The Grey Book | Table of Contents | FAS Research and Sponsored Programs Administration Home

PROCEDURES FOR RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT IN RESEARCH*

In order to maintain confidence in the integrity of the Faculty's research enterprises, allegations of misconduct in research must be treated with the utmost seriousness and examined carefully and responsibly. This document outlines the procedures for responding to allegations brought against individuals who are involved with the design, conduct, or reporting of research in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.1 The procedures are designed to ascertain the truth and to protect the rights both of individuals accused of misconduct and of others whose reputations may be brought into question.

Because allegations of misconduct may differ in many ways, no single course of action will always be the most thorough and fair. The procedures described below are intended to provide a framework for careful and thorough investigation of allegations in a variety of circumstances. In addition, the policies and procedures required by federal agencies that sponsor research, research training, or related activities shall be followed when an allegation involves activities funded by or proposals submitted to those agencies.2 "Research misconduct" or "misconduct in research" includes fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

Issues that do not relate to research misconduct are outside the scope of this policy, although the Dean may ask that the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct consider these procedures as a framework for other investigations. Should allegations be made against individuals holding appointments in more than one Harvard Faculty,3 the chair of the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct, in consultation with the appropriate officers in the other Faculty or Faculties, shall determine at the outset which Faculty shall investigate the allegations.

Procedures

  1. All allegations of misconduct in research, except those manifestly lacking in substance, whether initially received by a department chairman or by another individual, shall be brought to the attention of the chair of the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct.
  2. Upon receiving an allegation of misconduct in research, the chair of the Standing Committee shall inform the accused party or parties of the nature of the allegation and solicit a response. If the chair of the Standing Committee decides that further information may be needed, he or she shall so recommend to the Standing Committee, which shall determine whether to conduct an Inquiry into the allegation. The Dean shall be fully informed of the steps to be taken, and the information on which the steps are based.
  3. Upon reasonable concern for the integrity of the evidence or as mandated by federal requirements, the chair shall take appropriate steps to obtain and secure relevant records or other evidence that may bear upon the proceedings.
  4. Members of the Standing Committee or any subsequent Investigating Committee shall inform the chair if they have any relationship to the accused party or parties, or to the party or parties bringing the allegation, that may affect their ability to review the information with impartiality; based on this information, the chair may ask members to recuse themselves from Committee deliberations or may appoint a replacement.
  5. The purpose of the Inquiry is to determine whether an Investigation or other action is warranted. The Inquiry shall be conducted expeditiously4 and the accused party or parties shall be informed of the Inquiry and given an opportunity to review and comment on the Inquiry report. The Inquiry report, including any comments by the accused party or parties, shall be conveyed to the Dean along with the Standing Committee's determination of whether the Inquiry findings warrant an Investigation or other action.
  6. If the Standing Committee determines that an Investigation is warranted, an ad hoc Investigating Committee shall be empanelled.5 After conferring with the Dean and the Standing Committee, the chair of the Standing Committee shall appoint an Investigating Committee consisting of individuals he or she deems appropriate, knowledgeable, and impartial. Some, but preferably not all, members of the Investigating Committee shall be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Before the Investigating Committee is finally empanelled, the chair shall identify the members to the accused party or parties with a view to ascertaining unrecognized threats to the fairness of the process.
  7. The Investigating Committee shall consider the facts that bear on the case. The accused party or parties shall be informed of the charge to the Investigating Committee and the procedures to be followed. At a time or times designated by the Investigating Committee, the accused party or parties shall be invited to appear before it. The accused party or parties shall have the right to appear before the Investigating Committee, shall be informed of the nature of the evidence presented to the Committee, and shall be given reasonable time and opportunity to comment on that evidence before the conclusion of the Investigation. The Dean of the Faculty shall be informed in a timely manner of the procedures and proceedings of the Investigating Committee.
  8. If at any time during the process of reviewing allegations of research misconduct, there is reason to believe that individuals are at risk of harm, or that the integrity of the research process is at risk, whether by virtue of ongoing research activities or other causes related to the substance of the allegations, the Dean shall take whatever actions he or she deems necessary to manage the risk to individuals and to protect the integrity of the research process.6
  9. After completing the proceedings and deliberations it deems appropriate, the Investigating Committee shall submit a report to the Dean.7 Before it is submitted, this report shall be offered to the accused party or parties for review with reasonable time to respond, and any corrections or responses supplied by the accused shall be included in, or appended to, the report.
  10. At this point, the Dean may request any further information or assistance from the Investigating Committee or other individuals. The Dean shall then take whatever action he or she considers appropriate. In cases where reporting of proceedings to outside sponsors or agencies is required, a copy of the proceedings shall be provided, as necessary, to the University official responsible for such reporting.8
  11. The Office of the Dean shall maintain records of any proceedings brought hereunder.

Throughout the process all participants shall bear in mind these several considerations:

  1. The importance, both in fact and in appearance, of thoroughness, fairness, objectivity, and acting with reasonable speed.
  2. The importance of protecting the reputations of individuals and of protecting confidentiality (including information that may identify research subjects), to the extent that such protections are appropriate and consistent with other ethical and legal obligations of the Faculty and the University.
  3. The need to protect the rights of the person or persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct. These rights include the right to be informed, with specificity at the appropriate time, of the allegations and of the evidence in support of the allegations, and the right to be informed of the procedures to be followed. Appropriate consideration must also be given to protecting the reputation of any person alleged to have engaged in misconduct, but against whom no finding of misconduct is made.
  4. The need to protect the rights of good faith complainants, witnesses, and Standing and Investigating Committee members, including protection from retaliation by the accused party or parties, or by others at the University.
  5. The importance of ensuring that the interests and the full obligations of the Faculty are thoroughly considered.
  6. The importance of informing and consulting with other individuals, agencies, or institutions who have an interest in the research in question in order to meet in good faith the obligation of the Faculty to others.

Footnotes

* As voted by the President and Fellows of Harvard College on March 9, 2009.

1. Depending upon the source of funding for the research, allegations of misconduct on the part of undergraduate or graduate students may be referred directly to the Administrative Board of the College or of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Procedures specified in the Harvard University Administrative and Professional Staff Personnel Manual or the HUCTW Personnel Manual may also apply if an allegation of misconduct involves a staff member who does not hold a teaching or research appointment.

2. If an allegation of misconduct pertains to biomedical or behavioral research or research training or other activities for which Public Health Service (PHS) funds have been provided or requested, the Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct at 42 CFR part 93 (the "PHS Rule") shall be followed. This policy is intended to include, and hereby incorporates by reference, all of the specific mandatory requirements of the PHS Rule pertaining to the conduct and reporting of research misconduct proceedings where PHS funds have been provided or requested.

3. In this context, "Faculty" shall be understood to include the several Harvard Faculties and/or other Harvard administrative entities.

4. For allegations of misconduct that are subject to the PHS Rule, the Inquiry shall be concluded within sixty days of its initiation unless circumstances warrant a longer period, in which case the Inquiry report shall document the reason(s) for exceeding the sixty-day period.

5. For allegations of misconduct that are subject to the PHS Rule, the Investigation phase must begin within thirty days of the Standing Committee's determination that an Investigation is warranted. In such cases, the decision that an Investigation is warranted shall be conveyed in writing by the appropriate University official, on or before the date on which the Investigation begins, accompanied by the Inquiry report and other information as required by the PHS Rule, to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as to the accused party or parties. No report will be submitted to ORI if the Standing Committee determines that an Investigation is not warranted, but the report and supporting information will be retained in the Office of the Dean.

6. For Investigations of misconduct that are subject to the PHS Rule, such actions taken shall also be reported to the Office of Research Integrity as required.

7. For Investigations of misconduct that are subject to the PHS Rule, the final report of the Investigating Committee shall be submitted to the Dean within one hundred twenty days of the start of the Investigation, unless an extension of time has been granted by the Office of Research Integrity.

8. For Investigations of misconduct that are subject to the PHS Rule, the appropriate University official shall submit a copy of the Investigating Committee's final report to the Office of Research Integrity, accompanied by a description of any pending or completed administrative actions against the accused party or parties. Such material must be submitted to the Office of Research Integrity within one hundred twenty days of the start of the Investigation, unless an extension of time has been granted by the Office of Research Integrity.