Faculty and Staff Handbook

24th Edition, 2015 Version

Chapter VII: UWS and UWRF Policies

7.10 Scientific Misconduct

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, UW-River Falls adopts these policies and procedures for reviewing and investigating allegations of scientific misconduct.

Faculty and staff are reminded that Chapter UWS 8 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, the Unclassified Staff Code of Ethics, provides that:

Every member of the faculty and academic staff at the time of appointment makes a personal commitment to professional honesty and integrity that meets the demanding standards of the state and national academic communities.

Students are reminded that Chapter UWS 14, Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures, provides under Statement of Principles:

The Board of Regents, administrators, faculty, academic staff and students of the University of Wisconsin system believe that academic honesty and integrity are fundamental to the mission of higher education and of the University of Wisconsin system. The University has a responsibility to promote academic honesty and integrity and to develop procedures to deal effectively with instances of academic dishonesty. Students are responsible for the honest completion and representation of their work, for the appropriate citation of sources, and for respect for others' academic endeavors. Students who violate these standards must be confronted and must accept the consequences of their actions.

7.10.1 Policy and Definition

For purposes of these policies and procedures, "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.

Misconduct in science is prohibited at UW-River Falls, and may be cause for discipline or dismissal.

Misuse by a researcher of University funds (including grant and contract funding from extramural sponsors) is also cause for discipline or dismissal and may be cause for criminal prosecution. However, an allegation of misuse of funds is not within the scope of this policy; such allegation shall be referred to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who will consult with the Controller concerning an appropriate course of action.

A violation of institutional procedures or federal regulations on the protection of human or animal research subjects or a violation of state or federal safety laws or regulations is also not within the scope of this policy. An allegation regarding any such violation shall be promptly referred to the chair of the Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Committee in cases involving human subjects, to the chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee in cases involving animal subjects, or to the Chancellor in cases involving safety.

The goal of the procedures outlined below is to assure the integrity of scholarly research, to achieve a rapid and equitable resolution of all charges, and to assure that all parties are treated with fairness. In order to protect the reputation of an innocent party, the procedures will preserve the maximum level of confidentiality consistent with law and with justice for all parties to these procedures. All parties will take whatever action is required to avoid any unnecessary conflict of interest.

Where an inquiry or investigation results in a finding that no misconduct has occurred, the University will not institute a new inquiry or investigation into an allegation of misconduct where the allegation is made against the same person and is based on material facts which were reviewed and found not to constitute misconduct during the prior inquiry or investigation, unless new material evidence is presented by a different complainant, or unless the person who is the subject of the inquiry or investigation requests another proceeding.

Because of the difficulties of assessing stale claims and the unfairness to the person against whom the allegation is made, allegations based on conduct which occurred seven years or more prior to the making of the allegation will not be inquired into under this policy unless the circumstances indicate that the alleged conduct was not discoverable earlier.

7.10.2 Procedures

(1) Inquiry upon allegation or other evidence of possible misconduct:

(a) Informal allegations or 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 an informal report or allegation is responsible for either resolving the matter or encouraging the submission of a formal allegation or report. Upon receipt of formal allegations or reports of scientific misconduct, the person with immediate responsibility for the work of the individual against whom the allegations or reports have been made shall immediately inform, in writing, the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

(b) The Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs shall appoint an individual or individuals to conduct a prompt inquiry into the allegation or report of misconduct.

  1. The individual or individuals conducting the inquiry shall prepare a written report for the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs describing the evidence reviewed, summarizing relevant interviews and including the conclusions of the inquiry.
  2. 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 days to complete, the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period shall be documented and included with the record.
  3. The individual against whom the allegation was made shall be given a copy of the report of the inquiry by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and shall have an opportunity to respond to the report with 10 days of receipt. Any response must be in writing and will become a part of the record of the inquiry.
  4. To protect the privacy and reputation of all individuals involved, including the individual in good faith reporting 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.

(c) If the inquiry concludes that the allegation of misconduct is unsubstantiated and an investigation is not warranted, the reasons and supporting documentation for this conclusion shall be reported to the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who shall be responsible for reviewing the conclusion of the inquiry. If the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs concurs in the conclusion that an investigation is not warranted, his or her determination and all other supporting documentation from the inquiry shall be recorded and the record maintained confidentially for a period of three years after the termination of the inquiry. If the inquiry or the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs determines that an investigation is warranted, the procedures in paragraph (2) shall be followed.

(2) Investigation of reported misconduct in science:

(a) If an investigation is determined to be warranted under paragraph (1), the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs shall so inform the Chancellor. The Chancellor 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 UW-River Falls may be asked to serve as consultants to the investigating committee.

(b) 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 allegation 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 made a part of the record of the investigation.

(c) The individual making the allegation, 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.

(d) The investigation should ordinarily be completed within 60 days of its initiation unless conditions warrant a longer period. This includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of the findings, making that report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the Chancellor. If the investigating committee determines that it cannot complete the investigation within the 120-day period, it shall submit to the Chancellor 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 Health Service (PHS), the procedures under paragraph (3) (d) of this policy also apply.

(e) The report of the investigation should include a description of the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, information obtained and the sources of such information, an accurate summary of the position of the individual under investigation, the findings of the committee, including the bases for its findings, and the committee's recommendation to the Chancellor concerning whether the evidence of scientific misconduct is sufficient to warrant discipline or dismissal under the applicable faculty or academic staff personnel rules. All documentation substantiating the findings and recommendation of the investigating committee, together with all other information comprising the record of the investigation, shall be transmitted to the Chancellor with the report, upon completion of the investigation.

(f) A copy of the investigating committee's report shall be provided to the individual being investigated. The Chancellor or appropriate administrative officer shall afford the individual under investigation an opportunity to discuss the matter prior to taking action under paragraph (3) of this policy.

(3) Reporting to Office of Research Integrity (ORI) where research is funded by Public Health Service (PHS) grants or where research is funded by an agency within Public Health Service:

(a) A determination that an investigation should be initiated under paragraph (1)(c) must be reported in writing to the ORI Director on or before the date the investigation begins. The notification should state the name 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.

(b) 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 and that might require agency interpretation of funding regulations.

(c) The ORI must be notified at any stage of an inquiry or investigation if the University determines that any of the following conditions exist:

  1. there is an immediate health hazard involved;
  2. there is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment;
  3. there is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person making the allegation