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GEN 1.5.(2). Scientific Misconduct in Research Funded by the Federal Government.

 

(1)   Introduction.

Recognizing that honesty in the conduct of academic research is fundamental to its integrity and credibility, and to the maintenance of public trust in the university, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh adopts this statement of policy and procedures for reviewing and investigating allegations of scientific misconduct in research funded by the federal government. [Notes: (1) Reference: Title 42, Subchapter D, Part 50, Subpart A, Sec. 50.101-50.105, Code of Federal Regulations; Federal Register, Vol 54, No. 151, Tuesday, August 8, 1989. (2) Allegations of scientific misconduct not processed under these procedures shall be reviewed and processed under the appropriate faculty or academic staff personnel rules.]

(2)   Definitions:

"misconduct in science" means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. (Reference: 42 CFR Part 50, subsection 501.101.) Additionally, National Science Foundation regulations define misconduct as retaliation of any kind against a person who reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith. NSF-funded science education activity is included within this misconduct in science policy.

(3)   Statement of Policy.

Misconduct in science is prohibited at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and may be cause for discipline or dismissal. [The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh shall foster a research environment that discourages misconduct in all research and that deals forthrightly with possible misconduct associated with research for which federal funds have been provided or requested.

(4)   Statement of Assurances -- General Criteria.

Consistent with this policy, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh hereby provides the following assurances.

(a)   We have established, and will comply with, the following administrative process for reviewing, investigating, and reporting allegations of misconduct in science in connection with research funded by the federal government that is either conducted at this University or sponsored by this University.

(b)   We will implement these policies and procedures, keep them current, and provide a copy to anyone who requests it.

(c)   We will take immediate and appropriate action as soon as we are informed of an allegation or suspicion of misconduct in science by one of our employees or by other persons who are within our control.

(d)   During the course of our investigation of possible misconduct, and as provided in the following procedures, we agree to inform and cooperate with the appropriate federal agency or agencies.

We also acknowledge that our failure to comply with these assurances and the requirements of federal regulations may result in enforcement action against the University, including loss of funding, and may lead to an investigation conducted by the appropriate federal agency.

(5)   Procedures Establishing Specific Requirements for Inquiries, Investigations, and Reporting.

(a)   Section 1.   Inquiries into Possible Misconduct.

[Note: These procedures shall be implemented in a manner consistent with the protections afforded under section 230.80 et. seq. of the Wisconsin Statutes (the "Whistleblower law"). Retaliatory action is prohibited under section 230.83, Wis. Stats.]

      1. Informal allegations or reports of possible misconduct in science shall be directed initially to the person with immediate responsibility for the work of the individual against whom the allegations or reports have been made. The person receiving such an informal report or allegation is responsible for either resolving the matter or encouraging the submission of a formal allegation or report.
      2. Upon receipt of formal allegations or reports of scientific misconduct, the person with immediate responsibility for the work of the individual against whom the allegations or reports have been made shall immediately inform, in writing, the Provost and Vice Chancellor.
      3. The Provost and Vice Chancellor shall appoint an individual or individuals to conduct a prompt inquiry into the allegations or report of misconduct.
        1. The individual or individuals conducting the inquiry shall prepare a written report for the Provost and Vice Chancellor describing the evidence reviewed, summarizing relevant interviews and including the conclusions of the inquiry.
        2. The 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 calendar days to complete, the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period shall be documented and included with the record.
        3. The individual against whom the allegations were made shall be given a copy of the report of the inquiry by the Provost and Vice Chancellor, and shall have an opportunity to respond to the report within 10 calendar days of receipt. Any response must be in writing, and will become a part of the record of the inquiry.
        4. To protect the privacy and reputation of all individuals involved, including the individual in good faith reporting possible misconduct and the individual against whom the report is made, information concerning the initial report, the inquiry and any resulting investigation shall be kept confidential and shall be released only to those who have a legitimate need to know about the matter.
      4. If the inquiry concludes that the allegation of misconduct is unsubstantiated, and an investigation is not warranted, the reasons and supporting documentation for this conclusion shall be reported to the Provost and Vice Chancellor, who shall be responsible for reviewing the conclusion of the inquiry. If the Provost and Vice Chancellor concurs in the conclusion that an investigation is not warranted, his or her determination, and all other supporting documentation from the inquiry, shall be recorded and the record maintained confidentially in the Provost and Vice Chancellor's Office for a period of three years after the termination of the inquiry. All concerned parties shall receive written confirmation from the Provost and Vice Chancellor of the determination that further investigation is not warranted.
      5. If the inquiry or the Provost and Vice Chancellor determines that an investigation is warranted, all concerned parties shall receive written notice of that determination and the matter shall be subject to further review as provided in Section 2 of these procedures.
         

(b)   Section 2.   Investigation of Reported Misconduct.

      1. If an investigation is determined to be warranted under Section 1 of these procedures, the Provost and Vice Chancellor shall so inform the Chancellor. The Chancellor shall immediately appoint a committee to conduct the investigation. The committee shall be composed of impartial faculty members possessing appropriate competence and research expertise for the conduct of the investigation, and no faculty member having responsibility for the research under investigation, or having any other conflict with the University's interest in securing a fair and objective investigation, may serve on the investigating committee. [Note: If the investigation involves possible misconduct by a member of the academic staff, the Chancellor shall appoint academic staff to the investigating review panel (faculty may also serve on that panel).] If necessary, individuals possessing the requisite competence and research expertise who are not affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh may be asked to serve as consultants to the investigating committee.
      2. The investigation must be initiated within 30 calendar days of the completion of the inquiry. 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. Interviews should be conducted of all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegations are made, as well as others who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations. Summaries of interviews conducted shall be prepared and provided to the parties interviewed for their comment or revision. These summaries shall be made a part of the record of the investigation.
      3. The individual making the allegation and the individual against whom the allegations are made, and all others having relevant information shall cooperate fully with the work of the investigating committee, and shall make available all relevant documents and materials associated with the research under investigation.
      4. The investigation should ordinarily be completed within 120 calendar days of its initiation. This includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of the findings, making that report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the Chancellor. If the investigating committee determines that it cannot complete the investigation within the 120-day period, it shall submit to the Chancellor a written request for an extension explaining the need for delay and providing an estimated date of completion. If the research under investigation is funded by an agency within the Public Health Service (PHS) or the National Science Foundation, Section 3 of these procedures shall be followed.
      5. The report of the investigation should include a description of the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, information obtained and the sources of such information, an accurate summary of the position of the individual under investigation, the findings of the committee, including the bases for its findings, and the committee's recommendation to the Chancellor concerning whether the evidence of scientific misconduct is sufficient to warrant discipline or dismissal under the applicable faculty or academic staff personnel rules. All documentation substantiating the findings and recommendation of the investigating committee, together with all other information comprising the record of the investigation, shall be transmitted to the Chancellor with the report, upon completion of the investigation.
      6. A copy of the investigating committee's report shall be provided to the individual being investigated. The Chancellor shall afford the individual under investigation an opportunity to discuss the matter prior to taking action under Section (3) of these procedures.
         

(c)   Section 3.   Reporting to Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) where research is funded by an agency within PHS; or, Reporting to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), where research is funded by the NSF.

      1. A determination that an investigation should be initiated under Section 1.5. of these procedures must be reported in writing to the OSI Director or the OIG Director on or before the date the investigation begins. The notification should state the name of the individuals against whom the allegations of scientific misconduct have been made, the general nature of the allegations, and the application or grant numbers involved.
      2. During the course of the investigation, the granting agency should be apprised of any significant findings that might affect current or potential funding of the individual under investigation or that might require agency interpretation of funding regulations.
      3. The OSI must be notified at any stage of an inquiry or investigation if the University determines that any of the following conditions exist:
        1. There is an immediate health hazard involved;
        2. There is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment;
        3. There is an immediate need to protect the interest of the person making the allegations or of the individual who is the subject of the allegations as well as his or her co-investigators and associates, if any;
        4. It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly; or
        5. There is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation. In that instance, the University must inform OSI within 24 hours of obtaining that information.
      4. If the University is unable to complete the investigation within the 120-day period, as described above, the Provost and Vice Chancellor must submit to OSI a written request for an extension and an explanation of the delay, including an interim progress report and an estimated date of completion of the investigation. 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 University's investigation, the OSI may undertake an investigation of its own. If an NSF-related investigation cannot be completed within 180 calendar days a similar request and explanation must be submitted to the OIG.
      5. If the University plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all the relevant requirements, a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made to OSI or OIG, which will then decide whether further investigation should be undertaken.
      6. Upon completion of the investigation, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will notify OSI or OIG of the outcome, in a report which shall include the information and documentation specified in Section (2)(5) of these procedures.
         

(d)   Section 4.   Other Action Following Completion of Investigation.

      1. If the allegation of scientific misconduct is substantiated as a result of an investigation, the Provost and Vice Chancellor shall notify the agency, if any, sponsoring the research project of the result of the investigation. In such a case, the individual involved will be asked to withdraw all pending abstracts and papers emanating from the scientific misconduct, and the Provost and Vice Chancellor will notify editors of journals and sponsoring agencies with which the individual has been affiliated if, based on the results of the investigation, it is believed that the validity of previous research by the individual under investigation is questionable.
      2. Where scientific misconduct is substantiated, the Universityof Wisconsin Oshkoshwill take appropriate action, which may include discipline or dismissal, with regard to the employment status of the individual or individuals involved. Applicable personnel rules, policies and procedures set forth in Chapters UWS 4, 6, 11, and 13, Wisconsin Administrative Code and related University policies shall govern discipline or dismissal actions resulting from an investigation of scientific misconduct.
      3. Where allegations of scientific misconduct are not substantiated by the investigation, theUniversityofWisconsin Oshkoshshall make diligent efforts, as appropriate, to restore the reputations of the persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct, and to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, made the allegations.

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