Investigation Process and Report

Investigation Process

a.) The investigation normally will include examination by members of the committee, or staff assisting the board, of all relevant documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, and correspondence. The investigation committee should keep general minutes of its meetings and must:

  1. use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation;
  2. take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased investigation to the maximum extent practical;
  3. provide the respondent with reasonable opportunity to present evidence, testify, and present witnesses with relevant information to the committee. The committee will interview the respondent and other available persons who have been reasonably identified by the respondent as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation;
  4. interview the complainant and other available persons, including those who have been reasonably identified by the complainant or others as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation. The respondent may listen contemporaneously to any interviews conducted by the investigation committee and submit any relevant questions to be asked of any witness by the committee. For the protection of the witness, the committee may require the respondent to listen to or observe the interview from another room.
  5. allow any person who appears as a witness before the investigation committee to be accompanied by counsel or a representative of his or her choice; however, the chair of the committee may limit the participation of counsel or representative to advising the witness;
  6. record or transcribe each interview, provide either the recording or transcript to the interviewee for review and correction and thereafter provide the respondent with the recording or transcript as soon as practicable; and
  7. pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined to be relevant to the investigation, including evidence of any additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion.

b.) The committee shall use its best efforts to complete the investigation within 120 days of its start, including conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, providing the draft report for comment and sending the final report to any federal agency if required. If the RIO determines that the investigation will not be completed within this 120-day period, he/she will request an extension of time from the appropriate federal agency setting forth the reasons for the delay. If extension is approved, the record of the investigation should include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 120-day period.

c.) The ultimate burden of proof for a finding of research misconduct is on the University, and such a finding must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. However, the respondent has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, any and all affirmative defenses raised or any mitigating factors relating to possible sanctions. Note that the destruction, absence of, or respondent’s failure to provide research records adequately documenting the questioned research may constitute evidence of research misconduct if done intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly and if the respondent’s conduct constitutes a significant departure from accepted practices of the research community.




The Investigation Report

a.) The investigation committee will prepare a draft written report that (1) describes the nature of the allegation of research misconduct, including identification of the respondent; (2) describes and documents the source of funding for the research, including, for example, the numbers of any grants that are involved, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing such support; (3) describes the specific allegations of research misconduct considered in the investigation; (4) includes a description of the general procedures under which the inquiry was conducted, including reference to these procedures as well as any federal regulations governing the conduct of the inquiry; (5) identifies and summarizes the research records and evidence reviewed and identifies any evidence taken into custody but not reviewed; (6) includes a statement of findings for each allegation of research misconduct identified during the investigation; and (7) recommends institutional actions, as appropriate.

b.) Each statement of findings should (1) identify whether the research misconduct was falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism, and whether it was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; (2) summarize the facts and the analysis that support the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent, including any effort by respondent to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she did not engage in research misconduct because of honest error or a difference of opinion; (3) identify the specific funding support; (4) identify whether any publications need correction or retraction; (5) identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and (6) list any current support or known applications or proposals for support that the respondent has pending with any federal agencies.

c.) The record of the investigation should include the recording or transcript of all witness interviews.

d.) Prior to the submission of its report, the investigation committee, through the RIO, will provide the respondent with a copy of the draft investigation report and a copy of or supervised access to the evidence on which the report is based, including copies of any documents and materials. Respondent must also receive any witness statements, recordings, or transcripts produced during the investigation if not previously provided to the respondent pursuant to VIII.A(f).

The respondent will be asked to provide any comments on the report to the RIO and committee chair within thirty (30) calendar days. The RIO will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the report or relevant portions thereof should also be provided to the complainant for comment within thirty (30) days. The committee will decide whether, in view of any comments received, any revisions to the report are warranted and will then provide the final report to the RIO.

e.) The RIO will provide the final report as well as any comments submitted by the respondent to the Provost.