Determination of Whether to Initiate a Formal Inquiry

A. Upon receipt of an allegation, the RIO will first determine, pursuant to the provisions of Section I.B, whether the allegations should be handled under these procedures, including a determination of whether PHS or other federal or non-federal funding is involved, whether it falls within the six-year limitations period, and, if so, whether any agency-specific regulations are applicable.

B. If it is appropriate to handle the allegation under this procedure, the RIO will determinate whether sufficient basis exists to commence an inquiry.  In general, an allegation will provide a sufficient basis to commence an inquiry if:

(1)        the allegation falls under the definition of research misconduct; and

(2)        the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified.

C. If the allegation, on its face, is not deemed a sufficient basis to commence an inquiry, the RIO, will either:

(1)        determine that no inquiry is warranted and proceed under Section IV.E below; or

(2)        if there is reason to believe that additional relevant information may provide a sufficient basis to commence an inquiry, take appropriate steps to attempt to obtain promptly a more complete statement of the allegation and the basis for it and, if appropriate, attempt to obtain relevant information from the individual accused of misconduct.  In so doing, the RIO will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of those who in good faith report alleged misconduct, to afford confidential treatment to the accused and to avoid unwarranted publicity regarding unverified allegations.

D. If the RIO determines that there is sufficient basis to commence an inquiry, then the RIO will

(1)        determine whether emergency, interim, or other appropriate institutional notifications or actions need to be taken;

(2)        immediately take reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of relevant research records and evidence relating to the allegation that are needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding, inventory the records and evidence, and sequester them in a secure manner.  When appropriate, the University will give the respondent copies of, or reasonable supervised access to the research records.  If, during the course of the proceeding, it is discovered that additional research records or evidence should be taken into custody, the RIO will continue to take such steps to obtain and maintain custody of such records; and

(3)        notify the respondent that an inquiry will be commenced, and provide a summary of the nature of the allegations.

E. If the RIO, in consultation with the Provost, determines that no inquiry is warranted, a written summary of the reasons for such determination will be prepared and kept on file in the RIO’s office.  This summary will then be available in the event of any future authorized inquiries concerning the research or researchers or concerning the reasons for dismissing the allegations.  A copy of this summary shall be provided to the individual against whom the allegation was made.

F. The RIO will inform the complainant of the decision as to whether or not an inquiry will commence.

G. In general, the RIO should notify and consult with the Office of the General Counsel prior to deciding whether to commence an inquiry.