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ASU MISCONDUCT

ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL ON RESEARCH MISCONDUCT
 

Contents

I. Reporting of Allegations .................................................................................................................... 3
II. Confidentiality .................................................................................................................................... 3
III. Research Misconduct Proceedings–Criteria, Reports, and Time Limitations ....................... 4
IV. Inquiry Committee .......................................................................................................................... 4
V. Investigation Committee .................................................................................................................... 4
VI. Investigation Reports ..................................................................................................................... 5
VII. Ensuring a Fair Research Misconduct Proceeding ................................................................... 6
VIII. Notice to Respondent .................................................................................................................... 6
A. Initiation of the Inquiry. .................................................................................................................. 6
B. Comment on Inquiry Report. ........................................................................................................ 7
C. Results of the Inquiry. .................................................................................................................... 7
D. Initiation of the Investigation. ........................................................................................................ 7
E. Scheduling of the Interview. ......................................................................................................... 7
F. Comment on Draft Investigation Report. .................................................................................... 7
IX. Notifications - Decision to Open an Investigation, Institutional Findings, and Actions Following the Investigation. ...................................................................................................................... 7
X. Maintenance and Custody of Research Records and Evidence ................................................ 8
XI. Interim Protective Actions ............................................................................................................. 8
XII. Notifications - Special Circumstances that may Require Protective Actions ........................ 9
XIII. Institutional Actions in Response to Final Findings of Research Misconduct ....................... 9
A. Restoring Reputations ................................................................................................................... 9
B. Cooperation with Sponsor ............................................................................................................. 9
C. Reporting Requirements to Sponsor. ....................................................................................... 10

ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ON RESEARCH MISCONDUCT

Alabama State University (ASU) is dedicated to maintaining integrity within the research environment under its authority. Research is the main venue for advancing knowledge and is communicated to students as critical components of the educational process. ASU contributes to advancing knowledge through efforts of its research faculty, student researchers, and research staff. ASU’s goal is to maintain the highest level of standards as dictated by all state, federal, corporate, and institutional governing bodies as relates to policies and procedures on research misconduct. To that end, any allegation of research misconduct will be dealt with promptly and systematically in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), the National Science Foundation – Office of the Inspector General (NSF-OIG), and/or the funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct. This document details ASU’s policy and procedures that will be followed on research misconduct. Directives are tightly aligned with ORI’s policies as codified in 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 93 and NSF’s policies as codified in 45 CFR 689. Both are located on the electronic CFR - http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/

Definition of Misconduct: Research Misconduct is defined as any dramatic deviation from practices commonly accepted by the scientific community. These include but are not limited to fabrications, plagiarism, or falsifications. False accusations of misconduct are also grounds for institutional disciplinary action. Misconduct does not include honest human error or valid differences in interpretations of data.


I. Reporting of Allegations
Concerns regarding misconduct in research should be submitted in writing to the Associate Provost for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP), herein noted as the Institutional Official (I.O). Formal allegations should be made in writing and include a date and signature. Questions or inquiries regarding allegations must be addressed in the form of written documentation. The ORSP will submit allegations to ASU’s Scientific Review Oversight Committee (SROC) for institutional inquiry and implementation of directives, as stated in this institutional policy and procedures document.
 

II. Confidentiality
To the extent allowed by law, ASU officials shall maintain the identity of respondents and complainants securely and confidentially and shall not disclose any identifying information, except to: (1) those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding; and (2) ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct, as it conducts its review of the research misconduct proceeding and any subsequent proceedings.
To the extent allowed by law, any information obtained during the research misconduct proceeding that might identify the subjects of research shall be maintained securely and
ASU RESEARCH MISCONDUCT POLICY MANUAL (Revised June 4, 2010) Page 4
confidentially and shall not be disclosed, except to those who need to know in order to carry out the research misconduct proceeding.
 

III. Research Misconduct Proceedings–Criteria, Reports, and Time Limitations
Promptly after receiving an official allegation of research misconduct, the I.O. shall assess the allegation to determine if: (1) it meets the definition of research misconduct in 42 CFR Section 93.103 (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/); (2) it involves either the Public Health Services funding agency supported research, applications for funding agency research support, or research records specified in 42 CFR Section 93.102(b) (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/); and, (3) the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified.
 

IV. Inquiry Committee
If it is determined that an inquiry (i.e., an initial review of the evidence to determine if the criteria for conducting an investigation have been met) is warranted, the I.O. shall convene the Scientific Research Oversight Committee (SROC). This committee will complete the inquiry including preparation of the inquiry report and submit it to the I.O. The I.O. will then give the respondent a reasonable opportunity to comment on it. The report should be completed within 60 calendar days of its initiation, unless the circumstances warrant a longer period. If the inquiry takes longer than 60 days to complete, documentation will be submitted as to the reasons for the delay in the inquiry record. The inquiry report shall contain the following information: (1) The name and position of the respondent(s); (2) A description of the allegations of research misconduct; (3) The funding agency support involved, including, for example, grant numbers, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing funding agency support; (4) The basis for recommending that the alleged actions warrant an investigation; and (5) Any comments on the report by the respondent or the complainant.

The I.O. will make a written determination of whether an investigation is warranted. If the inquiry results in a determination that an investigation is warranted, the I.O. will assemble and convene an ad hoc Investigation Committee. This committee may include complete or partial membership from ASU faculty and staff, plus any additional external or specialized members deemed critical to the direction of the investigation. The investigation shall begin within 30 calendar days of the determination. On or before the date on which the investigation begins, the I.O. will send the inquiry report and the written determination to the ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct, and also notify the respondent(s) in writing of the allegations to be investigated. The I.O. will also notify the university president, provost, and vice president for academic affairs of the active investigation underway. The I.O. shall give respondent(s) written notice of any new allegations within a reasonable time after determining to pursue allegations not addressed in the inquiry or in the initial notice of the investigation.


V. Investigation Committee
The Investigation Committee shall be comprised of 4-6 members. Members will consist of faculty, staff, and administrators from ASU and non-ASU institutions. This committee will not include members from the SROC to avoid perceived conflicts of interest and/or potential bias. Members of the Investigation Committee will include ASU faculty, staff, and/or external or specialized members deemed critical to the direction of the investigation. Committee members will be required to complete and sign Conflict of Interest documents provided by ASU. Curriculum vitae of all members will be sent to the sponsoring agency. The I.O. will notify the university president, provost, and vice president for academic affairs of the committee membership and that the active investigation is underway.

The committee shall make every effort to complete the investigation within 120 calendar days of the date on which it began, including conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, and providing the draft report to the I.O. The 120 days also includes the 30-day period for the respondent to review and comment on the draft report. The I.O. will submit the report to the respondent for comment, and send the final report to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct. The final report will also be submitted to the university president and provost and vice president for academic affairs. If it becomes apparent that the university cannot complete the investigation within that period, the I.O. shall promptly request an extension in writing from the ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct. This time period does not apply to separate termination hearings.

In conducting all investigations, the university shall: (1) Use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of the allegations; (2) Interview each respondent, complainant, and any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent, and record or transcribe each interview, provide the recording or transcript to the interviewee for correction, and include the recording or transcript in the record of investigation; (3) Pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion; and (4) Otherwise comply with the requirements for conducting an investigation in 42 CFR Section 93.310 (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/).

VI. Investigation Reports
The draft and final institutional investigation reports will be submitted in writing and the draft report will be submitted for comment as provided elsewhere in these policies and procedures and 42 CFR Section 93.312 (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/). The final investigation report shall:

(1) Describe the nature of the allegations of research misconduct;
(2) Describe and document the funding agency support, including, for example any grant numbers, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing funding agency support;
(3) Describe the specific allegations of research misconduct considered in the investigation;
(4) Include the institutional policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, if not already provided to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct.
(5) Identify and summarize the research records and evidence reviewed, and identify any evidence taken into custody, but not reviewed. The report should also describe any relevant records and evidence not taken into custody and explain why.
(6) Provide a finding as to whether research misconduct did or did not occur for each separate allegation of research misconduct identified during the investigation. If misconduct was found, the
a. identify it as falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism and whether it was intentional, knowing, or in reckless disregard;
b. summarize the facts and the analysis supporting the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent and any evidence that rebuts the respondent’s explanations;
c. identify the specific funding agency support;
d. identify any publications that need correction or retraction;
e. identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and
f. list any current support or known applications or proposals for support that the respondent(s) has pending with non-funding Federal agencies.

(7) Include and consider any comments made by the respondent and complainant on the draft investigation report.

The I.O. will maintain and provide to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct, upon request, all relevant research records and records of the research misconduct proceeding, including results of all interviews and the transcripts or recordings of such interviews.
 

VII. Ensuring a Fair Research Misconduct Proceeding
The university shall take all reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased research misconduct proceeding to the maximum extent practicable. The I.O. shall screen all committee members for any unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with the respondent, complainant, potential witnesses, or others involved in the matter. Any such conflict which a reasonable person would consider to demonstrate potential bias shall disqualify the individual from serving on the committee during the course of the specific proceedings. Any member of the SROC that identifies a conflict in serving may also recues themselves from the proceedings as well. If a member of the SROC is deemed to have a conflicting relationship with any individual involved in this matter (collegial, personal, familial, other), that SROC member will be asked to recuse him/herself from any participation in the misconduct proceedings, beginning with preliminary review of the allegation.
 

VIII. Notice to Respondent
During the research misconduct proceeding, the I.O. shall provide the following notifications to all identified respondents:

A. Initiation of the Inquiry.
Prior to or at the beginning of the inquiry, the I.O. shall provide the respondent(s) written notification of the inquiry and contemporaneously sequester all research records and other evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding. If the inquiry subsequently identifies additional respondents, they shall be promptly notified in writing.

B. Comment on Inquiry Report.
The I.O. shall provide the respondent(s) an opportunity to comment on the inquiry report in a timely fashion (providing the respondent no less than one week but not to exceed the 60 day timeframe of the inquiry) so that any comments can be attached to the report. If more time is required the respondent may make a written request asking for more time and justifying the need.

C. Results of the Inquiry.
The I.O. shall notify the respondent(s) of the results of the inquiry and attach to the notification copies of the inquiry report and these institutional policies and procedures for the handling of research misconduct allegations. This must occur within the 60 day timeframe of the inquiry.

D. Initiation of the Investigation.
Within a reasonable time after determination that an investigation is warranted, but not later than 30 calendar days after that determination, the I.O. shall notify the respondent(s) in writing of the allegations to be investigated. The I.O. shall give respondent(s) written notice of any new allegations within a reasonable time after determining to pursue allegations not addressed in the inquiry or in the initial notice of the investigation.

E. Scheduling of the Interview.
The I.O. will notify the respondent sufficiently in advance of the scheduling of his/her interview in the investigation so that the respondent may prepare for the interview and arrange for the attendance of legal counsel, if the respondent wishes.

F. Comment on Draft Investigation Report.
The I.O. shall give the respondent(s) a copy of the draft investigation report, and concurrently, a copy of, or supervised access to, the evidence on which the report is based and notify the respondent(s) that any comments must be submitted within 30 days of the date on which he/she received the draft report. The I.O. shall ensure that these comments are included and considered in the final investigation report.
 

IX. Notifications - Decision to Open an Investigation, Institutional Findings, and Actions Following the Investigation.
On or before the date on which the investigation begins (the investigation will begin within 30 calendar days of the university’s finding that an investigation is warranted), the I.O. shall provide ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct with the written finding and a copy of the inquiry report containing the information required by 42 CFR Section 93.309(a) (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/). Upon request from ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct, the I.O. shall promptly send them: (1) a copy of the university’s institutional policies and procedures under which the inquiry was conducted; (2) the research records and evidence reviewed, transcripts or recordings of any interviews, and copies of all relevant documents; and (3) the charges for the investigation to consider.

The university shall promptly provide to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct after the investigation: (1) A copy of the investigation report, all attachments, and any appeals; (2) A statement of whether the institution found research misconduct and, if so, who committed it; (3) A statement of whether the institution accepts the findings in the investigation report; and (4) A description of any pending or completed administrative actions against the respondent.
 

X. Maintenance and Custody of Research Records and Evidence
The university shall take the following specific steps to obtain, secure, and maintain the research records and evidence pertinent to the research misconduct proceeding:

(1) Either before or when the I.O. notifies the respondent of the allegation, the I.O. shall promptly take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding, inventory those materials, and sequester them in a secure manner, except in those cases where the research records or evidence encompass scientific instruments shared by a number of users, custody may be limited to copies of the data or evidence on such instruments, so long as those copies are substantially equivalent to the evidentiary value of the instruments.

(2) Where appropriate, give the respondent copies of, or reasonable, supervised access to the research records.

(3) Undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to take custody of additional research records and evidence discovered during the course of the research misconduct proceeding, including at the inquiry and investigation stages, or if new allegations arise, subject to the exception for scientific instruments in (1) above.

(4) The university shall maintain all records of the research misconduct proceeding, as defined in 42 CFR Section 93.317(a) (Refer to Title 42, Section 93 at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/), for 7 years after completion of the proceeding, or any ORI or HHS funding agency proceeding under Subparts D and E of 42 CFR Part 93 (copies attached), whichever is later, unless the university has transferred custody of the records and evidence to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct has advised us that we no longer need to retain the records.
 

XI. Interim Protective Actions
At any time during a research misconduct proceeding, the university shall take appropriate interim actions to protect public health, federal funds and equipment, the integrity of the funding agency supported research process and the integrity of ASU. The necessary actions will vary according to the circumstances of each case, but examples of actions that may be necessary include delaying the publication of research results, providing for closer supervision of one or more researchers - issuing cease and desist requirements on activities directly related to the investigation, requiring approvals for actions relating to the research that did not previously require approval, auditing pertinent records, or taking steps to contact other institutions that may be affected by an allegation of research misconduct.

XII. Notifications - Special Circumstances that may Require Protective Actions
At any time during a research misconduct proceeding, the university shall notify ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct immediately if there is reason to believe that any of the following conditions exist:

(1) Health or safety of the public is at risk, including an immediate need to protect human or animal subjects.
(2) funding agency resources or interests are threatened.
(3) Research activities should be suspended.
(4) There is a reasonable indication of violations of civil or criminal law.
(5) Federal action is required to protect the interests of those involved in the research misconduct proceeding.
(6) We believe the research misconduct proceeding may be made public prematurely, so that funding agency may take appropriate steps to safeguard evidence and protect the rights of those involved.
(7) We believe the research community or public should be informed.
 

XIII. Institutional Actions in Response to Final Findings of Research Misconduct
The university will cooperate with and assist ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct and funding agency, as needed, to carry out any administrative actions funding agency may impose as a result of a final finding of research misconduct by funding agency.

A. Restoring Reputations
Respondents. The university shall undertake all reasonable, practical, and appropriate efforts to protect and restore the reputation of any person alleged to have engaged in research misconduct, but against whom no finding of research misconduct was made at the request of that person or his/her legal counsel or other authorized representative.

Complainants, Witnesses, and Committee Members. The university shall undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to protect and restore the position and reputation of any complainant, witness, or committee member and to counter potential or actual retaliation against those complainants, witnesses and committee members.

B. Cooperation with Sponsor
The university shall cooperate fully and on a continuing basis with ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct during its oversight reviews of this institution and its research misconduct proceedings and during the process under which the respondent may contest ORI’s, NSF-OIG’s, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct findings of research misconduct and proposed funding agency’s administrative actions. This includes providing, as necessary to develop a complete record of relevant evidence, all witnesses, research records, and other evidence under our control or custody, or in the possession of, or accessible to, all persons that are subject to our authority.

C. Reporting Requirements to Sponsor.
The university will report to ORI, NSF-OIG, and/or funding agency’s governing entity on research misconduct any proposed settlements, admissions of research misconduct, or institutional findings of misconduct that arise at any stage of a misconduct proceeding, including the allegation and inquiry stages as stated in the federal guidelines.

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