Policy 7113 – Misconduct in Scientific Research or Research Training

Revision Date: 10/18/2018 
Responsible Office: Office of Research and Innovation 
Reference: Public Health Service Office of Research Integrity 

Louisiana Tech University established the Research Council as the body to receive allegations of scientific misconduct in any research, funded or non-funded, to investigate or arrange for an investigation of these allegations, and to retain the required documentation of each inquiry or investigation on file as detailed in section 4. Allegations of scientific misconduct are to be submitted in writing to the Chief Research and Innovation Officer (CRIO), Chair of the Research Council. Notification will be given to the University President, and all appropriate Vice Presidents. The Research Council Chair will notify the Public Health Service (PHS) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of alleged research misconduct, if conditions in Section II exist. 

Section I: The Research Council 

A subcommittee of the Research Council formed by the CRIO: 

1. 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. 

2. Will protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those individuals who, in good faith, report apparent misconduct. 

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

6. Will complete an investigation within 120 days of its initiation, if reasonably possible. This time frame includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, and making that report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation. 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. 

7. Will carry its investigations through to completion and pursue diligently all significant issues. If the Research Council plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements under the University’s procedures, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made. 

8. Will secure necessary and appropriate expertise to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in any inquiry or investigation. 

9. Will take precautions against real or apparent conflicts of interest on the part of those involved in the inquiry or investigation. 

10. Will prepare and maintain the documentation to substantiate the investigation’s findings. 

11. Will submit a final report that 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 already imposed by the University. 

The CRIO will review the report, and 

12. Will take interim administrative actions, as appropriate, to protect Federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the Federal financial assistance are carried out. 

13. 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. 

14. Will recommend to appropriate administrators applicable sanctions on individuals when the allegation of misconduct has been substantiated. 

Section II: External Reporting to PHS 

Each allegation of research misconduct must meet the following criteria to fall within PHS jurisdiction: 

1. The research in which the alleged misconduct took place must be supported by, or involve an application for, PHS funds. 3 

2. The alleged misconduct must meet the definition of research misconduct set forth in the PHS Policies on Research Misconduct (See 42 C.F.R. Part 93 as amended). 

3. The allegation contains sufficient information to proceed with an inquiry. 

If the above criteria are met, the following procedures apply: 

1. An institution’s decision to initiate an investigation must be reported in writing to the Director, federal Office of Research Integrity, on or before the date the investigation begins. At minimum, the notification should include the name of the person(s) against whom the allegations have been made, the general nature of the allegation as it relates to the PHS definition of research misconduct, and the PHS applications or grant number(s) involved. ORI must also be notified of the final outcome of the investigation and must be provided with a copy of the investigation report. Any significant variations from the provisions of the institutional policies and procedures should be explained in any reports submitted to ORI. 

2. If an institution plans to terminate an inquiry for any reason other than that an investigation is not warranted or an investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements of the PHS regulation, the Research Council Chair will submit a report of the planned termination to ORI, including a description of the reasons for the proposed termination. 

3. If the institution determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in one hundred twenty (120) days, the Research Council Chair will submit to ORI a written request for extension that explains the delay, reports on the progress to date, estimates the date of completion of the report, and describes other necessary steps to be taken. If the request is granted, the Research Council Chair will file periodic progress reports as requested by the ORI. 

4. When PHS funding or applications for funding are involved and an admission of research misconduct is made, the Research Council Chair will contact ORI for consultation and advice. Normally, the individual making the admission will be asked to sign a statement attesting to the occurrence and extent of misconduct. When the case involves PHS funds, the institution cannot accept an admission of research misconduct as a basis for closing a case or not undertaking and investigation without prior approval from ORI. 

5. The Research Council Chair will notify ORI at any stage of the inquiry or investigation if: 

a) there is an immediate health or safety hazard involved, including the immediate need to protect human or animal subjects; or 

b) there is an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment; or 

c) 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; or 

d) it is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly; or 4 

e) the research activities should be suspended; or 

f) there is reasonable indication of possible violation of civil or criminal law. In this instance, the institution must inform ORI immediately after obtaining that information.