Misconduct in Scholarly Activity

Misconduct in Scholarly Activity


Introduction

In this module, you will explore the following aspects of misconduct in scholarly activity:

  1. Ethical conduct in scholarly activity
  2. The definition of misconduct and guiding principles
  3. Procedures for handling allegations of misconduct at the University of New Hampshire (UNH)
  4. Complainant (whistleblower) protections in place at UNH

Introduction (cont.)

The module consists of:

Case Study

Click on an image below to read a case study.

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity

One of the University of New Hampshire's (UNH) primary missions is to support the creation and dissemination of knowledge. In fulfilling this mission, members of the UNH community undertake many forms of scholarly activity. Ethical conduct in these activities is vital to ensuring the integrity of the scholarly process and its outcomes.

Standards fundamental to the ethical conduct of scholarly activity include:

These standards are key to engendering the trust requisite for scholars to build upon each other's work and collaborate in their activities.

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity (cont.)

Scholars must be able to trust that colleagues are honest and truthful in the conduct of their work, such as in reporting and publishing data, writing research proposals, and declaring conflicts of interest.

Scholars should be honest with human subjects who participate in research activities so subjects can make informed decisions about participation.

Respect is key to promoting collaboration and trust. Mutual respect among colleagues is fundamental in activities such as peer review and mentoring. Respect for research subjects, both animal and human, as well as respect for the natural environment is important to preserve the public's trust in allowing their continued use in research activities.

Scholars should also respect the laws, rules, regulations, policies, and ethical principles that govern various aspects of research and scholarly activity.

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity (cont.)

Accuracy in recording and reporting data is essential for reproducibility of results, and accurate recordkeeping is vital in activities involving hazardous materials, and human and animal subjects. Accuracy in assigning credit for others' contributions when publishing is critical to promoting trust and collaboration among scholars.

Fairness pertains to being objective and equitable, free from bias and injustice. Fairness is important when interpreting and presenting research results as well as in the peer review process. Fairness is essential to the protection of human research subjects, and objective and equitable treatment of colleagues is critical in mentoring.

Conduct that embodies the standards of honesty, respect, accuracy, and fairness, and other values and standards that promote trust and collaboration are fundamental to the integrity of scholarly activity.

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity (cont.)

There have been cases of known or suspected fraud in science and scholarly activity (referred to as misconduct) since the ancient Greeks (Broad and Wade, 1982). Contemporary cases of alleged scientific misconduct involved well-known researchers such as:

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity (cont.)

Contemporary cases of alleged scientific misconduct involved well-known researchers such as (cont):

Retraction Watch is a blog that chronicles retractions in scientific literature. They have a "leader board" where they list individuals who have had the most papers retracted; many of these are due to actions that constitute misconduct.

Ethical Conduct in Scholarly Activity (cont.)

Highly publicized cases of misconduct in scholarly activity, especially those involving publicly-funded institutions and research activities, have resulted in substantial setbacks to research activities and scientific progress, and caused irrevocable damage to reputations.

To promote and sustain public trust in the value of research and scholarly activity, professional organizations, academic and research institutions, and the federal government have established explicit standards governing:

 

Definitions & Guiding Principles

In 1998, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) adopted a policy on Misconduct in Scholarly Activity (Misconduct Policy). This policy defines what actions comprise misconduct at UNH and details the procedures for handling misconduct allegations. The policy defines misconduct in scholarly activity as:

  1. Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing scholarly activities, or in reporting results from scholarly activities
  2. Retaliation of any kind against a person who has brought forth an allegation of misconduct or who has provided information about a suspected case of misconduct

Misconduct does NOT include honest error or differences in interpretations, judgments, or opinion with respect to scholarly issues.

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

The UNH Misconduct Policy is applicable to all members of the UNH community, including, but not limited to, faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students. Allegations of academic dishonesty against UNH undergraduate or graduate students in normal course assignments are covered by policies of the UNH Office of the Vice President for Student and Academic Services, as outlined in the UNH Student Handbook on Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities.

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

Fabrication is defined as, "Making up data or results and recording or reporting them" (OSTP, 2000).

Examples of fabrication include, but are not limited to:

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

Falsification is defined as,"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 research record is the record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from scientific inquiry, and includes, but is not limited to, research proposals, laboratory records, both physical and electronic, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, and journal articles.

(OSTP, 2000).


Falsification includes, but is not limited to:

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

While the majority of the historical cases of misconduct listed on Screens 7 and 8 of this module involved fabrication and/or falsification, contemporary examples of cases involving fabrication and falsification can be found on the Office of Research Integrity's (ORI) website, in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Semiannual Report to Congress (in each report look under Research Misconduct Investigations), and on the Retraction Watch website.

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

Plagiarism is defined as, "The appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit" (OSTP, 2000).

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:

Plagiarism may also be a violation of copyright law.

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

Plagiarism can be a confusing concept, particularly for individuals from cultures and countries with different standards than the United States for handling use of others' words and ideas in research and scholarship. Many resources exist to help students and scholars understand plagiarism, including the following:

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

Historical plagiarism cases involving scholars include Jane Goodall, Stephen Ambrose, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Contemporary misconduct cases involving plagiarism are included in the NSF OIG's Semiannual Report to Congress (in each report look under Research Misconduct Investigations) and on the Retraction Watch website.

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

UNH's definition of misconduct in scholarly activity includes, "Retaliation of any kind against a person who has brought forth an allegation of misconduct (complainant) or who has provided information about a suspected case of misconduct" (UNH Misconduct Policy).

The UNH Misconduct Policy states, "UNH does not condone and will not tolerate any act of misconduct in scholarly activity by a member of its community" (UNH Misconduct Policy).

Definitions & Guiding Principles (cont.)

The UNH Misconduct Policy is guided by the following five principles (UNH Misconduct Policy).

  1. Actions jeopardizing the reputation of UNH and its scholars are not tolerated
  2. The confidentiality of all parties in a misconduct allegation should be maintained to the extent possible in light of UNH's obligations to inform the scholarly community, and, where applicable, sponsors
  3. Each party involved should have an equal opportunity to present its case during an investigation of the allegation
  4. Decisions and actions taken during an allegation investigation should be based on the best and most accurate information and evidence available
  5. All information and evidence gathered should be judged impartially by qualified individuals, with the"preponderance of the evidence standard"

    Preponderance of the evidence means that quantity and quality of evidence which, when fairly considered, produces the stronger impression, and has the greater weight, and is more convincing as to its truth than the evidence in opposition applied as the measure of proof.

Misconduct Allegations at UNH

At UNH, the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research (OSVPR) enforces the Misconduct Policy. The procedure for handling allegations of misconduct is:

  1. Reporting
  2. Inquiry
  3. Investigation and determination
  4. Administration of sanctions, if warranted

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

Reporting suspected misconduct is a shared responsibility of all UNH community members. Causes for suspicion of misconduct include, but are not limited to:

In most cases, the complainant

A complainant is a person who makes an allegation of misconduct. In the scientific, governmental, and corporate settings, this person may also be referred to as a "whistleblower."

submits a confidential, written, signed statement detailing the alleged misconduct to the supervisor of the person who is the subject of the allegation.


Upon receipt, the supervisor notifies the Senior Vice Provost for Research (SVPR) confidentially in writing of the allegation.

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

Upon receipt of a misconduct allegation, the SVPR forms a team to conduct an inquiry into the allegation.

The inquiry team gathers preliminary information to discover if a formal investigation is warranted, and issues a report to the SVPR documenting whether there is cause to pursue a formal investigation into the case.

If the inquiry team finds that there is NO cause to pursue an investigation into the alleged misconduct, the SVPR promptly writes a letter of exoneration to the subject of the allegation, and the matter is considered officially closed.

If the inquiry team suspects that the misconduct allegation was NOT made in good faith, UNH may initiate an inquiry of the complainant under University System of New Hampshire (USNH) and UNH policies regarding personal and professional conduct.

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

If the inquiry team concludes that an investigation is warranted then the SVPR:

The purpose of the investigation is to:

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

In its evaluation of the evidence and during deliberations, the PIC should use a "preponderance of the evidence standard"

Preponderance of the evidence means that quantity and quality of evidence which, when fairly considered, produces the stronger impression, and has the greater weight, and is more convincing as to its truth than the evidence in opposition applied as the measure of proof.

standard of proof for a finding of misconduct.


The PIC provides a final report of its investigation to the SVPR, who communicates the findings in writing to all parties involved.

If the investigation determines that misconduct did NOT occur, then the SVPR promptly writes a letter of exoneration to the subject of the allegation and the matter is considered officially closed.

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

If the investigation determines that misconduct occurred, sanctions may be administered by the appropriate staff, faculty, and/or University official(s), consistent with USNH and UNH policies on disciplinary action.

Internal sanctions range from an oral warning to the issuance of official letters of reprimand, up to and including suspension without pay, termination of employment, or dismissal from UNH.

A sponsor or other federal agency may impose additional sanctions, such as barring researchers from receiving federal research funds in the future.

If the subject of a misconduct allegation believes that he/she has been judged improperly, grievance procedures may be initiated in accordance with USNH and UNH policies.

Misconduct Allegations at UNH (cont.)

Based on the principles of the New Hampshire State Whistleblowers' Protection Act (NH RSA 275-E), the identity of the complainant

A complainant is a person who makes an allegation of misconduct. In the scientific, governmental, and corporate settings, this person may also be referred to as a "whistleblower."

should remain confidential during the inquiry stage unless that person (or persons) consents to the disclosure of his/her identity. If an investigation is undertaken, then the identity of the complainant is made known to the subject of the allegation.


UNH will implement all reasonable measures to protect a complainant who makes a misconduct allegation in good faith against retaliation.

At UNH, retaliation of any kind against a complainant or a person who has provided information about a suspected case of misconduct is considered an act of misconduct, subject to the procedures outlined above.

Review Scenario 1 - Questions 1 & 2

Scenario: Ben is a chemistry undergraduate student working on his thesis research. He schedules with his advisor a time to run the key experiment in his study, which will take about half a day to conduct. The day before the scheduled experiment the faculty advisor has to leave town for a family emergency, so he asks Tracy, a graduate student in his lab, to supervise Ben the next day. Just as Ben is ready to conduct the experiment the next day, Tracy texts Ben that she has overslept and will be late, but tells him to start. Tracy arrives two hours later. Ben is having problems with one of the instruments, and the data from this instrument is inconsistent. Ben points this out to Tracy, who tells him not to worry as this often happens with that instrument and they’ll take care of it later. When they are reviewing the data after clearing up the experiment, Ben asks her about the data from the problematic instrument. Tracy responds that they’ll change the data points that seem to be really out of line with the majority of the data. Which of the following statements are true?

1. Purposely altering data to obtain anticipated results is considered falsification.

Correct.
Incorrect.

2. As the instrument seemed to malfunction, it is acceptable for Ben and Tracy to “correct” the data.

Incorrect.
Correct.

Review Scenario 1 - Questions 3 & 4

Scenario: Ben is a chemistry undergraduate student working on his thesis research. He schedules with his advisor a time to run the key experiment in his study, which will take about half a day to conduct. The day before the scheduled experiment the faculty advisor has to leave town for a family emergency, so he asks Tracy, a graduate student in his lab, to supervise Ben the next day. Just as Ben is ready to conduct the experiment the next day, Tracy texts Ben that she has overslept and will be late, but tells him to start. Tracy arrives two hours later. Ben is having problems with one of the instruments, and the data from this instrument is inconsistent. Ben points this out to Tracy, who tells him not to worry as this often happens with that instrument and they’ll take care of it later. When they are reviewing the data after clearing up the experiment, Ben asks her about the data from the problematic instrument. Tracy responds that they’ll change the data points that seem to be really out of line with the majority of the data. Which of the following statements are true?

3. What Tracy is proposing to do would be considered by most researchers to be falsification.

Correct.
Incorrect.

4. Before going any further with his research, Ben should contact his faculty advisor and ask his advice about what to do about the data from the problematic instrument.

Correct.
Incorrect

Review Scenario 1 - Question 5

Scenario: Ben is a chemistry undergraduate student working on his thesis research. He schedules with his advisor a time to run the key experiment in his study, which will take about half a day to conduct. The day before the scheduled experiment the faculty advisor has to leave town for a family emergency, so he asks Tracy, a graduate student in his lab, to supervise Ben the next day. Just as Ben is ready to conduct the experiment the next day, Tracy texts Ben that she has overslept and will be late, but tells him to start. Tracy arrives two hours later. Ben is having problems with one of the instruments, and the data from this instrument is inconsistent. Ben points this out to Tracy, who tells him not to worry as this often happens with that instrument and they’ll take care of it later. When they are reviewing the data after clearing up the experiment, Ben asks her about the data from the problematic instrument. Tracy responds that they’ll change the data points that seem to be really out of line with the majority of the data. Is the following statement true?

5. Instead of changing the data, Ben should wait for his faculty advisor’s return and repeat the experiment with his faculty advisor’s help.

Correct.
Incorrect.

Review Scenario 2

Scenario: May is an international student who has entered a doctoral program. After getting acquainted with her advisor’s research program, one of the first tasks she is given is to familiarize herself with the current literature and draft the literature review section for a forthcoming paper. She is very eager to impress her advisor with this first major assignment so spends a lot of time compiling the information. After reading the draft she submitted, her advisor explains that she has committed plagiarism because most of the information is taken verbatim from original sources without any citation. May is horrified. She does not understand what she did wrong as she included at the end a list of the sources she reviewed. Which of the following statements are correct (check all that apply)?
Correct. However, another answer exists.
Incorrect.
Incorrect.
Correct. However, another answer exists.
Correct. However, another answer exists.
You have selected all of the correct statements.

Review Scenario 3

Scenario: Roger, a graduate student, has just finished collecting survey data for his dissertation. He managed to recruit 100 participants for his study, but getting the last 10 participants took over 3 months. He is anxious to start the data analysis as he is on a tight deadline for graduating. He downloads the data from the survey software, saves it to his laptop, and then deletes the survey data from the survey software on the server. Then his sister calls and as they usually talk for a long time, he starts to organize the files on his laptop. They get into an argument and he gets distracted. When he finally ends the call, he realizes that he has written over the file containing the responses from the 100 participants with an old version containing responses from only 90 participants. Then panic sets in as he realizes that he deleted the data from the survey software and didn’t back up the file before writing over it. What should Roger consider doing next (check all that apply)?
Correct. However, another answer exists.
Correct. However, another answer exists.
Incorrect.
Correct. However, another answer exists.
Incorrect.
Correct. However, another answer exists.
You have selected all of the correct statements.

Review Scenario 4 - Questions 1 & 2

Scenario: George, a faculty member, is in the process of writing a proposal to submit to a federal funding agency. His proposed study uses a traditional approach to address an ongoing issue but with a novel twist. With the proposal deadline looming, George discovers that he had misjudged the amount of time needed to write a comprehensive and up-to-date literature review. He has on hand a nearly complete proposal that he was asked to review last year by Sue, a colleague in his department who works on similar issues. The literature review in Sue’s proposal would only need minimal updates, and the addition of his new approach to the problem; using it in his proposal would save him a lot of time. He is pretty sure that Sue did not submit the proposal because she ended up moving institutions right when the proposal was due. George decides to copy the literature review from the proposal and to make the minimal changes (he reasons to save time) without attributing the work to Sue (he reasons that nobody would know that he did not write it from scratch). Which of the following statements are true?

1. If George submits the proposal with the literature review copied from Sue’s proposal without attributing the work to her, this would constitute plagiarism.

Correct.
Incorrect.

2. The fact that Sue may not have submitted her proposal to the funding agency means that copying the literature review from it and using it without any attribution to the colleague would not be considered plagiarism.

Incorrect.
Correct.

Review Scenario 4 - Questions 3 & 4

Scenario: George, a faculty member, is in the process of writing a proposal to submit to a federal funding agency. His proposed study uses a traditional approach to address an ongoing issue but with a novel twist. With the proposal deadline looming, George discovers that he had misjudged the amount of time needed to write a comprehensive and up-to-date literature review. He has on hand a nearly complete proposal that he was asked to review last year by Sue, a colleague in his department who works on similar issues. The literature review in Sue’s proposal would only need minimal updates, and the addition of his new approach to the problem; using it in his proposal would save him a lot of time. He is pretty sure that Sue did not submit the proposal because she ended up moving institutions right when the proposal was due. George decides to copy the literature review from the proposal and to make the minimal changes (he reasons to save time) without attributing the work to Sue (he reasons that nobody would know that he did not write it from scratch). Which of the following statements are true?

3. Because a literature review includes citations to referenced work, copying it and using it without indicating the source is not plagiarism.

Incorrect.
Correct.

4. Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work without citation.

Correct.
Incorrect

Review Scenario 4 - Question 5

Scenario: George, a faculty member, is in the process of writing a proposal to submit to a federal funding agency. His proposed study uses a traditional approach to address an ongoing issue but with a novel twist. With the proposal deadline looming, George discovers that he had misjudged the amount of time needed to write a comprehensive and up-to-date literature review. He has on hand a nearly complete proposal that he was asked to review last year by Sue, a colleague in his department who works on similar issues. The literature review in Sue’s proposal would only need minimal updates, and the addition of his new approach to the problem; using it in his proposal would save him a lot of time. He is pretty sure that Sue did not submit the proposal because she ended up moving institutions right when the proposal was due. George decides to copy the literature review from the proposal and to make the minimal changes (he reasons to save time) without attributing the work to Sue (he reasons that nobody would know that he did not write it from scratch). Is the following statement true?

5. A literature review for a proposal is not original work so George copying and presenting Sue’s as his own work would not be considered plagiarism.

Incorrect.
Correct.

Case Study Reviews

Click on an image below to review the case study that was presented at the beginning of this module.

Congratulations!

Once you have finished all of the review questions click ’Certify Completion’.

Certify Completion