Research misconduct is defined as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” Federal agencies have individual policies for dealing with misconduct, and most require subrecipients as well as awardees to comply.
Middlebury College maintains a policy regarding misconduct that includes processes for:
- handling allegations of misconduct and protecting persons bringing allegations
- notifying the funding agency
- maintaining records
- observing legal requirements
- protecting integrity of research, research subjects, and the public
Violations may result in suspension, termination, and debarment of individuals who participate in misconduct.
1. Definitions: Research misconduct means falsification, fabrication, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. For the purpose of this document, we consider the term "research" to encompass both research and scholarship. Misconduct includes retaliation of any kind against a person who in good faith reported or provided information about possible misconduct. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. The term "respondent" refers to the person who has allegedly engaged in research misconduct.
2. Allegations of misconduct on the part of a faculty member should be reported to the dean for faculty development and research (DFDR) who will treat any allegation as a confidential matter. If the dean determines that the concern is indeed one of possible misconduct in research, he/she will discuss the inquiry and investigation procedures with the individual who has questioned the integrity of the research. The individual may then choose to make a formal allegation and/or the dean may decide that there is sufficient cause to warrant an inquiry. If an inquiry is to be initiated, the vice president for Academic Affairs / dean of the faculty (VPAA/DOF) will be notified, since he/she is the person who must appoint the inquiry committee.
3. Once a formal allegation has been made, the DFDR will act to sequester all research records of the respondent as the initial step of an inquiry to gather factual information. The inquiry will be conducted by a committee, appointed by the VPAA/DOF, consisting of a total of three to five members who have the appropriate background to judge the issues being raised. The DFDR will also sit with the committee as a non-voting member. Standing committees that deal with research issues (e.g., Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) may be used as one source for members of an inquiry committee. Committee members may be from within or outside the Middlebury community, and must have no real or apparent conflicts of interest bearing on the question. The inquiry will ordinarily be completed within 60 days. All specific requirements concerning timing, reporting, documentation, and confidentiality will be met, in accordance with the appropriate federal regulations or the policies of any agency or organization funding the research.
4. If the inquiry committee determines that the facts warrant a formal investigation, such an investigation will be initiated within 30 days. The purpose of the investigation will be to explore further the allegations and determine whether misconduct has been committed. The investigation committee will be appointed by the VPAA/DOF, using the same criteria of research expertise and lack of personal relationship or conflict of interest with the parties involved, as suggested above for the inquiry committee; at least one member of the review committee will be from outside the Middlebury community. The investigation will ordinarily be completed within 120 days. All specific requirements concerning timing, reporting, documentation, and confidentiality will be met, in accordance with the appropriate federal regulations or the policies of any agency or organization funding the research.
5. The investigation committee will submit its report to the VPAA/DOF. If the investigation committee determines that research misconduct on the part of a faculty member has indeed occurred, the VPAA/DOF, after appropriate consultation, will determine what sanctions to impose or what further disciplinary procedures should be undertaken.
6. A faculty member found to have committed misconduct in research and against whom sanctions are imposed by the VPAA/DOF may appeal the VPAA/DOF's decision to the president. The appeal must be filed within 10 days.