Misconduct in Scientific Research or Research Training
Revision Date: 9/6/2005
Responsible Office: Vice President for Research and Development
Reference: Public Health Service Office of Scientific Integrity
Louisiana Tech University established the Research Council as the body to receive allegations of scientific misconduct in any research, funded or nonfunded, to investigate or arrange for an investigation of these allegations, to notify the Public Health Service (PHS) Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) of each injury or investigation, to prepare the necessary written reports for the PHS’s Office of Scientific Integrity, and to keep the required documentation of each inquiry or investigation. Allegations of scientific misconduct are to be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Research and Development, who is Chair of the Research Council. Notification will be given the University President, all appropriate Vice Presidents, and the Office of Internal Audit.
Section I: The Research Council
- Will receive copies of the allegation and will meet within the next three days the University is in session to undertake or establish an inquiry or investigation into the allegation or other evidence of misconduct. An inquiry must be completed within 60 calendar days of its initiation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If the inquiry takes longer than 60 days to complete, the record of the inquiry shall include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period. A written report shall be prepared that states what evidence was reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and includes the conclusions of the inquiry. The individual(s) against whom the allegation was made shall be given a copy of the report of inquiry. If the affected individual(s) comments on the report, those comments may be made part of the record.
- Will protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those individuals who, in good faith, report apparent misconduct.
- Will afford the affected individual(s) confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible, a prompt and thorough investigation, and an opportunity to comment on allegations and findings of the inquiry and/or the investigation.
- Will notify the Director, OSI, when, on the basis of the initial inquiry, the institution determines that an investigation is warranted, or prior to the decision to initiate an investigation if the conditions listed in Section III exist.
- Will notify the OSI within 24 hours of obtaining any reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, so that the OSI may then immediately notify the Department’s Office of Inspector General.
- Will maintain sufficiently detailed documentation of inquiries to permit a later assessment of the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted, if necessary. Such records shall be securely maintained for a period of at least three years after the termination of the inquiry, and shall, upon request, be provided to authorized PHS personnel.
- Will undertake an investigation within 30 days of the completion of the inquiry, if findings from that inquiry provide sufficient basis for conducting an investigation. The investigation normally will include examination of all documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. Whenever possible, interviews should be conducted of all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegation is made, as well as other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations; complete summaries of these interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file.
- Will secure necessary and appropriate expertise to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in any inquiry or investigation.
- Will take precautions against real or apparent conflicts of interest on the part of those involved in the inquiry or investigation.
- Will prepare and maintain the documentation to substantiate the investigation’s findings. This documentation is to be made available to the Director, OSI, who will decide whether that Office will either proceed with its own investigation or act on the institution’s findings.
- Will take interim administrative actions, as appropriate, to protect Federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the Federal financial assistance are carried out.
- Will keep the OSI apprised of any developments during the course of the investigation which disclose facts that may affect current or potential Department of Health and Human Services funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the PHS needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.
- Will undertake diligent efforts, as appropriate, to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed, and also undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.
- Will impose appropriate sanctions on individuals when the allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.
- Will notify the OSI of the final outcome of the investigation.
- The institution’s decision to initiate an investigation must be reported in writing to the Director, OSI, on or before the date the investigation begins. At a minimum, the notification should include the name of the person(s) against whom the allegations have been made, the general nature of the allegations, and the PHS application or grant number(s) involved (as applicable). Information provided through the notification will be held in confidence to the extent permitted by law, will not be disclosed as part of the peer review and Advisory Committee review processes, but may be used by the relevant Secretary in making decisions about the award or continuation of funding.
- An investigation should ordinarily be completed within 120 days of its initiation. This time frame includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, making that report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the OSI. If he/she can be identified, the person(s) who raised the allegation should be provided with those portions of the report that address his/her role and opinions in the investigation.
- Institutions are expected to carry their investigations through to completion and to pursue diligently all significant issues. If an institution plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements under the institution’s procedures, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made to OSI, which will then decide whether further investigation should be undertaken.
- The final report submitted to the OSI must describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted; how and from whom information was obtained relevant to the investigation, the findings, and the basis for the findings; and include the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the institution.
- If the institution determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in 120 days, it must submit to the OSI a written request for an extension and an explanation for the delay that includes an interim report on the progress to date and an estimate for the date of completion of the report and other necessary steps. Any consideration for an extension must balance the need for a thorough and rigorous examination of the facts versus the interests of the subject(s) of the investigation and the PHS in a timely resolution of the matter. If the request is granted, the institution must file periodic progress reports as requested by the OSI. If satisfactory progress is not made in the institution’s investigation, the OSI may undertake an investigation of its own.
- Upon receipt of the final report of investigation and supporting materials, the OSI will review the information in order to determine whether the investigation has been performed in a timely manner and with sufficient objectivity, thoroughness, and competence. The OSI may then request clarification or additional information and, if necessary, perform its own investigation. While primary responsibility for the conduct of investigations and inquiries lies with the institution, the Department reserves the right to perform its own investigation at any time prior to, during, or following an institution’s investigation.
- In addition to sanctions that the institution may decide to impose, the Department also may impose sanctions of its own upon investigators or institutions based upon the authorities that is possesses or may possess, if such action seems appropriate.
The institution is responsible for notifying the OSI if it ascertains at any stage of the inquiry or investigation that any of the following conditions exist:
- There is an immediate health hazard involved.
- There is an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment.
- There is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the individual(s) who is the subject of the allegations as well as his/her co-investigators and associates, if any.
- It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly.
- There is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation. In that instance, the institution must inform OSI within 24 hours of obtaining that information. It is understood that OSI will immediately notify the Office of the Inspector General.