Scientific Research Misconduct
Montclair State University recognizes the key role research plays in fostering intellectual vitality. To maintain high standards of professional conduct and also to meet federal regulations for receiving research funds, Montclair State University has established guidelines and procedures that will govern the institutional response to allegations of misconduct in research lodged against scholars. The MSU policy is based on the 1986 Public Health Service (PHS) document titled "Policies and Procedures for Dealing with Possible Misconduct in Science," the National Science Foundation (NSF) document titled "Misconduct in Science & Engineering Research" and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regulations 42 CFR Part 50 published in the Federal Register Tuesday, August 8, 1989.
"Misconduct" is generally defined as (1) fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out or reporting research results; or (2) the material failure to comply with Federal requirements for the protection of researchers, human subjects, the public and/or laboratory animals; or (3) the failure to meet other material legal requirements governing research. (Financial misconduct and professional misconduct are specifically excluded.)
A. Appropriate efforts shall be made by all individuals and bodies considering allegations of misconduct to protect the privacy of those who report apparent misconduct (claimants) and those against whom allegations of misconduct are made (respondents).
B. Persons whose participation in the inquiry, investigation or formal hearing phases of this process would cause a real or apparent conflict of interest will disqualify themselves from participation.
C. Responses, when called for in the procedures, will be submitted to the specified party within seven calendar days of the event/document triggering the response.
Stage 1: Inquiry
A. An allegation of misconduct in research by faculty or staff will be referred to the Dean of the respondent's academic school/college or to the Director of the appropriate unit. If the allegation concerns a Dean or Director, it shall be referred directly to the Deputy Provost. (If a graduate student is involved as either claimant or respondent, the Dean of The Graduate School shall also be informed.)
B. The respondent(s) will be informed of the particulars of the allegation in writing by the Dean or Director of his or her school, college or unit. The respondent shall have the opportunity to respond to the accusations in writing or in an interview with his or her Dean or Director.
C. The Dean or Director, in consultation with the respondent's department chair or program head and the Deputy Provost, shall make a prompt determination as to whether the allegation warrants further investigation.
C.1 If it is determined that no further investigation is warranted, the case will be closed by having the respondent's department chair or program head file a written report with the Dean or Director of the respondent's school, college or unit and the Deputy Provost that documents the evidence and finding. This report shall be kept on file for three years in the offices of both the Dean or Director of the respondent's school, college, or unit and the Deputy Provost. A copy will be sent to the respondent(s) and to the claimant(s).
C.2 If it is determined that further investigation is warranted, the Deputy Provost shall prepare a written charge to this effect to the University Research Committee (URC). The URC shall select a Special Investigatory Committee of five members - two of whom are chosen from a list provided by the respondent and three from a list provided by the Provost's Office. All nominees must be suitably credentialled in the research area in dispute. These committee members may come from outside Montclair State University. The Deputy Provost will chair this committee as a non-voting member and act according to due process procedures. A copy of this charge will be sent to the respondent(s) and the respondent's Dean or Director.
D. The inquiry process must be completed within 60 calendar days of receipt of the original written allegation by the respondent's Dean or Director. If the inquiry takes longer than 60 calendar days to complete, the record of the inquiry must document the reasons for the delay.
E. If the research in question is supported by a government agency, the Deputy Provost shall immediately notify the funding agency of the alleged misconduct and the fact that a determination has been made to carry out an investigation.
Stage 2: Investigation
A. Allegations of misconduct in research shall be investigated (by the special committee described in C.2 above.) An investigation must start within 30 calendar days of the completion of the inquiry if it is determined by the inquiry that an investigation is warranted.
B. In implementing its investigation, the Special Investigatory Committee shall act promptly and fairly, shall secure necessary and appropriate expertise (either internal or external to Montclair State University) in order to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence, and shall give the respondent(s) every opportunity to provide information and present the case.
C. The respondent(s) and claimant(s) may be supported or represented by an advocate or by legal counsel of her or his own choice from outside or inside the University. The respondent may request that a Union Observer attend all investigatory meetings and receive all investigatory reports. The Special Investigatory Committee may request legal counsel from the University.
D. The investigative hearings are closed to the general public except for the people in 2C above.
E. The Special Investigatory Committee shall make every effort to conclude its investigation and prepare its written findings within 90 calendar days of receipt of the charge to investigate. If, after 60 calendar days, the Special Investigatory Committee determines that it will not be able to complete its investigation within the prescribed timeline, it shall submit to the respondent's Dean or Director and the Deputy Provost an interim report on the progress of the investigation and an estimated timetable for its completion. Thereafter, the Special Investigatory Committee shall submit a written progress report every 30 calendar days until such time as it has completed the investigation and submitted its final written report of findings and recommendations to the respondent's Dean or Director and the Deputy Provost. In order to comply with federal guidelines, the investigation and formal hearing must be completed within 120 calendar days of the Special Investigatory Committee receiving the charge to investigate. Reasons for delays must be documented.
F. The written report of the Special Investigatory Committee shall contain, at minimum, the following:
a. a statement of charges including a statement of standards
alleged to have been violated and the alleged actions which
violated the standards;
b. findings of fact relating to the statement of charges;
c. the committee's conclusions regarding whether or not the
alleged violations had occurred; and
d. the committee's recommendations for actions
G. If the Special Investigatory Committee finds no merit in the allegations, the chair will document its conclusion with a complete report on the investigation. If the Special Investigatory Committee finds intentional malice in making accusations, appropriate action will be taken (e.g. expulsion of student from MSU, retraction of degree awarded by MSU.) This report will be sent to any funding agencies that are involved and kept on file for three years in the office of the respondent's Dean or Director and Deputy Provost. A copy of the report will be forwarded promptly to the respondent(s) and claimant(s).
H. If the Special Investigatory Committee upholds all or part of the allegations, the respondent(s) will be promptly so informed in writing. At the same time the respondent(s) will be informed of his, her or their right to a formal hearing to refute the tentative findings of fact and/or request reconsideration of the tentative recommendations of the Special Investigatory Committee.
I. If, during the course of its investigation, the Special Investigatory Committee deems it advisable that certain interim actions be taken, it shall recommend such actions to the respondent's Dean or Director, and Deputy Provost. Such actions might be needed to protect federal and other funds and ensure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are being carried out. Similarly, if the Special Investigatory Committee becomes aware of any facts of which the funding agency and/or Montclair State University should be immediately apprised, it shall so inform the appropriate administrators at the funding agency and university. Such information might include a reasonable indication of possible criminal violations or facts that may affect current or potential federal funding for the individuals under investigation or that the funding agencies need to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.
Stage 3: Formal Hearing
A. If a formal hearing is requested by the respondent(s), the hearing will be held under the auspices of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Hearing Committee of five people will be drawn from a listing of 16 experts in the area of research under investigation. The Vice President for
Academic Affairs will put together this list from names suggested by the respondent's Dean or Director after consultation with the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All nominees must be suitably credentialled in the research area in dispute.
The respondent and the claimant each shall have three vetoes each over membership of the panel. Details of procedures of the hearing can be found in the "Model Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct," Office of Research Integrity, US Department of Health and Human Services, April, 1995, on file in the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Due process is paramount.
B. The guidelines and procedures governing the formal hearing will be identical to those used in the investigative hearing, except that the hearing is chaired by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs. The Vice-President for Academic Affairs may interrogate witnesses but may not vote or be present during the final deliberations.
C. At the conclusion of the formal hearing, the Hearing Committee will either reaffirm the report of the Special Investigatory Committee or modify it as it deems appropriate and forward the report to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs as the final peer report on the matter. Copies of the report will be provided to the respondent(s), claimant(s), respondent's Dean or Director, and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs. If a formal hearing is not requested after the Special Investigatory Committee has all or part of the allegations, the report of the Hearing Committee shall serve as the final peer report on the matter.
Stage 4: Formal Findings and Disposition
A. If the allegations concern research or a related activity that is externally funded, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs shall inform the funding agency of the findings.
B. If the allegations of misconduct are not substantiated, the Provost shall take appropriate actions to make that fact known within the academic community, to restore the reputation of the respondent(s) and to protect the reputation of claimant(s), unless malicious, if they were acting in good faith. If confidentiality has been maintained, no such action is appropriate. In this situation, nothing related to the case may appear in the personnel records of either the respondent(s) or claimant(s).
C. If the allegations are sustained by a 4 out of 5 or unanimous vote, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs shall initiate appropriate disciplinary actions consistent with Montclair State University regulations and safeguards contained in the New Jersey State contract and the Local Selected Procedures Agreement.
D. A final report that includes the report of the Hearing Committee and a summary of administrative responses to the Hearing Committee report will be kept on file for three years in the Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs as well as in the Office of the respondent's Dean or Director. If the research was federally funded, the final report shall also be sent to the Office of Scientific Integrity of the funding agency. [See CFR 50.104 (4).]