Research Misconduct: Policy, Definitions and Procedures
Portland State University, (PSU), endeavors to foster an atmosphere of honesty, respect and trust such that the pursuit of knowledge occurs within a framework of integrity. All members of the PSU community share responsibility in maintaining and building PSU's organizational climate of honesty, respect and trust. PSU understands that research integrity is an important foundation for building and maintaining a culture of respect among researchers and students, and between academicians and the public.
The PSU Research Misconduct Policy (detailed below) establishes how allegations or evidence of possible research misconduct are handled.
To report a possible research misconduct allegation, please contact ORI_Director@pdx.edu. The Assistant Vice President of Research Administration is responsible for initially assessing allegations of research misconduct to determine if they fall within the definition of research misconduct as defined in the PSU policy and thus warrant an inquiry; the Assistant Vice President of Research Administration also provides administrative support for these processes and may oversee inquiries and investigations.
Definition of Research Misconduct
Research misconduct is defined in PSU policy as:
Falsification: 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.
Fabrication: Making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
Plagiarism: The appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Reporting Concerns or Making Allegations of Research Misconduct
Any individual having reason(s) to believe that research misconduct has possibly occurred must report the matter to the Assistant Vice President of Research Administration, department chair, director, supervisor, dean, or other institutional official. Allegations brought to individuals other than the Assistant Vice President of Research Administration will be promptly forwarded to the Assistant Vice President of Research Administration.
Portland State University Research Misconduct Policy:
1.3.1 I. Initial Allegations
1.3.2 II. Committee of Inquiry
1.3.3 III. Committee of Investigation
1.3.4 IV. Appeal
1.3.5 V. Determination of Action
1.3.6 VI. Miscellaneous
Portland State University is responsible for the integrity of the research conducted at the University. As a community of scholars, in which truthfulness and integrity are fundamental, the University must establish procedures for the investigation of allegations of misconduct of research with due care to protect the rights of those making the allegations, those accused, and the University. As a condition of receiving federal research funds, federal regulations, particularly 42 CFR Part 93, require the University to have certain explicit procedures for addressing incidences in which there are allegations of misconduct in research.
This policy is written and intended to comply with those federal regulations. In the event of any ambiguity, this policy is to be construed in a manner consisted with applicable federal regulations.
This policy applies to all employees (faculty, staff, and students) conducting basic or applied research under the auspices of the University.
This policy applies to allegations of research misconduct and research misconduct involving: (i) applications or proposals for support for extramural or intramural research, research training or activities related to that research or research training, such as the operation of tissue and data banks and the dissemination of research information; (ii) all extramural or intramural research; (iii) all extramural or intramural research training programs; (iv) all extramural or intramural activities that are related to research or research training, such as the operation of tissue and data banks or the dissemination of research information; and (v) plagiarism of research records produced in the course of research, research training or activities related to that research or research training. This includes any research proposed, performed, reviewed, or reported, or any research record generated from that research
The University adopts the following definition of “misconduct” established by the U.S. Public Health Service:
"Misconduct" means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is 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. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
In order for a finding of misconduct to be made, the following three criteria must be met
There must be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
The misconduct must be committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, and;
The allegation must be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies is responsible for the University's compliance with applicable Federal regulations, including but not limited to notifying sponsoring agencies at the appropriate time and keeping the University's Committees of Inquiry and Committees of Investigation well informed with respect to the compliance requirements placed upon them. Throughout this policy, the term “Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies” includes his or her designee. In the event the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies or designee has a potential conflict of interest with respect to a particular allegation of misconduct, the President or designee shall determine who shall be responsible for review of the particular allegation.
Disclosure of the identity of respondents and complainants in research misconduct proceedings is limited, to the extent possible, to those who need to know, consistent with a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding. Except as otherwise required by applicable law, confidentiality must be maintained for any records or evidence from which research subjects might be identified. Disclosure is limited to those who have a need to know to carry out a research misconduct proceeding.
I. Initial Allegations
1. Questions about, or suspicions of, misconduct in research should be brought to the attention of the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies for confidential counseling, mediation and possible informal resolution.
2. Any person may present allegations of research misconduct to the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies by any means of communication.
3. If the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies has reason to believe that misconduct has occurred but no complainant has made a formal allegation, the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies may pursue the matter independently following the procedures described in this policy.
4. Within a reasonable amount of time after receiving an allegation of research misconduct or making the determination set forth in paragraph F., the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies should notify the presumed respondent in writing.
5. Either before or when the institution notifies the respondent of the allegation, all reasonable and practical steps shall be promptly taken to obtain custody of all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding, inventory those materials, and sequester them in a secure manner, except in those cases 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. Where appropriate, the respondent will be given copies of, or reasonable, supervised access to the research records and evidence. All reasonable and practical efforts will be undertaken to take custody of additional research records and evidence discovered during the course of the research misconduct proceeding, including at the inquiry and investigation stages, or if new allegations arise, subject to the exception for scientific instruments mentioned above.
6. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall decide, within fifteen (15) calendar days after completing review of the allegation and independent consultation with the complainant and respondent, whether the allegation should be referred to a Committee of Inquiry or dismissed. A referral to a Committee of Inquiry is warranted if the allegation: (1) falls within the definition of research misconduct; and (2) is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified.
7. If the allegation is referred to a Committee of Inquiry, such a committee shall be established promptly.
II. Committee of Inquiry
1. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall appoint a three-member Committee of Inquiry, which shall be staffed by a designee of the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies. Committee members shall be individuals who, in the judgment of the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies, have the appropriate seniority and knowledge to assess the alleged misconduct and who do not have unresolved personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that would interfere with an objective review.
2. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall charge the Committee of Inquiry, in writing, to conduct a discreet inquiry based on communication with the respondent and the complainant. The purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the evidence to determine whether to conduct an investigation and more specifically to determine if there is reasonable basis for concluding that the allegation falls within the definition of misconduct and may have substance. The inquiry should be limited to activities necessary to determine whether to recommend a formal investigation and does not require a full review of all of the evidence. The complainant and respondent will be informed, in writing, of the beginning date of the inquiry process and invited to provide any materials they wish to have considered by the Committee. The Committee of Inquiry may interview the respondent, the complainant, and any other witnesses the Committee deems necessary. Such interviews are to be recorded and/or transcribed and such recordings are to be included in the record of the inquiry.
3. Members of the Committee of Inquiry shall comply with confidentiality requirements to keep the identities of the respondent and complainant confidential.
4. The Committee shall prepare a written report that states what evidence was reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews and reports the conclusions of the inquiry. The respondent must have an opportunity to review and comment on the inquiry report. The Committee must attach the comments received to the report.
5. The Committee of Inquiry shall complete the inquiry within sixty (60) calendar days, unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period, in which case the record must include documentation of the reasons for the extension. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies must notify the respondent whether the inquiry found that an investigation is warranted. The notice must include a copy of the report and refer to the relevant federal regulations and this policy.
6. If a majority of the Committee of Inquiry recommends that a formal investigation be conducted, the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall establish a Committee of Investigation. If only a minority of the Committee of Inquiry recommends a formal investigation, the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies may either dismiss the allegation or establish a Committee of Investigation.
7. If the Committee of Inquiry determines that the allegations appear to be unfounded or appear to have been made in a capricious or malicious manner, they will report this to the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies for appropriate action.
8. If a decision is made to establish a Committee of Investigation, and it is appropriate or mandated, the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall inform the appropriate sponsor and agencies of the decision to initiate an investigation on or before the date the investigation begins.
9. If a determination is made not to establish a Committee of Investigation, documentation of that determination in sufficient detail shall be maintained by the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies, to permit a later assessment by federal officials of the reasons why the determination not to conduct an investigation was made. These records shall be kept in a secure manner for at least 7 years after the termination of the inquiry, and upon request, be provided to the federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI), or other authorized HHS or other governmental personnel.
III. Committee of Investigation
1. The Committee of Investigation shall be staffed by a designee of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and shall consist of five members who do not have real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the specific case. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies will appoint three members, one of whom shall have been a member of the Committee of Inquiry. The Chair of the Faculty Senate Advisory Council will appoint two members.
2. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall charge the Committee of Investigation, in writing, to conduct a thorough investigation of the allegation. The Committee shall have access to all persons and information needed to determine the extent to which misconduct has occurred. The investigation shall comply with confidentiality requirements detailed in this policy. The investigation shall be undertaken within thirty (30) calendar days of the determination that an investigation is warranted. Before the investigation begins, the Vice President for Research or designee must notify the respondent in writing of the original allegations and any new allegations.
3. The Committee must 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 or 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. The Committee must pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion.
4. If the University plans to terminate the investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for it, shall be made to the appropriate Federal sponsors.
5. The Committee must give the respondent a copy of the draft investigation report and, concurrently, a copy of, or supervised access to, the evidence on which the report is based. The comments of the respondent on the draft report, if any, must be submitted within 30 days of the date on which the respondent received the draft investigation report.
6. The institution may provide the complainant a copy of the draft investigation report or relevant portions of that report. The comments of the complainant, if any, must be submitted within 30 days of the date on which the complainant received the draft investigation report or relevant portions of it.
7. The Committee shall use the following criteria in determining a finding of Misconduct: (1) there be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and (2) the misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and (3) the allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
8. The institution has the burden of proof for making a finding of research misconduct. The destruction, absence of, or respondent's failure to provide research records adequately documenting the questioned research is evidence of research misconduct where the institution establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly had research records and destroyed them, had the opportunity to maintain the records but did not do so, or maintained the records and failed to produce them in a timely manner and that the respondent's conduct constitutes a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community.
9. The respondent has the burden of going forward with and the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, any and all affirmative defenses. In determining whether the institution has carried the burden of proof imposed by this part, the Committee shall give due consideration to relevant, credible evidence of honest error or difference of opinion presented by the respondent. The respondent has the burden of going forward with and proving by a preponderance of the evidence any mitigating factors that are relevant to a decision to impose administrative actions following a research misconduct proceeding.
10. The Committee of Investigation shall prepare a written report documenting the extent to which, if at all, it has determined that misconduct has occurred. The report shall: describe the nature of the allegations; describe and document the extramural support; describe the charge given to the Committee; and include the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted. For each separate allegation, the report shall: provide a finding as to whether misconduct occurred and, if so—identify whether the research misconduct was falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism, and if it was intentional, knowing, or reckless; summarize the facts and the analysis which support the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent; identify whether any publications need correction or retraction; identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and list any current extramural support or known applications or proposals for support that the respondent has pending with any research sponsor, including federal agencies. The report shall also include and consider any comments made by the respondent and the complainant.
11. The report shall be given to the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies, the respondent, and the complainant. The Committee of Investigation may recommend to the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies a course of action based on its findings, but it is not required to do so. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies shall provide a copy of the results of this investigation to the University President and the Provost. Other administrators also shall be notified if the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies deems such action important to a resolution of the alleged misconduct.
12. The Committee of Investigation shall complete the investigation within one-hundred twenty (120) calendar days unless it finds that the investigation cannot reasonably be completed within that time in which case, the Committee may request an extension from the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies, who may seek an extension from the cognizant funding agency. The request should include an explanation for the delay, a progress report, an outline of remaining steps, and an estimated date of completion.
IV. Request for Presidential Review
The respondent has thirty (30) calendar days following the receipt of the report from the Committee of Investigation to file a request for review by the President. Upon review, the President may return the report to the Committee of Investigation for further action or reconsideration, in which case the President shall state the reasons for doing so.
V. Determination of Action
1. Following the issuance of the investigation report and the outcome of any review by the President, the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies shall determine whether a faculty disciplinary process is appropriate. If so, the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies will file a complaint with the President to initiate such process pursuant, as provided in paragraph 2 below. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies may also initiate Student Conduct Code proceedings against a student if the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies determines that such action is warranted. In any disciplinary proceeding regarding a faculty member or student, the investigation report may serve as the basis for the complaint.
2. If disciplinary action is initiated against a faculty member represented by the PSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the disciplinary action shall be conducted as provided in the collective bargaining agreement with PSU-AAUP, including the grievance and arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. If disciplinary action is initiated against a faculty member who is not a member of the PSU-AAUP collective bargaining unit, such action shall be conducted pursuant to the applicable rules or policies of the university, including rules or policies regarding appeal.
3. The appropriate University official shall also disclose the report and a description of any sanctions taken at the institution to any sponsor of the research, and, if appropriate, shall make reasonable efforts to cause the retraction or correction of already published articles or papers affected by the misconduct. Documentation substantiating the investigation’s findings shall be made available, upon request, to appropriate officials of the sponsoring agency.
1. Respondents may be assisted by legal counsel, lay counsel or a union official throughout this process. Such counsel may be present during interviews of the respondent. However, the role of such counsel is to advise and support the respondent only. Respondents are required to speak for themselves.
2. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies will notify and provide information to the authorities as required by law at any stage of this process.
3. The Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies will notify authorities at any stage of this process if it becomes apparent that: there is an immediate health hazard involved; an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment; immediate need to protect the interests of individuals affected by the inquiry; or likelihood that the alleged incident will be publicly reported. If there is reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, authorities must be notified promptly. The Vice President for Research shall initiate interim administrative actions as appropriate to protect Federal funds and the public health and to ensure that the purposes of Federal financial assistance are carried out.
4. The University shall take all reasonable and practical steps to protect the positions and reputations of good faith complainants, witnesses and committee members and protect them from retaliation by respondents and other institutional personnel.
5. The University shall take all reasonable and practical efforts, if requested and as appropriate, to protect or restore the reputation of persons alleged to have engaged in research misconduct but against whom no finding of research misconduct is made and to protect or restore the position and reputation of any complainant, witness, or committee member and to counter potential or actual retaliation against these complainants, witnesses, and committee members.
6. All records of the research misconduct proceeding shall be maintained for 7 years after completion of the proceeding, or any related proceeding of a federal agency or research sponsor, or the period required by Oregon law, whichever is longer.