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Procedure for Investigating Reports of Misconduct in Research

Approval Date: 2016-04-22

Effective Date: N/A

Responsible Unit: Office of the Vice-President (Research)


All allegations of misconduct in research must be made in writing, must specify the misconduct alleged, and must be signed and directed to the President.

Regardless of the nature of the concern, the institution has a responsibility to examine the allegations and reach a conclusion, including cases where an accused leaves Memorial University before the matter is resolved.

The following procedures should be used except where they might conflict with more detailed procedures specified in a collective agreement. Where required, the University shall comply with the requirements set out in the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research as amended from time to time, which sets out the responsibilities of institutions, researchers and the agencies in respect of the responsible conduct of research, including the procedures to be followed in the event of a breach of an Agency requirement, or an allegation thereof.

Where an allegation of research misconduct involves United States Public Health Service (USPHS) funds, the University shall comply with the requirements of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) or other appropriate offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including U.S. Federal regulation 42 CFR Parts 50 and 93, as amended or replaced from time to time.  The President shall notify the ORI of all such allegations received and Memorial University shall then work with ORI or other appropriate offices of the HHS to develop and implement a process for responding to the research misconduct allegations.  The University will submit appropriate reports (in English) to ORI that describe the process followed in conducting the investigation, the evidence on which the conclusions of the investigation are based, and if a finding of research misconduct is made, the administrative actions that are taken against the accused.  The Statement on Dealing with Allegations of Research Misconduct Under United States Publish Health Service (USPHS) Research-related Activities for Foreign Institutions is hereby incorporated by reference.  The University shall comply with the process set out below except as otherwise necessary to comply with the foregoing.  

1. The President will undertake a preliminary consideration of the allegations based on the signed complaint and, if desired by the President, an interview with the complainant.

2. If, in the judgment of the President, there is not sufficient substance to warrant investigation, the President will inform the complainant and no further action will be taken.

3. If, in the judgment of the President, there is sufficient substance to warrant investigation, the President will notify the person who is the subject of the allegations, in writing, that he or she is under investigation. Such notification will be within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the allegation. The President will explore whether the matter may be resolved without completion of the investigation.

4. The investigation, if any, will be conducted by one or more persons appointed by the President for this purpose. A person accused of scholarly misconduct will not be required to meet with the investigator or investigators. Where the accused has grievance rights under a collective agreement, normally the investigation will be conducted by one individual.

5. The written notice of the investigation will include a copy of the signed allegations to allow the accused an opportunity to respond, and will advise the accused of his or her right to be accompanied or represented in any meeting concerning the allegations.

6. The University member named in the allegations shall be given a copy of the investigation report and will be given adequate opportunity to know any evidence presented in the report and to respond to that evidence if he or she chooses to do so. The investigation will be conducted and the process concluded in a timely manner consistent with the circumstances of the case.

7. The President may take disciplinary action against those who make reckless, malicious or bad faith accusations against others involving misconduct in scholarly research.

8. If, during the course of investigation, an outside agency or publisher has been informed of the allegations before a final decision has been rendered, the President will inform the agency or publisher of the final disposition of the allegations.

9. Reports of investigations that lead to discipline of employees or where employees are found culpable but no discipline is imposed, will be kept in the personal file of the employee subject only to any time limitations imposed by collective agreements.

10. If a formal investigation sustains an accusation of gross misconduct in research in relation to research that is funded by an outside agency or has been published or submitted for publication, the President shall so inform the agency or publisher concerned of the decision. Notice to such agencies or publishers shall be the only release of information permitted before the conclusion of all grievance and arbitration procedures arising from the case. Where appropriate, this notice shall inform those parties that the conclusion is subject to grievance and arbitration procedures.

11. Where there is a finding that no scholarly misconduct has occurred, or an arbitration board decides that no discipline is to be invoked, then the University will, at the sole discretion of the accused, ensure that all documentation is either destroyed or transferred to the accused, except that it will retain any arbitration report, which will be a public document. The University will take such steps as may be necessary and reasonable to protect the reputation and credibility of members of the University community who are wrongfully accused of misconduct in academic research, including written notification of the decision to all agencies, publishers or individuals who were informed by the University of the investigation.


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