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Research Misconduct

Managing Research Misconduct Allegations, Inquiries and Investigations

SUMMARY: This policy: reflects the University’s commitment to create an environment in which research is conducted consistent with the highest standards of research integrity; defines research misconduct; and describes the University’s commitment to manage research misconduct allegations, inquiries and investigations in a manner consistent with federal policies and procedures.

I.    Context

Drexel University (the “University”) promotes and maintains a culture that places the highest value on the ethical and responsible conduct of research.  Accordingly, University faculty, staff, students, and administrators accept responsibility for creating an environment in which research is conducted to the highest standards of research integrity, including ensuring the use of honest and verifiable methods for proposing, performing and evaluating research, reporting results with attention to adherence to rules, regulations and guidelines, and following professionally accepted codes or norms.

University faculty, staff, students and administrators recognize that the potential consequences of misconduct in research are severe.  Research misconduct can, for example, harm individuals outside of research (as when falsified results become the basis for a medical therapy), squander public funds, call into question the trust the public places in researchers, and attract the attention of those who would seek to criticize or question the value of science to society.  Consequently, it is understood that any individual who engages in research misconduct puts his or her career at risk and may be subject to civil or criminal legal proceedings.

Because federal agencies and research institutions recognize their shared responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the research process, the US Federal Government published the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct. This Policy defines research misconduct and describes processes to be used to manage research misconduct allegations.  Sponsor-specific regulations, such as those developed by the Department of Human Health and Services and the National Science Foundation, and procedures for responding to allegations of research misconduct, can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations[1].  These policies and regulations make it clear that federal agencies and research institutions like Drexel have a shared responsibility for responding to allegations of research misconduct.

II.   Definitions

The following definitions pertain to this policy.

Research Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, 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 in opinion.  A finding of research misconduct requires that 1) there be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community, 2) the misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, and 3) the allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Research Integrity Officer means the University official responsible for assessing allegations of research misconduct and for overseeing research misconduct proceedings.  The Research Integrity Officer is identified on the University website.

University means Drexel University and all of its affiliates.

University personnel means any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with the University, such as faculty, postdoctoral trainees or fellows, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers, or collaborators.

III.   Policy

University personnel have an ethical obligation to report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the Research Integrity Officer.  Consistent with Federal policies and regulations, the Research Integrity Officer will take prompt and appropriate action as soon as research misconduct is suspected or alleged.

All University personnel must cooperate with the Research Integrity Officer in the assessment of allegations and the conduct of subsequent inquiries and investigations.

IV.   Policy Implementation

The Senior Associate Vice Provost for Research Administration administers this policy, ensuring it remains consistent with federal regulations. A description of the procedures used to comply with this policy can be found here.

V.   Effective Date

This Policy on Managing Research Misconduct Allegations, Inquiries and Investigations shall be effective May 10, 2013.

[1] For example, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations 2