Research Misconduct

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It is in the best interests of individual employees, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC; University), the academic community at large, and the general public good, for all research, scholarly, and creative activities to be carried out with the highest integrity and ethical standards. University personnel generally assure such standards by self-regulation, including their personal values and the ethical codes of their various disciplines, often promulgated by professional/academic organizations. Nonetheless, occasional questionable judgments, ethical lapses, or other apparent violations of good practice may occur. Scholars have the responsibility both to report apparent occurrences of misconduct through appropriate channels and to take steps to correct the record when they discover error.

Ultimately, the responsibility to pursue an allegation of misconduct belongs to the University and must be carried out fully to resolve questions regarding the integrity of the scholarship. This policy defines academic and research misconduct and describes the procedures for handling allegations of misconduct at SIUC in accordance with the U.S. Public Health Service Rule on Research Misconduct, 42 CFR Part 93 (rev. 2005; see This policy applies to all SIUC employees involved in funded or unfunded research, scholarly, and creative activities.

The institutional official responsible for administering this policy and associated proceedings is the Provost and Vice Chancellor (“Provost,” “Office of the Provost”).

Students must adhere to the same ethical standards and conduct expected of University employees, as set out herein. For students, this policy applies to participation in activities administered by the Office of Sponsored Projects and Administration (OSPA), including Undergraduate Research Awards, Undergraduate Assistantships, and various seed-grant programs. Other student academic misconduct shall be handled in accordance with appropriate University Student Conduct Codes.

This policy excludes the SIU School of Medicine, which shall be subject to its own policy and procedures applicable to misconduct.



SIUC and all SIUC employees involved in administering this policy and its procedures are expected to make diligent efforts to protect the identities, academic reputations, positions, and rights of those who make good-faith allegations of academic misconduct and those who are the subject of such allegations. To the extent allowed by law, University shall maintain the identity of Complainant and Respondent securely and confidentially and shall not disclose any identifying information, except to:

  1. Those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective, and fair misconduct proceeding; and
  2. Funding agencies as they conduct a review of the misconduct proceeding and any subsequent proceedings.

The nature of the allegation and the evidence available will determine whether or not a case can be reviewed effectively without the involvement of Complainant in the proceedings. Cases that depend specifically upon the observations or statements of Complainant cannot proceed without the involvement of that individual; other cases that can rely on documentary evidence may permit Complainant to remain anonymous.

To the extent allowed by law, any information obtained during the misconduct proceeding that might identify the human subject(s) of research shall be maintained securely and confidentially and shall not be disclosed, except to those who need to know in order to carry out the misconduct proceedings.



During and after the misconduct proceedings, University shall undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to protect the position and reputation of, and to counter any potential or actual retaliation against, all persons associated with the proceedings, including Respondent if no finding of misconduct was made, Complainant, witness, or Team or Panel member.


The policy of academic freedom, and the tolerance for differing opinions underlying it, shall not be abridged by this policy or by the implementation of its procedures. However, nothing within the tenets of academic freedom permit or give license to the kinds of academic and research misconduct covered by this policy.


SIUC shall take all reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased misconduct proceeding to the maximum extent practicable. Those conducting the Inquiry or Investigation shall be selected on the basis of expertise that is pertinent to the matter. All persons charged with responsibilities under this policy are obligated to promptly disclose to the Provost any potential, actual, or unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with the Respondent, Complainant, potential witnesses, or others involved in the matter. Any such conflict which a reasonable person would consider to demonstrate potential bias shall disqualify the individual from selection


Bringing unfounded charges motivated by malice or ill will constitutes a violation of the purposes and standards for ethical conduct that underlie this document. If any charge of misconduct by Complainant or any statements of participants in the misconduct proceedings are not brought in good faith, that finding may be entered into the employee’s personnel record and may lead to disciplinary action.


Allegations of research-related academic misconduct are handled in three phases: (1) an initial assessment by the Office of the Provost to determine if formal proceedings should be pursued, (2) an Inquiry into the evidence, which is followed, if warranted, by (3) a full Investigation to determine the extent of the problem and University’s response.


Allegations of possible research-related academic misconduct may be reported to the Dean of the Graduate School, the Director of OSPA, a Department Chair, Director, Dean, or higher institutional administrative official for discussion and possible referral to the Office of the Provost. Any of these persons may provide confidential and preliminary counsel to an individual who comes forward with an allegation. Some concerns brought to their attention may not fall within the scope of the policies and procedures developed to address misconduct, and in such cases they will refer the matter to whatever institutional processes may be more appropriate to the particular case. If they determine that the concern does fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Provost, they will refer the Complainant to this policy.

If a Complainant chooses to make a formal, written allegation, the matter will be referred to the Provost as soon as possible. If the individual chooses not to make a formal allegation but the administrative official believes there is sufficient basis for conducting an Inquiry, the matter will be referred to the Office of the Provost for appropriate action.

Even if Respondent leaves SIUC, by resignation or otherwise, before the case is resolved, University will continue the examination of the allegations in accordance with this policy. If there is a finding of misconduct, University will notify the institution with which the subject of the Investigation is currently affiliated. Furthermore, University will cooperate with other institutions' processes to resolve such questions.


A finding of research or academic misconduct requires that:

  1. There has been a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant academic community; and
  2. The misconduct was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, and is not honest error or difference of opinion; and
  3. he allegation is confirmed by a preponderance of the evidence.


Within 15 calendar days after receiving an allegation of academic or research misconduct, the Provost shall assess it in order to determine:

  1. If it appears to meet the definition of academic and research misconduct in as set forth under “Definitions”; and
  2. If the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research-related academic misconduct may be identified; and
  3. For notification purposes, whether or not it involves external, particularly federal, funding.

The Provost may consult with the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and the Office of General Counsel at any time in interpreting University's policy on misconduct and in determining whether further action is necessary according to this policy.




The Inquiry Team shall consist of three individuals who have no real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case (such as close professional or personal affiliations with Complainant or Respondent), who are unbiased, and who have appropriate qualifications to judge the issues raised. To ensure access to the academic expertise necessary to judge the allegations, the Team may call in on- or off-campus consultants as necessary to assist in reviewing a case; such consultants are subject to the strictures about confidentiality set out herein.

The Inquiry phase must be completed within 60 days of its initiation, unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period, or within a shorter time period if so specified by a funding agency. Completion is marked by submission of the final, written Inquiry Report to the Provost.


The completion of an Inquiry is marked by a determination of whether or not an Investigation is warranted, and by submission of the written report of the Inquiry findings to the Provost.

Cases of plagiarism can be especially complicated, because the acts involved may be intended or unintended. Not all plagiarism, even if intended, constitutes misconduct. In cases involving allegations of plagiarism, the following questions should be addressed:

  1. Were ideas or language of a source or sources employed by the writer without acknowledgement of the source? If not, then an Investigation is not warranted.
  2. Does the amount or significance of the plagiarism rise to the level where further investigation is warranted? If not, then an Investigation is not warranted.
  3. Was the plagiarism committed within a context where the use of others ideas' and/or language is considered acceptable? If so, then an Investigation is not warranted.
  4. Does it appear that the writer made an effort to adapt the ideas or language of the source, rather than merely adopt it? If adapted, then the writer may have unintentionally or inadvertently plagiarized and an Investigation may not be warranted.
  5. Does the plagiarism appear to be the result of a lack of familiarity with the conventions of the community the writer is attempting to address? If so, then the plagiarism may not have been intended to deceive, and an Investigation may not be warranted.

The Inquiry Report shall contain the following information:

  1. The name and position of Respondent;
  2. A description of the allegation of research and academic misconduct, including what evidence was reviewed, and a summary of relevant interviews, if any;
  3. The basis for recommending that the alleged actions do or do not warrant an Investigation, including whether there was a reasonable basis in fact or belief for the allegation and whether it was made in good faith;
  4. Any comments on the Report by Respondent or Complainant;
  5. The federal/external PHS support involved, if any, including, for example, grant numbers, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing PHS support; and
  6. (The reasons for any delay beyond 60 calendar days to complete the Inquiry phase and Report.

The Report shall be sufficiently detailed to permit later assessment of the reasons supporting the Inquiry finding.


If an allegation is found to be unsupported but has been submitted in good faith, no further formal action, other than informing all parties involved in the Inquiry, shall be taken. The records and findings of the Inquiry, including the identity of Respondent, will be held confidential to the greatest extent possible to protect the parties involved. In such cases the University will undertake diligent efforts to protect the Complainant against retaliation. Individuals engaging in acts of retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action and/or grievance proceedings.


To the greatest extent possible, the Investigation proceedings will be kept confidential. However, it should be noted that complete confidentiality cannot be assured during an Investigation, which is a much more formal and wide-ranging proceeding than an Inquiry.


In conducting an Investigation, the Panel shall comply with the requirements for conducting an Investigation in 42 CFR Section 93.310. The Panel shall use diligent efforts to ensure that the Investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented, including examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of the allegations. They shall pursue all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the Investigation, including any evidence of additional instances of possible research or academic misconduct. The Investigation Panel may call in on- or off-campus consultants as necessary to assist it in the Investigation.

The Investigation may consist of a combination of activities including, but not limited to:

  1. Review and copying of relevant data, proposals, correspondence, memoranda of telephone calls or memoranda to file, and other pertinent documents at the University, at the granting agency, or elsewhere;
  2. Review of published materials and manuscripts submitted or in preparation;
  3. Inspection of offices, laboratory or clinical facilities, and/or materials; and
  4. Interviewing each Respondent, Complainant, and any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the Investigation, including witnesses identified by the Respondent. The Investigation Panel will notify the Respondent sufficiently in advance of the scheduling of his/her/their interview(s) in the Investigation so that the Respondent may prepare for the interview and arrange for the attendance of legal counsel, if the Respondent wishes. Each interview shall be recorded or transcribed, the recording or transcription provided to the interviewee for correction and included in the record of Investigation;

To the extent feasible, conduct of an Investigation shall be in compliance with any agency guidelines that must be followed if the activity in question is supported by external funding.

The Investigation Panel shall use its best efforts to complete the Investigation within 120 calendar days of the date on which it began, including conducting the Investigation, preparing the Report of findings, providing the draft Report for comment, and, if PHS support is involved, sending the final Report to ORI. If it becomes apparent that the Investigation cannot be completed within that period, the Panel shall promptly request an appropriate extension in writing internally from the Provost and externally from ORI.

If the deadline cannot be met in an Investigation of research-related academic misconduct that involves no external funding, the committee shall submit an interim Report to the Office of the Provost.

Should either the Inquiry Report or the Investigation Report determine that the original charges or the testimony of any person was maliciously motivated or not offered in good faith, that finding shall be communicated to the Provost. The Provost may enter a finding of malicious conduct in the person’s personnel file and communicate the finding to the person’s Chair, Director, or Dean. Such a finding may be the basis for disciplinary action or other personnel decisions in accordance with University rules and regulations.




After conducting the Investigation in accordance with the process outlined above, the Investigation Panel will develop a Draft or Preliminary Report. The Preliminary Report shall include draft versions of each section of information required in the Final Report. All written materials and other documents forming part of the record, including interview summaries, shall be attached to the Preliminary Report.

The Draft Report shall be submitted to the Office of the Provost and to Respondent, who may submit comments within 30 days of the date of receipt.


Following the conclusion of any meeting(s) with Respondent and after receipt of Respondent's written response to the Preliminary Report, the Panel shall carefully review and consider the entire record in the matter, conduct further Investigation if necessary, and prepare a Final Investigation Report setting forth the detailed findings of the Panel.

The Final Report shall:

  1. Describe the specific allegations of research or academic misconduct considered in the Investigation;
  2. Describe how and from whom or where information relevant to the Investigation was obtained;
  3. Identify and summarize the research records and evidence reviewed, and identify any evidence taken into custody, but not reviewed. Describe any relevant records and evidence not taken into custody and explain why.
  4. Include and consider any comments made by Respondent and Complainant on the draft Investigation report;
  5. Provide a finding as to whether research-related academic misconduct did or did not occur for each separate allegation identified during the Investigation, and if misconduct was found:
    1. Identify the nature of the misconduct and whether it was intentional, knowing, or in reckless disregard;
    2. Summarize the facts and the analysis supporting the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by Respondent and any evidence that rebuts Respondent’s explanations;
    3. Identify any external support, including grant numbers, applications, contracts;
    4. Identify any publications that need correction or retraction;
    5. Identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and
    6. List any current support and pending applications or proposals for support that Respondent
  6. Include a statement of the recommendations for resolution of the matter, including recommended sanctions, if any, to be imposed on Respondent and the rationale in support thereof. Sanctions can range from a reprimand or removal from the research project to termination of employment.
  7. Include the institutional policies and procedures under which the Investigation was conducted
  8. Tangible scientific property, e.g., slides, specimens, etc., shall be incorporated into the Report by reference and retained in the custody or control of the Office of the Provost.

The Investigation Panel shall submit the final Investigation Report to the Provost. The Respondent also will receive the final report of the Investigation. (When there is more than one Respondent, each will receive all those parts of the Report that are pertinent to his or her role.) If the identity of the Complainant is known to the Panel, he or she shall be provided with those portions of the final Report that address his or her role and opinions in the Investigation.

If the Investigation Panel discovers serious misconduct involving errors, it will include in its final report specific recommendations for action, such as notifying editors of journals in which the Respondent's findings were published, other institutions with which the Respondent has been affiliated, collaborators, professional societies, state professional licensing boards (if applicable), etc. The Provost will refer these recommendations to the appropriate administrative officials for follow-up action.


Respondent is obligated to cooperate in providing the material necessary to conduct all stages of the proceedings described in this policy, and will be so informed by the Provost when they are initiated. Uncooperative behavior may result in immediate implementation of a formal Investigation and appropriate institutional sanctions.

The destruction, absence of, or Respondent’s failure to provide research records adequately documenting the questioned research is evidence of misconduct where the University establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondent intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly had research records and destroyed them, had the opportunity to maintain the records but did not do so, or maintained the records and failed to produce them in a timely manner, and that Respondent’s conduct constitutes a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant academic community.

Respondent has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, any and all defenses raised, and any mitigating factors that are relevant to a decision to impose administrative actions following a research or academic misconduct proceeding.

Respondent has the right to:

  1. Written notification of the allegation and the process that will follow, according to this policy.
  2. Written notification of the charge to and persons appointed to the Inquiry Team and, if created, the Investigation Panel.
  3. Prompt written notification if additional information emerges during the Inquiry/Investigation that substantially changes the subject matter.
  4. Consult with appropriate student, faculty, or professional advisory groups, and private legal counsel.
  5. Submit statements in writing and meet with the Team/Panel to present documentary, testimonial, and rebuttal evidence and respond to the allegation.
  6. Have an advisor present at any proceedings carried out in connection with this policy. However all statements and verbal responses to questions from Team/Panel members must be made by the Respondent and not by the advisor, who may not participate in the proceedings other than offer advice to Respondent.
  7. Review and correct transcripts of such meetings
  8. Review and respond to the written reports of the Inquiry Team and Investigation Panel; those responses shall be included in the final copies of the reports transmitted to the Provost.
  9. Appeal the decision of the Provost.


Timely notice of the appeal process must be given to the Respondent if that process could result in the reversal or modification of the findings in the Inquiry and Investigation Reports.

Respondent may file a written appeal of the determination of the Provost with the Chancellor of the University in accordance with the “Grievance Procedure for Faculty” as set forth in the current SIUC Employees Handbook. Any appeal should be filed within 30 calendar days after the Provost’s determination. (A time extension, where there is appropriate justification, may be requested of the Chancellor.) The appeal should be restricted to the body of evidence already presented, and the grounds for appeal should be limited to the sole question of whether the procedures prescribed in this document were followed correctly.



Copies of all communications will be securely maintained and held confidential in the Office of the Provost.


If it is determined that the allegations meet the criteria for an Inquiry, the Office of the Provost shall:

  1. Provide Respondent with written notification of the allegation and the process that will follow, beginning with an Inquiry. This notification should also (a) include a copy of these institutional policies and procedures for the handling of research and academic misconduct; (b) inform Respondent of the obligation to cooperate in providing the material necessary to conduct all stages of the proceedings, and that uncooperative behavior may result in immediate implementation of a formal Investigation and appropriate institutional sanctions; and (c) Respondent’s right to counsel.
  2. Sequester all research records and other evidence needed to conduct the misconduct proceeding.
  3. Appoint an Inquiry Team. If the Respondent challenges the composition of the Inquiry Team, the Provost will decide the validity of a challenge for cause. If the objection is prompt and reasonable, the Provost shall replace the person with one who meets the stated criteria. The decision of the Provost whether the challenge is prompt and reasonable shall be final. The Provost convenes the first meeting of the Inquiry Team, in which s/he shall review the allegations and describe appropriate procedures for conducting an Inquiry.

If the Inquiry identifies additional Respondents, the Provost shall promptly notify them in writing.

At the completion of the Inquiry, the Provost shall notify Respondent of the results and attach to the notification copies of the Inquiry Report. If Respondent chooses to comment on the Inquiry Report, Respondent shall do so within fifteen (15) days, and such comments shall be attached to the Inquiry Report.


If an Investigation is to be carried out, the Provost shall:

  1. Notify Respondent in writing of the allegations to be investigated within 30 calendar days after that determination.
  2. Appoint a five-person Investigation Panel within 45 days of notifying Respondent. The Panel must consist of persons who have no conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have academic backgrounds that qualify them to understand and judge the subject matter of the alleged misconduct. The Provost shall convene the first meeting of the Panel to review the allegations, the report of the Inquiry Team, and the prescribed procedures.
  3. Respondent is to be notified in writing of the Panel’s charge and the identity of the appointees. The composition of the Investigation Panel may be challenged for cause by Respondent or by Complainant (if any) in a prompt, reasonable, written objection. The Provost will decide the validity of a challenge for cause. The decision of the Provost whether the challenge is prompt and reasonable shall be final. If the objection is prompt and reasonable, the Provost shall replace the person with one who meets the stated criteria.
  4. (Notify the director(s) of any funding agencies sponsoring the research in question that an Investigation will be conducted.
  5. Notify Respondent's department chair and dean (if applicable) of the impending Investigation.
  6. Provide Respondent written notice of any new allegations within a reasonable time after determining to pursue allegations not addressed in the Inquiry or in the initial notice of the Investigation, or if additional information emerges during the Investigation that substantially changes the subject matter of the Investigation.

At the conclusion of the Investigation, the Provost shall provide Respondent a copy of the Draft Investigation Report and concurrently a copy of, or supervised access to, the evidence on which the report is based. The Provost shall notify Respondent that any comments on the Draft Report must be submitted within 30 days of the date of receipt.

If there is more than one Respondent, each will receive all those parts of the Report that are pertinent to his or her role. If the identity of the Complainant is known to the Panel, s/he shall be provided with those portions of the final Report that address his or her role and opinions in the Investigation.



The Provost shall review the findings and recommendations of the Final Investigation Report, which are advisory. The Provost shall make the final determination on the case, including any sanctions to be imposed.

If there is a finding of no misconduct, the Provost shall promptly notify all persons and agencies/organizations informed of the Investigation.

If the Investigation Panel discovers serious misconduct involving errors, it will include in its final report specific recommendations for action, such as notifying editors of journals in which the Respondent's findings were published, other institutions with which the Respondent has been affiliated, collaborators, professional societies, state professional licensing boards (if applicable), etc. The Provost will refer these recommendations to the appropriate administrative officials for follow-up action.

Respondent shall be given timely notification of the appeal process. Any appeal process must be completed within 120 calendar days. This 120-day deadline does not apply to termination hearings conducted separately from the appeal process.

Tangible scientific property associated with the subject activity of the Investigation (e.g., slides, specimens, etc.) shall be retained in the custody or control of the Office of the Provost.


The Investigation is complete when the Provost has reviewed the Final Investigation Report, made a determination on the case, and submitted to any funding agency or other organization involved a copy of the Final Report along with a description of any sanctions to be taken by University. These entities may impose their own sanctions or take other action.

The Office of the Provost shall maintain all records created or gathered under this policy consistent with the Illinois State Records Act and 42 CFR Section 93.317(a), for seven (7) years after completion of the proceeding, unless custody of the records and evidence has been transferred to DHHS, or ORI has advised that the records no longer need to be retained. When the seven years expires, the Provost shall return original materials to the persons who furnished them and destroy the remainder of the material, notifying Respondent of this act.



For purposes of this policy, academic and research misconduct refers to a variety of unethical and unacceptable practices, including but not limited to fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting the results of academic endeavors:

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, including: digitally altering images with the intent of misrepresentation; intentionally misleading, selective, or deliberately false reporting of information; changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in formal records; and false reporting of credentials. (This definition excludes those artistic and creative endeavors in which such manipulation or alteration is the art.)

Plagiarism is presenting another existing work, original ideas, or creative expressions as one's own without proper attribution. (see SIU Board of Trustees Policy 7(F)).

Other examples of misconduct include:

  • Misappropriation or unacknowledged appropriation of the ideas or work of others, including misappropriation of physical materials.
  • Abuse of confidentiality, such as the unauthorized use of privileged or unpublished information (e.g., violation of confidentiality in peer review), however obtained.
  • Evasion of or intentional failure to comply with research or safety regulations or requirements after notice by University or federal, state, or other authorities, including but not limited to those relating to human subjects, laboratory animals, hazardous or radiological materials, drugs, and genetically altered organisms.
  • Formally presenting findings based on practices that seriously deviate from those that are reasonable, ethical, and commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting the results of research and scholarly endeavors.

Misconduct involves acts of deception and excludes differences of opinion or interpretation and honest (unintentional or inadvertent) error. Authorship disputes do not, in and of themselves, constitute misconduct.


An allegation of academic and research misconduct is a disclosure through any means of communication, written or oral, to an institutional official, or through information obtained from other sources, such as review of reports.


Complainant means a person who in good faith makes an allegation of academic or research misconduct.


Good faith, as it applies to allegations of misconduct and to all statements or acts made in accordance with the procedures described in this policy, refers to honest belief or intention, uninfluenced by personal or professional gain or disregard for objective knowledge of facts.


An Inquiry is preliminary information-gathering, fact-finding, and review to determine if the criteria for conducting a formal Investigation of the alleged misconduct have been met. An Inquiry is not a formal hearing; it is designed to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from frivolous, unjustified, malicious, or clearly mistaken allegations.


An Investigation is the formal development of a detailed, factual record and the examination of that record to determine if the alleged misconduct did or did not occur. If the Investigation finds that misconduct did occur, the findings may include recommendations for further investigations, for other appropriate actions, including administrative actions, and for appropriate sanctions.


Notice means a written communication served in person, sent by mail or its equivalent, to the last known street address, facsimile number, or e-mail address of the addressee.


Preponderance of the evidence means proof by information which, compared with that opposing it, leads to the conclusion that the fact at issue is more probably true than not.


Research means systematic experiment, study, evaluation, demonstration, or survey designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge (basic research) or specific knowledge (applied research). At SIUC “research” includes scholarly and creative activities in the humanities and arts, and publishing.


Research record means the record of data or results, in physical or electronic form, that embodies the facts resulting from academic and research inquiry, including but not limited to proposals, laboratory records, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, journal articles, books or chapters in books, videos, tape recordings, photographs, databases, and any documents and materials provided to an institutional official by a Respondent in the course of the misconduct proceeding.


Respondent means the person(s) against whom an allegation of academic or research misconduct is directed or who is the subject of a misconduct proceeding.