Policy Regarding Ethical Standards in Research and Other Scholarly Activities at the University of Alabama in Huntsville
The principles that govern research have long been established and applied by faculties and administrators for the discovery of new knowledge needed by mankind. The maintenance of high ethical standards in research based on these principles is a central and critical responsibility of faculties and administrators of academic institutions. Validity and accuracy in the collection and reporting of data are intrinsically essential to the very nature of research, that is, the pursuit of truth.
The maintenance of public trust in this pursuit is vital. In short, it is in the best interest of the public and of academic institutions to prevent misconduct in research and to deal objectively and responsibly with instances where misconduct is suspected.
1. Researchers and Scholars who are in supervisory positions with regard to colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and students are expected to work closely with those individuals to provide them with appropriate guidance and counsel, to the end that these individuals continue to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.
2. Researchers and Scholars are encouraged to increase student and staff awareness of the importance of maintaining high ethical standards in research and to discuss issues related to research ethics in formal courses, in seminars, and by other, informal means.
3. Researchers and Scholars should support all research results with verifiable evidence and should maintain sufficient written records or other documentation of their studies. It is the responsibility of experienced investigators to develop among junior colleagues and students the necessary respect for careful recording and preservation of primary data.
4. Where possible Researchers and Scholars are encouraged to engage in free discussion of results, to share data and techniques, and to avoid secrecy in the conduct of original investigations. It should be remembered that the independent confirmation of results is crucial to the establishment of new concepts.
5. Researchers and Scholars are responsible for the quality of all reports based on their own efforts or on the collaborative work of colleagues, students or technicians, especially those which bear the faculty member's name. Researchers and Scholars are strongly encouraged to discuss matters of responsibility, authorship, and acknowledgment for technical assistance early and throughout the research process with all collaborators. The word "reports" is used here to mean manuscripts submitted for publication or for presentation at meetings as well as abstracts of those manuscripts, abstracts submitted for presentation at meetings, and manuscripts submitted to organizations funding sponsored research to comply with their "reporting" requirement. The same standards of research integrity apply to abstracts as to full-length publications. A Researcher or Scholar should allow his or her name to be used on a report only when the report contains results for which that person can assume full professional and ethical responsibility.
6. Any employee or student of this University who has reason to suspect any other employee or student of scientific misconduct has the responsibility of pursuing those suspicions in accordance with the procedures outlined below.
7. For purposes of this policy, "misconduct in research and other scholarly activities" ("misconduct") includes, but is not limited to, (1) fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted in the scholarly community for the proposing, conducting, and reporting of research and other scholarly activities; (2) appropriation without due credit of another's ideas. . The . use of confidentia/classified information; (3) willful or reckless failure to comply with legal requirements that relate to research and other scholarly activities; or (4) intentionally withholding information relevant to a preliminary inquiry or investigation under this policy, intentionally pressuring others to do so, or retaliating in any way against any person who provides such information or who reports, in good faith, suspected or alleged research misconduct. Honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data shall not be considered misconduct under this policy.
8. The bringing of malicious or irresponsible charges of misconduct may itself be considered misconduct under this policy.
1. Reporting. Allegations of misconduct may be made by any member of the University community who becomes aware of actions, or failures to act, that may be misconduct as defined above. Allegations of misconduct should be in writing and should be directed to the Vice President for Research.
2. Preliminary Action by Vice President for Research.
a. Immediately upon receipt of written allegations of misconduct, the Vice President for Research shall decide if the alleged incident, were it to have occurred, would constitute misconduct under this policy. If the Vice President for Research concludes that the alleged incident falls under this policy, the Vice President for Research will initiate a preliminary inquiry to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that misconduct has occurred by appointing a Preliminary Action Officer. The Vice President for Research may request impartial University or outside experts having the appropriate experience and expertise to serve as Preliminary Action Officer .
b. Within one week of receiving the written allegations and prior to beginning the preliminary inquiry, the Vice President for Research shall inform the accused party of the nature of the accusations in a formal letter.
c. The preliminary inquiry by the Preliminary Action Officer shall be conducted in a confidential manner and all witnesses shall be cautioned not to disclose to anyone their discussions with the Preliminary Action Officer . The Preliminary Action Officer may consider any evidence that a reasonable person could deem probative any fact in issue. The accused party shall not have the right to be present during the meetings of the Preliminary Action Officer with any witness nor shall the accused party have the right to be accompanied by outside legal counsel before the Preliminary Action Officer at any time.
d. The accused party shall have the right to submit to the Preliminary Action Officer a written response to the allegations that are the subject of the preliminary inquiry. This response should be received by the Preliminary Action Officer within two weeks of the accused's receiving the notification of the preliminary inquiry.
e. The Preliminary Action Officer shall prepare a written report of the preliminary inquiry that (1) contains the accused party's timely written response to the allegations, if any; (2) states what evidence was reviewed; (3) summarizes relevant interviews; and (4) includes a conclusion as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that misconduct has occurred. A copy of this report shall be provided to the accused party who shall be given two weeks to submit written comments in response to the report. The report, including any comments submitted in a timely manner by the accused party, shall then be provided to the Vice President for Research.
f. Unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period, the report of the Preliminary Action Officer shall be submitted to the Vice President for Research within 45 days of the receipt of the allegations of misconduct. If the report is not submitted within 45 days, the report must include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 45-day period.
3. Vice President for Research's Actions Upon Receipt of Preliminary Action Officer's Report. Upon receipt of the report of the Preliminary Action Officer , the Vice President for Research shall have the following options:
a. Review the report of the Preliminary Action Officer to ensure its completeness. The Vice President for Research may return the report to the Preliminary Action Officer for further preliminary inquiries as to any material matters not satisfactorily addressed by the report.
b. Where report of the Preliminary Action Officer concludes that there is no reasonable basis to believe that misconduct has occurred and the Vice President for Research concurs with such conclusion, the Vice President for Research shall document the reasons for such concurrence and cause that document to be placed with the record of the preliminary inquiry These materials shall be maintained by the Vice President for Research in a secure manner.(State Law)
c. Where the report of the Preliminary Action Officer concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that misconduct has occurred and the Vice President for Research concurs with such a conclusion, the Vice President for Research shall appoint an ad hoc investigating Committee (the "Committee") which is impartial both in fact and in appearance The Vice President for Research shall draw up a list of ten Researchers and Scholars not holding administrative positions from the UAH full-time and tenured faculty to serve as nominees for membership of the Committee; the list should be diverse with two nominees from each of the five colleges (Administrative Science, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Nursing and Sciences), and they should be nominated on the basis of their objectivity, competence and their positive regard in the academic community; they shall have no bias or untoward interest in the case. Members of the accused Researcher or Scholar's department or program are not permitted to serve on this Committee. The accused party will have a maximum of three challenges from among the nominees without stated cause. The Vice President for Research will then name a five-member Committee from the remaining names on the nominated slate. The Committee will elect its own chair. Outside experts may be present during the Committee proceedings and they may be consulted by the Committee members, but outside experts will not have the right to vote during the Committee Proceedings. The Committee shall begin its investigation within twenty-one (21) calendar days of completion of the preliminary inquiry.
d. The Vice President for Research may endeavor to facilitate a settlement of the charge of misconduct agreeable to the accused party and the University. If successful, such settlement shall be summarized in writing and placed with the record of preliminary inquiry and shall eliminate the need for further review of the misconduct by an ad hoc investigating Committee.
e. The Vice President for Research will notify appropriate parties of the disposition of the case to this point.
4. Conduct of Investigation By Ad Hoc Committee.
a. Except in extraordinary cases, the Committee shall interview all individuals involved in making the allegations of misconduct and against whom the allegations have been made, as well as others who could reasonably be expected to have information regarding key aspects of the allegations. Complete summaries of the testimony of such individuals shall be prepared and made a part of the report of the Committee. The investigation shall normally also include an examination of all documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. Copies of relevant documentary evidence shall be included in the Committee's report.
b. The accused party shall have the right to be present at all sessions of the Committee when that Committee is gathering evidence. Neither the accused party nor the University Committee shall have the right to have legal counsel present.
c. The accused party shall have the right to question witnesses heard before the Committee and may provide to the Committee for its consideration the names of those individuals he/she believes can provide relevant testimony or other evidence.
d. The accused party shall have the right to testify before the Committee in his/her own behalf and to provide the Committee with relevant documentary evidence
e. The proceedings of the Committee shall be conducted in a confidential manner and all witnesses shall be cautioned not to discuss with anyone their appearance before the Committee. The Committee may consider any evidence that a reasonable person could deem probative of any fact in issue.
f. The Committee shall prepare a written report of its proceedings which (1) contains the accused party's timely written response to the allegations, if any; (2) states what evidence was reviewed; (3) summarizes relevant interviews; and (4) states the conclusions of the Committee. If the Committee determines that research misconduct has occurred, the Committee may choose to express its opinion as to the seriousness of the misconduct or recommend sanctions against the person who committed the misconduct A copy of this report shall be provided to the accused party who shall be given two weeks to submit a written response to the report. The report, including any comments submitted in a timely manner by the accused party, shall then be provided to the Vice President for Research.
g. Unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period, the report of the Committee shall be submitted to the Vice President for Research within 90 days of the appointment of the Committee. If the report is not submitted within 90 days, the report must include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 90-day period.
5. Action by Vice President for Research Upon Receipt of Report of Investigation. Upon receipt of the Committee's report, the Vice President for Research shall:
a. Review the report of the Committee to ensure its completeness. The Vice President for Research may return the report to the Committee for further inquiries as to any material matters not satisfactorily addressed by the report.
b. Take no action or recommend imposition of sanctions to the Vice President in whose division the accused party is employed or enrolled. If the appropriate Vice President's proposed sanction is a suspension for more than one month without pay, a reduction in salary, or termination, the case, if the accused party is a member of the faculty, will be referred for proceeding under the then current university policy concerning discipline or termination of faculty for cause, or, if the accused party is a staff employee or a student, the case will be referred for an adversary hearing consistent with models already in use by the University in related contexts or under appropriate handbooks. Less severe sanctions may be imposed without proceeding under such policies. The imposition of a lesser sanction is a matter that may be appealed through the applicable University grievance procedure.
6. Protections to be Afforded.
a. Allegations of misconduct are a very serious matter. Both during and after the process described above, all parties involved in reporting and investigating such allegations must take all reasonable measures to ensure that the rights and reputations of those individuals named in the allegations are protected. Likewise, the privacy, position, and reputation of individuals who, in good faith, report apparent incidents of misconduct must be protected.
b. To this end, all reports of apparent incidents of misconduct shall be treated with confidentiality and shall not be revealed to anyone other than the accused party, witnesses, and those with an official interest and need to know.
c. Where the charges of misconduct are not substantiated, diligent efforts, as appropriate, shall be taken to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct. Similar efforts shall be taken to protect the positions and reputations of those who, in good faith, make allegations of misconduct. These efforts will be taken within the University, with respect to any involved funding agencies, and elsewhere, as appropriate.
d. A file concerning the allegation of misconduct shall be compiled and maintained securely by the Vice President for Research. This file shall contain the preliminary inquiry report, the investigation report, and record of sanctions, if any, and any other writings relevant to the investigation.
7. Additional Notifications.
a. If the Vice President for Research initiates an investigation under this policy, any agency or foundation supporting the research or other scholarly activity in question shall be notified as required by law or regulation, by the Vice President for Research.
b. Any such agency or foundation shall be notified immediately by the Vice President for Research if it is ascertained at any time during the preliminary inquiry or investigation that (1) there is an immediate health hazard; (2) there is an immediate need to protect federal funds or equipment; (3) there is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person making the allegation of misconduct or the accused party, as well as their associates, if any; (4) it is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly; or (5) there is reason to believe a criminal statute has been violated
c. Any such agency or foundation shall be notified of the outcome of the investigation by the Vice President for Research and the Vice President for Research shall cause any required reports to be made to such agency or foundation.