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Scientific Misconduct Policy

Revised October 2007

All faculty, staff, and students of the College shall receive a copy of this document and shall be informed of the importance of compliance with the policy it establishes.

Roles:
The VPAA/DOC is designated as the official “Deciding Official,” (DO) and the Director of Sponsored Programs & Research Development is designated as the “Research Integrity Officer” (RIO) for purposes of complying with federal standards as outlined by the Office of Research Integrity.

Inquiry:

  1. All allegations regarding scientific misconduct by faculty, staff, or students at Mary Baldwin College will be communicated to the DO and RIO, who shall be responsible for their appropriate disposition.
  2. “Misconduct in Science” means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that deviate seriously from those that are commonly accepted and normally observed within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research findings. It does not include honest error or differences of opinion in interpretation of data.
  3. Upon receipt of allegations of scientific misconduct, the DO and RIO shall determine whether the misconduct potentially involves federally funded projects.  If so, they shall order an immediate inquiry into the matter to be conducted by the Faculty Status Committee (for faculty in the RCW or staff/administrative members assigned to any program); the ADP Review Committee (for ADP faculty); or the Honor Council (for students).
  4. The RIO is responsible for immediately communicating any allegations of misconduct to the sponsoring federal agency and is also responsible for certifying the absence of misconduct on an annual basis.
  5. Initial inquiries into allegations of misconduct will be completed within 60 calendar days in the form of a written report to the DO and RIO.
  6. The privacy of the person or persons who make an allegation will be protected to the maximum possible extent, and a copy of the report of the inquiry will be made available to the person or persons against whom the allegation is made. The person or persons against whom misconduct has been alleged will have the opportunity to respond to the report and those persons shall be afforded confidential treatment to the maximum possible extent.
  7. The Office of the DO shall maintain documentation of any inquiries for at least three years, which must, upon request, be provided to authorized federal agency personnel.

Investigation:

  1. If the findings from an inquiry provide sufficient basis, the DO and RIO shall initiate a formal investigation within 30 calendar days of the completion of the inquiry. Such an investigation shall be conducted by three tenured/term contract members of the faculty who will be appointed by the DO in consultation with the President. The three appointees shall be chosen from a list of at least five persons recommended for appointment by the Faculty Status Committee/ ADP Review Committee.
  2. The Faculty Status Committee/ ADP Review Committee shall make its recommendation of at least five persons based upon considerations of impartiality, scholarly achievement, and avoidance of real or apparent conflicts of interest.
  3. If the allegation involves federally funded research, the cognizant agency shall be informed by the RIO at the outset that an investigation will be conducted. Should a reasonable indication of possible criminal violations be discovered, the cognizant agency shall be informed within 24 hours.
  4. The investigation shall be prompt and thorough. Written, confidential records of all deliberations and of the findings will be kept. The person(s) under investigation shall be accorded confidential treatment to the maximum possible extent and accorded an opportunity to comment in writing on allegations and findings of the investigation.
  5. The formal investigation shall be completed within 120 calendar days and will be submitted as a written document to the DO and RIO and to the cognizant agency. Documentation to substantiate an investigation’s findings shall be maintained by the Office of the DO for at least three years after the agency’s acceptance of the final report.

Outcomes:

  1. Where federal funds are involved, the RIO, on behalf of the DO, shall promptly inform the cognizant agency of any developments during the course of an investigation which may affect current or potential federal funding for the individual(s) under investigation or which the agency should know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and to protect the public and any human or animal research subjects involved. The DO, on recommendation of the RIO, may freeze all federal funds supporting a project that is the subject of the investigation.
  2. Mary Baldwin College, through the Office of the DO, will make every effort to protect to the maximum possible extent the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of scientific misconduct.
  3. Mary Baldwin College, through the DO, will make every effort to the maximum possible extent to protect the positions and restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in scientific misconduct when allegations are not confirmed.
  4. The DO shall notify the cognizant agency of the final outcome of an investigation with a written report that thoroughly documents the investigative process and findings.
  5. When an investigation confirms allegations of scientific misconduct, the DO shall recommend appropriate sanction on the individual(s) involved to the President. Any sanction imposed by the President shall be consistent with the provisions of the Faculty Handbook, the Staff Handbook, or the Student Handbook, as appropriate.