Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
Research Integrity Officer: Dr. Christine Unson
Deciding Officer: Dr. Christine Broadbridge
Office: Engleman Hall, Wing A, Room A110 A - B
Voice: (203) 392 5243
FAX: (203) 392-5221
Table of Contents
Responsible Research Conduct at SCSU
Reporting Research Misconduct at SCSU
Actionable Research Misconduct
The Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) promotes and monitors the responsible conduct of research for all SCSU human and non-human research, and acts on substantive allegations of research misconduct. The ORI subscribes to The United States Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Public Health Service (PHS) Policies on Research Misconduct published in The Federal Register, codified at Title 42 Part 93. Further, the SCSU ORI observes guidelines and processes presented in the HHS and PHS ORI Handbook for Institutional Research Integrity Officers (RIOs), and the ORI Introduction to The Responsible Conduct of Research respectively. The SCSU ORI participates in the HHS ORI Assurance Program and has established administrative policies for responding to allegations of research misconduct that comply with PHS regulation 42 CFR Part 93 and accepted institutional procedures.
The federal codes, 42 CFR 93 at º 93.103, define research misconduct as . . . "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results:
a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
b) Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
d) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion."
As represented in the codes at º 93.319 (a), "Institutions may have internal standards of conduct different from the HHS standards for research misconduct. . . . an institution may find conduct to be [potentially] actionable under its standards even if the action does not meet. . . [the HHS] . . .definition of research misconduct.
Considering federal policies and institutional elements regarding the responsible conduct of research, it is expected that investigators conducting research under the auspices of SCSU will refrain from engaging in federally defined research misconduct activity and at a minimum observe (but not be limited to) the following common ethical values when involved in research:
- Honesty - convey information truthfully;
- Accuracy - report findings precisely;
- Efficiency - use resources wisely;
- Objectivity - let facts "speak for themselves" and avoid improper bias (first four bullets from: ORI Responsible Conduct of Research, Steneck, N., US HHS ORI, page 3: (2004);
- Protect human participants in research -submit research involving humans to Institutional Review Board (IRB) review;
- Attend to the welfare of laboratory animals - submit research involving animals to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) review;
- Follow discipline specific ethical codes regarding research investigator conduct;
- Foster professional self-regulation in research - set an example of responsible research conduct for students, colleagues and the public;
- Report instances of research misconduct when they occur;
Adherence to these basic tenets provides a groundwork for research integrity and is expected to promote responsible conduct in research at SCSU. Violation of these ethical values and/or federal research misconduct codes will be considered actionable according to SCSU policies and procedures.
Allegations of research misconduct and the basis for them should be communicated confidentially and preferably (but not necessarily) in writing to the Research Integrity Officer. The complainant may not remain anonymous but will be protected under The HHS ORI Whistleblower's Bill of Rights found at: http://ori.hhs.gov/misconduct/Guidelines_Whistleblower.shtml
The following presents the SCSU strategy for handling misconduct allegations:
- Preliminary Assessment - The RIO determines if the allegation contains sufficient information to proceed with an inquiry.
- Inquiry - The RIO makes a prefatory evaluation of the available evidence, testimony of the complainant and any key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible research misconduct to warrant an investigation.
- Investigation - The RIO, in consultation with institutional officials as appropriate, appoints an ad hoc investigation committee (three or more members including the RIO). The charge of the committee is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, to determine specifically whether actionable misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent, and to report these findings and recommended institutional actions to the institution's deciding official.
- Institutional Decision - Based on a preponderance of the evidence, the institution's deciding official will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions.
Actionable Research Misconduct:
- A finding of actionable research misconduct requires that:
- "There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and,
- The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and,
- The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence."
- Please see CFR 42 part 93 at 93.104 (a), (b), (c)