Research Misconduct

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

making up data or results and recording or reporting them
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
the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, or results, or works without giving appropriate credit
Serious deviation from accepted practices
includes but is not limited to:
  • stealing, destroying, or damaging the research property of others with the intent to alter the research record; and
  • directing or encouraging others to engage in fabrication, falsification or plagiarism

As defined here, it is limited to activity related to the proposing, performing, or reviewing of research, or in the reporting of research results and does not include misconduct that occurs in the research setting but that does not affect the integrity of the research record, such as misallocation of funds, sexual harassment, and discrimination, which are covered by other University policies.

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

Reporting Potential Research Misconduct

Whenever an instance of research misconduct is observed, employees and students of USU are encouraged to bring an allegation forward.

Any research misconduct complaints will be handled in accordance with USU’s “Scientific Misconduct Procedures”. These procedures include confidentiality of information and protection of both the Complainant and the Respondent.

Complaints can be made through either:

Federal and State Statutes

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed by the U.S. Congress in response to serious lapses in ethical standards at the highest levels of notable U.S. corporations. Even though the act does not directly impact universities, many institutions of higher education have adopted concepts from the act that provide greater transparency in operations and a higher level of accountability, especially among senior administrators.

Based on the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has issued recommendations that represent best practice among universities with regard to strengthening the ethical base for institutional operations. As a result of these recommendations, USU created the Administrative Code of Conduct, established the Internal Audit Services hotline, and implemented adherence to the Government Auditing Standards.

In addition to Sarbanes-Oxley, USU’s policies and procedures comply with federal regulations including 42 CFR Part 50 Subpart A “Responsibility of PHS Awardee and Applicant Institutions for Dealing With and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science”, 45 CFR Part 46 “Protection of Human Subjects”, 45 CFR Part 94 “Responsible Prospective Contractors”, 21 CFR Part 50 “Protection of Human Subjects”, and 21 CFR Part 56 “Institutional Review Boards”. USU also adheres to cost and accounting principles as set forth in Circular A-21, published by the Office of Management and Budget.

The State of Utah has also enacted laws that require integrity in the conduct of the affairs of government institutions and their employees. These include the “Utah Public Officers’ and Employees’ Ethics Act” (67-16 Utah Code Annotated), and the “State Money Management Act” (51-7 Utah Code Annotated).

USU’s Division of Research Integrity and Compliance is charged with the responsibility to monitor changes in the regulatory environment within which the University operates; to assist in the campus-wide dissemination of information concerning ethics-based regulations and policies; and to implement appropriate management systems to ensure compliance.

USU Policies

USU’s “Policy 583: Research” provides guidance to all university employees and students regarding research misconduct.

In addition, the following policies address research misconduct, also referred to in the policies as “research fraud”: