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HOWARD UNIVERSITY POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING ALLEGATIONS OF SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
It is recognized that accusations of scientific misconduct are among the most serious charges that can be lodged against a researcher. Any person contemplating such accusations should fully consider the gravity of the accusation and its consequences, and should make every reasonable effort to avoid lodging charges that are devoid of a substantial element of truth. Frivolous or false accusations may also constitute grounds for disciplinary actions.
Howard University recognizes and proposes that free and open scientific discourse must continue at this institution. Accordingly, researchers are strongly encouraged to continue their scientific endeavors. This policy is developed in order to provide an orderly process for dealing with allegations of scientific misconduct and to comply with requirements of sponsoring organizations.
A. RESEARCH MISCONDUCT is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reported research results.
∑ Fabrication is making up 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.
∑ Plagiarism is the appropriation of another personís ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit, including those obtained through confidential review of othersí research proposals and manuscripts.
∑ It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
B. INQUIRY is defined as an informal information-gathering and initial fact-finding process to determine whether an allegation of misconduct warrants an investigation.
C. INVESTIGATION is defined as a formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine the seriousness of the offense and the extent of any adverse effects resulting from the misconduct.
PREVENTING OR AVOIDING SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
The University recognizes that efforts to prevent or avoid scientific misconduct may also effectively impede or impair scientific pursuits. However, there are measures that researchers and/or administrators can take to create a climate of openness in research and which in turn will tend to discourage scientific misconduct. These measures, examples of which are set forth below, should not be construed as mandatory, but are mere suggestions which in many instances are already regularly practiced by researchers.
1. Maintain and store raw data upon which research conclusions are based in a safe environment. The raw data are the best protection against claims of fabricated or falsified research. Researchers are encouraged to consider backup systems for raw data.
2. Preview research proposals and manuscripts with colleagues of equal or greater experience. This may serve to improve the technical/scientific quality of the proposal or manuscript, while also providing for corroboration of research ideas and timing.
3. Present research findings at departmental or other faculty meetings. This also provides for more open discourse among colleagues for the mutual protection of individual researchers leading to an enhanced climate of integrity and objectivity.
4. Adhere to established standards of ethics regarding authorship of publications. All authors named on a collaborative study accept full responsibility for the work published or at least for that portion of the research for which they were responsible. Researchers should be familiar with established guidelines and should also adhere to requirements set by individual publishers.
5. Consider the possibility of holding staff meetings for the purposes described in paragraphs 2 and 3 above. Such a forum would be useful in enlisting the departmentís assistance in solving administrative and other problems involving research projects. Department heads might consider requesting a file copy of each research manuscript submitted for publication.
6. Encourage the incorporation of formal course work, for example, seminars on bioethics, into the curriculum, making this subject an integral part of the research and educational experience.
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