Misconduct in Scholarship
Misconduct in scholarship is a concern to scholars, institutions conducting sponsored projects, funding agencies and the general public. Episodes of verified misconduct are rare. The increasing frequency and seriousness of allegations, however, suggest that institutions that engage in externally funded projects should have a procedure that (i) provides a rapid and reliable mechanism for investigating alleged misconduct, (ii) guarantees due process and confidentiality, to the maximum extent possible, to all individuals involved, and (iii) protects the integrity and reputation of the institution itself.
For these reasons, Loyola University Chicago has developed the following procedure for handling allegations of scholarly misconduct pertaining to all employees engaged in research, training and public service projects. This procedure has been designed to complement the provisions of the Faculty Handbook; however, where any conflict may arise, the Faculty Handbook shall prevail.
Any Loyola employee who receives information concerning possible misconduct, as defined below, is responsible for relaying the allegation in writing to the Misconduct Policy Officer, MPO, defined below. If an allegation of Misconduct is made orally and the complainant prefers not to make the assertion in writing, the MPO shall prepare a written allegation agreeable to the complainant.
The term misconduct is defined as the fabrication or falsification of data; plagiarism; material failure to comply with federal, state or University rules governing specific aspects of the conduct of research (such as the protection of human subjects, the humane treatment of experimental animals or the maintenance of radioactive safety); or other serious deviations from accepted professional practices in proposing, carrying out, or reporting results from research or scholarship.
Breaches of confidentiality of regulatory committee meetings (IRB, IACUC, or IBC) also constitute a serious form of misconduct. In these meetings, the protocols of individual investigators are reviewed. It is vital to the integrity of the review system at Loyola University Chicago that the deliberations regarding protocols are confidential. Persons who attend meetings or have access to confidential information in protocols must not reveal information regarding the contents of the protocols or the deliberations during regulatory committee meetings.
It should be noted that a faculty member who supervises research associates, staff, or students in work for which she or he is primarily responsible accepts responsibility for overseeing those individuals' scholarly conduct. Gross negligence in exercising that supervisory responsibility may itself be chargeable as misconduct.
On the Lakeside campuses of the University, one individual is designated as the primary or definitive recipient of all information concerning possible misconduct in scholarship. That individual is referred to as the Misconduct Policy Officer (MPO). The Associate Provost for Research shall act as the MPO.
The person who alleged misconduct is the complainant. The person against whom an allegation of misconduct has been made is the respondent.
- Upon receiving any information concerning a possible instance of misconduct, the MPO shall immediately and discreetly contact both the complainant and the respondent. The MPO shall attempt to establish the precise nature of the allegation and to rule out the possibility that the allegation may have been made either frivolously or maliciously. The MPO shall also explain to both parties the provisions of the procedure contained in this document.
- The MPO shall obtain a written and signed statement of the allegation. (In circumstances where anonymous but well-documented allegations have been made, the MPO may determine that it is in the best interests of the University to itself sponsor the allegation. In such cases, the MPO shall sign the formal statement of the allegation on the university's behalf.)
- Every effort shall be made to discover all relevant facts and to take whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to remedy improprieties. No part of this procedure shall be interpreted as preempting either the right of an individual accused of misconduct to concede that misconduct and to propose appropriate remedies. Any such informal resolution must be approved by the MPO, representing the legitimate interests of the institution and those of any external funding agency before the matter is considered closed.
- Where practicable, such preliminary discussions should be completed within two weeks of the initial allegation having been lodged with the MPO.
- The confidentiality of the complainant shall be carefully preserved.
- If the MPO determines that there are no grounds for proceeding further, he or she shall inform the parties in writing. The complainant and the respondent will have an opportunity to make additional comments which will be transmitted to the MPO for inclusion in the report. A copy of the report will be forwarded to the Provost.
- Two circumstances may prompt further action on an allegation. a.) The MPO may determine after initial contact with the parties that the allegation merits further investigation; or b.) The complainant may appeal the MPO's decision not to pursue the matter further by informing the Provost in writing within one week of receiving notification of that decision.
- The MPO shall move within two weeks where practicable to appoint a Preliminary Inquiry Committee composed of three members of the University faculty. The composition of the committee should include members with expertise appropriate to the nature of the allegation. At least one of the committee members shall belong to the faculty of a school or division other than that in which misconduct is alleged to have occurred. Throughout its deliberations, the committee shall pay particular attention to observing precautions against real or apparent conflicts of interest, and to guaranteeing due process to all individuals affected by the investigation. In order to identify potential conflicts of interest, all Committee members covered by this procedure must meet all of the following criteria: be outside the department of the respondent, not have collaborated with the respondent in the past five years, they must indicate to the MPO that they will be impartial in performing the work of the committee, and that they have no personal, professional or financial interests that would impact the work.
- The MPO shall also notify the following persons that a Preliminary Inquiry is being initiated: the respondent, any Loyola faculty member directly responsible for supervising the respondent; the appropriate Department Chair and Dean; the Provost; and the Office of the University General Counsel.
- The Preliminary Inquiry Committee shall conduct a prompt, discreet and thorough inquiry and shall submit a written and, if appropriate, documented report to the MPO within sixty days of the first notification of the alleged misconduct, if practicable. If the inquiry will extend beyond sixty days, the record of the inquiry shall include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the sixty day period.
- If the Preliminary Inquiry Committee determines that the allegation is frivolous or malicious and/or that there exists insufficient evidence to justify proceeding any further, the inquiry shall be terminated. The Preliminary Inquiry Committee's decision shall be included in their written report to the MPO. The written report shall contain evidence reviewed, interview summaries, and conclusions of the inquiry. The complainant and the respondent will have an opportunity to review the report and make additional comments which will be forwarded to the MPO for inclusion in the report. The report shall be forwarded by her or him to the Provost. This report shall contain detailed documentation of the alleged misconduct and the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted.
- During the Preliminary Inquiry and throughout any further proceedings, the University will protect the rights, the reputation and the professional and institutional standing of all individuals against whom misconduct has been alleged by affording them confidential treatment (as described elsewhere in this document and except as provided by law), a prompt and thorough inquiry (if warranted) and the opportunity to comment on the allegations against them and all related findings.
- From the initial reporting of the alleged misconduct, the University will also protect the rights, the reputation and the professional and institutional standing of those who have reported the misconduct, insofar as this is consonant with the conduct of a fair and thorough inquiry as defined elsewhere in this document.
- If the Preliminary Inquiry Committee concludes in its written report that the alleged misconduct merits further investigation, the MPO shall immediately inform the complainant; the respondent; his or her immediately Loyola supervisor; the appropriate Chair and Dean; the Provost; and the Office of the University General Counsel.
When the alleged misconduct involves either immediate health hazards or possible criminal misconduct, the MPO may, after consulting the University General Counsel, recommend to the Provost interim administrative actions designed to protect the public or the institution. Such actions may include: (i) the immediate suspension of any relevant aspect(s) of the project activities of the individual against whom an allegation has been made until all investigations have been completed; (ii) the securing of any evidence relating to the alleged misconduct that might otherwise be disposed of; (iii) immediate notification to appropriate funding agencies; (iv) notification of appropriate law enforcement agencies, in the event of possible criminal activities and (v) protection of agency funds to assure that they are used appropriately.
- If the Preliminary Inquiry Committee recommends a Definitive Investigation, the MPO, in consultation with the members of that committee, shall appoint additional members as necessary to ensure the availability of expertise appropriate to the nature of the allegation. The expanded Definitive Investigation Committee shall in any case include not less than five members of the full-time Loyola faculty, of whom at least three shall hold the rank of Professor and at least one shall belong to the faculty of a school or division other than that in which misconduct is alleged to have occurred.
- The Definitive Investigation Committee shall be charged with undertaking a thorough and appropriately detailed review of the evidence within 30 days after the completion of the Preliminary Inquiry. The Committee shall consult the Office of the University General Counsel about details of the procedures recommended for such investigations, and shall explain those procedures in writing to all parties involved at the earliest opportunity.
- At the conclusion of their investigation (which should normally last no more than 30 days), the Definitive Investigation Committee shall submit a written report to the MPO. The complainant and the respondent will have an opportunity to review the report and make comments for inclusion in the report. The MPO shall forward the report to the Provost. This report shall contain the committee's findings as to the facts of the case, evidence reviewed, interview summaries and their recommendations of remedies for any improprieties. If the entire process takes longer than 60 days the Definitive Investigation Committee shall notify the MPO of the reasons for extending the inquiry.
- The Definitive Investigation Committee's final report and all other records of the investigation shall be retained by the MPO.
- If an allegation of scholarly misconduct is not substantiated after a Definitive Investigation, all proceedings shall be discontinued and the University shall undertake diligent efforts to protect and, if necessary, restore the reputations of all those involved in the investigation.
- If scholarly misconduct is determined to have occurred, appropriate further action will be taken by the Provost in accordance with the provisions of the University's Faculty Handbook.
- The MPO shall maintain all written reports under this procedure in a secure manner for three years after the termination of the inquiry. They will be available for review by any relevant funding agency during that time.
- This procedure applies to all individuals involved with a research project supported by the Public Health Service or for which an application has been submitted.
- The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) at PHS shall be advised that a misconduct investigation will be initiated on or before the date the investigation begins.
- If the university plans to terminate the investigation without a Definitive Investigation, ORI shall be notified, with a description of the reasons for this decision.
- If a Definitive Investigation will be conducted at the conclusion of a Preliminary Inquiry, ORI shall be notified (i) that a Preliminary Inquiry has been completed, (ii) that the alleged misconduct has been judged worthy of further investigation, and (iii) that a Definitive Investigation is in progress.
- ORI will be notified within 24 hours of a reasonable indication of criminal violations, immediate health hazards, or a need to protect Federal funds, equipment or individuals affected by the inquiry. The funding agency will be promptly notified if the alleged incident is expected to be reported publicly. ORI will also be notified of any developments, in the course of the investigation, affecting current or potential PHS funding.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, ORI will be notified of the outcome. If the employee is found to have engaged in misconduct, ORI will receive a report describing the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained, the findings and the basis for the findings, and either the actual text or a summary of the views of any individuals found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the university. This report shall be sent to ORI within 120 days of the date when misconduct was first indicated.
- If the investigation cannot be completed within 120 days the university must request an extension from ORI. The extension request should include an explanation for the delay, an interim report on the progress to date, an outline of what remains to be done, and an estimated date of completion.
If the University plans to terminate either an inquiry or an investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements a report of such planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, will be made to ORI.