Research Integrity (RI)

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Overview

Rutgers faculty, administration, staff, students and volunteers have an important responsibility to maintain high ethical standards in research, research training programs, and activities related to such research or training. These standards include validity, accuracy and honesty in proposing and performing research, in collecting, analyzing and reporting research results, and in reviewing the research of others. Failure to observe these principles that results in research misconduct damages the general public trust, the entire academic and scientific community, and the University’s image. In addition, University personnel who commit research misconduct breach their obligations to the University.

The Rutgers University Research Misconduct Policy was created to establish policy and procedures for the University’s response to allegations, reports and apparent occurrences of research misconduct involving research for which the University is the applicant or grantee, or which is proposed or conducted by or under the direction of any employee or agent of the University in connection with his or her institutional responsibilities. The objective of this policy is to ensure the prompt and appropriate investigation of alleged or apparent misconduct while protecting the rights of individuals, both those who report misconduct and those about whom allegations are made.

Types of Activities Which Fall Under Misconduct

Research misconduct involves the fabrication, falsification or plagiarism, committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

Research misconduct does not include honest error, conflicting data, differences of opinion, or differences in interpretations or judgments about data or experimental design.

  • 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 the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit. Authorship or credit disputes, and “self-plagiarism” of an author’s work from one paper to another or from a paper to a grant application are not ordinarily considered plagiarism.

Time Limitations to Report Misconduct

This policy applies only to research misconduct occurring within six (6) years of the date the University or the research sponsor receives an allegation of research misconduct, with the following exceptions (Rutgers University Policy 90.2.2):

  • Subsequent-use Exception: the respondent continues or renews any incident of alleged research misconduct that occurred before the six-year limitation through the citation, re-publication or other use of the research record that is alleged to have been fabricated, falsified or plagiarized for the potential benefit of the respondent;
  • Health or Safety-of-the-Public Exception: the alleged research misconduct, if it occurred, would possibly have a substantial adverse effect on the health or safety of the public in the opinion of the University or the sponsor.

    University Misconduct Investigation Process

    1. Misconduct claim is submitted to the University.
    2. University begins inquiry to conduct an initial review of the evidence to determine if an investigation is warranted.
    3. If misconduct is found, the university will investigate the matter and alert the proper parties involved including the sponsor and related government offices.

    Whistleblower Protections

    Confidentiality

    Disclosure of the identity of respondents and complainants in research misconduct proceedings is limited, to the extent possible, to those who need to know, consistent with a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding, and as allowed by law. However, confidentiality may not be maintained if the allegation is determined to be false and is found to be made in bad faith. Protection of confidentiality does not preclude disclosures that are necessary in the process of handling allegations of misconduct; are in the public interest or in the University's interest; are required by federal or state statute or regulations, University policy or rules of the research sponsor; or are a component of sanctions and/or corrective actions in the resolution of allegations of misconduct.
    ***Except as may otherwise be prescribed by applicable law, confidentiality shall be maintained for any records or evidence from which research subjects might be identified. Disclosure is limited to those who have a need to know to carry out a research misconduct proceeding.
     

    Protection from Adverse Action

    Rulings from state governments and the federal government provide protection to Whistleblowers from "Adverse action" means any action taken by a covered institution or its members which negatively affects the terms or conditions of the whistleblower's status at the institution, including but not limited to his or her employment, academic matriculation, awarding of degree, or institutional relationship established by grant, contract or cooperative agreement.

    Penalties of Misconduct

    • Retraction of research findings
    • Loss of reputation to researchers, other study personnel department colleagues, and their institution
    • Termination of funding and becoming disbarred from receiving future funding
    • Termination of study
    • Loss of employment
    • Referral of the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the HHS Inspector General (OIG), or other appropriate investigative body if criminal or civil fraud violation may have occurred

    *Federal agencies may impose additional penalties.