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EIU Office of Internal Auditing

#58 - Scientific Misconduct

Approved: August 7, 1996

Nomenclature changes: July 16, 1997

Monitor: Vice President for Academic Affairs


Eastern Illinois University recognizes that integrity in research is an uncompromising component of academic life. Toward the end of assuring the continuance of this goal at the University, the following procedures are adopted for dealing with and reporting possible misconduct in science.

The University recognizes that cases of scientific misconduct are rare. Nevertheless, it is the intent of this policy to provide a basis for dealing with any alleged occurrence of scientific misconduct (as defined in the definitions section) at the University on a research, research-training or research-related grant or cooperative agreement funded by the Public Health Service (PHS). It is recognized that non-scientific issues are covered by other policies and are not intended to be part of these considerations.


  1. Misconduct or Misconduct in Science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. 
  2. Funded by means the provision of monetary or other direct support through grants, cooperative agreements, or fellowships, and includes sub-grantees, contractors under grants, and individuals who work on the funded research project even though they do not receive compensation from the Federal funds.
  3. Investigator (called the "accused" in this document) means a principal investigator, any co- investigator, the program director or trainee on a training grant, a recipient of a career award or fellowship, or other individual who conducts or is responsible for research or research training funded by PHS or proposed for funding in an application to PHS.
  4. An Inquiry means information-gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation.
  5. An Investigation means an in-depth examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if an instance of misconduct has taken place.

Guiding Principles

  1. To help insure the protection of academic integrity in research at the University.
  2. To insure appropriate confidentiality for both the complainant and the respondent during the process.
  3. To secure a fair and just hearing for the respondent.

Procedures for Dealing with Misconduct

Scientific Misconduct: Allegations and the Committee Process

Assertions or charges of misconduct are to be in writing and signed by the accuser. They are to be submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The process for dealing with possible misconduct shall include the initiation of at least one and possibly two committees. In the case of an accusation, the Inquiry Committee, shall be appointed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs on an ad hoc basis. The chairperson of this committee shall be the Director, Research and Sponsored Programs. In addition, the committee shall include four faculty members, all of whom have significant University administrative and/or research experience.

The Investigative Committee shall be convened only if the Inquiry Committee finds reason to pursue the allegations. The investigative committee shall be a standing committee appointed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and shall include the Director, Research and Sponsored Programs as a member. The Dean, Graduate School and International Programs shall serve as the Chair of the standing committee. Members shall be appointed, on a staggered basis, for three-year terms.

Accusations and Confidentiality

Upon receipt in writing of alleged misconduct, the Vice President for Academic Affairs shall, if necessary and after appropriate consultations, appoint an ad hoc Inquiry Committee and refer the matter to the Chair of the Inquiry Committee. The Committee shall initiate an inquiry into the charges. During this process all involved shall endeavor to keep the names of both the accused and the accuser confidential. Confidentiality will be breached only on a "need to know" basis.

Inquiry and Investigation

The definitions above emphasize that the inquiry stage of the misconduct process is only to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to initiate an investigation.

In many cases, action on the recommendations at this stage of review will complete the case appropriately and justly. The allegation of misconduct may be sustained, but its magnitude may be deemed to require only minor sanctions or changes in practice.

The investigation stage of the process shall occur only when the inquiry has provided sufficient reason for a formal examination to determine whether misconduct has occurred.


The Chair of the Inquiry Committee shall, prior to contacting the committee, discuss with the Vice President for Academic Affairs the possible involvement of the University Legal Counsel in the matter. After a determination has been made relative to whether to involve legal counsel, the chair shall initiate an inquiry into the merits of the accusation. The inquiry shall be completed within sixty calendar days from receipt of the allegation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. In the process of the inquiry, the appropriate Dean and Department Chair shall be consulted. A written report shall be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

During the inquiry, the accused shall be provided with an opportunity to respond to the charges. The response shall be duly recorded as part of the record of the proceedings. Records of the process shall be maintained by the University for three years.


If, after review of the results of the inquiry, the Vice President for Academic Affairs determines that there is sufficient grounds to warrant an investigation, the investigation shall be initiated within thirty days of the completion of the inquiry. The investigative body shall consist of the Investigative Committee as defined above, plus additional members deemed vital by the Vice President for Academic Affairs for a fair and impartial resolution.

The following procedures shall be followed:

  1. The accused investigator shall be informed in writing of the charges against him/her prior to the initiation of the investigation.
  2. The investigation normally will include examination of all documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls.
  3. Whenever possible interviews will be conducted of all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegation is made, as well as other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations. Complete summaries of these interviews shall be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file.
  4. The committee shall secure the necessary and appropriate expertise to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence.
  5. Precaution shall be taken against conflicts of interest between the accused investigator and members of the investigating committee.
  6. Interim administrative action may be taken, as appropriate, to protect Federal funds and insure that the purposes of the Federal financial assistance are carried out.
  7. The Investigation Committee and the University shall keep the Office of Scientific Integrity apprised of any developments during the course of the investigation which disclose facts, (a) that may affect current or potential Department of Health and Human Services funding for individuals under investigation, or (b) of which the PHS needs to be aware to insure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.

Actions Following Investigation

  1. The University shall make a diligent effort, where appropriate, to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed.
  2. The University shall undertake diligent efforts to protect the position and reputations of those persons who made the allegations in good faith.
  3. The University shall, in accordance with appropriate University and Board of Trustees regulations, impose appropriate sanctions on individuals when the allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.
  4. The University shall notify appropriate Federal agencies of the final result of the investigation.

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