, sponsors, or other entities initially informed of the Investigation also must be notified promptly of the Investigation results.
7.5 In a case involving PHS funds, if the University determines that it will not be able to complete the Investigation within 120 days, it must submit to the ORI a written request for an extension and an explanation for the delay that includes an Interim Report on the progress to date and an estimate for the date of completion of the Report and other necessary steps. If the request is granted, the University must file periodic progress reports as requested by the ORI.
7.6 In a case involving NSF funds, the University must complete any Investigation and reach a disposition within 180 days. If completion of an Investigation is delayed, and the University wished NSF's own investigation deferred, NSF may require periodic status reports.
7.7 Any final Report of an Investigation submitted to ORI or NSF 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 the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in fraud or misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the University.
7.8 Notification requirements under this section are the responsibility of the Provost. The Provost is also responsible for filing the annual submission to the ORI required by 42 CFR 50.103(b), which must include information on any allegations, inquiries or investigations prescribed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on the required form.
7.9 All notification requirements promulgated by other funding agencies of the Federal government subsequent to the adoption of these guidelines for reporting and investigating fraud or misconduct in research shall be adhered to by the University.
IV. Generally Applicable Procedures
Section 1. Preservation of Documents
1.1 When a Complaint has been filed but no Inquiry conducted, when an Inquiry has been initiated but the Inquiry Panel has determined that an Investigation is not warranted, or when the Senate Committee determines not to pursue an Investigation, sufficiently detailed documentation of such actions shall be maintained for three years by the Provost in order to permit a later assessment by the University or a federal agency of the reasons for reaching those determinations.
1.2 All documentation (other than that referred to in Section 1.1) associated with findings, recommendations and sanctions of the Inquiry Panel, Senate Committee, Provost, and/or President shall be maintained in a confidential and secure file by the Office of General Counsel for a period of three (3) years following the termination of the proceedings.
Section 2. Confidentiality
2.1 The University shall seek to protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those who in good faith report apparent misconduct as well as the privacy of those against whom such allegations are made. Cases that depend specifically upon the observations or statements of the Complainant cannot proceed without the open involvement of that individual; other cases that can rely on documentary evidence may permit the Complainant to remain anonymous. To the extent possible, the identity of the Respondent shall be held in confidence.
2.2 To the extent possible, all proceedings should be held in confidence to protect the parties involved.The University shall take the reasonable steps to minimize the damage to reputations that may result from inaccurate or misleading information.
2.3 The designated Administrator, Inquiry Panel and the Senate Committee shall, during the time of the Inquiry or Hearing, and thereafter if no violation is found, avoid public statements about the case except such as are needed or as required pursuant to legal process.
2.4 All persons conducting any actions pursuant to these Procedures shall be subject to strict confidentiality.
Section 3. Conflict of Interest
3.1 Individuals chosen to assist in the Inquiry or the Hearing process shall have no conflict of interest bearing on the case in question. A conflict of interest on the part of the appointed individual may occur when the individual has:
a.     any financial involvement with the Respondent or Complainant;
b.    been a coauthor on a publication with the Respondent or Complainant;
c.     been a party to a scientific or other academic controversy with the Respondent or Complainant;
d.    been a party to a scientific or other academic controversy with the Respondent or Complainant;
e.     a supervisory or mentor relationship with the Respondent or Complainant;
f.     a special relationship, such as a close personal friendship, kinship, or close working relationship with the Respondent or Complainant; or
g.    any other circumstance that might appear to compromise the individual’s objectivity in reviewing the allegations.
3.2 Any involved Administrator or member of the Inquiry Panel or of the Senate Committee who has an irresolvable conflict of interest in a given cause must promptly disclose the conflict to the Provost and should not be permitted to be involved in any aspect of that case.
Section 4. Cooperation
4.1 All parties or anyone involved with any Inquiry, Hearing or proceeding pursuant to this policy are obligated to cooperate in the proceedings by providing information relating to the case. Uncooperative behavior may result in an immediate investigation or other University sanctions, as determined by the Provost. The University shall cooperate with the processes of other involved Universities or outside entities to resolve such questions or allegations.
Section 5. Protections of the Parties
5.1 Diligent efforts shall be undertaken to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of research misconduct and to restore the reputations of those persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed. Every effort shall be made to prevent retaliatory action against the Complainant and to protect his/her reputation if the allegations, however incorrect, were made in good faith. Similarly, diligent efforts shall be undertaken to restore the reputations of those persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed.
Section 6. Emergency Actions
6.1 The Provost has authority for emergency actions when justified by the need to protect the health and safety of research subjects or the interests of students, colleagues, the University or others. An emergency action may include temporary suspension, with pay, of a Respondent or the assignment of other duties in lieu of suspension. The Respondent may appeal this emergency action to the appropriate Grievance Committee.
6.2 If necessary, appropriate interim administrative actions will be taken by the Provost during all phases of Inquiry or Investigation into claims of research misconduct in order to protect Federal funds (including DHHS) involved, if any, and ensure that the purposes of Federal financial assistance are being carried out. The Provost shall promptly advise the Office of Research Integrity of any facts that may affect current or potential funding from a federal agency to an individual under investigation or any information that may be needed to otherwise protect public interest.
Section 7. Admission of Misconduct
7.1 If the Respondent in the course of an Inquiry or Hearing admits to the misconduct, any further proceedings shall be terminated and the Inquiry Panel or the Senate Committee shall file its report and recommendations as provided in pertinent sections above.