Research Misconduct includes fabrication of data (making up experiments never performed), falsification of data (misreporting data and editing or suppressing data to fit a desired hypothesis or result) and plagiarism (passing off the ideas or results of others as one’s own) by any member of NII’s scientific community. In addition, breach of confidentiality (using information accessed from grants or manuscripts received for review) by scientists is considered a misdemeanor.
Investigation into alleged Misconduct: Since charges of alleged misconduct can have far-reaching consequences for a number of individuals, the investigation will be kept confidential to the maximum extent possible. Caution needs to be exercised to distinguish between lack of clarity or unintended errors versus deliberate fraud, and differences in interpretation versus deliberate misinterpretation of information. Hence procedures to investigate issues of misconduct have to necessarily be flexible and determined on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting misconduct and preliminary processing of the complaint: Complaints of research misconduct may be made in writing by any member(s) of the scientific community in NII (past or present),or elsewhere, directly to the Director, NII. If there is a conflict of interest, the complaint should be addressed to one of the two Deputy Directors or to the Scientist in charge of Academic Affairs. These officials will make a preliminary evaluation to assess whether there are reasonable grounds in the allegation to warrant a full investigation and she/he may take the advice of scientific colleagues in this matter. If no reasonable grounds are found, the complaint will be dismissed and the complainant notified of the decision. A written report of the proceedings will be maintained in the Director’s Secretariat.
Full investigation:If the allegation is found to warrant a full investigation, the person against whom the complaint is made (the accused) will be informed and the Director will appoint a committee that may include external members to investigate the accuracy and nature of the charge and to assess the extent of alleged misconduct. The investigation will be covered by the mandate of confidentiality and neither the complainant, the accused, his/her lab members or the committee members are permitted to go public with the matter. In the course of the investigation, the committee can requisition any document or information that it considers relevant to the allegation. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, hard and/or soft copies of data, manuscripts and grants applied for (or sanctioned). It will have unlimited access to the laboratory premises of the accused and may also interview his/her laboratory personnel.
The committee will interview the complainant as well as the accused and the accused will be allowed to present a defense and to interview the complainant. The committee will try to complete the investigation as quickly as possible and the whole process should not exceed 90 days. If misconduct is established and action recommended, the accused will be given the opportunity to make a rebuttal and explain why such action should not be initiated. The final report of the committee, with a recommended course of action will be submitted to the Director. Her/his decision on the appropriate action to be taken will be conveyed to the Committee and to the accused in writing.