Section 1100: Research, Sponsored Projects & Public Service

Effective: 2002 
Revised: December 2016 Review Date: March 2019
Responsible Party: Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

It is the policy of Montana State University-Northern to require the highest ethical standards in the research/creative activity of its faculty and staff; to inquire into and, if necessary, investigate and resolve promptly and fairly all instances of alleged or apparent misconduct; and, as appropriate, to comply in a timely manner with requirements for reporting cases of possible misconduct to sponsoring agencies when sponsored research funds are involved. Misconduct in research or creative activity shall be considered a breach of contract between the employee and the University. This policy applies to any research/creative activity undertaken by faculty or professional staff. Cases of research/academic misconduct involving students are subject to the disciplinary rules governing students, but may be reviewed, where appropriate, under this policy. In conducting any inquiry or investigation into allegations of misconduct, the University shall protect, to the maximum extent possible under the law, the privacy of individuals who, in good faith, report apparent misconduct.

Definitions:

  1. Complainant: The person who makes an allegation of research misconduct or the person who cooperates with an inquiry or investigation.
  2. Evidence: Includes, but is not limited to, research records, transcripts, or recordings of interviews, committee correspondence, administrative records, grant applications and awards, manuscripts, publications, expert analyses, and electronic data.
  3. Inquiry: Preliminary information gathering and fact finding to determine if an allegation, or apparent instance of research misconduct, warrants an investigation.
  4. Investigation: Formal collection and evaluation of information and facts to determine if research misconduct can be established, to assess its extent and consequences, and to recommend appropriate action.
  5. Research Misconduct: Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
  6. Respondent: The person against whom an allegation of research misconduct has been made, or the person whose actions are the focus of the inquiry or investigation.

RIGHTS OF RESPONDENT

Any Respondent shall be afforded:

  • Confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible under the law,
  • A prompt and thorough investigation, and
  • An opportunity to comment on all allegations and findings of any inquiry and/or investigation. Faculty and staff are expected to cooperate with those persons conducting the inquiry and/or investigation.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE UNIVERSITY

In cases of alleged misconduct, the University will:

  • Take precautions against any real or apparent conflicts of interest on the part of those involved in the inquiry and investigative hearing,
  • Take administrative action(s) as deemed appropriate, to protect federal funds and insure that the purposes of federal financial assistance are carried out,
  • Undertake diligent efforts to restore the reputations of persons accused of misconduct when allegations are not confirmed by investigation and protect the positions and reputations of those persons who in good faith made allegations, and
  • Impose appropriate sanctions on individuals when allegations of misconduct have been substantiated.

REPORTING THE ALLEGATION

An allegation of misconduct in research/create activity should be made to the appropriate department head or dean who shall report the allegation to the Provost/ Vice Chancellor. The Provost/ Vice Chancellor shall notify the person accused of misconduct, his or her dean or department head, and the President of Faculty Senate, in writing, than an inquiry will be conducted. The notification shall include a statement of the alleged misconduct reported.

ASSESSMENT OF ALLEGATIONS

Upon receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the Provost will assess the allegation to determine whether it is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified and whether the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct adopted by the university and the federal sponsor. An inquiry must be conducted if these criteria are met.

The assessment period should be brief, preferably concluded within a week. In conducting the assessment, the Provost need not interview the Complainant, Respondent, or other witnesses, or gather data beyond any that may be haven submitted with the allegation, except as necessary to determine whether the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified.