Policy Handbook

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Research Integrity and (Allegations of) Scientific Misconduct

President's Office

1.0  Purpose:

Juniata College encourages scholarly research as a part of its educational mission.  Juniata further encourages those choosing to undertake scholarly research to utilize, where possible, external financial support.

Juniata and its employees are committed to conducting themselves with the highest standards of integrity.  Such high standards are critical to ensure public trust and confidence in Juniata.

It is the purpose of this policy statement to set forth the principles for identification, review and management of possible or alleged scientific misconduct in research so as to maintain those high standards of integrity.

 

2.0  Related Policies:

 Juniata also has a complementary policy for academic integrity in place, which applies to all classroom and laboratory course work, including student research taken for credit or internship notation.  This policy neither supercedes nor replaces the academic integrity policy, but is a related and companion policy.

This policy also does not supercede or replace the written guidelines of the external financial support sponsor.  The research integrity guidelines of the external sponsor apply to all research conducted under the support of that sponsor.

Of particular note is the scientific misconduct policy of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service (PHS) and its Office of Research Integrity (ORI).  The PHS regulation at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A applies to any research, research-training or research-related grant or cooperative agreement with PHS.  This Juniata policy substantially borrows (with permission) from the PHS-ORI’s “Model Policy for Responding to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct” found at http://ori.dhhs.gov/html/policies/model.asp and in situations that may be unclear or not addressed in this policy statement, the more comprehensive ORI guidelines and regulations shall apply.

 

3.0  Scope:

This policy and the associated procedures apply to all individuals at Juniata engaged in research.  This policy applies to any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with the institution, such as faculty, administrators, scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers, or collaborators at Juniata College.

The policy and associated procedures will normally be followed when an allegation of possible misconduct in science is received by an institutional official.  Particular circumstances in an individual case may dictate variation from the normal procedure deemed in the best interests of Juniata.  Any change from normal procedures also must ensure fair treatment to the subject of the inquiry or investigation.  Any significant variation should be approved in advance by the Juniata Research Integrity Officer.

 

4.0  Definitions:

Allegation means any written or oral statement or other indication of possible scientific misconduct made to an institutional official.

 

Conflict of interest means the real or apparent interference of one person's interests with the interests of another person, where potential bias may occur due to prior or existing personal or professional relationships.

Deciding Official means the institutional official who makes final determinations on allegations of scientific misconduct and any responsive institutional actions.

Good faith allegation means an allegation made with the honest belief that scientific misconduct may have occurred.  An allegation is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

Inquiry means gathering information and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of scientific misconduct warrants an investigation.

Investigation means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred, and, if so, to determine the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.

ORI means the Office of Research Integrity, the office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that is responsible for the scientific misconduct and research integrity activities of the U.S. Public Health Service.

PHS means the U.S. Public Health Service, an operating component of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

PHS regulation means the Public Health Service regulation establishing standards for institutional inquiries and investigations into allegations of scientific misconduct, which is set forth at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A, entitled "Responsibility of PHS Awardee and Applicant Institutions for Dealing With and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science."

PHS support means PHS grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements or applications thereof.

Research Integrity Officer means the institutional official responsible for assessing allegations of scientific misconduct and determining when such allegations warrant inquiries and for overseeing inquiries and investigations.

Research record means any data, document, computer file, computer diskette, or any other written or non-written account or object that reasonably may be expected to provide evidence or information regarding the proposed, conducted, or reported research that constitutes the subject of an allegation of scientific misconduct.  A research record includes, but is not limited to, grant or contract applications, whether funded or unfunded; grant or contract progress and other reports; laboratory notebooks; notes; correspondence; videos; photographs; X-ray film; slides; biological materials; computer files and printouts; manuscripts and publications; equipment use logs; laboratory procurement records; animal facility records; human and animal subject protocols; consent forms; medical charts; and patient research files.

Respondent means the person against whom an allegation of scientific misconduct is directed or the person whose actions are the subject of the inquiry or investigation.  There can be more than one respondent in any inquiry or investigation.

Retaliation means any action that adversely affects the employment or other institutional status of an individual that is taken by an institution or an employee because the individual has in good faith, made an allegation of scientific misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto or has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation.

Scientific misconduct or misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.  It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Whistleblower means a person who makes an allegation of scientific misconduct.

 

 

5.0  Rights and Responsibilities:

 

5.1  Research Integrity Officer

The Provost will appoint the Research Integrity Officer who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the procedures set forth in this document.  The Research Integrity Officer will be a member of the faculty and by special appointment of the Provost, an institutional official who is qualified to handle the procedural requirements involved and is sensitive to the varied demands made on those who conduct research, those who are accused of misconduct, and those who report apparent misconduct in good faith.

The Research Integrity Officer will appoint the inquiry and investigation committee(s) and ensure that necessary and appropriate expertise is secured to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in an inquiry or investigation.  The Research Integrity Officer will attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

The Research Integrity Officer will assist the inquiry and investigation committee(s) and all institutional personnel in complying with these procedures and with applicable standards imposed by government or external funding sources.  The Research Integrity Officer is also responsible for maintaining files of all documents and evidence and for the confidentiality and the security of the files.

The Research Integrity Officer will report to the Juniata Provost, and in cases of external funding, the external sponsor and ORI as required by regulation and keep all apprised of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that DHHS/PHS needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.

The currently appointed Research Integrity Officer for Juniata is Dr. Randy Bennett, Associate Professor of Biology.

 

5.2  Whistleblower

The whistleblower will have an opportunity to testify before the inquiry and investigation committee(s), to review portions of the inquiry and investigation reports pertinent to his/her allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and to be protected from retaliation.  Also, if the Research Integrity Officer has determined that the whistleblower may be able to provide pertinent information on any portions of the draft report, these portions will be given to the whistleblower for comment.

The whistleblower is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.

 

5.3  Respondent

The respondent will be informed of the allegations when an inquiry is opened and notified in writing of the final determinations and resulting actions.  The respondent will also have the opportunity to be interviewed by and present evidence to the inquiry and investigation committees, to review the draft inquiry and investigation reports, and to have the advice of counsel.

The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation.  If the respondent is not found guilty of scientific misconduct, he or she has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation.

 

5.4  Deciding Official

The Deciding Official will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the respondent or the whistleblower on the draft report.  The Deciding Official will consult with the Research Integrity Officer or other appropriate officials and will determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions [see “Institutional Administrative Actions” on page 13 of this policy].

The Deciding Official at Juniata shall be the Provost (who is also the Vice President for Academic Affairs).  The current Provost is Dr. James J. Lakso.

 

6.0  General Policies and Principles:

 

6.1  Responsibility to Report Misconduct

All employees or individuals associated with Juniata College should report observed, suspected, or apparent misconduct in science directly to the Research Integrity Officer; or report to the President, the Director of Academic Support Services or the Provost, who will then consult with the Research Integrity Officer.  If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of scientific misconduct, he or she may contact Dr. Randy Bennett, the Research Integrity Officer, by phone (643-3919) or email (Bennett@juniata.edu) to discuss the suspected misconduct informally.  If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of scientific misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.

At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Research Integrity Officer, the Director of Academic Support Services or the Provost and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

 

6.2  Protecting the Whistleblower

The Research Integrity Officer will monitor the treatment of individuals who bring allegations of misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto, and those who cooperate in inquiries or investigations.  The Research Integrity Officer will ensure that these persons will not be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their employment or other status at the institution and will review instances of alleged retaliation for appropriate action.

Employees should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation to the Research Integrity Officer.

Also, the institution will protect the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent possible.  For example, if the whistleblower requests anonymity, the institution will make an effort to honor the request during the allegation assessment or inquiry within applicable policies and regulations and state and local laws, if any.  The whistleblower will be advised that if the matter is referred to an investigation committee and the whistleblower's testimony is required, anonymity may no longer be guaranteed.  Institutions are required to undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.

 

6.3  Protecting the Respondent

Inquiries and investigations will be conducted in a manner that will ensure fair treatment to the respondent(s) in the inquiry or investigation and confidentiality to the extent possible without compromising public health and safety or thoroughly carrying out the inquiry or investigation.

Institutional employees accused of scientific misconduct may consult with legal counsel or a non-lawyer personal adviser (who cannot be a principal or witness in the case) to seek advice and may bring the counsel or personal adviser to interviews or meetings on the case.

 

6.4  Cooperation with Inquiries and Investigations

Institutional employees will cooperate with the Research Integrity Officer and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations.  Employees have an obligation to provide r


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