Research Misconduct Policy

Policy Statement

Lewis & Clark College expects all faculty, staff, and students to maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior and integrity in all research, scholarship, and creative endeavors. Research misconduct, which, as defined below, includes fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, is expressly prohibited. While rare, if it does occur, Lewis & Clark is committed to reviewing, investigating, and reporting allegations of research misconduct, and protecting the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent possible. This policy is intended to comply with federal regulations, particularly 42 CFR Part 93, which require that institutions receiving federal research funding have written policies and procedures for addressing allegations of research misconduct. This policy and related procedures supersede any prior policies or procedures that are inconsistent with those contained herein. 

Scope

This policy applies to any person who, at the time of the alleged research misconduct, was employed by, was an agent of, or was affiliated by contract or agreement with Lewis & Clark College. This policy and related procedures apply to allegations of research misconduct involving any research, research training, or related activities proposed, performed, presented, published, reviewed, or reported; or any research records generated from that research, regardless of whether an application or proposal resulted in a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other form of intramural or extramural support. However, if the relevant activities are not federally funded, the College may elect to use a more streamlined approach to investigating and responding to allegations of research misconduct.

Definitions

  • Allegation: disclosure of possible research misconduct via any method of communication.
  • Complainant: a person who in good faith makes an allegation of research misconduct.
  • Deciding Official (DO): Lewis & Clark official who makes final determinations on allegations of research misconduct and any institutional administrative actions. The DO may select a committee or appoint individuals with subject matter expertise to assist with review of allegations and/or inquiry and investigation proceedings. The DO is the Chief of Staff or equivalent position.
  • Inquiry: a process involving preliminary information gathering when an allegation of research misconduct is made and believed by the RIO or DO to be sufficiently credible.
  • Investigation: a formal process to develop and examine a factual record, leading to a determination about whether or not research misconduct occurred.
  • Office of Research Integrity (ORI): the federal office that oversees and directs Public Health Service (PHS) research integrity activities on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the exception of the regulatory research integrity activities of the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Public Health Service (PHS): comprised of federal offices and agencies that provide extramural and intramural funding for health research and development in the United States, primarily in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.
  • Research Integrity Officer (RIO): Lewis & Clark official who has primary responsibility for implementation of the institution’s policies and procedures on research misconduct. The RIO is the Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance or equivalent. The RIO is responsible for notifying sponsors at the appropriate time and keeping others well informed about the compliance requirements placed upon them.
  • Research Misconduct: fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. 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: 1) There must be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and 2) The misconduct must be committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, and; 3) The allegation must be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
  • Respondent: the person against whom an allegation of research misconduct is directed or who is the subject of a research misconduct proceeding.

General Policy

  • Responsibility to Report Misconduct: All members of the institution have the responsibility to report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the DO, RIO, or other institutional official. Allegations brought to individuals other than the DO will promptly be forwarded to the DO. Questions or suspicions about research misconduct should be brought to the attention of the DO or RIO for confidential counseling, mediation, and possible informal resolution.
  • Confidentiality: To the extent allowed by law, Lewis & Clark will maintain the identity of respondents and complainants securely and confidentially. Confidentiality will be maintained for any records or evidence from which research subjects might be identified. This includes not disclosing any identifying information or information obtained during the research misconduct proceeding except to: a) those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding; and b) sponsors that may require information about the research misconduct proceeding. Lewis & Clark will take all reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased research misconduct proceeding to the maximum extent practicable.
  • Cooperation: A complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with any inquiry and/or investigation. Members of the Lewis & Clark community will cooperate with institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Community members may not retaliate against complainants, witnesses, or committee members; any alleged or apparent retaliation should be reported immediately to the DO and/or RIO. See Financial Reporting and Whistleblower Protection Policy.
  • Assessment of Allegations: Promptly after receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the DO will determine if it meets the definition of research misconduct and is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified. Allegations that meet these criteria will trigger an inquiry. 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.
  • Inquiry into Allegations of Research Misconduct: Process by which the DO or their designee gather preliminary evidence and testimony of the respondent, complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible research misconduct to warrant an investigation. The DO or their designee will prepare an Inquiry Report to summarize findings and provide a written determination as to whether an investigation is warranted. The inquiry process should be completed within 60 days, but may be extended at the DO’s discretion if more time is warranted.
  • Investigation of Allegations of Research Misconduct: When an inquiry process determines there is sufficient evidence of possible research misconduct to warrant an investigation, the DO will begin an investigation in a timely manner. The investigation will explore the allegations in detail and determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent, and will otherwise comply with the investigation requirements in 42 CFR Part 93. If the misconduct occurred with regard to PHS-supported research activities of any kind, an investigation report that includes findings, conclusions and a determination of research misconduct will be submitted to ORI for oversight review within 120 days of the start of the investigation. The DO and/or RIO may submit a written request for extension from the ORI if more time is needed to conclude the investigation.
  • Records Retention: All records of the research misconduct proceeding will be maintained by the RIO or SPARC office for seven years from termination of the inquiry, any related proceeding of a research sponsor, or the period required by Oregon law, whichever is longer.
  • Interim Protective Actions: The DO 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; an immediate need to protect the interests of individuals affected by the inquiry; or likelihood that the alleged incident will be publicly reported. Authorities will be notified promptly if there is reasonable indication of possible criminal violations. The DO shall initiate interim administrative actions and consult with institutional officials and authorities as appropriate to protect federal funds and the public health and to ensure that the purposes of federal financial assistance are carried out.
  • Cooperation with ORI: Lewis & Clark will cooperate fully and on a continuing basis with ORI as required, specifically with regard to any misconduct that is related to PHS-supported research activities. This may include providing information in Lewis & Clark’s custody to develop a complete record of relevant evidence, witnesses, and research records. The DO and/or RIO will report to ORI as required any proposed settlements, admissions of research misconduct, or institutional findings of misconduct that arise at any stage of a misconduct proceeding, including the allegation and inquiry stages.
  • Restoring Reputations: Lewis & Clark will undertake all reasonable, practical, and appropriate efforts to a) protect and restore the position and reputation of any person alleged to have engaged in research misconduct, but against whom no finding of research misconduct was made, if that person or his/her legal counsel or other authorized representative requests that we do so; b) protect and restore the position and reputation of any complainant, witness, or committee member; and c) counter potential or actual retaliation against those complainants, witnesses and committee members.

Related Lewis & Clark Policies

External References:

Approval Date

Approved by Executive Council on April 7, 2021.