Research 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. The key words are fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. 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/results. This means that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words, without giving appropriate credit. Research misconduct does not include honest errors or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
The University is bound ethically and legally to respond to allegations of scientific misconduct in a fair, objective and timely manner and it has an effective policy for dealing with allegations of misconduct in scholarly research. Because mishandling of allegations of scientific misconduct can have devastating consequences for all concerned, the University's response to allegations of this type is precise and uniform. A summary of the key steps in this process follow:
Suspected or apparent scholarly misconduct should be reported to the VPAA. A report of scholarly misconduct must be in writing and signed. Prior to reporting scholarly misconduct, a person may informally discuss the matter with the appropriate Department Chair, Director, Dean, the Vice President for Research, the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs or the VPAA (Provost).
The VPAA shall preliminarily review any report of scholarly misconduct and confer with legal counsel, as appropriate, to determine whether the report warrants initiation of the inquiry process.
If an inquiry proceeds, the VPAA will take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of, inventory, and secure all research records relevant to the allegation. The Committee of Inquiry shall conclude its process as expeditiously as possible. The inquiry phase generally should be completed and a written report filed within sixty days from initiation of the inquiry.
Should an investigation be warranted following the inquiry, a Committee of Investigation shall be appointed within thirty days (or as soon thereafter as practicable) of the President’s approval.
The Committee of Investigation shall consist of no less than three respected members of the academic, professional, or scientific community who have a national reputation of excellence in the same or closely allied discipline as the respondent. At least one member should, if reasonably possible, be a person not primarily associated with the University System of Maryland.
The Committee will use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research or other relevant records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation. It also will take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased investigation to the maximum extent practical.
All participants in the inquiry and investigation process, including the complainant, respondent, witnesses, and committee members should be treated with fairness, respect and sensitivity to their reputations, and should be protected against retaliation in connection with good faith participation.
Every effort will be made to complete the investigation within 120 days; this includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report, allowing thirty days for the respondent and complainant to review and comment on the draft report and submitting the report to the VPAA.
The report of the Committee of Investigation will, among other things, describe the nature of the allegation of scholarly misconduct, including identification of the respondent. It will also include recommendations for institutional actions for any finding in favor of scholarly misconduct.
The full University policy and procedures on research misconduct is on the President’s Website.