312.02.06 Policy and Procedures for Dealing with Allegations of Misconduct in Research at Georgia State University
A. Purpose of this Policy
This policy is adopted in compliance with various federal laws, regulations and policies dealing with misconduct in research. (For example, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (42 U.S.C. 289b) and Public Health Service (PHS) regulations to be promulgated pursuant to that Act. Also see Nati onal Science Foundation regulation at 45 CFR Part 689.) These laws, regulations and policies require universities receiving federal funds to establish administrative procedures for reviewing allegations of misconduct in connection with research. This policy pertains to all research (including federally funded research) conducted at Georgia State University (hereinafter "research"). The Office of the Vice President for Research is responsible for implementing this policy and for acting as liaison with external agencies and/or individuals making allegations.
Georgia State University pursues knowledge through research and transmits knowledge through teaching, publication and public service. A spirit of mutual respect and a broad trust that all faculty members, staff members, and students share in this dedication are essential to the functioning of the University.
Nevertheless, from time to time, a member of the University community may appear to have disregarded the accepted norms of professional behavior. The integrity of the program of the University requires that faculty, staff, and students demand high standards of conduct for themselves and others, and that appropriate sanctions will be imposed when misconduct has occurred. The reputations of those ultimately cleared of charges will be restored to the fullest extent possible. Allegations of misconduct must be resolved in a prompt and just manner, assuring no recriminations will befall a person making allegations in good faith.
B. Definition of Misconduct
For purposes of this policy, "Misconduct in Research" means the commitment of fraud in research. It includes: fabrication, falsification, plagiarism of research publications, theft of research data from others, or other practices which seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the research community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest errors or honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data. (42 CFR 50.102).
Furthermore, this definition includes violations of University policy pertaining to research, including: the failure to obtain proper review and approval by the university committees responsible for research involving human subjects, animal subjects, radioactive materials, or other biohazards as well as the failure to comply with rules and guidelines set forth by the committees responsible for these areas.
This definition is not intended to stifle creativity, to hinder the development of new empirical techniques, or to impede attempts to validate unconventional or revolutionary theories, nor is it intended to bring within the policy those aspects of research that may form a basis for legitimate disagreement. In short, the definition is not intended, nor should it be construed, as an attempt to institutionalize scientific conformity. Rather, it aims to discourage those practices which are specifically antithetical to the ideals of research.
This policy applies to every faculty member, staff member, employee, subcontractor, consultant or student engaged in research. Other sorts of reprehensible behavior (such as sexual harassment or misappropriation of funds) not uniquely related to research are considered outside the purview of this policy but may be covered by other policies of Georgia State University or by state or federal laws.
D. Filing An Allegation or Seeking Informal Advice
Any individual may consult with the Vice President for Research about possible misconduct in research. Such consultation shall be kept confidential to the extent permissible by law. Individuals who observe misconduct in research are required to file a written complaint, and submit it to the Vice President for Research. Upon receiving a complaint, the Vice President for Research shall have the following options:
1. Determine that the complaint is insufficient, and take no action
2. Refer the matter to the student judicial process, if appropriate
3. Refer the matter to the Office of Human Resources, if appropriate
4. Conduct a review of the complaint
E. Review of the Complaint
The Review of the Complaint shall be conducted by the Vice President for Research, and shall consist of the following:
1. Initial Inquiry: The Vice President for Research shall review the written complaint and determine whether probable cause exists to conduct a formal investigation. If the Vice President for Research agrees that probable cause has been established, then a formal investigation shall be conducted. If the Vice President for Research determines that no probable cause exists, he shall communicate this in writing to the accuser and the matter shall be closed.
2. Formal Investigation: If the Vice President for Research elects to conduct a formal investigation, he shall ask the President of the University to appoint a three-member ad hoc committee to conduct the formal investigation. The Vice President for Research will be a member of the committee, and will serve as Chairperson. The committee shall follow the procedures section of this policy as it conducts its investigation.
The following procedures shall be used in conducting the formal investigation. The formal investigation committee shall:
1. Inquire immediately into an allegation or other evidence of possible misconduct. An inquiry must be completed within sixty (60) calendar days of its initiation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. A written report shall be prepared which describes the evidence reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and includes the conclusions of the investigation. The individual or individuals against whom the allegation was made shall be given a copy of the report of the inquiry. If the accused comments on that report, those comments may be included as part of the record. If the investigation requires longer than sixty (60) days to complete, the record of the inquiry shall include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the sixty (60) day period. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(1))
2. Protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those who in good faith report apparent misconduct. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(2))
3. Afford the affected individual(s) confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible, a prompt and thorough investigation, and an opportunity to comment on allegations and findings of the inquiry and/or the investigation (42 CFR 50.103(d)(3)(d))
4. Notify the Director of the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), a component of the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health, (NIH), when, on the basis of the initial inquiry, the institution determines that an investigation is warranted, or prior to the decision to initiate an investigation if the conditions listed below exist:
a. there is an immediate hazard involved;
b. there is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment;
c. there is an immediate need to protect the interest of the person(s) making the allegation or of the individual(s) 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 institution must inform OSI within twenty-four (24) hours of obtaining that information. OSI will immediately notify the Office the Inspector General. (42 CFR 50 103 (d)(4)(5))
At a minimum, the notification should include the names of the person(s) against whom the allegations have been made, the general nature of the allegation, and the Public Health Service (PHS) application or grant number(s) involved. (42 CFR 50.104(a)(1))
5. Maintain sufficiently detailed documentation of inquiries to permit a later assessment of the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted, if necessary.
6. Begin the formal investigation within thirty (30) days of the completion of the initial inquiry, if probable cause is found. The formal 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. Whenever possible, interviews should be conducted with all individuals involved in making the allegation and against whom the allegation is made, as well as other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegation. Complete summaries of these interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed parties for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(7))
7. Secure necessary and appropriate expertise to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence and any inquiry or investigation. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(8))
8. Take precautions against real or apparent conflicts of interest on the part of those involved in the inquiry or investigation. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(9))
9. Prepare and maintain the documentation to substantiate the investigation's findings. This documentation is to be made available to the Director of the Office of Scientific Integrity of the National Institutes of Heath, who will decide whether that office will either proceed with its own investigation or will act on the institution's findings.
10. Take interim administrative actions, as appropriate, to protect federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are carried out. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(11))
11. Keep the OSI apprised of any developments during the course of the investigation which disclose facts which may affect current or potential PHS funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the PHS needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(12))
12. Undertake diligent efforts, as appropriate, to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed, and also undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(13))
13. Complete the formal investigation within one hundred and twenty (120) days of the initial inquiry. Completion of the investigation shall include conducting the investigation, preparing the report of the finding, making the report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the OSI. If they can be identified, the person(s) who raised the allegation should be provided with those portions of the report that address their role and opinions in the investigation. (42 (CFR 50.104.(d)(14))
14. Impose appropriate sanctions on individuals when the allegation of misconduct has been substantiated. ( 41 CFR 50.103(d)(14))
15. Notify the OSI of the final outcome of the investigation. (42 CFR 50.103(d)(15)) If the University plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all requirements outlined above, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be prepared. Such report shall be supplied to the relevant funding agency in accordance with federal regulations. (42 CFR 50.104(a)(3))
A report of any investigation conducted shall be prepared which shall describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained relevant to the investigation, the findings, and the basis for the findings, and it shall include the actual text or 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 institution. The report shall be submitted to any federal agency as required by law. (42 CFR 50.104(a)(4))
If it is determined that a formal investigation can not be completed in one hundred and twenty (120) days and the formal investigation pertains to research conducted under federal sponsorship, the University shall comply with pertinent regulations in submitting a request for an extension of time to complete the investigation. (42 CFR 50.104(a)(5))
The University shall cooperate with any funding agency when an allegation pertains to misconduct which occurred during the course of a project funded by the agency.
The formal investigation may result in a determination of guilt or innocence. If appropriate, the imposition of sanctions may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
1. Formal reprimand which is filed in the employee or faculty member's personnel file;
2. Mandated restitution of funds that were used to conduct the research in which the misconduct occurred;
3. Mandated actions to redress the consequences of misconduct;
4. Partial or total suspension from duties for a specified time with or without concomitant loss of pay;
5. Reassignment of academic duties;
6. Reduction in salary;
7. Non-reappointment at the end of a specified term of employment;
8. Removal from a special position of privilege or prestige (such as a titled professorship or an endowed chair);
9. Immediate severance of employment with the University;
10. Disbarment from future contractual relationship with the University for a specified or indefinite period.
In the case of students, permissible sanctions are set forth in the "Student Code of Conduct and Policies" but one or more of the sanctions set forth above as to faculty may also pertain to students.
Appeals of the decisions of the formal investigation committee may be made in writing to the Provost within five (5) days after the decision is made. Appeals of the decisions of the Provost may be made to the President within five (5) days after the decision is made. Sanctions will take effect when University level appeals are exhausted.
Should the accused be dissatisfied with the decision of the President, the accused may appeal to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for a review of the decision. Such appeal must be submitted in writing within twenty (20) days following the decision of the President. The decision of the Board shall be final and binding for all purposes.
(Source: Vice President for Research, August 8, 1996)