University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Presidential Orders


Executive Order


No. 61



Research Misconduct Policy



1. Introduction

  A. Overview

The primary mission of the University of Washington is the preservation, advancement, and dissemination of knowledge. The University strives to create an environment of academic freedom and integrity in which research flourishes and the results of that research are accurately reported so they can be relied upon by others. The University expects individuals to exercise integrity in carrying out research activities. Responsibility for maintaining research integrity is borne by those persons who are directly involved in research at the University, as well as by others in a position to ensure the integrity of research, including collaborators, principal investigators, and supervisors.

The University assumes primary responsibility for addressing complaints of research misconduct against its faculty, other academic personnel, students, and staff with respect to research carried out by them at or on behalf of the University. This responsibility exists regardless of funding or source of support.

  B. Policy Interpretation

This policy is intended to satisfy the requirement that, as a condition of receiving federal funding, the University adopt and follow procedures for addressing allegations of research misconduct that comport with federal regulations. If there is a conflict between regulatory provisions governing research misconduct proceedings (whether they be the provisions of this policy or federal regulations) and the provisions of any other University policy or procedure, the terms of this policy and the relevant federal regulations shall govern in research misconduct proceedings.

This policy provides a general outline of the methods by which the University addresses research misconduct allegations. Departures from this policy are permitted if the University's Office for Research Misconduct Proceedings (ORMP) determines that the departure serves the policy's goals and is consistent with any applicable federal rules. ORMP shall provide the respondent with timely notice of any such departure.

  C.
Applicability

This policy applies to all University faculty, other academic personnel, students, and staff participating in University research on behalf of the University.

This policy only governs complaints of research misconduct, as the term research misconduct is defined in Section 2 of this policy. This policy does not apply to complaints of fiscal impropriety, violation of human or animal subject regulations, intentional misrepresentation of credentials, abuse of confidentiality, violation of regulations applicable to research, or conflicts of interest; or to authorship disputes among research collaborators, except to the extent that the facts giving rise to these excluded types of conduct independently constitute a basis for an allegation of research misconduct, as research misconduct is defined by this policy. When such an excluded type of complaint is made against faculty, where appropriate, it shall be addressed as provided for in the Faculty Code.

Also, this policy generally does not apply to complaints of misconduct relating to work undertaken in fulfillment of class assignments or course requirements. This policy does, however, apply to original research undertaken in the fulfillment of thesis or dissertation requirements for a graduate degree.

D. Allocation of Responsibilities Within the University

Because of both the importance of issues of research misconduct to the operations of the University and the significant expertise required to address such issues, the University has established an Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings (formerly known as the Office of Scholarly Integrity) within the Office of the Provost.

ORMP initiates and coordinates the University's handling of research misconduct allegations, in consultation and cooperation with the appropriate dean of the University (as the term "dean" is defined by this policy). ORMP assesses research misconduct complaints and, when appropriate, conducts an inquiry to determine whether an investigation is warranted. In the event of an investigation, ORMP assists the Advisory Committee, including providing advice on procedural matters. ORMP is not an advocate for either the complainant or the respondent.

ORMP also oversees the University's compliance with the research misconduct regulations established by the relevant funding agencies and is responsible for communicating with these agencies on behalf of the University. ORMP may seek such advice and expertise as it finds is necessary throughout a research misconduct proceeding.

The University of Washington Division of the Washington State Attorney General's Office (AGO) is responsible for acting as a legal advisor to the University in research misconduct proceedings. AGO does not represent either the complainant or the respondent.

The affected school, college, or campus is responsible for providing ORMP with such support as ORMP reasonably determines is necessary in a research misconduct proceeding, after ORMP consults with that school, college, or campus. This support may include the provision of subject matter or technical expertise. In the event that an investigation is required, the dean of the affected school, college, or campus is responsible for appointing an Advisory Committee to advise on the issue of research misconduct; the dean shall make the final research misconduct decision.

University faculty, other academic personnel, students, and staff are required to cooperate in research misconduct proceedings including, but not limited to, providing information, research records, and evidence in a timely manner. Failure to do so, or to appropriately maintain the confidentiality of a research misconduct proceeding, may lead to disciplinary action.

If, in the course of a research misconduct proceeding, a concern (other than a research misconduct concern) is identified that is reasonably believed to require further action, the concern shall be communicated to the appropriate dean or other University entity for evaluation and action, as appropriate. The dean or other University entity shall consult with ORMP to minimize the effect of the concern on any pending research misconduct proceeding, and shall involve other institutional units, as needed, in addressing the concern.

During a research misconduct proceeding, the University, in consultation with ORMP where reasonable, is authorized to take such interim actions as are necessary and prudent to protect the public health and safety, research funds and equipment, and the integrity of the research process; to prevent potential or immediate health hazards; and to prevent and report any possible criminal violation.

2.  Definitions

Advisory Committee—An Advisory Committee is an ad hoc University committee that conducts the research misconduct investigation and advises the dean on the research misconduct decision.

Allegation—An allegation is a specification of acts committed by a potential respondent that ORMP has determined might constitute research misconduct. During a research misconduct proceeding, the specifics of an allegation may change as a result of information gathered during the proceeding. The respondent shall be advised of any such change.

Complainant—A complainant is the person who makes a complaint of research misconduct. Once the complaint is made and the necessary information has been provided to ORMP, the complainant's role in a research misconduct proceeding is the same as that of any other witness.

Complaint—A complaint is a report of activity that a complainant believes may constitute research misconduct.

Conflict of Interest—A conflict of interest exists when a person participating in the research misconduct proceeding has a substantial connection or interest related to the complainant or respondent that might bias or otherwise threaten the integrity of the proceeding. This includes, but is not limited to, personal, professional, and financial conflicts of interest.

Dean—A dean is the dean of any school or college on the University's Seattle campus, or the chancellor of any other University campus. The term "dean" includes such dean or chancellor, the dean's or chancellor's designee, and the office of the dean or chancellor, as appropriate. "Dean" also shall refer to the official responsible for an administrative office to which an organized unit engaged in research activity reports (e.g., Vice Provost for Research).

Evidence—Evidence is any document, tangible item, or testimony offered or obtained during a research misconduct proceeding that may assist in proving or disproving the research misconduct allegation. It includes not only traditional and electronic documents, but also tangible research material and equipment such as samples, slides, microscopes, and computers.

Expert—An expert is an individual with subject matter or technical expertise who advises and supports the University during a research misconduct proceeding. The University's representatives (e.g., ORMP, the Advisory Committee and the dean) are specifically authorized to consult such experts as they believe are needed.

Fabrication—Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

Falsification—Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

Intentionally—A person acts intentionally when acting with the purpose of committing research misconduct.

Knowingly—A person acts knowingly when a person knows or reasonably should know that his or her action constitutes or will result in research misconduct.

Notice—Notice is a written communication served in person or sent to the last known street address, facsimile number, or email address of the addressee.

Notify—Notify is to provide notice.

Plagiarism—Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism generally is not considered to include:

  • The reuse of a moderate amount of language to describe a commonly-used methodology, previous research, or background information;

  • The use of the same material by a researcher in more than one publication; or

  • Disputes among current or former collaborators who participated jointly in the development or conduct of a research project.

This latter situation is considered to be an authorship dispute, rather than plagiarism.

Preponderance of the Evidence—A preponderance of the evidence is proof that leads to the conclusion that a fact is more probably true than not.

Recklessly—A person acts recklessly when the person knows of and disregards a substantial risk that his or her action will result in research misconduct and this disregard is a gross deviation from the actions of a reasonable person in the same situation.

Research—Research is a systematic analysis designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, including an investigation, experiment, study, evaluation, demonstration, or survey.

Research Misconduct—Research misconduct is fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

Research Misconduct Proceeding—A research misconduct proceeding is the process by which the University handles a research misconduct complaint or allegation pursuant to this policy.

Research Record—The research record includes, but is not limited to, the record of data and results that embody the facts resulting from the research, as well as the record of methods and analysis that led to those data or results. The research record encompasses not only traditional and electronic documents, but also tangible research material and equipment such as samples, slides, and other evidence, as well as research proposals and presentations.

Respondent—A respondent generally is a member of the University faculty or other academic personnel, a student, or a staff member alleged to have committed research misconduct with respect to research conducted by that person at or on behalf of the University.

3. Standards
  A. Requirements for a Finding of Research Misconduct

A finding of research misconduct requires—in addition to a conclusion that fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results has occurred—that:
  • There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and

  • The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and

  • The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
  B. Exclusions from Research Misconduct

Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

  C.
Time Limitations

This policy applies only to research misconduct occurring within the six years preceding the date ORMP receives a complaint of research misconduct, with the following exceptions:

    1) Subsequent Use

If the respondent continues or renews any incident of alleged research misconduct that occurred before the six-year limitation has run, through the citation, republication or other use for the respondent's potential benefit of the research record that is alleged to have been fabricated, falsified, or plagiarized.

    2) Health or Safety of Public

If the University, following consultation with any applicable funding agency, determines that the alleged misconduct, if it occurred, is having or could have a substantial adverse effect on the health or safety of the public.

D. Burden of Proof

    1) University

The University has the burden of determining whether the elements of research misconduct set forth in Subsection 3.A above have been established by a preponderance of the evidence.

    2) Respondent

The respondent has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, honest error or differences of opinion or any other affirmative defense. Due consideration shall be given to any admissible, credible evidence presented by the respondent.

E. Research Records as Evidence

The destruction of, absence of, or the respondent's failure to provide research records adequately documenting the questioned research may be considered as evidence of research misconduct where the University establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence, that both:
  • The respondent had research records and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly destroyed them; had the opportunity to maintain research records but did not do so; or maintained research records and failed to produce them in a timely manner; and

  • The respondent's conduct constitutes a significant departure from the accepted practices of the relevant research community.
F. Procedural Concerns

The respondent must present any concern regarding procedure or process to ORMP in a timely manner before the dean issues the dean's decision. A concern regarding a conflict of interest must be raised within 14 days of the date when the respondent knew or should have known of that potential conflict of interest. A concern regarding any other procedure or process that occurred at any point up through the conclusion of the inquiry must be presented no later than the time for submission of the respondent's comments on the inquiry report, or 14 days from the date when the respondent knew or should have known of the concern, whichever is later. A concern regarding any procedure or process other than a conflict of interest that occurred during the investigation must be presented no later than the time for submission of the respondent's comments on the draft investigation report, or 14 days from the date when the respondent knew or should have known of the concern, whichever is later.

G. Extensions of Time

The timelines set forth in this policy may be extended by ORMP when deemed reasonable and necessary. If a funding agency has established a mandatory timeline for a research misconduct proceeding and that agency's approval is required before an extension of time can be granted, ORMP is responsible for seeking such an extension on behalf of the University. Any extension of time shall be documented in a writing that includes the reason for the extension. Notice of the extension shall be given to the respondent.
4. Confidentiality and Protections
  A. Protections for Respondent and Others

A researcher's reputation is of paramount importance to a researcher's career, and serious consideration must be given before anyone takes action that has the potential to impair that reputation. Throughout the research misconduct proceeding, reasonable efforts shall be made to protect the identity and the reputation of the respondent, and the proceeding shall be handled in confidence, to the extent reasonably possible. Knowledge of the existence of a research misconduct proceeding and the identity of any participant in such a proceeding shall be limited, to the extent reasonably possible, to those who need to know in order to conduct a thorough, competent, objective, and fair research misconduct proceeding, or as otherwise required by state or federal law.

  B. Protections for Complainant and Others

To the extent reasonably possible, the University shall honor a complainant's request that the complainant's identity in a research misconduct proceeding be kept confidential, recognizing that there may be situations where the research misconduct proceeding cannot go forward if the complainant is not identified. The University will not tolerate retaliation against complainants, witnesses, experts, Advisory Committee members, or others for their involvement in a research misconduct proceeding. The University shall take such reasonable and practical steps as it determines are warranted under the circumstances to protect or restore the position and reputation of any such person and to protect them from or address any retaliation that might result from their participation in a research misconduct proceeding. Individuals may choose to utilize the processes of the state of Washington whistleblower law (Chapter 42.40 RCW; see also Administrative Policy Statement 47.1) and secure the statutory protections thereunder in conjunction with this policy.

  C.
Protection of Research Subjects

To the extent required by state or federal law, the identity of any research subject and any other protected health information shall be kept confidential, with disclosure being limited to those who have a need to know in order to carry out the research misconduct proceeding.

D. Respondent's Right to Advisor

The respondent is entitled to utilize an advisor of the respondent's choosing throughout the research misconduct proceeding, which advisor may be present during the respondent's interview. This advisor shall be provided at the respondent's expense and may, for example, be a member of the University faculty or staff or a personal attorney, if the respondent so chooses. The advisor is required to abide by and honor the confidentiality requirements and protections set forth in this Section 4. The advisor has no right to directly participate in the proceeding (e.g., the advisor cannot directly address the Advisory Committee), but the respondent can consult with the advisor throughout the process. The respondent is required personally to participate fully in the research misconduct proceeding.

5. Receipt and Preliminary Assessment of Complaint
  A. Receipt of Complaint

A complaint of research misconduct can be submitted to ORMP, or to an appropriate dean, department chair, or unit head, who then shall forward it to ORMP if the complaint appears to constitute a research misconduct allegation. A prospective complainant may discuss a concern with ORMP or with an appropriate dean, department chair, or unit head without submitting a complaint.

Written complaints are preferred, as they allow for a careful, considered, documented statement of the concern and the relevant facts. Upon receipt of a complaint, ORMP shall review the matter, including possible conflicts of interest, and take appropriate action as set forth in this policy.

  B. Preliminary Assessment of Complaint

ORMP shall assess whether a complaint constitutes an allegation of research misconduct by determining whether:
  • The described actions appear to fall within the definition of research misconduct; and

  • The complaint is sufficiently credible, specific, and significant to both permit and warrant an inquiry.
In conducting its preliminary assessment, ORMP may talk to the complainant and others with knowledge of facts relevant to the complaint, but it is not required to do so. ORMP may seek such advice as is necessary, including the advice of the appropriate dean, during the preliminary assessment.

If ORMP determines that a complaint comprises a research misconduct allegation, ORMP shall inform the appropriate dean and, in consultation with the dean, shall initiate an inquiry into the allegation.

An allegation may involve overlapping or related concerns of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism. When this occurs, ORMP may include these concerns in a single allegation or set them forth in separate allegations.

6. Inquiry
  A. Overview of Inquiry and Standard

The purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the allegation and the respondent's response, as well as other evidence as appropriate, to determine whether an investigation is warranted. An inquiry shall lead to an investigation if, after consultation with the dean, ORMP determines:
  • There is a reasonable basis for concluding that the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct; and

  • Preliminary information-gathering and preliminary fact-finding from the inquiry indicate that the allegation has sufficient substance to warrant an investigation, or the available research record is inadequate to make such a determination so that a more detailed analysis is required.
ORMP's decision as to whether an investigation is warranted is final and is not subject to review.

  B. Inquiry Process

    1) Notification of Respondent

Absent extraordinary circumstances, ORMP shall inform the respondent that an allegation of research misconduct has been made against him or her, provide the respondent with a written summary of the allegation, and explain the process for addressing the allegation. ORMP shall make reasonable efforts to notify the respondent of the allegation in a face-to-face meeting, which generally will be attended by a representative of the dean's office.

Upon being notified of the allegation, the respondent shall provide ORMP with the respondent's current home and email addresses, and phone number. The respondent shall immediately advise ORMP in writing if this information changes at any time during the research misconduct proceeding.

    2) Sequestration

On or before the date when the respondent is notified of the allegation by ORMP, ORMP shall take all reasonable and practical steps to appropriately sequester and preserve, in a secure manner, all potentially relevant research records and evidence, taking custody of and overseeing the inventory of this material. Where the research record or evidence encompasses scientific instruments, computer systems, or other equipment shared by multiple users, custody may be limited to copies of the data or evidence on such equipment, so long as those copies are substantially equivalent to the originals. At any point in the research misconduct proceeding, ORMP may undertake additional sequestrations, using the same procedure outlined here. ORMP may act through an agent when appropriate.

The affected school, college, or campus shall assist with the sequestration, providing information prior to the sequestration regarding the nature of the potential material involved and making personnel available with the necessary technical expertise to assist ORMP during the sequestration. This assistance may include inventorying the research records and evidence and providing for the storage of materials that require special handling, such as biological or chemical materials.

During the sequestration, the respondent shall be instructed by ORMP to provide all potentially relevant research records that relate to the allegation. The respondent must identify and arrange to immediately provide ORMP with all such records that could reasonably relate to the research that is the subject of the allegation, regardless of where the research records are located. The respondent has a continuing obligation to identify and provide such research records during the research misconduct proceeding. To the extent that any research records are not identified at the time of the initial sequestration but, instead, are identified later in the research misconduct proceeding, the respondent must give a clear written explanation of the reason for this. Late submission of research records or questions regarding the authenticity of research records may undermine the credibility of the evidence and may be a basis for requiring an investigation.

ORMP or its agent shall retain the original research record. Where appropriate, the respondent shall be provided with copies of, or reasonable supervised access to the research record.

    3) Response

Within 14 calendar days of receiving notice of the allegation from ORMP, the respondent shall provide ORMP with a detailed written response to the allegation, unless an extension of time has been granted. The response shall address the substance of the allegation in detail, specifically referencing any research records that support the response in order to allow ORMP to readily understand the respondent's position and the basis for it, and readily locate and consult the relevant portions of the records. In addition, the response shall clearly identify all relevant research records and explain how these records were created and their relevance to the allegation. The respondent shall provide those records that have not already been produced.

    4) Certification Relating to Records

No later than ten calendar days after respondent's deadline for providing ORMP with an initial written response to the allegation, the respondent shall submit a signed certification to ORMP:
  • Explaining all efforts that were made to locate all potentially relevant research records and evidence, including in this explanation the identity of all places where such records were located in the past, all places that were searched, and all places where such records were found;

  • Declaring that all such research records that were located during this search have been provided to ORMP;

  • Identifying and describing any such research records that cannot be located; and

  • Providing a full and clear explanation of where and when the missing research records were created and stored, when they were last seen, and why they are missing.
    5) Obligation of University Personnel to Provide Records

ORMP is specifically charged and authorized to take custody of all relevant research records and evidence from the files and laboratories of the respondent and other University faculty, academic personnel, students, and staff. Such persons are required to provide ORMP with all original data books, laboratory notes, electronic records, and other records that ORMP believes are potentially relevant to a research misconduct proceeding; and submit to ORMP, upon request, the type of signed certification that is described in Section 6.B.4 above. If ORMP determines that providing such records may significantly disrupt the laboratory or research of an investigator, ORMP may arrange for a copy to be made for use by such an investigator. An investigator may be allowed access to the original material if ORMP determines such access can be provided while maintaining the integrity of the record.

    6) Additional Allegations

—taking into account the information's credibility, specificity, and significance—gives rise to an additional allegation of research misconduct, that allegation may be added to the inquiry as appropriate. Absent extraordinary circumstances, ORMP shall inform the respondent in writing of the additional allegation and allow the respondent 14 calendar days to provide a detailed written response to it, following the procedure set forth in Section 6.B.3 above. ORMP can include the additional allegation in any current allegation, or it can be set forth in a separate allegation.

    7) Scope of Inquiry

During the inquiry, ORMP has the discretion to talk to such witnesses and review such evidence as it believes is necessary to make the inquiry decision. However, ORMP is not obligated to conduct any such witness interviews or to perform an exhaustive review of all the evidence as part of the inquiry process.

  C. Inquiry Report

The inquiry shall be completed within 60 calendar days after the respondent receives notice of the allegation, unless an extension of time has been granted. ORMP, after consulting with the dean, shall prepare an inquiry report that indicates whether an investigation is warranted. The report shall comply with the requirements of any applicable funding agency and generally will include the name and position of the respondent; the specific allegations of research misconduct that were considered; the identity of any federal support for the research at issue; the identity of the University and any federal policies and procedures under which the inquiry was conducted; a determination of whether the alleged research misconduct warrants an investigation; and the basis for any such determination.

The respondent shall be provided with a copy of the inquiry report and given ten days to submit written comments on it to ORMP. These comments shall be attached to the final inquiry report. ORMP also may, at its discretion, provide relevant portions of the inquiry report to the complainant for comment.

  D. Inquiry Decision

ORMP shall notify the respondent and the dean regarding its decision and provide them with a copy of the inquiry report. ORMP may, as it deems appropriate, inform the complainant or others of the result of the inquiry.

When an investigation is found to be warranted, ORMP shall forward a copy of the final inquiry report to any applicable funding agency, if the agency so requires. Notice of the pending investigation also may be confidentially communicated by ORMP or the dean's office, as appropriate, to anyone who intends to publish or otherwise disseminate the results of the research to which the allegation relates.

If ORMP concludes that an investigation is not warranted, the respondent may request that the University take such reasonable and practical efforts as the University believes are appropriate to restore the respondent's reputation, if it has been damaged as a result of the research misconduct proceeding.

7.  Investigation

  A. Overview of Investigation

During the investigation, an Advisory Committee formally develops the factual record, examines that record, and makes an informed recommendation to the dean concerning whether the respondent engaged in research misconduct, applying the relevant standards set forth in Section 3 of this policy. The investigation process must begin within 30 calendar days after ORMP's issuance of the final inquiry report, unless an extension of time has been granted.

  B. Investigation Process

    1) Appointment of Advisory Committee

Upon issuance of the final inquiry report, the dean, in consultation with ORMP, shall select a proposed Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee shall consist of at least three scholars who are not reasonably known to have any conflict of interest with the complainant or the respondent that would interfere with their service on the Advisory Committee, as determined by the dean in consultation with ORMP. At least two members of the Advisory Committee shall possess expertise that is determined by the dean to be relevant to the research or scholarship at issue in the allegation; and at least one member shall be a scholar from outside the department (or the undepartmentalized school, college, campus, or other unit) appointing or employing the respondent.

The dean shall notify the respondent of the identity of the proposed Advisory Committee members. Within one week after being advised of the identity of the proposed Advisory Committee, the respondent can object to the appointment of any Advisory Committee member on any grounds. The respondent shall notify the dean in writing of the objection and shall clearly state the basis for the objection, providing a copy of this objection to ORMP.

Thereafter, the dean, in consultation with ORMP, shall determine whether the respondent's objection sets forth a basis for declining to appoint the proposed member to the Advisory Committee. If the dean determines it is appropriate to select a different member for the Advisory Committee, the respondent shall be notified of this new selection and provided with the same opportunity to object as was provided with respect to the initially-proposed Advisory Committee members.

After appointing the Advisory Committee and consulting with ORMP about the content of the Committee's charge, the dean shall charge the Advisory Committee by way of a letter that outlines the research misconduct allegation and the Advisory Committee's responsibilities during the investigation. The respondent shall be provided with a copy of the dean's letter.

    2) Role of Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee shall review such records and evidence, interview such persons, and obtain such additional evidence as it believes is necessary to make an informed recommendation to the dean on the merits of the allegation. The persons interviewed shall include the respondent, the complainant, and any other available witness who has been reasonably identified as having pertinent information regarding any relevant aspect of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent. Interviews shall be transcribed or recorded, and the transcript or recording shall be provided to the witness for correction and included in the record of the investigation.

    3) Additional Issues

The Advisory Committee is expected to diligently pursue all significant issues and leads that are determined to be relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of additional instances of possible research misconduct. If the Advisory Committee becomes aware of information during the course of the investigation that—taking into account the information's credibility, specificity, and significance—gives rise to an additional possible allegation of research misconduct, the Advisory Committee shall ask the dean to determine whether the allegation should be added to the current investigation. The dean shall consult with ORMP when determining whether to add the allegation to the current investigation. If added, this allegation can be included in any current allegation, or it can be set forth in a separate allegation.

In the event that the dean instructs the Advisory Committee to add the allegation to the investigation, absent extraordinary circumstances, ORMP shall inform the respondent in writing of the additional allegation and allow the respondent 14 calendar days to provide a detailed written response to the allegation, with such response complying with the requirements of Section 6.B.3 of this policy. The respondent shall provide all relevant research records that have not yet been produced, and shall submit a signed certification about the records that relate to the additional allegation, in accordance with Section 6.B.4 of this policy.

    4) Procedural Matters

The Advisory Committee shall operate in closed session. The dean's office of the school, college, or campus and ORMP shall provide assistance, as appropriate, to the Advisory Committee and act as a liaison between the Advisory Committee and the respondent, complainant, and witnesses. The Advisory Committee may request the assistance of ORMP and the dean's office during the Advisory Committee's deliberations and its preparation of the investigation report, but neither ORMP nor the dean's office shall participate in the Advisory Committee's deliberations or vote on whether research misconduct occurred.

  C. Investigation Report

The Advisory Committee shall prepare and provide the respondent, through ORMP, a draft investigation report that includes the Advisory Committee's recommendation to the dean concerning whether research misconduct should be found. A separate recommendation shall be made for each allegation of research misconduct. The draft investigation report generally shall be accompanied by a copy of any evidence on which the report is based that has not already been provided to the respondent, or the respondent shall be given supervised access to this evidence.

Both the draft and the final investigation report shall comply with the requirements of any applicable funding agency and shall include:
  • A description of the type of research misconduct alleged (i.e., fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism);

  • The specific allegations of research misconduct that were considered;

  • A description of any federal support for the research at issue;

  • The identity of the University and any federal policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted;

  • The identity and a summary of the research records and evidence that were reviewed;

  • The identity of any evidence taken into the University's custody but not reviewed;

  • The Advisory Committee's recommended finding relative to each research misconduct allegation; and

  • The rationale for each recommended finding, with appropriate references to the evidence.
For each allegation for which the Advisory Committee recommends a finding of research misconduct, the Committee shall include the following in its report:
  • A statement of whether the research misconduct was found to constitute falsification, fabrication or plagiarism, and whether it was found to have been committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly;

  • A summary of the facts and the analysis supporting the Committee's recommendation, including a discussion of the merits of any reasonable explanation given by the respondent;

  • The identity of funding for the research at issue;

  • A discussion of whether any publications need to be corrected or retracted and, if so, which ones and in what regard;

  • The identity of the person responsible for the misconduct; and

  • A list of any current funding and known applications or proposals for funding that the respondent has pending.
The respondent shall be allowed 30 calendar days to review the draft report and provide written comments to ORMP, which comments will be immediately forwarded by ORMP to the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee shall consider these comments and address them in its final investigation report. The Advisory Committee, through ORMP, also may provide relevant portions of the draft investigation report to the complainant for comment. Any comments on this draft report shall be submitted by the complainant to ORMP for consideration by the Advisory Committee.

The final investigation report shall be issued within 120 calendar days of the initiation of the investigation, unless an extension of time has been granted. The respondent's comments and copies of recorded testimony and transcripts, where available, generally shall be attached to this final investigation report, as shall the complainant's comments, if any. Copies of the final investigation report shall be provided to the dean, the respondent, ORMP, and any applicable funding agency, if the agency so requires.

8.  Decision

  A. Overview of Dean's Decision

The dean determines whether the respondent engaged in research misconduct and whether corrective or disciplinary action is appropriate. The dean's decision is the final decision of the University with respect to whether research misconduct occurred. This research misconduct decision is not subject to review. Any review of the dean's research misconduct decision is limited to a determination or review of the appropriate disciplinary action and of any alleged material procedural error that was properly raised during the course of the research misconduct proceeding.

  B. Decision-Making Process

In making the research misconduct decision, the dean shall consider the report of the Advisory Committee and the respondent's comments, as well as any other material the dean believes is relevant. At the respondent's request, the respondent may meet with the dean to present any information that the respondent believes is pertinent to the dean's decision.

Before reaching a final decision with respect to research misconduct, the dean shall meet with the Advisory Committee. If the dean is considering departing from the Advisory Committee's recommendation on whether research misconduct should be found, the dean shall explain to the Committee the reasons for the contemplated departure and obtain the Committee's feedback.

The dean then shall decide, for each allegation, whether the respondent engaged in research misconduct. This decision, along with its rationale, shall be documented in writing by the dean.

  C. The Decision

    1) No Finding of Research Misconduct

If the dean does not find that the respondent engaged in research misconduct, the research misconduct proceeding shall be closed. The dean shall decide, after consultation with the respondent, what actions, if any, need to be taken to restore the respondent's reputation, if it has been damaged as a result of the research misconduct proceeding. The dean then shall implement those actions as appropriate, including issuing a statement of exoneration if the dean believes this is required.

    2) Finding of Research Misconduct

If the dean finds that the respondent engaged in research misconduct, the dean shall impose such corrective and/or disciplinary action as the dean finds appropriate, consistent with the provisions of this section of the policy. This may include a requirement that publications be corrected or retracted, a process which shall be overseen by the dean's office. Where the authority to impose disciplinary action rests elsewhere, the dean shall make such recommendation regarding disciplinary action as the dean believes is appropriate. The dean shall consult with ORMP during this process and may consult with others, as necessary.

In the event that further action is found to be warranted, how the dean proceeds depends upon the status of the respondent as follows:

      a) If the respondent is a faculty member, the dean shall act in accordance with the Faculty Code and any other applicable University policy or procedure.

      b) If the respondent is another type of University academic personnel, the dean shall act in accordance with the applicable University policies, procedures, and agreements.

      c) If the respondent is a professional staff member, classified staff member, or academic student employee, the dean shall act in accordance with the applicable professional staff, classified staff, or academic student employee rules and any other applicable University policy, procedure, or agreement.

      d) If the respondent is a student, the dean shall act in accordance with Chapter 478-120 WAC, Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington, and any other applicable University policy or procedure.

  D. Notifications

Upon making a decision relative to research misconduct, the dean shall notify the respondent, the complainant, and ORMP of that decision, and may notify others if appropriate. Where research misconduct has been found, the respondent and ORMP shall be advised of any corrective or disciplinary action that has been or is being taken.

ORMP shall provide information relative to the research misconduct finding, including any pending and completed corrective or disciplinary actions relating to the respondent, to any applicable funding agency, if the agency so requires, in accordance with that agency's requirements.

9.  Admission or Settlement

ORMP and the dean can agree to close a research misconduct proceeding at the inquiry or investigation stage if the respondent admits to having engaged in research misconduct, a settlement has been reached between the University and the respondent, or for other good reason as determined by ORMP and the dean. Prior to agreeing to such a closure of the research misconduct proceeding, ORMP shall provide any applicable funding agency with notice, if such is required by the agency, and comply with any other applicable funding agency requirement.

10.  Maintenance of the Record

ORMP and the dean shall collaborate in maintaining a record of the research misconduct proceeding. This record shall be retained consistent with University and applicable state and federal record retention requirements.

11.  Additional Notification of Funding Agency

Additional notification of a funding agency, beyond that already set forth in this policy, shall be made by ORMP if the funding agency so requires and, in the case of a federal funding agency, if ORMP has reason to believe that any of the following exists:

  • The health or safety of the public is at risk (including when there is an immediate need to protect human or animal subjects).

  • Funding agency resources or interests are threatened.

  • Research activities should be suspended.

  • There is a reasonable indication of possible violations of civil or criminal law.

  • Federal action is required to protect the interests of those involved in the research misconduct proceeding.

  • The research misconduct proceeding may be made public prematurely, so notification is needed in order to allow the funding agency or others to take appropriate steps to safeguard evidence and protect the rights of those involved.

  • The research community or public should be informed.

12.  Ongoing Cooperation with Funding Agency

The University, and its faculty, other academic personnel, students, and staff are required to fully cooperate with the reasonable requests of any entity funding the research at issue throughout the research misconduct proceeding; and during any proceeding, oversight review, administrative hearing, or appeal provided for by the funding entity's process. This includes providing the funding entity with all relevant research records and evidence in the University's control, custody, or possession, and with access to all persons within the University's authority who are necessary to develop a complete record of relevant evidence.

June 14, 1989; October 2, 1990; April 14, 1994; September 24, 1996; May 14, 2003; February 12, 2016; RC, May 9, 2016.


For related information, see:

  • Chapter 478-120 WAC, "Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington"
  • Chapter 478-124 WAC, "General Conduct Code for the University of Washington"
  • Executive Order No. 58, "Student Academic Grievance Procedures"
  • Faculty Code, Chapter 28, "Adjudicative Proceedings for the Resolution of Differences"
  • Administrative Policy Statement 46.3, "Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees"
  • Administrative Policy Statement 47.1, "Summary of the State Employee Whistleblower Act"
  • Administrative Policy Statement 47.10, "Policy on Financial Irregularities and Other Related Illegal Acts"