D. University Code of Procedure for Alleged Misconduct in Research

Revised 2012

1. APPLICABILITY

This code applies to any person holding a University appointment or otherwise employed by the University who is alleged to have engaged in misconduct in research, including sponsored research [1]. This code applies to all campuses and subdivisions of Georgetown University.

2. DEFINITION OF MISCONDUCT IN RESEARCH

"Misconduct in research" means (1) fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out, and reviewing research, or in reporting results from research, or (2) failure to meet material legal or University requirements governing research. This definition does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

3. IMPLEMENTION

All proceedings under this Code shall be conducted in accordance with 42 CFR Part 93, the Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct, as they shall be amended from time to time.

4. INITIATION OF AN INQUIRY

Allegations of misconduct in research as defined above should be submitted in writing, signed by the complainant, to the Chairperson of the Research Integrity Committee (described in Paragraph H), or to any other member of that Committee, who shall immediately transmit the allegation to the Chairperson (or Vice Chairperson when the Chair is unavailable).

Upon receipt of the allegation the Chairperson (or Vice Chairperson as circumstance may demand) shall promptly supply a copy of the charge to the Executive Vice president under whose campus jurisdiction the person subject to the allegations (the respondent) conducted the questioned activity. Within ten days of receiving the allegation the Chairperson shall inform the respondent of the allegations, with particulars, although the identity of the complainant need not necessarily be disclosed. Within three working days of receiving the allegation, the Chairperson will appoint a subcommittee of three members (one as chair)—at least two of whom shall come from the membership of the Research Integrity Committee and one of whom may be a subject matter expert appointed from the full-time faculty of the University—to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the matter, examining whether the allegation substantively alleges misconduct in research as defined above, and whether it merits investigation. In creating the subcommittee the Chairperson shall attempt to avoid any appointment that may involve a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. At least one member of the subcommittee shall come from a campus other than the campus where the respondent's work has been carried out. The respondent shall be notified of the membership of the subcommittee. The complainant shall be available to the subcommittee from the inception of its operation.

During this inquiry stage, the subcommittee may consult with persons other than the complainant and respondent, as the subcommittee deems appropriate, including experts from outside the University. The subcommittee may require the respondent, the complainant and any material witness to furnish the original copies of relevant records under the control of these persons, respectively (a copy of these originals will be provided at committee expense, upon the request of any such person). In all proceedings in which he or she appears before the subcommittee the respondent may be advised by counsel or other advisor. The subcommittee shall accept evidence or representations as may from time to time be submitted by respondent during the subcommittee's inquiry.

If anonymity is requested by a complainant who submits a signed complaint, the request is to be honored insofar as possible. Unsigned allegations will be subject to the most careful scrutiny for particularity of detail and other qualities bearing on credibility. The University recognizes that considerations of personal and professional risk sometimes justify the submission of unsigned allegations, but strongly discourages the practice.

If the circumstances appear exigent at the time the Chairperson notifies the relevant Executive Vice President or at any time thereafter, that Executive Vice President may take all appropriate steps to assure the safekeeping of original copies of relevant research data, and may suspend the respondent, with pay, from further work on the matters to which the referred allegations relate. If the allegations involve potential harm to human or animal subjects, in violation of National Institutes of Health guidelines, the ExecutiveVice President at any time may suspend the protocol, transfer supervisory authority to another person on an interim basis, and/or take reasonable steps to postpone publication of data as to which question has been raised until such time as proceedings before the Research Integrity Committee have been terminated. [2]

Within 30 days of the time the subcommittee is appointed, the subcommittee shall report back to the Chairperson with a recommendation either (1) that the matter be terminated on the grounds that the inquiry panel members have concluded unanimously that no violation within the purview of this Code has been committed, or (2) that the full Committee investigate the matter further. [3] The 30 days may be extended by the Research Integrity Committee Chairperson at the request of the subcommittee or the respondent for good cause, but may not be extended beyond 60 days unless the record of the inquiry contains documentation of the reasons for any such extension. Either recommendation is to be immediately forwarded to the relevant Executive Vice President. If the recommendation is to investigate further, the Chairperson will promptly (and in any event not later than 30 days following receipt of the report) commence full Committee proceedings under paragraph E, and the Executive Vice President, as federal rules may require [4], shall notify any agency sponsoring the research in question that a full Committee investigation has been initiated.

5. REFERRAL TO RESEARCH INTEGRITY COMMITTEE: PROCEDURES

Where a matter is referred to the full Research Integrity Committee for investigation, the Chairperson will provide the respondent with a written statement of the allegations, and a summary of the evidence. The Committee's membership may be supplemented as appropriate by interim appointments by the Chairperson, described in Paragraph E. The Committee may conduct such inquiry and hold such hearings as it deems necessary, including seeking the views of experts from outside the University. Any subcommittee member who is not a member of the standing Research Inegrity Committee may attend and participate in any Committee meetings or hearings related to the matter for which the subcommittee member was appointed to serve, as the Committee deems appropriate.  The Committee can examine all data relevant to the integrity of the respondent's research conduct [5]. The Committee is authorized to request that the relevant Executive Vice President take steps, if not previously taken, to protect the original copies of any research data that may have bearing on the merits of the allegations against the respondent. The Committee may require the respondent to furnish the original copies of relevant records under respondent's control.

In all proceedings in which he appears before the Committee, the respondent may be assisted by counsel. The respondent shall have the right to present witnesses or evidence in other form to the Committee whether in a hearing or otherwise. In any hearing the respondent may, personally or through counsel, conduct cross-examination of any witnesses against him. Formal rules of evidence used in judicial proceedings are not applicable, but respondent or his counsel remain free to argue as to the weight to be accorded any evidence received. In any event, all evidence received by the Committee is to be disclosed to the respondent. [6]

Unless there are extenuating circumstances requiring a longer process, the Research Integrity Committee will make and report its findings with supporting evidence to the relevant Executive Vice President in writing in no more than 90 calendar days from the date of referral, unless the Chairperson extends the time upon the reasonable request of the respondent, or for other good cause.

  1. Findings. The Committee may make findings under the following headings:
    1. a finding of willful misconduct;
    2. a finding that no willful misconduct was committed, but that serious error has occurred; or
    3. a finding that no misconduct or serious error was committed.

     

    If the finding is under (iii) above, the case will be terminated. Where a case is terminated, nothing of it may appear in the personnel record of the respondent or the complainant. Any previously imposed suspension will be promptly lifted.

  2. Sanctions. If the finding is under (i) or (ii) above, or if the respondent concedes the merit of the allegations at any time during these proceedings, the Committee shall make a recommendation as to the sanction of sanctions to be imposed. These sanctions include, in ascending order of severity:

    1. letter of reprimand
    2. special monitoring of future work
    3. probation
    4. removal from a particular project
    5. termination of employment

     

    Upon receipt of a Committee finding and the Committee's file on the case the Committee Chairperson will immediately transmit a copy of the finding to the respondent and to the complainant, if known. [7]

  3. Transmittal to Executive Vice President. When full Committee review has concluded, the Committee Chairperson shall immediately transmit the Committee finding, and the full Committee report, and the file, to the appropriate Executive Vice President. The Executive Vice President may then impose sanctions but not before providing the respondent with notice of what he proposes to do, and with a reasonable opportunity to request and argue for lesser or no sanction, but in no event may the sanction imposed be more severe than that recommended by the full Committee. In any case the Executive Vice President is free to remand a matter for clarification or further findings.

    Sanctions recommended by the Committee and imposed under this Code are not grievable matters under the University Grievance Code. However, a failure to fully comply with procedures required by this Code is grievable.

6. CONFIDENTIALITY

Except as provided by this Code, the proceedings of the subcommittee and the full Committee, and all information generated therein, shall be held in strictest confidence. [8] Moreover, throughout the proceedings covered by this Code, the reputations of the complainant and the respondent shall be protected.

Upon the conclusion of proceedings under this Code that result in a finding adverse to the respondent, the University will inform any agency sponsoring the research in question, research collaborators and other parties affected by the misconduct, and where relevant, journal editors. The complete file on the proceedings shall be preserved on a confidential basis in the Office of the Secretary of the University.

7. WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

The provisions of the Georgetown University Whistleblower Protection Policy shall apply to allegations brought in good faith pursuant to the provisions of this Code.  See http://compliance.georgetown.edu/whistleblower

8. RESEARCH INTEGRITY COMMITTEE

The Research Integrity Committee shall be composed of twelve members, the Chairperson to be appointed by the President of the University. Of the other members of the Committee three shall be appointed by the Executive Vice President of the Medical Center from that campus; three shall be appointed by the University Provost from Main Campus faculty, at least two of whom shall be in the field of natural sciences; two shall be appointed by the Executive Vice President for Law Center Affairs, and three shall be appointed by the Faculty Senate, at least two of whom shall be in the field of natural sciences. Members shall serve a term of three years, and may be reappointed. However, for the first appointments under this Code, the appointing authorities shall designate their first appointees as having respectively an initial one, two, or where applicable, three year term, renewable. Any member of the Committee whose appointment expires before the case terminates is authorized to continue service until the case is terminated. As need arises (e.g., a concern with potential conflict of interest), substitute members of the Committee may be appointed to serve in that case on an ad hoc basis by the Committee Chairperson, to maintain Committee membership at twelve.

The members of the Research Integrity Committee shall elect from their ranks a Vice Chairperson from a campus other than that from which the Chairperson comes. In the absence of the Chairperson, or Vice Chairperson, their designee(s) may act on any matter.

ENDNOTES

  1. Except for matters involving allegations of misconduct in research related to PHS supported research, coverage does not extend to Georgetown University students engaged in research. Such students are subject to procedures regarding misconduct declared in the relevant University Bulletins. (Return to text)

  2. In PHS-reviewable matters, the University will immediately report to PHS, at any stage of the proceeding, if the University obtains information reasonably indicating criminal activity. (Return to text)

  3. Where the allegations are subject to PHS review, either decision must be in writing, must state what evidence was reviewed, and must summarize relevant interviews and testimony. The respondent must be given a copy of the decision, and allowed to comment in writing. Any such comments are to be included in the record of the subcommittee’s work. (Return to text)

  4. The University will comply with all federal requirements regarding reporting, timetables and any extensions thereof, and other matters affecting the treatment of alleged misconduct in scientific research, as such requirements are published in the National Institutes of Health Guide for Grants and Contracts (see 42 CFR part 50, Subpart A) and elsewhere. (This Code's references to such requirements are not exhaustive). (Return to text)

  5. In PHS-reviewable matters, under the PHS guidelines, the investigation "normally will include examination of all documentation relevant to the allegations, including but not necessarily limited to relevant reserach data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. Whenever possible interviews should be conducted of all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegation is made, as well as other individuals who may have information regarding key aspects of the allegations." (Return to text)

  6. In PHS-reviewable matters, the Committee shall produce written summaries of statements made by all persons interviewed, shall provide such summaries to the person interviewed for that persons comment or revision, and shall include the summaries in the Committee file. The Committee may choose to implement this requirement by having interviews (including testimony at hearings) recorded verbatim, on a case by case basis, as prudence may suggest. (Return to text)

  7. In PHS-reviewable matters, the respondent and complainant have the right to comment on these findings. Any such comments are to be included in the Committee file. (Return to text)

  8. Subject to PHS access under the relevant federal regulations. (Return to text)