In April, Vice Provost for Research Ralph Amado forwarded to the Faculty Senate for review an addendum of
technical changes in Penn's Policy on Misconduct in Research recommended by the Office of Research Integrity
of the U.S. Public Health Service. These changes were discussed by the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom
and Responsibility. SCAFR found no academic freedom concerns raised by the addendum and upon their
recommendation the Senate Executive Committee approved the changes on May 7, 1997. The following
procedures, which include the approved addendum, become effective immediately and supersede those published
in Almanac September 3, 1991. This fall, the Faculty Senate and administration are setting up a committee to
review these procedures as a whole. The membership and charge of the committee will be published soon.
Stanley Chodorow, Provost
Stanley Chodorow, Provost
Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research
The University relies on its faculty to establish and maintain the highest standards of ethical practices in academic work including research. Misconduct is forbidden and represents a serious breach of both the rules of the University and the customs of scholarly communities.
Recent public disclosures of instances of misconduct in research while relatively rare in relation to the total research enterprise, have raised concerns about academe's ability to detect such misconduct and to handle cases of misconduct effectively. While the primary responsibility for maintaining integrity in research must rest with those who perform it, it is necessary that the University establish certain standards to assure a healthy environment for research. These standards include procedures for dealing with alleged misconduct in research.
For the purpose of these procedures, misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out, or reporting results from research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments in evaluating research methods and results. Some forms of misconduct such as failure to adhere to requirements for the protection of human subjects or to ensure the welfare of laboratory animals are governed by specific federal regulations and are subject to the oversight of established University committees. However, violations involving failure to meet these requirements may also be covered through the procedures discussed here governing misconduct in research or possibly by other University procedures when so determined by responsible committees or institutional officials.
The University condemns misconduct in research and is obligated to establish procedures to investigate allegations of misconduct in light of the following:
1. The University expects each faculty member to maintain and further the highest standards of ethical practices in research. Especially important are integrity in recording and reporting results, care in execution of research procedures, and fairness in recognition of the work of others.
2. Improper limitations on access to information, as defined by the scholarly community, are encroachments on the free pursuit of new knowledge within the scholarly community. These improper limitations are unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
3. Committees on Appointments and Promotions at all levels are encouraged to evaluate in detail the quality of published work in assessing the scholarly productivity of candidates for appointments and promotions. The most specialized internal peer review should take place at the department level. Faculty who make recommendations concerning appointments and promotions should acquire as deep an understanding as possible of the research of the individual under consideration, thereby minimizing the possibility of research misconduct and promoting the highest standards of research.
4. The University expects faculty members to be responsible for the integrity of the research carried out under their supervision, no matter who actually performs the work or under what circumstances.
5. While there is no institutional policy stating who should be named as authors of reported work, authorship
implies a definable major contribution to the work and an acceptance of responsibility for the methods and findings of the work.
6. Investigators are expected to keep thorough and verifiable records and to insure that exact copies of these records are preserved by the unit in which the work is done.
7. Part of the maintenance and perpetuation of high ethical standards includes the responsibility to report research misconduct. If University colleagues or others observe misconduct, they are expected to report it to the appropriate dean.
8. Charges of misconduct must be resolved expeditiously in a fair and objective manner, protecting the rights of the person or persons against whom a complaint has been filed (the respondent) and the person or persons filing the complaint (the complainant). The making of knowingly false or malicious accusations violates acceptable norms of behavior for members of the University community and may result in formal charges being brought against the complainant under University procedures.
Procedures for handling alleged research misconduct by standing and associated faculty
The procedures which follow recognize the need to protect the rights and reputations of all individuals, including those who are alleged to have engaged in misconduct and those who report the alleged misconduct. These procedures also recognize that ethical standards are not only an individual obligation but represent a responsibility to the institution, to scientific communities, and to the public.
All committees and parties to an inquiry or investigation have the obligation to maintain maximum confidentiality throughout the proceedings. All persons concerned have the obligation to cooperate and furnish all requested information. If any party refuses to do so, the committees of inquiry and investigation will note this in their reports to the dean.
1. Preliminary inquiry
1.1Before filing a complaint, an individual is encouraged to review the matter with his or her department chair, dean, and/or University ombudsman, to seek advice from individuals he or she trusts, and through such consultation to determine whether the matter should be pursued. Inquiry into misconduct in research should be initiated by written complaint from any individual, whether or not affiliated with the University and filed with the dean of the School in which the respondent has his or her primary appointment. The dean will then notify the Provost. The complaint must be detailed and specific, and accompanied by appropriate documentation. The dean and the Provost have the responsibility to protect the position and reputation of the complainant so long as the complainant's allegations were made in good faith. The Provost will notify the Chair of the Faculty Senate that a complaint has been filed and the nature of the complaint, but will not identify either the complainant or the respondent, in order to preserve maximum confidentiality at this very preliminary stage of inquiry.
1.2 Upon receipt of a properly documented complaint, the dean shall inform the respondent of the nature of the charges making every effort to avoid identifying the complainant. The dean shall also appoint a preliminary inquiry committee consisting of at least two individuals, none of whom are members of the same department as, or collaborators with, the complainant or respondent. The members of the committee shall be unbiased and have appropriate backgrounds to judge the issues being raised. They may but need not be members of the faculty of the University. Upon appointment of the preliminary inquiry committee, the dean will notify the complainant and the respondent of the names of the committee members. The dean shall also make every effort to protect the identities of both complainant and respondent with respect to the larger community. The appointment of the preliminary inquiry committee will ordinarily be completed within two weeks of the receipt of a properly documented complaint.
1.3 The preliminary inquiry committee shall gather information and determine whether the allegation warrants a formal investigation. The committee shall then submit a written report of its findings to the dean with a copy to the Provost, the complainant and the respondent. The report shall state what evidence was reviewed, summarize relevant interviews and include the committee's conclusions. This report shall ordinarily be submitted within 30 calendar days of receipt of the written complaint by the dean. The respondent shall be given the opportunity to make a written reply to the report of the preliminary inquiry committee within 15 calendar days following submission of the report to the dean. Such reply shall be incorporated as an appendix to the report. The entire inquiry process shall be completed within 60 calendar days of the receipt of a properly documented complaint by the dean unless circumstances clearly warrant a delay. In such cases the record of inquiry shall detail reasons for the delay.
1.4 If the report of the preliminary inquiry committee finds that a formal investigation is not warranted, the dean may (i) initiate a formal investigation despite the recommendation of the preliminary inquiry committee, or (ii) not initiate a formal investigation, but take such other action as the circumstances warrant, or (iii) drop the matter. This decision shall be reviewed by the Provost. The dean and Provost ordinarily shall complete their review within 10 days of the receipt by the dean of the report. If the Provost agrees with the dean, the dean shall inform the concerned parties of their decision. If the Provost disagrees with the dean, the Provost shall determine the appropriate course of action which the dean shall initiate. In the event that the dean and Provost determine not to initiate a formal investigation, they shall, as appropriate, use diligent efforts to restore the reputation of the respondent and to protect the position and reputation of the complainant if the complaint is found to have been made in good faith. The Provost will notify the chair of the Faculty Senate that the case has been dropped.
1.5 If no formal investigation of the respondent is conducted, sufficient documentation shall be maintained for at least 3 years following the inquiry to permit a later assessment of the reasons that a formal investigation was not deemed warranted.
1.6 If the report of the preliminary inquiry committee finds that a formal investigation is warranted or the dean or Provost decides the matter should be pursued through a formal investigation the dean shall:
a) notify the complainant and respondent;
b) identify the complainant to the respondent;
c) initiate a formal investigation as provided in section 2.
The Provost shall inform both the agencies funding the research and the Senate Consultation Subcommittee, in writing, that a formal investigation has been initiated.
2. Formal Investigation
2.1 To initiate a formal investigation, the dean shall appoint a formal investigation committee of not less than three individuals, none of whom shall have been members of the preliminary inquiry committee but whose appointment shall be subject to the same provisions for appointment of the preliminary inquiry committee as described in section 1.2. The formal investigation shall be initiated within 30 calendar days of completion of any inquiry which finds that such an investigation is merited.
2.2 The formal investigation committee shall undertake a thorough examination of the charges, including, without limitation, a review of all relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. Whenever possible, interviews shall be conducted with the complainant and respondent, as well as with others having information regarding the allegations. Summaries of these interviews shall be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file. During its proceedings, the committee shall have access to and consult legal counsel. When appearing before the committee the respondent and the complainant may each be accompanied by an adviser, who may be a lawyer but who may not participate in the proceedings. The committee shall not conduct formal hearings. Except in unusual cases, the respondent and the complainant shall not appear before the committee at the same time.
2.3 Following the completion of its investigation the committee shall submit a written report with full documentation of its findings of fact to the dean with copies to the Provost and the respondent. This report shall describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained, the findings, and the basis of the findings and texts or summaries of the interviews conducted by the committee. This report shall ordinarily be submitted to the dean within 90 days of the appointment of the formal investigation committee. The respondent shall be permitted to make a written reply to the Provost within 21 days of submission of the report to the dean. If appropriate, a copy of the report will also be sent to the complainant who will also be offered the opportunity to make a written reply to the Provost within 21 days of the sending of the report. Such replies shall be incorporated as appendices to the report of the formal investigation committee. The Provost shall then report the outcome of the investigation to agencies funding the research and the Senate Consultation Committee. The Provost shall also provide a copy of the report to the funding agency, as required. The entire formal investigation process shall be completed with 120 calendar days of its initiation, unless circumstances clearly warrant a delay. In such cases, the reasons for a delay shall be documented.
2.4 The Provost and dean shall, during the course of the formal investigation, take administrative action, as appropriate, to protect funds for sponsored research and ensure the purpose of any external financial assistance. The Provost shall apprise agencies funding the research of any development during the formal investigation which may affect current or proposed funding of respondent's research. If the Provost and dean decide to terminate an investigation before it is completed, the Provost shall notify the funding agencies in writing of the reasons for terminating the investigation.
3.1 If the report of the formal investigation committee finds the charges to be unfounded, the matter shall be dropped and the concerned parties shall be informed. The dean and the Provost have the responsibility to take an active role to repair any damage done to the reputation of the respondent or the complainant (provided the complainant acted in good faith), and to take appropriate action should they determine that the accusation was knowingly false.
3.2 If the report of the formal investigation committee finds the charges against a faculty member to be substantiated, the dean shall proceed to take whatever actions are appropriate to the seriousness of the offense and in accordance with University procedures and which consider the previous record of the respondent. For major offenses by members of the standing or research faculties, the dean shall consult with members of the faculty concerned to aid in determining whether there is substantial reason to believe that just cause exists for suspension or termination, and shall take other steps as may be appropriate under the University's procedure for Suspension or Termination of Faculty for Just Cause. For less serious offenses, which do not warrant suspension or termination, the dean may impose penalties including, but not limited to, removal from a particular project, a letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, or below average salary increases, including zero salary increases, for one or more years.
3.3 The respondent shall have access to all established University grievance and appeal procedures in accordance with the stated jurisdiction of such procedures.
3.4 When the report of the formal investigation committee finds charges have been substantiated, the Provost shall take appropriate steps to correct any misrepresentations resulting from the misconduct in question. Collabo rators, professional societies, and other affected institutions and individuals shall be informed. If misrepresented results have been submitted for publication, already published, or otherwise disseminated into the public domain, appropriate journals and other sponsors shall be notified.
4.1 If the dean is the complainant or respondent or in any other way has a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, he or she is obligated to remove him or herself from the case during the preliminary inquiry and formal investigation and to transfer to the Provost responsibility for carrying out these procedures. In carrying out the latter the Provost shall assume the role specified for the dean and the President that specified for the Provost in sections 1, 2 and 3.
4.2 Complete records of all relevant documentation on cases treated under the provisions of this policy shall be preserved in the offices of the dean and the Provost for at least ten years, except as indicated below. The records of cases which are dropped under the provisions of sections 1.4 or 3.1 shall be preserved for at least three years following the initial inquiry, but not as part of the personnel record of the respondent.
4.3 The University may act under these procedures irrespective of possible civil or criminal claims arising out of the same or other events. The dean, with the concurrence of the Provost, after consulting with the general counsel, shall determine whether the University shall, in fact, proceed against a respondent who also faces related charges in a civil or criminal tribunal. If the University defers proceedings, it may subsequently proceed irrespective of the time provisions set forth in these procedures.
Additional Procedures for Allegations Involving
Research Funded by the US Public Health Service
1. Preliminary Inquiry
A. Under Section 1.1, the Provost will notify the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) if the alleged misconduct has caused any immediate health hazards, or if there is a need to protect Federal funds or equipment or individuals affected by the inquiry, or if the alleged incident will probably be publicly reported. If reasonable indication of possible criminal violations is found, ORI will be notified within 24 hours of the Provost's knowledge of such findings.
B. Under Section 1.1, the Dean will take appropriate administrative actions to protect Federal Funds and to ensure that the purposes of the Federal financial assistance are being carried out.
C. At any time, if a decision is made to terminate an inquiry for any reason without completing all relevant requirements under these procedures, the Provost will notify ORI in writing including a description of the reasons for such termination.
2. Formal Investigation
A. The Provost will notify ORI of any situation similar to 1.A above.
B. The Provost will notify ORI that a formal investigation will be initiated on or before the date that the investigation begins.
C. The Provost will submit to ORI a request for extension if unable to complete a formal investigation within 120 days. Any such request will include an explanation for the delay, an interim report on the progress to date, an outline of what remains to be done, and an estimated date of completion.
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