As an institution of higher learning, Rice University expects all its members to maintain the highest standards of conduct in pursuing research and scholarly activities. Any form of research fraud or misconduct is contrary to the University's principles and adversely affects the reputation of all individuals in the Rice community. Moreover, since the University receives considerable external funding to support research, it has certain regulatory responsibilities to inform those participating in sponsored research activities of the funding agencies' research misconduct policies.
This policy reaffirms the commitment of Rice University to the highest principles of integrity in all its research and scholarly activities, identifies general types of research misconduct, and establishes procedures for dealing with alleged research misconduct and for complying with the policies of federal sponsoring agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Public Health Services (PHS) and National Science Foundation (NSF). While designed to comply with federal regulations, the principles and procedures in this policy apply to all scholarly and professional activities within the Rice community and to all cases of research misconduct at Rice, whether or not they involve federal sponsors.
The maintenance of high ethical standards is central to effective research undertaken in the pursuit of knowledge. Research integrity demands the valid collection and accurate reporting of data. In order to uphold this integrity, Rice University respects the ideas and rights of others and rejects the unauthorized use of others' data or scholarship and the abuse of animal and human subjects. Rice University, its faculty, staff, and students embrace these principles of intellectual integrity, whether or not the research or scholarly activity is funded by external sources.
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing, proposing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. 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. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
A finding of research misconduct requires that there be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community. Research misconduct may also include a failure to comply with the federal requirements for protecting researchers, human and animal subjects and the public. Any action in connection with proposing, conducting, reviewing, or reporting research taken with the intent to defraud is also a form of research misconduct. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences in opinion.
The primary responsibility for maintaining high standards of conduct lies with the individual researcher. Nevertheless, because research misconduct is a very serious offense, the University must also take appropriate steps to prevent its occurrence. This policy outlines the procedures to be followed in all inquiries and investigations of potential misconduct. Enforcement of research standards will include some or all of the steps identified below.
A. Allegations. Any report of alleged misconduct must be presented to the Research Integrity Officer (the Vice Provost for Research or his/her designee ). Promptly after receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will review the allegations and determine whether they meet the definition of research misconduct and whether they are sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified. If these criteria are met, the Research Integrity Officer will determine whether the complaint should progress to the Inquiry phase. If the misconduct allegation concerns students only and no external-sponsor funds were involved, and if the Research Integrity Officer determines that the alleged misconduct is academic, rather than research or scholarly, then the Research Integrity Officer will refer the matter to the degree program in which the student was enrolled, the Associate Dean for Student Judicial Programs, the Dean of Undergraduates, or Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. If, however, the Research Integrity Officer elects to view the matter as research misconduct, then the process described in this policy takes priority over any other academic or disciplinary process.
B. Inquiry. If the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegations should progress under this policy, the Research Integrity Officer will initiate a discreet, confidential Inquiry (an initial review) of the evidence. This Inquiry will be completed within 60 calendar days after the Research Integrity Officer initiates the Inquiry, unless circumstances warrant a longer period and approval is obtained from the Provost. In concluding this Inquiry, the Research Integrity Officer will assess the validity of the allegations and prepare an Inquiry report outlining his/her findings and recommendations.
The Inquiry report will contain the following information:
The respondent( s) will be given a reasonable amount of time within the 60-day period to review the draft report and provide comments. The final report will be submitted to the Provost, who will review the report and make a written determination of whether or not an Investigation is warranted. If the Provost determines that supporting information is not¬†reasonably sufficient to substantiate the allegations, the matter will be closed. In such an event, all the material leading to the decision must be kept on file for at least three years.¬†
C. Investigation. If the Provost determines that the allegations have sufficient substance, he or she will direct that a detailed Investigation be conducted according to Rice's current Procedures for Conducting a Research Misconduct Investigation.
The Investigation will begin within 30 calendar days of the Provost's determination. On or before the date on which the Investigation begins, the Inquiry report and the Provost's written determination will be sent to the federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in the case of PHS finding or the appropriate office if sponsorship from other sources is involved. Rice will use its best efforts to complete the Investigation within 120 calendar days of the date on which it began, including conducting the Investigation, preparing a draft report of findings, providing the draft report to the respondent(s) for comment, submitting the final report to the Provost for a final determination, and sending the final report to ORI or the appropriate sponsor office. If it becomes apparent that Rice cannot complete the Investigation within 120 calendar days, Rice will, in a timely manner, request an extension in writing from ORI or the appropriate sponsor office. These time periods apply to the Investigation and not to separate disciplinary hearings under other University processes.¬†
The Provost will appoint an unbiased Panel consisting of members with the expertise to evaluate the potential research misconduct and who do not have an identifiable bias or conflict of interest regarding the matter. The Research Integrity Officer will, in most cases, provide staff support to the Investigation Panel. In doing its work, the Panel will:
After the Panel provides its final report, the Provost, at his/her discretion, may (i) ask any or all of the Respondents for their final written comments; (ii) seek clarification on various matters from the Panel; and/or (iii) refer the matter back to the Panel for additional investigation if he/she deems it necessary or appropriate. The Provost will then conclude the Investigation by formally receiving the report. At this point, the Provost will render his or her decision in a letter or memorandum that notes agreement or disagreement with the Panel's findings and recommendations and determines whether further administrative or disciplinary action on the part of the University is appropriate; the Provost's decision is final. He or she will send a copy of the decision to the Research Integrity Officer, the Respondent(s), and the Panel members; he/she may also communicate the relevant results to any complainants. If the Provost determines further administrative or disciplinary action is appropriate, he or she will send a copy of the final report and his/her decision to the President, the relevant dean(s) and/or Vice-President for Administration so that futher action may be initiated.
With regard to the ORI or the appropriate sponsor, the Research Integrity Officer will (i) provide a copy of the Investigation report and attachments, (ii) inform ORI or the appropriate sponsor if the Investigation found research misconduct (and if so, who committed it), (iii) state whether the University agrees with the Investigation's findings, and (iv) describe any pending or completed administrative actions taken against Respondent(s). Rice will maintain, and, upon request, provide to ORI or the appropriate sponsor all relevant research records and records of Rice's research misconduct proceeding. The Provost will be provided copies of all reports and other communications submitted to ORI and the appropriate sponsor.
D. Disciplinary Action. At the conclusion of an Investigation in which it is determined that research misconduct occured, the University will take the following disciplinary actions.
The Research Integrity Officer will also repmi the disciplinary actions taken as may be required by law.
A. Ensuring a Fair Research Misconduct Proceeding
Rice will take all reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased research misconduct proceeding to the maximum extent practicable. Those conducting the Inquiry or Investigation shall be selected on the basis of expertise that is pertinent to the matter. Prior to selection, the Provost will screen individuals for any identifiable bias and unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with the respondent, complainant, potential witnesses, or others involved in the matter. Any such bias or conflict that a reasonable person would consider to unfairly influence research misconduct proceeding will disqualify the individual from selection. If, pursuant to this paragraph, the Provost is unable to serve, the President shall designate an appointee who is free of bias or conflict of interest to fulfill the roles ordinarily assumed by the Provost in this process.
Rice will strive to respect the confidentiality of respondents and complainants and will not disclose any of these identities, except: (1) to those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding; (2) where applicable, the federal ORI or the appropriate sponsor as it conducts its research misconduct proceeding; and (3) to those to whom disclosure is deemed necessary to remedy any findings of research misconduct or any other violations of law or University policy. Any information obtained during the research misconduct proceeding that might identify the subjects of research will be securely and confidentially maintained and will not be disclosed, except as noted above.
C. Interim Protective Actions
At any time during a research misconduct proceeding, Rice will take appropriate interim actions to protect public health, federal funds and equipment, and the integrity of the federally supported research process. 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 closer supervision of one or more researchers, 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.
D. Maintenance and Custody of Research Records and Evidence
Rice will take the following specific steps to obtain, secure, and maintain the research records and evidence pertinent to the research misconduct proceeding:
E. Notices to Respondent
During the research misconduct proceedings, Rice will provide the following notifications to all identified respondents:
F. Restoring Reputations
A. Notifying of the Decision to Open an Investigation and of Institutional Findings and Actions Following an Investigation
On or before the date on which the Investigation begins, the Research Integrity Officer will provide ORI or the appropriate sponsor (if applicable) with a copy of the Inquiry report and the written determination based on the report. Additionally, upon a request from ORI or the appropriate sponsor, Rice will provide:
Upon completion of the Investigation, Rice will promptly provide to ORI or the appropriate sponsor:
B. Notifying of Special Circumstances
At any time during a research misconduct proceeding, Rice will immediately notify ORI or the appropriate sponsor if Rice has reason to believe that any of the following conditions exist:
Rice will also notify ORI of any facts that may be relevant to protect public health, federal funds and equipment, or the integrity of the federally suppmied research process.¬†
C.¬†Cooperation with ORI
Rice will cooperate with and assist ORI or the appropriate sponsor, as needed, to carry out any administrative actions that the sponsoring agency may impose as a result of a final finding of research misconduct.
Rice will cooperate fully and on a continuing basis with ORI or the appropriate sponsor during its oversight reviews of Rice and its research misconduct proceedings and during the process under which the respondent may contest ORI findings of research misconduct and proposed government administrative actions. This includes providing, as necessary to develop a complete record of relevant evidence, access to all witnesses within Rice's authority, research records, and other evidence 1mder Rice's control or custody, or in the possession of, or accessible to, all persons that are subject to Rice's authority.¬†
Rice will rep01i to ORI or the appropriate sponsor any proposed settlements, admissions of research misconduct, or institutional findings of misconduct that arise at any stage of a misconduct proceeding, including the Allegations and Inquiiy stages.¬†
All faculty, students, and staff involved in research activities will be notified of this policy.¬†
David W. Leebron, President
August 2, 2011
May 30, 2012