Research Misconduct (RM) Allegations FAQs
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What is Research Misconduct (RM)?
Research Misconduct (RM) means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Research Misconduct does not include honest errors, differences of opinion or authorship disputes.
- 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 appropriating another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit
What is UCR’s policy regarding Research Misconduct?
UCR takes RM allegations seriously. You can review Policy #529-900: Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct at https://research.ucr.edu/about/policies-ucr.aspx?k=31.
As a researcher, what are some evidence-based best practices that are available to me in leading and managing a lab?
It is crucial that University researchers maintain safe and professional working environments in their laboratories. The NIH-funded P.I. Program has created this checklist to assist with Lab Leadership and Management. Please review the additional RM resources available on the Resources page of our website.
UCR also has a Research Ethics Education Program which can assist UCR researchers with meeting responsible conduct of research training requirements.
The following are additional strategies that researchers can use to avoid being involved in allegations of research misconduct.
- Discuss authorship with all research collaborators at the outset of a project so everyone involved understands who will be listed as an author, and the expectations regarding the use of the data by those involved in the research.
- Monitor the research in which you are involved –- inform your staff, students and collaborators, that you will verify data collection, entry and reporting. Ask questions about questionable results.
- Set reasonable expectations about the time it will take to collect the necessary data.
- Maintain thorough and complete research records.
- Respect the research process.
- Do not stray from the protocol without obtaining the necessary approvals.
- Communicate any actual or perceived problems with the research. Most research misconduct allegations are the product of communication difficulties between researchers.
- Carefully and accurately report the research. Be specific about methods and procedures used and the data obtained.
- Thoroughly review all papers where you are listed as an author.
- Do not give or agree to guest-author status.
- Promote research integrity –- teach the responsible conduct of research in your courses and labs and encourage attendance at Responsible Conduct of Research programs sponsored by the Office of Research Compliance and Integrity.
I suspect that Research Misconduct is occurring in my lab, but I’m not sure if I should report it. Where can I go for advice?
UCR’s primary RM contact, including questions about whether an activity constitutes RM, is the Assistant Research Integrity Officer (ARIO), Gillian Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org. UCR’s Research Integrity Officer is Rodolfo Torres, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
For confidential counseling or confidential guidance on the topic, you may consult the UCR’s Office of the Ombuds at 951-827-3213.
If you prefer to report to an independent agency outside of UCR, visit the EthicsPoint website or call them at 800-403-4744. This independent agency is contracted to provide RM reporting services for the University of California.
Who is involved in Research Misconduct review?
There are four primary parties involved in RM reviews. There may be additional parties involved, but the essential parties are:
- Complainant – the person who makes an allegation of RM
- Respondent – the subject of the RM allegation
- ARIO/RIO - Assistant Research Integrity Officer/Research Integrity Officer – the person(s) who execute(s) a fair, impartial and competent review of allegations of research misconduct
- Witness(es) – Any person(s) pertinent to the RM inquiry or investigation
Are the names of Research Misconduct review participants kept confidential?
Confidentiality is maintained throughout the investigation of the alleged research misconduct to the greatest extent possible and consistent with federal and state laws. However, under California law, information pertaining to a misconduct case can become publicly available (upon request) at the end of the investigation.
To whom can I report research misconduct?
If you suspect someone is engaged in research misconduct, please report it to:
- UCR’s Assistant Research Integrity Officer (ARIO), Gillian Wilson at email@example.com
- UCR’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO), Rodolfo Torres, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
- Your Department Chair or PI
- Your Unit Dean/Director
- The University of California’s independent reporting agency, EthicsPoint at 800-403-4744
What should I do if I am accused of Research Misconduct?
- University investigators have an obligation to investigate RM accusations. Be honest and cooperative throughout the investigation.
- Avoid doing anything that may be interpreted as retaliation. The University has a policy that strictly prohibits retaliating against whistleblowers.
- To discuss the matter confidentially, you can contact UCR’s Office of the Ombuds.
- Keep thorough records of your research and training in the lab – especially lab notebooks - and all related communications. If the investigation fails to conclude that research misconduct has occurred, be sure to save written confirmation of the outcome.
What are the main steps in the Research Misconduct review process?
A misconduct allegation leads to a review of the associated evidence. This review consists of three subsequent steps. After each step, responsible University officials have the opportunity to determine if there is sufficient cause continue the RM review.
Assessment - The Research Integrity Officer (RIO) reviews the allegation and conduct an assessment to determine whether:
- it matches the definition of research misconduct and
- it is credible and specific enough so that evidence of the misconduct can be identified. (often, faculty members or staff who have expertise in the subject area assist with the assessment)
Inquiry – If there is sufficient evidence to support 1 and 2 above, then the RIO appoints a panel of faculty and/or staff members to review the alleged misconduct. This panel determines whether there is significant substance to the allegation to warrant a formal Investigation.
Investigation – A separate panel examines the evidence in depth and interviews all relevant witnesses to determine whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. The panel makes recommendations regarding whether the respondent acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. The panel’s conclusion is then transmitted to the RIO, who decides whether to accept it.
What are the possible outcomes of the Research Misconduct review process?
A full Research Misconduct review process may be extensive and involve several steps. However, there are points throughout the process where a University Officials may decide to discontinue the review and close the case. This diagram shows some the possible outcomes for RM reviews.