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EMU Research

Eastern Michigan University Policy on Scientific Integrity and Misconduct

 

This policy was approved by the Board of Regents on June 20, 2006, and is found in section 6.2.8.1-5 of the Eastern Michigan University Policy Manual.

 

Research Integrity and Misconduct

University Policy Statement

Eastern Michigan University recognizes that academic institutions have the responsibility to set standards for ethical and honorable behavior in the conduct of research and scholarly pursuits. These standards insure that the scholarly activity of the University's faculty, research staff, and students will be conducted with integrity and openness. It is the policy of the University to foster an intellectual and academic environment in which exemplary scholarship and ethical practice may flourish.

Misconduct and fraud in academic activity seriously undermine the scientific enterprise. The University will act to ensure that allegations of misconduct are investigated promptly, thoroughly, and fairly. If the allegations are substantiated, the University will apply appropriate sanctions and correct any public record or report of the work.

 

Policies and Procedures

Definitions:

Research Misconduct applies to intentional instances of wrongdoing in research, research related activities (e.g., training), and all other scholarly and creative pursuits undertaken by the faculty, staff, and students at Eastern Michigan University. Research Misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Falsification of data: recording or reporting made-up data or records;
  • Fabrication of data: manipulating data, equipment, or research processes so that the research is misrepresented in the research record or report;
  • Other misrepresentation of data including deceptive reporting and omission of data with the intent of falsifying results;
  • Plagiarism: misrepresentation of another’s work as one’s own;
  • Failure to assign authorship appropriately on any manuscript, report, project, publication, or electronic communication;
  • Deliberate violation of a University policy or standard procedure in research, including but not limited to the policies on the use of human subjects and the use and care of animals;
  • Abuse of confidentiality in peer, editorial, or regulatory review, or use or disclosure of privileged information, such as misappropriating ideas from others’ grant proposals, award applications, or manuscripts, or inappropriately using other privileged communications;
  • Research Misconduct also includes retaliation of any kind against a person who, acting in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected or alleged misconduct.
  • Research Misconduct does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Inquiry consists of a preliminary fact-finding mission to determine whether an allegation of misconduct warrants investigation.

Investigation is a formal examination and evaluation of relevant facts to determine whether or not misconduct has occurred, the seriousness of the offense, and appropriate disciplinary action.

Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) is charged with conducting inquiries and investigations of allegations of misconduct, as well as advising members of the University community of their responsibilities for maintaining the highest standards of academic integrity in research.

Misconduct Policy Officer (MPO) is the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, who is charged by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs with receiving and acting upon any allegation of misconduct. Responsibilities of the MPO include:

  • Serve the AIC as non-voting ex-officio member;
  • Make initial contact with all parties to an allegation;
  • Maintain records of all complaints and report as appropriate to federal agencies and University administrators;
  • Through the AIC, disseminate information regarding University policy and procedures within the University community and advise faculty, staff, and students of their responsibilities with regard to academic integrity.

University Practice

University practices for implementing this policy include:

  1. It is important to distinguish clearly Research Misconduct from honest error or from ambiguities which might be resolved by further investigation. Research Misconduct does not include honest error or difference in interpretation and judgment of data. Research Misconduct shall be defined as including, but not limited to:
    1. the falsification, fabrication, or misrepresentation of data, including deceptive reporting, or omission of conflicting data with the intent of falsifying results;

    2. plagiarism or misrepresentation of others' work as one's own;


    3. failure to assign authorship appropriately on any manuscript, report, project, publication, or electronic communication;


    4. deliberate violation of a University policy or standard procedure in research, including but not limited to the policies on the use of human subjects and the use and care of animals;


    5. abuse of confidentiality in peer, editorial, or regulatory review; or use or disclosure of privileged information, such as misappropriating ideas from others' grant proposals, award application, or manuscripts; or inappropriately using other privileged communications;
  1. Allegations of Research Misconduct will be subject to the procedures of inquiry and formal investigation specified in the Public Health Service Final Rule 42 CFR, Part 93.

The University reserves the right to address other forms of fraudulent academic activity separately and exclusive of the Research Integrity and Misconduct policy and practices related thereto.
  1. Together, the responsibilities of the Provost, the designated senior administrator1, and the University Academic Integrity Committee are to ensure the following:
    1. there is an impartial process for the receipt of allegations of Research Misconduct and for initiating immediate inquiry into each allegation, to be completed within 60 days of the allegation;

    2. if findings of the inquiry provide sufficient basis, that a formal investigation be initiated within 30 days of completion of the inquiry;


    3. when appropriate, impartial experts are called upon to assist in conducting inquiries and investigations, and that precautions are taken against real or apparent conflicts of interest;


    4. affected individuals are afforded confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible, are given a prompt and thorough investigation, and are allowed an opportunity to comment on the allegations and findings of the inquiry and/or investigation;


    5. the positions and reputations of persons who, in good faith, make allegations of Research Misconduct, are protected to the maximum extent possible, as well as those against whom allegations of misconduct are not confirmed;


    6. appropriate interim administrative actions are taken to protect federal funds and ensure that the purposes of federal financial assistance are being carried out;


    7. efforts are made to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have been engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed;


    8. appropriate sanctions are imposed on individuals when allegations of misconduct are substantiated; these sanctions may include, but are not limited to, a letter of reprimand, removal from a project, probation, suspension, or termination of employment, depending on the severity of the situation; and

    9. in cases where research has been misreported, appropriate actions are taken to correct the public record
  1. A finding of Research Misconduct by the University shall constitute a serious failure of a faculty or staff person to meet their professional responsibilities.

 

Responsibility for Implementation

The implementation and administration of this policy is the responsibility of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Provost shall appoint a senior administrator who will be responsible for the implementation of this policy and its compliance with present and future federal regulations on Research Misconduct.


The Provost will appoint a committee to advise and assist the administrator. The committee shall be representative of collegiate concentrations. The committee will assist the administrator with the implementation of the policy, the preparation of educational literature, the development of administrative procedures, and the conduct of inquiries and investigations when deemed appropriate.

 

Scope of Policy Coverage

This policy applies to all scholarly and research activity performed by University faculty, staff, and students under the auspices of the University, whether funded or unfunded; all scholarly and research activity conducted on University premises or using University facilities and materials; all work published in which a University affiliation is stated or implied, as for example, when a University address is listed for requesting reprints of a publication; or all other scholarly and research activity that is directly related to the fulfillment of one's employment responsibilities at the University, such as professional activities taken into consideration for faculty promotion.



The scope of this policy includes student thesis and dissertations. It also includes the work of students when they are acting as paid or volunteer workers for the University. It excludes students' work when done as part of a course assignment.

 

Procedures

Allegations of Misconduct

Persons who have reason to believe that an act of misconduct has occurred as defined in the policy have a responsibility to communicate this information to their supervisor or to an appropriate administrator, who will communicate the information immediately to the MPO.



Many questions and controversies concerning the conduct of research can be resolved through civil discussion, informal negotiation, and mediation at the local level. When an issue cannot be resolved through informal means, allegations of misconduct should be addressed in writing to the MPO (Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research), who will assess the allegation. If it is determined to be frivolous, malicious, or false, the MPO may recommend disciplinary action against the complainant. If the allegation is, in the opinion of the MPO, neither frivolous, malicious, nor false, the MPO will (without identifying the complainant) inform the respondent of the nature of the allegation, provide information to both parties about the policy and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct, and initiate an inquiry.



To the extent possible allowed by law, the identity of the respondent and complainant in Research Misconduct proceedings will be limited to those who need to know. Records of evidence that may disclose the identity of research subjects will be maintained as confidential unless otherwise required by law to be disclosed. In cases where a federal sponsor conducts an administrative hearing, the law may require disclosure of the identity of both the respondent and complainant.

 

Sequestering and Preserving the Research Record

In order to maintain the integrity of potential evidence, on or before the time the respondent is notified, the MPO shall take custody of and inventory all relevant research records, including lab notebooks and computer files if appropriate. In the event that additional records and evidence are discovered during the inquiry or investigation stage, the MPO shall take all reasonable and practical steps to secure and sequester this new evidence. In those cases in which the evidence includes 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 evidentiary value of the instruments. The MPO shall take all reasonable steps to minimize the disruption caused by this process.



The respondent shall have the right to copies of any material taken into custody. In cases where it is not practicable to copy, respondent shall have reasonable supervised access.



Except in situations where federal policy dictates otherwise, evidence sequestered in either an inquiry or investigation will be released to the respondent upon a finding that clears the respondent of Research Misconduct.

 

Inquiry

The purpose of the inquiry is to determine if sufficient grounds exist for conducting an investigation. The MPO may obtain appropriate expertise in order to evaluate the evidence in a thorough and authoritative manner and will take care to eliminate real or apparent conflict of interest on the part of any participants in the inquiry. During the inquiry, the person against whom misconduct has been alleged will have an opportunity to respond to all charges orally or in writing.



The inquiry will be completed within 60 days of the allegation. If extenuating circumstances require that this period be extended, the extension must be justified in the written record.



A written record of the inquiry will be provided by the MPO to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President of the University. To the extent permitted by law or federal regulation, this record will be maintained in confidence for a period of seven years. It will include research records and evidence reviewed, transcripts or recordings of any interviews, and copies of all relevant documents, including items documenting the decision not to investigate. The person against whom the allegation was made will be given a copy of the record and an opportunity to comment on it. Such comments will become a part of the written record.



An investigation will be deemed warranted if the inquiry indicates that the allegation may have substance and that the allegation falls under the University’s definition of Research Misconduct. If, in consultation with University counsel, it is determined that the findings of the inquiry warrant an investigation, federal sponsoring agencies and the University's President, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the respondent will be informed within five (5) business days of the finding. Such a determination will be made within 30 days of the completion of the written inquiry report.

 

Investigation

The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether misconduct has taken place.



If an investigation is determined to be necessary, the person against whom the allegation was made will be informed of the identity of the person who made the allegation.

The investigation will be conducted by the Academic Integrity Committee. Additional individuals from within or outside the University who have special expertise in the case and are free of any conflict of interest may, at the discretion of the MPO, be appointed to the committee.



The AIC will take testimony, and examine the written report and all other documents deemed relevant to the case. The person who is the subject of the investigation will be provided copies of all such documents and an opportunity to comment on them. In addition to sequestering and preserving evidence, the AIC will also have full authority to visit laboratories, examine materials, specimens, and lab books, and interview witnesses and funding agency officials. Accounts of all such activities will be made and placed in the investigatory file, including transcriptions or recordings of all interviews. Copies of all file materials shall be made available to both the complainant and the respondent as they become available, as well as any responses they may care to make, either orally or in writing, in response to such materials. Individuals who choose to respond orally may be accompanied by legal counsel, who may advise their clients but may not otherwise address the committee or otherwise speak for their clients.
 

The investigation must be completed and a final report submitted to the sponsoring agency within 120 days of its initiation. If extenuating circumstances require that this period be extended, the extension must be justified in the written record and may require approval from the sponsoring agency, if any.



Through the investigation, the committee must scrupulously adhere to sponsoring agency requirements for interim reports and justification of extensions. Contents of the investigatory file must be made available to the sponsoring agency after completion of the investigation. Sponsoring agencies will be kept informed throughout the investigation of any findings that may affect the funding of current or future projects. Interim administrative actions will be taken, as appropriate, to protect any sponsoring agency funds and to insure that the purposes of the funding are carried out. The University will notify the sponsoring agency as soon as it determines that any of the following conditions exist:

  • there is an immediate health hazard;

  • there is an immediate need to protect agency funds or equipment;

  • there is an immediate need to protect human or animal subjects of the research;

  • there is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the subject(s) or co-investigator(s) and associate(s) of the subject(s) of the allegations;

  • federal action is required to protect the interest of the Committee;

  • it is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly.

Sponsoring agencies will be informed within 24 hours if, after consultation with University attorneys, an inquiry or investigation indicates possible criminal or civil violations. Sponsoring agencies will be notified of the final outcome of any investigation including any sanctions taken against an individual.



Upon completion of the investigation and within 120 days of its initiation, a final report will be written. Copies will be provided to both the complainant and the respondent. Concurrent with distributing the report to the respondent copies of, or reasonable supervised access to, the research record and evidence will be provided. Responses from both the respondent and complainant that are received within 30 days will be incorporated into and made part of the final report.



Copies of the final report will be provided to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the President of the University, and the federal sponsors, if any. The report will contain a determination of whether the allegation has been substantiated, a justification for this determination, a description of the conditions under which the investigation was conducted, and the text or an accurate summary of the responses of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct. The final report will also identify and summarize the research records and evidence reviewed, including any evidence taken into custody but not reviewed.

 

Post-Investigative Action

If an allegation of misconduct is not substantiated by an investigation, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will undertake diligent efforts to give notice of that fact to all persons who participated in the inquiry and investigation and other persons or agencies who were informed of the allegation by the University.



If an allegation of misconduct is substantiated, the University will initiate the applicable faculty, staff, or student disciplinary procedure, and may impose sanctions as appropriate and as indicated in University policy, applicable collective bargaining contracts, the Student Conduct Code, or other official University documents. If the individual is a volunteer, sanctions will be at the discretion of the University.



In cases of federally sponsored projects, the University shall cooperate with the sponsoring agency and comply with applicable regulations.

 

Dissemination of the Policy and Procedures

The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for ensuring that faculty, staff, volunteers, and students are informed of this policy and procedures, and of their significance. Questions regarding a specific allegation, inquiry, or investigation should be directed to the office of the University attorney.

 

1The designated senior administrator at EMU is the Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies and Research

 

Elevating Communities, Inspiring Generations

EMU Research, 200 Boone Phone: 734.487.3090 mail orda_dept@emich.edu