Research/Scholarly Misconduct

Category: Governance
Number: GOV-022-025
Audience: All University employees
Issued: March 16, 1993
Revised: July 07, 2015
Owner(s): Provost and Vice-President (Academic), VP (Research)
Approved by: Board of Governors
Contact: Provost and VP (Academic) - 306-337-3358 and VP (Research) - 306-585-5184

Introduction

Research is central to the mission of the University and to the advancement of knowledge. The University, funding agencies, and other public and private sponsors of research and related scholarly activities recognize that research can best flourish in a climate of academic freedom, and premised on trust in, and the integrity of, members of the University research communities and their compliance with the policies, practices and ethical norms governing research. The University is committed to ensuring that the highest standards of scholarly conduct and academic integrity are understood and practiced in its community.

This policy defines Research/Scholarly Misconduct and outlines the University's processes for addressing allegations of Research/Scholarly Misconduct. This policy applies to all Members of the University Community participating in research or scholarly activities at, on behalf of, in connection with, or under the auspices of the University.

Definitions

  • Academic Integrity - the moral code or ethical policy of academia. This includes values such as avoidance of cheating or plagiarism; maintenance of academic standards; honesty, diligence, rigor and integrity in research and academic publishing.
  • Investigative Committee - the committee established by the Senior Officer to conduct a formal investigation into an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct
  • Good Faith Allegation - means an allegation that is not malicious or frivolous made by a Complainant who has reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has knowledge that Research/Scholarly Misconduct may have occurred
  • Member of the University Community - includes but is not limited to any person paid by, under the control of, or contributing in any manner to a research project in the University or an affiliated or federated institution, and includes members of the academic, administrative and support staff of the University and its affiliated or federated institutions, and students, fellows, technicians, health care workers, programmers, analysts and guests and visiting researchers (and includes, for further certainty, a person currently on an employment leave including a sabbatical)
  • Senior Officer - the position with authority over and responsibility for the scholarly and research integrity in their specific area, namely either:
    (i) the Vice-President (Research), for allegations that principally relate to matters of research integrity or research misconduct
    (ii) the Provost and Vice-President (Academic), for allegations that principally relate to matters of scholarly integrity or scholarly misconduct.

Policy

Scholarly Conduct

Members of the University Community must be honest and committed to conducting research, teaching, mentoring, and disseminating knowledge in an ethically responsible way. "Scholarly Conduct" includes, but is not limited to:

  • maintaining honesty and rigor in academic publishing,
  • representing accurately and honestly research observations and findings no matter what medium they are presented in (notes, abstracts, draft manuscripts, reports, oral presentations, or publications),
  • using statistics and other methods of data analysis and evaluation appropriately and responsibly,
  • giving due credit to those responsible for the work, words, and ideas presented,
  • adhering to the standards or codes of ethics for one's academic or professional discipline, (including but not limited to the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TPS), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers, the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, and the Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics),
  • disclosing any relationships, financial, personal, or professional, that might be perceived to compromise one's judgment or impartiality, or constitute a Conflict of Interest,
  • facilitating the exchange of knowledge among researchers at all levels of experience by encouraging a climate of intellectual collaboration and trust,
  • facilitating the training and development of members of the research community, ensuring they have the opportunity to achieve their full potential,
  • educating members of the research community in the ethical standards of research,
  • demonstrating respect for all people engaged in research as participants, students, or co-workers by protecting their rights and welfare, appropriately securing information, and fulfilling the spirit and intent of requirements of all applicable laws, regulations, policies, standards and guidelines,
  • treating animals used in research and instruction with attention to their welfare and in compliance with all applicable laboratory animal care laws, regulations, policies, standards and guidelines,
  • demonstrating stewardship of resources by appropriately using research funds, caring for and maintaining equipment and other research materials, and complying with all applicable laws, regulations, policies, standards and guidelines,
  • abiding by all University policies, procedures and guidelines governing research and the determination of its outcomes, and
    • seeking opportunities to enhance and deepen individual and institutional understanding of research and academic integrity.

Researchers are responsible for the intellectual and ethical quality of their work and for ensuring it meets the University's standards for research:

Research/Scholarly Misconduct

No Member of the University Community shall engage in research or scholarly misconduct (“Research/Scholarly Misconduct”), which includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Fabrication, Falsification, or Plagiarism,
  • disregarding or breaching agreements that relate to the conduct of the research; breach of any policy relating to research of any agency,
  • using research funds for purposes other than the agency’s express requirements, or misappropriating research funds,
  • inadequate acknowledgement or invalid authorship; failing to recognize the contributions of others or deliberately misrepresenting one's own or others’ work; attributing authorship to people other than those who have participated sufficiently to take responsibility for the intellectual content; using others’ materials without permission or otherwise taking unfair advantage of privileged access to others' work,
  • misappropriation of intellectual property rights of another person,
  • redundant publication; publishing one's own previously published data or research as original research, except where it is clearly indicated in the published work that the publication is intended to be a republication or when such republication would be deemed reasonable in light of the circumstances of where it is published (e.g., refereed journal article versus newspaper op-ed.),
  • misrepresenting academic or professional credentials or experience,
  • failing to comply with applicable laws or regulations, or University policies and practices for the protection or welfare of researchers, human subjects, the public, or laboratory animals,
  • failing to adhere to the standards or codes of ethics for one's academic or professional discipline,
  • failing to obtain the appropriate approvals before conducting research,
  • failing to comply with regulations and requirements around the conduct and reporting of research activity,
  • misleading others about research results, selectively reporting research results, or deliberately delaying the publication of research results,
  • tampering with or destroying the research of another for personal gain or out of maliciousness,
  • failing to inform collaborators of research findings and developments in a timely fashion, withholding methodology or research materials or data from the research community, or omitting key aspects of methodology in papers or proposals to hinder replication of one's research,
  • failing to disclose real, perceived, or potential Conflicts of Interest relating to a research project as outlined in the University's Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment policy; mismanagement of a Conflict of Interest,
  • any other conduct or activity that does not conform with the law or which constitutes a significant departure from the prevailing ethical and other standards that are commonly accepted within the relevant research community for proposing, performing, conducting, reporting, publishing or reviewing research, or treating human or animal research subject
  • deliberate destruction of research data or records to avoid the detection of wrongdoing, and
  • falsely accusing a Member of the University Community of Research/Scholarly Misconduct.

What Is Not Research/Scholarly Misconduct

Research/Scholarly Misconduct does not include:

(i)     honest errors, conflicting data or differences of interpretation or judgment relating to research data or results that are reasonable in light of the circumstances in which they are made or reached; or

(ii)    alleged plagiarism by students, other than post-doctoral fellows, relating to research that is undertaken for academic credit, provided the allegation implicates only students.

Allegations of Research/Scholarly Misconduct

A person who has reasonable grounds to believe that Research/Scholarly Misconduct is occurring or has occurred involving a Member of the University Community shall report the matter to the Dean of the person being accused of Research/Scholarly Misconduct, the Dean's designate, or the Senior Officer, as the case may be. An allegation must be in writing and signed.

Where information relating to possible Research/Scholarly Misconduct comes to the attention of the Dean, other than in the form of a written allegation, the Dean will normally undertake an inquiry into such matters on his/her own accord. Anonymous allegations of Research/Scholarly Misconduct supported by substantive evidence may be acted upon by the Dean.

Allegations of Research/Scholarly Misconduct are taken seriously by the University. The University will make diligent efforts to ensure that the assessment or investigation of an allegation is conducted in a timely, objective, thorough, competent and fair manner and in accordance with this Policy and the related Procedures and Terms of Reference.

At any time while an allegation is being assessed or investigated, the University may independently, or at an agency's request in exceptional circumstances, take interim administrative actions, as deemed appropriate by the University, to protect human or animal research subjects, research funds, research collaborators, Members of the University Community and the public, and to ensure that the purposes of the funding provided by an agency, if any, are carried out.

The University will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who intends to make or makes an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct or against anyone who provides evidence or other kinds of assistance during an inquiry or investigation into an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct.

The University will comply with all professional association and agency requirements relating to reporting misconduct or allegations of misconduct.

The University will handle all allegations, inquiries and investigations with discretion and in a confidential manner, but in order to comply with the law or policy, may need to disclose information about an allegation to individuals or entities within and external to the University. As well, the University's obligation to maintain confidentiality is subject to The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, other legislation, and the University's policies.

Roles and Responsibilities

University

The University is responsible for providing the support and education required for Members of the University Community to develop and maintain the highest standards of scholarly conduct and academic integrity in scholarship and research.

Members of the University Community

Members of the University Community are responsible for:

(i) understanding and complying with this Policy;

(ii) engaging in scholarly conduct and academic integrity in their scholarship and research;

(iii) reporting all instances of Research/Scholarly Misconduct; and,

(iv) co-operating fully in an inquiry or investigation into an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct.

Members of the University Community who will be conducting research with human participants must complete the Panel on Research Ethics tutorial, Course on Research Ethics (CORE).

People in Supervisory Positions

People in supervisory positions at the University (including Principal Investigators) are responsible for ensuring everyone who works under their supervision, directly or indirectly, understands and complies with this Policy and their obligations thereunder.

Consequences for Noncompliance

Where Research/Scholarly Misconduct is determined to have occurred, the University will apply remedies consistent with the seriousness of the misconduct, up to and including termination of the Respondent's position with the University, in the case of a student or post-doctoral fellow, requiring the Respondent to discontinue his/her studies or expulsion from the University, and referral to a law enforcement agency.

Processes

Informal Inquiry into an Allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct (Allegation Assessment)

An allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct triggers an informal inquiry by the Dean (or designate) to determine the merit of the allegation. As described above, the Dean or equivalent may bring forth an allegation on his/her own behalf or on behalf of someone else. If an allegation is brought against a Dean or equivalent, it should be presented to the Senior Officer.

  1. Upon receipt of the allegation the Dean notifies the Senior Officer of the allegation.
  2. Working discreetly to protect the reputation of the persons involved and the University, the Dean will assess the allegation, and will conduct an informal inquiry into the allegation to determine if there is sufficient evidence of possible Research/Scholarly Misconduct to warrant a formal investigation. The inquiry process is intended to be informal and should allow flexibility for the Dean to consult, clarify and investigate as each situation requires.
  3. In conducting the informal inquiry the Dean:

    a. shall meet with the Respondent in order to give him or her an opportunity to explain the allegation, and identify witnesses and relevant information;

    b. may meet with the Complainant;

    c. may request information or documents from the Respondent, the Complainant, and others;

    d. where necessary, may consult (in confidence) with other individuals he or she thinks may have information relevant to the investigation, including one or more Members of the University Community, or one or more external experts in the field who are arm's length from the alleged Research/Scholarly Misconduct; and

    e. may consult with the Senior Officer as necessary.
  4. Whenever possible, the informal inquiry will be completed within one calendar month after the date that the allegation was received.

Investigation Not Warranted

  1. If the Dean concludes there is insufficient evidence to support the allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct, he or she shall submit a report to the Senior Officer, and shall notify the Complainant and the Respondent in writing.

Investigation Warranted

  1. If the Dean concludes there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct, he or she he or she shall submit a report to the Senior Officer (presenting the evidence that supports the allegation) and recommending that a formal investigation be undertaken. Where a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow is implicated in the allegation, the Dean shall also submit a copy of his/her report to the Dean of the FGSR.
  2. If a formal investigation is deemed warranted, the Senior Officer will appoint an independent committee to conduct the investigation (in accordance with the Investigative Committee Terms of Reference).

Formal Investigation

A formal investigation will normally be completed within three calendar months after the date the Dean provides his/her report to the Senior Officer. If this time frame must be extended, the Investigative Committee will advise the Senior Officer and request an extension. If applicable, the Senior Officer shall advise the agency and similarly request an extension from the agency.

  1. The Senior Officer initiates a formal investigation by informing the Respondent and the Complainant in writing that there will be a formal investigation of the allegation, including a description of the formal charges. The Respondent will be informed of his/her right to have an advocate (union and/or legal representation) throughout the investigation.
  2. If the Dean and Senior Officer conclude there is evidence of illegal or inappropriate activity, the Senior Officer may notify the appropriate authorities and Agencies, as required.
  3. The Senior Officer may instruct the Dean to locate, collect, inventory and secure all relevant records to prevent the loss, alteration or fraudulent creation of records.
  4. The Senior Officer may instruct the Dean to place under trusteeship the Respondent's research facility, research records, research personnel (including students) and research funds. In exceptional circumstances these powers may be exercised without prior notification to the Respondent.
  5. If certain research records are the property of, or belong to, an agency, the agency and the Respondent shall provide full access to such research records to all who have a legitimate right to access such records in order to facilitate the complete and thorough investigation of an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct in accordance with this Policy.
  6. The Senior Officer appoints an Investigative Committee of three people. The people on the Investigative Committee will be qualified to investigate the circumstances of the allegation. Normally the Investigative Committee will be Members of the University Community. No one from the department or unit where the Respondent works or from a committee that the Respondent is a member of will be on the Investigative Committee. Where the allegation concerns research funded by CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC, the Investigative Committee will include one external person who has no current affiliation with the University.
  7. The Senior Officer presents the Investigative Committee with the formal charges and turns over all relevant materials.
  8. The Investigative Committee shall conduct a formal investigation into the charges of Research/Scholarly Misconduct (and, where appropriate, may convene a formal hearing) in accordance with the Investigative Committee Terms of Reference. The Investigative Committee shall keep the Senior Officer informed of its progress.
  9. The University Secretariat shall act as a resource to the Investigative Committee in its investigation (including any formal hearing conducted by it).
  10. Upon the completion of its formal investigation the Investigative Committee shall determine whether one or more of the charges of Research/Scholarly Misconduct are well-founded and will submit a written report to the Senior Officer. The report will include:

    a. a summary of the allegation and the Respondent' response,

    b. a summary of the relevant evidence,

    c. the Investigative Committee's analysis of the relevant evidence;

    d. the Investigative Committee's findings with respect to the allegation, with supporting reasons,

    e. if the Investigative Committee determines that Research/Scholarly Misconduct has occurred, an assessment of the severity of the misconduct and any mitigating factors; and

    f. any other recommendations that the Investigative Committee feels are appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

The Investigative Committee may append any document to the report as necessary to ensure clarity.

11.The Senior Officer may seek clarification, in writing, of any matter in the report from the Investigative Committee.

12. The Senior Officer shall promptly send a copy of the Investigative Committee's report to the Respondent and the Dean.

University Response

As soon as practicable, but no later than fifteen (15) working days after receipt of the Investigative Committee's report, the Senior Officer shall decide whether to accept the Investigative Committee's findings.

  1. Other than as provided for below, the Senior Officer shall not be required to meet with the Complainant, the Respondent, or any other person prior to or subsequent to making his/her decision.
  2. If the Investigative Committee determines that Research/Scholarly Misconduct has occurred, and if the Senior Officer accepts such findings, the Senior Officer shall take appropriate administrative action and/or institute disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the regulations, policies, code or collective agreement to which the Respondent is subject (in consultation with the Dean, the Vice-President (Research), if applicable, and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic), if applicable). All applicable grievance procedures will apply to any disciplinary action taken.
  3. The Senior Officer shall communicate his/her decision in writing to the Chair of the Investigative Committee, the Dean and the Respondent, and, where appropriate to:

    a. other relevant University authorities or offices (including Human Resources);

    b. any agency, professional association or society, professional licensing board, editors of journals, collaborators of the Respondent, or any other relevant parties; and

    c. subject to the laws concerning privacy and protection of personal information, the Complainant, if the Complainant has a legitimate and direct personal interest int he matter and needs to have access to the determination.
  4. If the Investigative Committee determines that no Research/Scholarly Misconduct has taken place:

    a. the Senior Officer shall dismiss the allegation;

    b. the Senior Officer shall advise the Complainant and the agency, if any, that the allegation has been dismissed; and

    c. the University shall make every reasonable effort to protect the reputation of the Respondent from undue harm.

General

  1. After completion of the formal investigation and all ensuing related actions (including appeals or grievances) the University Secretariat shall prepare a complete file, including the records of the investigation and copies of all documents and other materials furnished to the Dean or the Investigative Committee. The University Secretariat shall be the official office of record and shall keep the file of the case for at least five (5) years after its completion, including to permit later reassessment of the case where required by an agency.
  2. The University shall take all reasonable measures to ensure that the academic standing and reputation of an innocent Member of the University Community is not prejudiced by the investigation of an allegation of Research/Scholarly Misconduct. The University will also take all reasonable measures, to the extent possible, to protect a Complainant making a Good Faith Allegation from reprisals.
  3. The termination of the Respondent's employment or other relationship with the University or an affiliated institution for any reason, including resignation, before or after an allegation has been reported shall not preclude or terminate an informal inquiry or formal investigation under this Policy.
  4. If the Respondent refuses to participate in an informal inquiry or formal investigation, the Dean and the Investigative Committee shall use reasonable efforts to reach a conclusion concerning the allegation, noting the Respondent' failure to cooperate and its effect on his/her/its review of the all of the evidence.

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