Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct Policy

Title

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct

Introduction

Purpose

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("University") is dedicated to upholding the highest standards in academic research. This policy describes the University’s commitment to:

  • Maintaining the integrity and validity of academic research,
  • Conducting ethical and responsible academic research, and
  • Complying with relevant federal regulations governing academic research.

Together, these commitments help the University have a solid foundation for:

  • Proposing, performing, or reviewing research; and
  • Reporting research results.

This foundation supports all academic research, regardless of the scientific or scholarly discipline.

The University seeks to keep the public's trust in the honest and ethical conduct of its researchers. For research to fulfill its role in the University and society, all research done under the University's name must meet the highest standards of integrity and ethics.

Scope

This policy applies to anyone engaged in research or research training on behalf of the University ("Covered Individuals"). This includes:

  • Faculty;
  • Staff (SHRA and EHRA non-faculty);
  • Students;
  • Guest researchers (e.g., unpaid volunteers, interns, and visiting scholars);
  • Collaborators; and
  • Consultants.

This policy also applies to subawardees and/or subcontractors involved with University research or research training.

This policy also applies to all research conducted on behalf of the University, regardless of where the alleged Research Misconduct happened or the source of financial support for the research.

Finally, this policy is focused on addressing alleged Research Misconduct as defined in the "Definitions" section of the University’s Procedure for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct. This policy does not address other types of misconduct that may occur in the research setting. Other types of misconduct are addressed in separate University policies.

Policy

Each member of the University community has a personal responsibility for:

  • Complying with this policy, and
  • Helping their research colleagues and partners avoid any activity that might be considered to violate this policy.

General Principles

A. Responsibility to Report Research Misconduct

Any Covered Individual who suspects Research Misconduct in University academic research must report their concerns. Covered Individuals have three ways to make a report:

  • Telling their department chair (or equivalent leader like an Institute or Center director),
  • Using the University’s Carolina Ethics Line hotline, or
  • Reporting directly to the Institutional Research Integrity Officer ("RIO").

B. Cooperation with Research Misconduct Proceedings

Covered Individuals must cooperate with the RIO and other University officials during any review of Allegations of Research Misconduct and any Inquiries and Investigations. Covered Individuals, including Respondents, must provide evidence relevant to Research Misconduct Proceedings to the RIO or other appropriate University officials.

C. Confidentiality

Research Misconduct Proceedings are confidential personnel matters. The RIO is responsible for informing Committee Members, witnesses, and anyone else involved in the Research Misconduct Proceeding of the need to maintain confidentiality.

The RIO also must try to protect the confidentiality of Respondents, Complainants, and other relevant individuals, such as research participants identifiable from research records or evidence. The RIO must limit disclosure to those with a "need to know" to conduct a thorough, competent, objective, and fair Research Misconduct Proceeding or as required by law.

D. Precautions to Protect Against Conflicts of Interest

The University and RIO must take reasonable steps and precautions to make sure the individuals responsible for carrying out any part of the Research Misconduct Proceeding are impartial and free from bias or prejudice. These individuals include, but are not limited to:

  • Members of Inquiry and Investigation Committees,
  • Deciding Officials, and
  • University officials.

The University and RIO must take reasonable steps and precautions to ensure that the individuals responsible for carrying out any part of the Research Misconduct Proceeding have no unresolved real or apparent personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest related to the Research Misconduct Proceeding.

E. Interim Administrative Actions and Notifying External Sponsors of Special Circumstances

During the Research Misconduct Proceeding, the RIO must check if public health or safety is at risk. This responsibility includes:

  • Protecting human or animal subjects;
  • Looking for signs of violations of civil or criminal law;
  • Safeguarding sponsored funds and equipment;
  • Maintaining the integrity of externally supported research; and
  • Protecting University resources, staff, students, and trainees.

If the RIO determines public health or safety is at risk, the RIO must work with other University officials and relevant external sponsors to either act or suggest steps to prevent harm.

Examples of such actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Additional monitoring of the research process and the handling of external funds and equipment,
  • Reassigning personnel or responsibility for handling external funds and equipment,
  • Removing the Respondent from the research at issue,
  • Additional review of research records and results, and/or
  • Delaying publication.

The RIO must notify external sponsors as required to:

  • Alert external sponsors that public health or safety is at risk, and
  • Identify what steps the University has taken to prevent harm.

F. Additional Responsibilities of Subawardees and Subcontractors

The University expects recipients of subawards or subcontracts from the University to evaluate any claim of Research Misconduct related to these agreements. If needed, those receiving subawards or subcontracts should carry out initial assessments, Inquiries, and Investigations according to their own policies, relevant federal regulations, or requirements from the sponsor.

G. Consequences for Violating this Policy and Related Procedure

The University considers any violation of this policy and related procedure to be a violation of the trust the University places in each member of the University community. The University will address any alleged violation using the steps outlined in the related Procedure for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.

Exceptions

None.

Definitions

See the University’s Procedure for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.

Related Requirements

External Regulations

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Primary Contact

  • Title: Institutional Research Integrity Officer
  • Unit: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Email: eric_everett@unc.edu
  • Phone: 919-962-0988
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Details

Article ID: 132346
Created
Thu 4/8/21 9:29 PM
Modified
Fri 12/15/23 11:59 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research - Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
12/15/2024 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
12/15/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
12/15/2023 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
06/09/2022 12:00 AM
Origination
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
10/07/2014 12:00 AM