1.Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set forth the standards of research conduct that The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (“UNC Greensboro” or the “University”) expects of its faculty, staff, students, guest researchers, collaborators, and consultants. It also describes the procedures to be used in instances when Allegations of Research Misconduct, as such terms are defined herein, are made.

2.Scope

This policy applies to all Covered Individuals, as such term is defined herein, engaged in Research at or on behalf of UNC Greensboro, regardless of their role in the publication and/or work.

3.Definitions and Roles and Responsibilites

3.1Definitions

3.1.1Agency

is an organization, company, or bureau that provides some service for another entity, or with which the University has a contractual relationship related to Research. Examples of Agencies include but are not limited to: federal/state government, companies, publishing companies, collaborators, foundations, or other universities.

3.1.2Allegation

is any written or oral statement or other indication of possible Research Misconduct made to an Institutional Official.

3.1.3Complainant

is a person or persons who makes an Allegation. 

3.1.4Covered Individuals

means all UNC Greensboro faculty, staff, students, guest researchers, collaborators, and consultants.

3.1.5Fabrication

is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. 

3.1.6Falsification

is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, and/or changing and/or omitting data and/or results, or a combination thereof, such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. 

3.1.7Inquiry

is a preliminary evaluation of the available evidence and testimony of the Respondent(s), Complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an Investigation of possible Research Misconduct. 

3.1.8Institutional Official

means a Covered Individual’s department head or dean, the University’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement (VCRE), Provost, Research Integrity Officer, Chancellor, or General Counsel.

3.1.9Investigation

is an evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if Research Misconduct has occurred and, if so, to determine the responsible person(s) and the seriousness of the Research Misconduct.

3.1.10Plagiarism

is the use of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

3.1.11Preponderance of the Evidence

means proof by information that, compared with that opposing it, leads to the conclusion that the fact at issue is more probably true than not.

3.1.12Research

means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. For the purposes of this policy, Research includes all basic applied and demonstration research in all academic and scholarly fields (the arts, basic and applied sciences, liberal arts, and social science). It also includes research involving human or animal subjects.

3.1.13Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

is an Institutional Official (usually the Director of the Office of Research Integrity), designated by the VCRE. The VCRE may, at their discretion, serve as the University’s RIO.

3.1.14Research Misconduct

refers to any serious deviation from practices that are commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or scholarship. This definition specifically includes Plagiarism; Fabrication or Falsification of evidence or data; unauthorized use of privileged information; and deliberate and substantial violation of federal, state, or University regulations relating to the conduct of research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretation of data.

3.1.15Research Record 

The record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from the research inquiry. The record includes, but is not limited to, research proposals, laboratory records—both physical and electronic—progress reports, abstracts, theses and dissertations, oral presentations, internal reports, books, and journal articles.

3.1.16Respondent

is a person against whom an Allegation is directed or a person whose actions are the subject of the Inquiry or Investigation. There can be more than one Respondent in any Inquiry or Investigation.

3.2Roles and Responsibilities

The Chancellor has delegated to the VCRE the responsibility for implementing this policy. The VCRE has administrative authority with respect to the oversight, implementation, maintenance, and revision of this policy, in accordance with the University’s obligations and responsibilities. 

The VCRE’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, those listed below, any of which may be delegated to the Research Integrity Officer at the discretion of the VCRE. 

3.2.1

Disseminating this policy and fostering a Research environment that discourages Research Misconduct.

3.2.2

Establishing and maintaining procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct 

3.2.3

Appointing Inquiry Committee and Investigation Committee members with the appropriate expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to an Allegation.

3.2.4

Ensuring that no real or apparent conflict(s) of interest exist or arise with those appointed to carry out an Inquiry or Investigation, that they have the appropriate disciplinary expertise, and that due regard is given to the prevailing standards of the field.  

3.2.5

Notifying concerned parties such as sponsors, co-authors, collaborators, editors, licensing boards, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (“DHHS ORI”), professional societies, criminal authorities, and all relevant academic departments, including the Dean of Students, of the outcome of Inquiries and Investigations and making the best possible efforts to clear the name of anyone falsely charged, if appropriate or required. 

3.2.6

Coordinating the procedures related to Inquiries and Investigations including, but not limited to 

  •  sequestering research data and evidence pertinent to the Allegation and 
  •  maintaining it securely in accordance with this policy and applicable laws and regulations. 

3.2.7

Determining, in consultation with the Office of Institutional Integrity and General Counsel, and the Office of Sponsored Programs, whether statutes, rules, regulations, or the terms and conditions of a research grant or award or other contract applicable to an Inquiry or Investigation require notice to  the sponsor, specify time limits, or require other actions to ensure compliance with externally imposed requirements, and, if so, coordinating the Inquiry or Investigation with all involved individuals and offices to ensure compliance.

3.2.8

Ensuring appropriate confidentiality or anonymity, fairness, and objectivity of Inquiries and Investigations.

3.2.9

Ensuring a full, fair, and complete Inquiry, Investigation, and resolution to an Allegation.

3.2.10

Maintaining confidentiality of records, in accordance with established University policy, relating to an Inquiry or Investigation.

3.2.11

Protecting, to the extent possible, the positions and reputations of Complainants who make good faith Allegations, and of Respondent(s) prior to a finding of Research Misconduct. 

3.2.12

Ensuring that if individuals responsible for carrying out any part of a Research Misconduct proceeding (such as VCRE, Provost, Dean, or Department head/Direct Supervisor) have a conflict of interest (e.g., that they do not have unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts with the complainant, respondent, or witnesses) and that, if so, other capable individuals are substituted in their stead.

3.2.13

Maintaining records of Research Misconduct proceedings. 

4.Policy

4.1Ethical Behavior

It is the policy of UNC Greensboro that Research carried out by Covered Individuals be characterized by the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior. All Covered Individuals have a personal responsibility to follow this policy in relation to any Research with which they are associated and to help their colleagues in continuing efforts to avoid any activity which might be considered a violation of this policy. 

4.2Policy Violations

Failure to comply with this policy shall be dealt with according to the procedures attached hereto as Appendix A. Violations may lead to serious sanctions, including dismissal. Violations of this policy include any use of this policy or its procedures to bring malicious Allegations or Allegations not otherwise made in good faith against any individual and any act of retaliation or reprisal against an individual for making an Allegation in good faith. 

Such violations will be addressed using regular administrative processes for violations of University policies and may include sanctions up to and including dismissal. 

4.3Time Limitations

4.3.1Six-year limitation

This policy applies only to Research Misconduct occurring within six (6) years of the date the US Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) or the University receives an Allegation. 

4.3.2Exceptions to the six-year limitation:

  • Subsequent use exception. A Respondent continues or renews any incident of alleged Research Misconduct that occurred before the six-year limitation through the citation, republication, or other use for the potential benefit of a Respondent of the research record that is alleged to have been Fabricated, Falsified, or Plagiarized. 
  • Health or safety of the public exception. If after consultation with national Office of Research Integrity by the Research Integrity Officer, the University determines that the alleged misconduct, would possibly have a substantial adverse effect on the health or safety of the public. 
  • “Grandfather” exception. If DHHS or the University received the Allegation before the effective date of this part of the policy. 

5.Compliance and Enforcement

This policy shall be enforced as described in the with the procedures outlined in the Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.

6.Additional Information

6.3Approval Authority

The Chancellor approved this policy on December 11, 2023. This policy will be reviewed consistent with the deadlines established in the University’s Policy on Policies and updated as appropriate

6.4Contacts for Additional Information and Reporting

  • Responsible Executive: Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement
  • Responsible Administrator: Director of the Office of Research Integrity
  • Other Contacts: Office of Research Integrity: https://integrity.uncg.edu/

Supporting Documents

Revisions

Revision Date Revision Summary
09/06/2007 Approved by the Chancellor after advising the Board of Trustees
10/15/2015 Approved by the Chancellor
12/11/2023 Approved by the Chancellor

- Research Misconduct and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct. Retrieved 05/19/2024. Official version at https://policy.uncg.edu/university_policies/research-misconduct-and-procedures-for-responding-to-allegations-of-research-misconduct/. Copyright © 2024 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.