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Miscellaneous

Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research and Academic Misconduct - 1Q5

I.     Introduction

 A.            Preamble

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) believes that a positive climate for the exchange of information among scholars is an important factor in the maintenance of professional standards of competence and responsibility. The encouragement of intellectual honesty at all levels within the academic community is the foundation that fosters such a climate, and therefore, SIUE does not condone or tolerate research or academic misconduct. This document articulates SIUE’s policy on academic integrity in scholarship and research and prescribes procedures for impartial investigation and fair resolution of allegations of misconduct.

In addition to meeting SIUE’s responsibilities under the Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct, SIUE is aware that many professional associations have ethical codes or guidelines for the conduct of research. SIUE personnel are expected to comply with all such standards. Violations of such standards are a matter for peer review and censure and may, in some instances, also become grounds for disciplinary action by SIUE.

 B.            Scope

This policy is intended to carry out SIUE’s responsibilities under the Public Health Service (PHS) Policies on Research Misconduct, 42 CFR Part 93, corresponding policies on research misconduct of other funding agencies, and any other conduct that seriously conflicts with accepted ethical standards in research and scholarship.  This policy applies to all SIUE employees involved in funded or unfunded research, applications for federal funding, as well as scholarly and creative activities.  Student academic misconduct shall be handled in accordance with Student Academic Code Policy 3C2 and Plagiarism Policy 1I6, except in cases where allegations against a student are directly related to a student’s participation in an externally-funded project from a sponsor, such as the Public Health Service (PHS), that requires following the research misconduct procedure outlined in this policy. 

This policy does not apply to differences of opinion or interpretation, honest (unintentional or inadvertent) error, authorship or collaboration disputes, nor does it distinguish between funded and unfunded research, activities, except where it refers to specific agency requirements. 

II.    Definitions

Academic and Research Misconduct is defined by SIUE as:

  • research or academic misconduct, which includes but is not limited to:
    •  fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results;
    • plagiarism, breach of confidentiality with respect to unpublished material, violation of accepted standards regarding submission and publication of scholarly works, and other misrepresentations of originality;
    • failure to comply with research regulations or requirements, including, but not limited to, those applying to human subjects, laboratory animals, biohazardous agents, and standards of safety; or
    • any other conduct which seriously conflicts with accepted ethical standards in research and scholarship, including intentionally misleading or false reporting of credentials or other academically related information.
  • Misconduct involves acts of deception and excludes differences of opinion or interpretation and honest (unintentional or inadvertent) error.  Authorship disputes do not, in and of themselves, constitute misconduct.

Allegation means a disclosure of possible academic or research misconduct through any means of communication, written or oral, to an institutional official.

Committee on Research Integrity (CRI) means the standing committee that works in conjunction with the RIO to administer cases of alleged academic or research misconduct.

Complainant means a person who in good faith makes an allegation of academic or research misconduct.

Conflict of interest means financial, personal, or professional relationships that may compromise, or appear to compromise, an individual’s decisions. 

Deciding Official (DO) means the SIUE official who makes final determinations on allegations of academic and research misconduct and any institutional administrative actions.  The DO will not be the same individual as the Research Integrity Officer and should have no direct prior involvement in SIUE’s inquiry, investigation, or allegation assessment.  A DO’s appointment of an individual (1) to assess allegations of research misconduct or (2) to serve on an inquiry or investigation committee is not considered to be direct prior involvement.  The DO for SIUE is the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Deputy Research Integrity Officer (DRIO) means the SIUE official responsible for:  (1) assisting in the execution of the RIO’s responsibilities and (2) serving as the RIO in the event the RIO is unavailable or has a conflict of interest.  The DRIO for SIUE is the Associate Dean for Research.  In the event the DRIO is unavailable or has a conflict of interest, a designee shall be appointed by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Evidence means any document, tangible item, or testimony offered or obtained during a research or academic misconduct proceeding, including the research record, which tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact.

Fabrication means 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.

Good faith means having a belief in the truth of one’s statements such that a reasonable person in the same position could have, based on the information known to one at the time.  A statement or allegation is not in good faith if made with the knowing or reckless disregard for information that would negate the allegation or statement.

Inquiry means preliminary information-gathering, fact-finding, and review to determine if the criteria for conducting a formal investigation of the alleged misconduct have been met.  An Inquiry is not a formal hearing; it is designed to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from frivolous, unjustified, malicious, or clearly mistaken allegations.

Institutional member means a person who is employed by, is an agent of, or is affiliated by contract or agreement with SIUE.  Institutional members may include, but are not limited to, officials, tenured and untenured faculty, teaching and support staff, researchers, research coordinators, clinical technicians, postdoctoral and other fellows, students, volunteers, agents and contractors, subcontractors, and subawardees, and their employees.

Investigation is the formal development of a detailed, factual record and the examination of that record to determine if the alleged misconduct did or did not occur.  If the investigation finds that misconduct did occur, the findings may include recommendations for further investigations, for other appropriate actions, including administrative actions, for appropriate sanctions. 

Notice means a written communication served in person or sent by mail or its equivalent to the last known street address, facsimile number or e-mail address of the addressee.  Notice will be deemed to be received upon personal delivery, one (1) day after deposit with express courier, upon confirmation of receipt of facsimile or email or no receipt of error in delivery of the facsimile or email, or five (5) days after deposit in the mail.  

Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit, including failing to put a quotation in quotation marks, or giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation. 

Preponderance of the evidence means proof by information that, compared with that opposing it, leads to the conclusion  that the fact at issue is more probably true than not.

Research means a systematic experiment, study, evaluation, demonstration, or survey designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge (basic research) or specific knowledge (applied research).  At SIUE “research” includes all scholarly and creative activities and publishing. 

Research Integrity Inquiry Panel (RIIP) means the panel responsible for conducting an inquiry. 

Research Integrity Officer (RIO) means the SIUE official responsible for:  (1) assessing allegations of academic and research misconduct to determine if they fall within the definition of academic and research misconduct, are covered by 42 CFR Part 93, and warrant an inquiry on the basis that the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified; (2) overseeing inquires and investigations; and (3) the other responsibilities described in this policy.  The RIO for SIUE is the Associate Provost for Research.

Research record means the record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from academic and research inquiry, including, but not limited to proposals, laboratory records, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, journal articles, books or chapters in books, videos, tape recordings, photographs, databases, and any document and materials provided to an institutional official by a Respondent in the course of a misconduct proceeding. 

Respondent means the person against whom an allegation of academic or research misconduct is directed or who is the subject of a misconduct proceeding.

Retaliation means, for the purpose of this policy, an adverse action taken against a complainant, witness, or committee member by SIUE or one of its institutional members in response to (a) a good faith allegation of academic or research misconduct or (b) good faith cooperation with an academic or research misconduct proceeding. 

III.  General Policies and Principles

A.            Responsibility to Report Misconduct

All institutional members will report observed, suspected, or apparent research and academic misconduct to the RIO.  If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research or academic misconduct, they may meet with or contact the RIO to discuss the suspected research or academic misconduct informally, which may include reporting it anonymously and/or discussing it hypothetically.  If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of research or academic misconduct, the RIO will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem, if applicable.

At any time, an institutional member may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the RIO and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

B.            Cooperation with Research or Academic Misconduct Proceedings

Institutional members will cooperate with the RIO and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations.  SIUE institutional members, including respondents, have an obligation to provide evidence relevant to research or academic misconduct allegations to the RIO or other SIUE officials.

C.            Confidentiality

All SIUE employees involved in administering this policy and its procedures are expected to make diligent efforts to protect the identities, academic reputations, positions, and rights of those who make good-faith allegations of academic misconduct and those who are the subject of such allegations. To the extent possible, SIUE shall maintain the identity of complainant and respondent in confidence and shall not disclose any identifying information or details of a misconduct proceeding or report, except:

  1. to those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective, and fair misconduct proceeding;  
  2. to funding agencies, as required by law, as they conduct a review of the misconduct proceeding and any subsequent proceedings; or
  3. as otherwise may be prescribed by applicable law.

The nature of the allegation and the evidence available will determine whether or not a case can be reviewed effectively without the involvement of complainant in the proceedings. Cases that depend specifically upon the observations or statements of complainant cannot proceed without the involvement of that individual; other cases that can rely on documentary evidence may permit complainant to remain anonymous.

To the extent possible, any information obtained during the misconduct proceeding that might identify the human subject(s) of research shall be maintained securely and confidentially and shall not be disclosed, except to those who need to know in order to carry out the misconduct proceedings.

The RIO may use mechanisms such as written confidentiality agreements as needed.

For breaches of confidentiality, SIUE may, as necessary, take administrative actions, including but not limited to disciplinary measures.

D.            Interim Administrative Actions and Notifying ORI of Special Circumstances

Throughout the research or academic misconduct proceeding, the RIO will review the situation to determine if there is any threat of harm to public health, federal funds and equipment, or the integrity of the research process.  In the event of such a threat, the RIO will, in consultation with other institutional officials and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Office of Research Integrity (ORI), if needed, take appropriate interim action to protect against any such threat.  Interim action might include additional monitoring of the research process and the handling of federal funds and equipment, reassignment of personnel or of the responsibility for the handling of federal funds and equipment, additional review of research data and results or delaying publication.  The RIO shall, at any time during a research or academic misconduct proceeding, notify, if needed, ORI or other relevant agency immediately if the RIO has reason to believe that any of the following conditions exist: 

  • health or safety of the public is at risk, including an immediate need to protect human or animals
  • federal sponsor resources or interests are threatened
  • research activities should be suspended
  • a reasonable indication of possible violations of civil or criminal law exist
  • federal action is required to protect the interests of those involved in the research or academic misconduct proceeding
  • the misconduct proceeding may be made public prematurely and HHS or other agency action may be necessary to safeguard evidence and protect the rights of those involved or
  • the research community or public should be informed.

E.            Advisors

The respondent and complainant may consult with their own legal counsel or a non-lawyer personal adviser (who may not be a principal or witness in the case) and, subject to the RIO’s prior approval, bring the counsel or personal adviser to interviews or meetings on the case. When counsel or personal adviser is present at an inquiry or investigation committee interview or meeting, their activities will be limited to advising the complainant or respondent, as opposed to representing the complainant or respondent before the committee. The adviser or counsel may not direct questions to the committee other than simple requests for clarification.    

All interviews conducted during the assessment, inquiry or investigation will be transcribed.  Each interviewee will be provided with a copy of the transcript and given five (5) business days to review the transcript of their interview(s) for accuracy.  Changes to the transcript are limited to factual errors.  The final corrected versions of all transcripts will be part of the official record of the misconduct proceedings.

IV.  Responsibilities of the RIO and Appointment of the CRI

A.            Responsibilities of the Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

The RIO will have primary responsibility for implementation of this policy.  These responsibilities include the following duties.

  • Consult confidentially with persons uncertain about whether to submit an allegation of academic or research misconduct.
  • Receive allegations of academic and research misconduct.
  • Assess each allegation of academic and research misconduct in accordance with this policy to determine whether it falls within the definition of research or academic misconduct and warrants an inquiry.
  • As necessary, take interim action and notify PHS’s Office of Research Integrity (ORI) or other sponsor of special circumstances, in accordance with this policy.
  • Sequester research data and evidence pertinent to the allegation of research or academic misconduct in accordance with this policy and maintain it securely in accordance with this policy and applicable law and regulation.
  • To the extent possible, provide confidentiality to those involved in the research or academic misconduct proceedings.
  • Notify the respondent and provide opportunities for them to review/comment/respond to allegations, evidence, and committee reports in accordance with this policy.
  • Inform respondents, complainants, and witnesses of the procedural steps in the research or academic misconduct proceeding.
  • Appoint the members of the Research Integrity Inquiry Panel (“RIIP”) and the Committee on Research Integrity (“CRI”), ensure that the committee is properly staffed and that there is expertise appropriate to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the evidence.
  • Determine whether each person involved in handling an allegation of research or academic misconduct has an unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflict of interest and take appropriate action, including recusal, to ensure that no person with such conflict is involved in the research or academic misconduct proceeding.
  • Keep the DO and others who need to know apprised of the progress of the review of the allegation of research or academic misconduct.
  • If applicable, notify and make reports to ORI as required by 42 CFR Part 93.
  • Ensure that administrative actions taken by SIUE and ORI or other agency, if applicable, are enforced and take appropriate action to notify other involved parties, such as sponsors, law enforcement agencies, professional societies, and licensing boards of those actions.
  • Maintain records of the research or academic misconduct proceeding and make them available to ORI or another relevant agency in accordance with this policy.

B.            The Committee on Research Integrity (CRI)

The RIO shall appoint a standing committee of at least three (3) senior faculty members and one alternate faculty member from at least three schools/colleges to the CRI.  Ad hoc voting members from within or without SIUE may be appointed by the RIO to ensure the membership of the CRI has the proper expertise during the research or academic misconduct proceedings.  The RIO shall be a non-voting member of the CRI.

Appointments of the CRI members shall be for staggered three-year terms, which are renewable. The RIO will take into consideration a faculty member’s research portfolio, rank, expertise, and years of experience when appointing these individuals to the CRI.

For all allegations of academic or research misconduct that involve violations of federal or institutional rules and regulations governing the conduct of research involving human subjects, animals, or biohazardous materials, the Chair or designee of the relevant compliance committee (e.g., Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or Institutional Biosafety Committee) will serve as a voting ex officio member of the RIIP and the CRI.

V.    Conducting the Assessment and Inquiry

A.            Assessment of Allegations

Upon receiving an allegation of research or academic misconduct, the RIO will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether it is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research or academic misconduct may be identified, whether it is within the jurisdictional criteria of 42 CFR § 93.102(b), and whether the allegation falls within the definition of research or academic misconduct in 42 CFR § 93.103 or SIUE policies.  An inquiry must be conducted if any of these criteria are met. 

The assessment period should be brief, preferably concluded within 5 business days.  In conducting the assessment, the RIO need not interview the complainant, respondent, or other witnesses, or gather data beyond any that may have been submitted with the allegation, except as necessary to determine whether the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research or academic misconduct may be identified.  

B.            Initiation and Purpose of the Inquiry

If the RIO determines that the criteria for an inquiry are met, they will immediately initiate the inquiry process.  The purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the available evidence to determine whether to conduct an investigation.  An inquiry does not require a full review of all the evidence related to the allegation.     

C.            Notice to Respondent; Initial Sequestration of Research Records; Admission

On or before the date on which the respondent is notified or the inquiry begins, whichever is earlier, the RIO must take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of all the research records and evidence needed to conduct the inquiry or investigation, if applicable,  inventory the records and evidence and sequester them in a secure manner; provided, however,  that where the research records or evidence encompass scientific instruments shared by a number of users, custody may be limited to copies of the data or evidence on such instruments, so long as those copies are substantially equivalent to the evidentiary value of the instruments.    Also, on or before the date on which the respondent is notified, the RIO shall notify the respondent’s department chair and the dean of the respondent’s school/college of all allegations of research misconduct and the initiation of the inquiry process.

At the time of or before beginning an inquiry, the RIO must make a good faith effort to notify the respondent in writing, if the respondent is known.  The notice to respondent shall include the following:

  • timeline for the inquiry
  • a description of all allegations of research misconduct made against the respondent
  • a copy of this policy
  • the names of the CRI members and any ad hoc members.

The respondent shall have two (2) business days from receipt of the notice to raise concerns regarding any potential conflicts of interest.  SIUE shall make the final determination of whether a conflict of interest exists and if a conflict of interest is found to exist, individuals who have a conflict of interest will not be permitted to participate in the inquiry or investigation, if applicable.  If the inquiry subsequently identifies additional respondents, they must also be notified in writing. 

D.            Appointment of the Inquiry Committee

To initiate the inquiry process, the RIO will appoint a Research Integrity Inquiry Panel (RIIP).  The RIIP shall consist of at least three (3) members: the RIO and two or more members of the CRI.  The RIO will serve as a non-voting member of the RIIP.  Ad hoc members may be appointed by the RIO to ensure the membership of the RIIP has the proper expertise during the misconduct proceedings.  These individuals will become ad hoc voting members of the CRI if an investigation results from the inquiry for the duration of the case in question.  RIIP members shall be carefully selected in order to minimize either the substance or the appearance of personal or professional conflicts of interest.  No member of the RIIP will be assigned to an allegation involving his or her own department.

E.            Charge to the RIIP and First Meeting

The RIO will prepare a charge for the RIIP that:

  • sets forth the time for completion of the inquiry
  • describes the allegations and any related issues identified during the allegation assessment
  • states that the purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the evidence, which may include the testimony of the respondent, complainant and key witnesses, to determine whether an investigation is warranted, not to determine whether research or academic misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible
  • states that an investigation is warranted if the RIIP determines:  (1) there is a reasonable basis for concluding that the allegation falls within the definition of research or academic misconduct and, if relevant, is within the jurisdictional criteria of 42 CFR § 93.102(b); and, (2) the allegation may have substance, based on the RIIP’s review during the inquiry
  • informs the RIIP that they are responsible for preparing or directing the preparation of a written report of the inquiry that meets the requirements of this policy and 42 CFR § 93.309(a), if applicable. 

At the RIIP's first meeting for an inquiry, the RIO will review the charge; discuss the allegations, any related issues, and the appropriate procedures for conducting the inquiry; assist the RIIP with organizing plans for the inquiry; and answer any questions raised by the RIIP. 

F.            Inquiry Process

The RIIP may interview the complainant, the respondent, and key witnesses as well as examine relevant research records and materials.  The RIIP will evaluate the evidence, including any testimony obtained during the inquiry.  The scope of the inquiry is not required to and does not normally include deciding whether misconduct definitely occurred, determining definitely who committed the misconduct or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses.  However, if a legally sufficient admission of research or academic misconduct is made by the respondent, misconduct may be determined at the inquiry stage if all relevant issues are resolved.  In that case, if applicable, SIUE shall promptly consult with ORI or relevant agency to determine the next steps that should be taken. 

G.            Time for Completion

The inquiry, including preparation of the final inquiry report and the decision of the DO on whether an investigation is warranted, must be completed within 60 calendar days of initiation of the inquiry, unless the RIO determines that circumstances clearly warrant a longer period.  If the RIO approves an extension, the inquiry record must include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period.  The respondent will be notified in writing of the extension.

VI.  The Inquiry Report

A.            Elements of the Inquiry Report

A written inquiry report shall be prepared by the RIIP that includes the following information: 

(1)     the name and position of the respondent

(2)     a description of the allegations of research or academic misconduct

(3)     all funding support, including, for example, grant numbers, grant applications, contracts and publications listing funding support, if applicable

(4)     the names and titles of the RIIP members and ad hoc members who conducted the inquiry

(5)     a summary of the inquiry process

(6)     a list of the research records reviewed and summaries of any interviews conducted

(7)     the basis for recommending or not recommending that the allegations warrant an investigation

(8)     any recommendations for other actions to be taken if the RIIP does not recommend investigation

(9)     any comments on the draft report by the respondent.

SIUE legal counsel should review the report for legal sufficiency.  Modifications should be made as appropriate in consultation with the RIO and the RIIP.

B.            Notification to the Respondent and Opportunity to Comment

The RIO shall notify the respondent whether the inquiry found an investigation to be warranted, include a copy of the draft inquiry report for comment, include a copy of or refer to 42 CFR Part 93, if applicable, and SIUE’s policies and procedures on research or academic  misconduct.  The respondent shall be allowed 5 business days from receipt of the draft report to provide the RIO with their comments on the report.  The RIO may notify the complainant whether the inquiry found an investigation to be warranted.  

Any comments that are submitted by the respondent will be attached as an appendix to the final inquiry report.  Based on the comments, the RIIP may revise the draft report as appropriate and prepare it in final form. 

C.            Institutional Decision and Notification

1.     Decision by Deciding Official

The RIO will transmit the final inquiry report and any comments to the DO.  The DO will, after consulting with the RIO and/or the RIIP members, decide whether an investigation is warranted based on the criteria in this policy and 42 CFR § 93.307(d).  Any finding that an investigation is warranted must be made in writing by the DO. 

2.     Notification to ORI or Sponsor, If Relevant

For allegations that fall within the statute of limitations of 42 CFR § 93.105 for misconduct under 42 CFR § 93.307, within 30 calendar days of the DO’s decision that an investigation is warranted, the RIO will provide ORI with the DO’s written decision and a copy of the inquiry report.  The RIO will also notify those SIUE officials who need to know of the DO's decision.  The RIO must provide the following information to ORI upon request:  (1) SIUE policies and procedures under which the inquiry was conducted; (2) the research records and evidence reviewed, transcripts or recordings of any interviews, and copies of all relevant documents; and (3) the charges to be considered in the investigation.   If applicable, the sponsor or other relevant agency will be notified per their requirements.

3.     Documentation of Decision Not to Investigate

If the DO decides that an investigation is not warranted, the RIO shall secure and maintain for 7 years after the termination of the inquiry sufficiently detailed documentation of the inquiry to permit a later assessment by ORI or other agency of the reasons why an investigation was not conducted.  These documents must be provided to ORI, other authorized HHS personnel, or another applicable agency upon request.

VII. Conducting the Investigation

A.            Initiation and Purpose

The investigation must begin within 30 calendar days after the determination by the DO that an investigation is warranted.  The purpose of the investigation is to develop a factual record by exploring the allegations in detail and examining the evidence in depth, leading to recommended findings on whether research or academic misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent.  The investigation will also determine whether there are additional instances of possible research or academic  misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations.  This is particularly important where the alleged research or academic misconduct involves clinical trials or potential harm to human subjects or the general public or if it affects research that forms the basis for public policy, clinical practice, or public health practice.  For research misconduct, 42 CFR § 93.313 requires that the findings of the investigation must be set forth in an investigation report.

B.            Notifying ORI or Other Agency and Respondent; Sequestration of Research Records

For cases of research misconduct, on or before the date on which the investigation begins, the RIO must:  (1) in cases of funded research notify the ORI Director or relevant agency of the decision to begin the investigation and provide a copy of the inquiry report; and (2) notify the respondent in writing of the allegations to be investigated.  The RIO must also give the respondent written notice of any new allegations of research or academic misconduct within a reasonable amount of time of deciding to pursue allegations not addressed during the inquiry or in the initial notice of the investigation.

The RIO will, prior to notifying respondent of the allegations, take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of and sequester in a secure manner all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research or academic misconduct proceeding that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry.  The need for additional sequestration of records for the investigation may occur for any number of reasons, including SIUE's decision to investigate additional allegations not considered during the inquiry stage or the identification of records during the inquiry process that had not been previously secured.  The procedures to be followed for sequestration during the investigation are the same procedures that apply during the inquiry.

C. Charge to the Committee and the First Meeting

1.     Charge to the Committee on Research Integrity

The RIO will define the subject matter of the investigation in a written charge to the CRI that:

  • describes the allegations and related issues identified during the inquiry
    • identifies the respondent
    • informs the committee that it must conduct the investigation as prescribed in this policy
    • defines research or academic  misconduct
    • informs the committee that it must evaluate the evidence and testimony to determine whether, based on a preponderance of the evidence, research or academic misconduct occurred and, if so, the type and extent of it and who was responsible
    • informs the committee that in order to determine that the respondent committed research or academic  misconduct it must find that a preponderance of the evidence establishes that:  (1) research or academic  misconduct, as defined in this policy, occurred (respondent has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence any affirmative defenses raised, including  honest error or a difference of opinion); (2) the research or academic  misconduct is a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant academic community; and (3) the respondent committed the research or academic  misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly
    • informs the committee that it must prepare or direct the preparation of a written investigation report that meets the requirements of this policy or 42 CFR § 93.313 if applicable.

2.     First Meeting

The RIO will convene the first meeting of the CRI to review the charge, the inquiry report, and the prescribed procedures and standards for the conduct of the investigation, including the necessity for confidentiality and for developing a specific investigation plan.  The CRI will be provided with a copy of this policy and procedures and 42 CFR Part 93, if applicable.  The RIO will be present or available throughout the investigation to advise the committee as needed.

D.            Investigation Process

The CRI and the RIO must: 

  • use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation
  • take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased investigation to the maximum extent practical
  • interview each respondent, complainant, and any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent, and record and transcribe each interview, provide the recording or transcript to the interviewee for correction, and include the recording or transcript in the record of the investigation
  • pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of any additional instances of possible research or academic misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion.

E.            Time for Completion

The investigation is to be completed within 120 calendar days of beginning it, including conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, providing the draft report for comment and sending the final report to ORI or other agency, if applicable.  However, if the RIO determines that the investigation will not be completed within this 120-day period, they will submit in the case of research misconduct to ORI or other agency, if applicable, a written request for an extension, setting forth the reasons for the delay.  For academic misconduct, the RIO will request an extension from the DO.  The RIO will ensure that periodic progress reports are filed with ORI or other agency, if applicable, if the request for an extension is granted and the filing of such reports is required.  

VIII.   The Investigation Report

A.            Elements of the Investigation Report

The CRI is responsible for preparing a written draft report of the investigation that: 

  • describes the nature of the allegation of research or academic  misconduct, including identification of the respondent  
  • describes and documents , if relevant, the funded support, including, for example, the numbers of any grants that are involved, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing research support
  • describes the specific allegations of research or academic  misconduct considered in the investigation
  • includes SIUE policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, unless those policies and procedures were provided previously
  • identifies and summarizes the research records and evidence reviewed and identifies any evidence taken into custody but not reviewed
  • includes a statement of findings for each allegation of research or academic  misconduct identified during the investigation.  Each statement of findings must: (1) identify the type of research or academic  misconduct (e.g., was the misconduct falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism) and whether it was committed intentionally, knowingly, or  recklessly;  (2) summarize the facts and the analysis that support the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent, including any effort by respondent to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she did not engage in research or academic  misconduct  because of honest error or a difference of opinion; (3) identify the specific funded support; (4) identify whether any publications need correction or retraction; (5) identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and (6) list any current support or known applications or proposals for support that the respondent has pending with external entities.

B.            Comments on the Draft Report and Access to Evidence

1.     Respondent

The RIO must give the respondent a copy of the draft investigation report for comment and, concurrently, a copy of or supervised access to the evidence on which the report is based.  The respondent will be allowed 30 days from the date of receipt of the draft report to submit comments to the RIO.  The respondent's comments will be included and considered in the final report.

2.     Confidentiality

In distributing the draft report, or portions thereof, to the respondent, the RIO will inform the recipient of the confidentiality under which the draft report is made available and may establish reasonable conditions to ensure such confidentiality.  For example, the RIO may require that the recipient sign a confidentiality agreement.

C.            Decision by Deciding Official

The RIO will assist the CRI in finalizing the draft investigation report, including ensuring that the respondent’s comments are included and considered, and transmit the final investigation report to the DO. The DO will determine: (1) whether SIUE accepts the investigation report, its findings, including the recommended institutional actions or (2) whether to return the report to the CRI with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. If the DO determines that the appropriate institutional actions in response to the accepted findings of research or academic misconduct should vary from the findings of the CRI, the DO will, as part of their written determination, explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from the findings of the CRI.   For cases involving employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the employee may request a disciplinary hearing pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement prior to the implementation of any disciplinary action. 

When a final decision on the case has been reached, the RIO will normally notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing.  After informing ORI or other agency, if applicable, the DO  will determine whether law enforcement agencies, professional societies, professional licensing boards, editors of journals in which falsified reports may have been published, collaborators of the respondent in the work, or other relevant parties should be notified of the outcome of the case.  The RIO is responsible for ensuring compliance with all notification requirements of funding or sponsoring agencies.

D.    Appeals

The DO’s decision is final.  There is no option to appeal through this policy, although appeal options may exist through discipline processes in collective bargaining agreements.

E.    Notice to ORI or Other Agency of SIUE Findings and Actions

If applicable, unless an extension has been granted, the RIO must, within the 120-day period for completing the investigation, submit the following to ORI or other agency:  (1) a copy of the final investigation report with all attachments, (2) a statement of whether SIUE accepts the findings of the investigation; (3) a statement of whether SIUE found misconduct and, if so, who committed the misconduct; and (4) a description of  any pending or completed administrative actions against the respondent.

F.             Maintaining Records for Review by ORI or Other Agency

For research misconduct governed by 42 CFR Part 93, the RIO must maintain and provide to ORI or other agency upon request “records of research misconduct proceedings” as that term is defined by 42 CFR § 93.317.  Unless custody has been transferred to HHS or ORI or another agency has advised in writing that the records no longer need to be retained, records of research misconduct proceedings must be maintained in a secure manner for 7 years after completion of the proceeding or the completion of any PHS or other agency proceeding involving the research misconduct allegation. The RIO is also responsible for providing any information, documentation, research records, evidence or clarification requested by ORI or other agency to carry out its review of an allegation of research misconduct or of SIUE’s handling of such an allegation.

IX.    Completion of Cases; Reporting Premature Closures to ORI

Generally, all inquiries and investigations will be carried through to completion and all significant issues will be pursued diligently.  The RIO must notify ORI or other agency, if applicable, in advance if there are plans to close a case at the inquiry or investigation stage on the basis that respondent has admitted guilt, a settlement with the respondent has been reached, or for any other reason, except:  (1) closing of a case at the inquiry stage on the basis that an investigation is not warranted or (2) a finding of no misconduct at the investigation stage, which must be reported to ORI or other agency, as prescribed in this policy and 42 CFR § 93.315. For employees represented by a collective bargaining agreement, notification pursuant to this section shall take place only after the conclusion of appropriate discipline processes.

X.    Institutional Administrative Actions

If the DO determines that research or academic misconduct is substantiated by the findings, he or she will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with the RIO.  The administrative actions may include but are not limited to:

  • withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the project in which research or academic  misconduct was found
  • removal of the responsible person from the particular project, letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, suspension, salary reduction, or initiation of steps leading to possible rank reduction or termination of employment
  • restitution of funds to the grantor agency as appropriate
  • other action, including disciplinary measures up to and including termination, appropriate to the research or academic  misconduct.

XI.    Other Considerations

A.                    Termination or Resignation Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation

The termination of the respondent's SIUE employment, by resignation or otherwise, before or after an allegation of possible research or academic misconduct has been reported, will not preclude or terminate the misconduct proceeding or otherwise limit any of SIUE’s responsibilities under 42 CFR Part 93, when applicable.

If the respondent, without admitting to  misconduct, elects to resign his or her position after SIUE receives an allegation of research or academic misconduct, the assessment of the allegation will proceed, as well as the inquiry and investigation, as appropriate based on the outcome of the preceding steps.  If the respondent refuses to participate in the process after resignation, the RIO and any inquiry or investigation committee will use their best efforts to reach a conclusion concerning the allegations, noting in the report the respondent's failure to cooperate and its effect on the evidence.

B.                    Restoration of the Respondent's Reputation

Following a final finding of no research or academic misconduct, including ORI concurrence where required by 42 CFR Part 93, if applicable, the RIO shall, at the request of the respondent and as appropriate, undertake reasonable and practical efforts to restore the respondent's reputation. Depending on the particular circumstances and the views of the respondent, the RIO should consider notifying those individuals aware of or involved in the investigation of the final outcome, publicizing the final outcome in any forum in which the allegation of research or academic misconduct was previously publicized, and expunging all reference to the research or academic misconduct allegation from the respondent's personnel file.  Any institutional actions to restore the respondent's reputation should first be approved by the DO.

C.                    Protection

During the research or academic  misconduct proceeding and upon its completion, regardless of whether SIUE, ORI, or other agency, if applicable, determines that research or academic  misconduct occurred, the RIO must undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to counter potential or actual retaliation against, any complainant who made allegations of research or academic  misconduct in good faith and of any witnesses and committee members who cooperate in good faith with the research or academic  misconduct proceeding. 

D.                    Allegations Not Made in Good Faith

If relevant, the DO will determine whether the complainant’s allegations of research or academic misconduct were made in good faith or whether a witness or committee member acted in good faith.  If the DO determines that there was an absence of good faith they will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the person who failed to act in good faith.


Approved by Chancellor effective 4/20/19

This policy was issued on April 20, 2019, replacing the June 15, 2015 version.
Document Reference: 1Q5
Origin: GR 1-87/88; OP 12/13/88; OP 8/2/95; GR 1-05/06; GR 3/21/13; GR 14/15-21; OC 4/20/19

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