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Ethical Research Policies: Federal Research Misconduct Policy

Federal Research Misconduct Policy

The Federal Research Misconduct Policy governs all federal funding agencies.

Common elements include:

I. Definition of Research Misconduct

  • Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is 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 [i.e. the record of data or results that embody the facts emerging from the research, and includes, but is not limited to, research proposals, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, journal articles, and books].
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
  • Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

II. Findings of Research Misconduct
A finding of research misconduct requires that:

  • There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community (i.e. the humanities, social sciences, or scientific research community);
  • The misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; and
  • The allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence.

III. Responsibility for Inquiry, Investigation, and Adjudication of Allegations of Research Misconduct

The core principle of the Federal Policy is that, while research organizations have the primary responsibility for the inquiry, investigation, and adjudication of allegations of research misconduct, Federal agencies have ultimate oversight authority for the research they fund or support.

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