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INITIAL INQUIRY

 

Once the Committee determines that an informal inquiry is warranted, the Chairman shall, within 3 working days of the referral, appoint an Inquiry Board consisting of three members from the Committee on Scientific Misconduct to conduct the inquiry. No member of the Inquiry Board shall have a primary appointment in the department of the respondent or Complainant. The Misconduct Policy Officer is an ex officio (without vote) member of the Inquiry Board and is responsible for maintaining the records of the Inquiry Boardís deliberations.

 

1. The Inquiry Board will consist of individuals with the necessary expertise to read and evaluate material and information developed as the inquiry proceeds. The Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer, in consultation with the entire committee, will determine if external consultants serving as experts are likely to facilitate the inquiry process. External experts will serve in an advisory capacity and will not cast a vote regarding the disposition of the inquiry. Candidates from within and outside the committee will be eligible for the role of expert consultant.

 

2. The Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will ensure that where Federal funding of research is involved, interim administrative actions are taken to protect Federal funds and the public health so that the purposes of Federal financial assistance are met.

 

An Inquiry consists of information-gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation of misconduct warrants an investigation. The Inquiry Board shall immediately notify the respondent along with the dean/director of the relevant college or unit that an allegation of scientific misconduct has been received. Private and separate sessions will be held to hear the accuser, if identified, the respondent, and others as determined necessary by the Inquiry Board.

 

All relevant evidence that is produced shall be reviewed and secured. All persons meeting with the Inquiry Board may be accompanied by a representative of their choice. Refusal on the part of the respondent to allow the Inquiry board to review necessary documents shall be grounds for an investigation.

 

An Investigation will be triggered when the inquiry phase uncovers information which tends to support the allegation or which raises questions as to possible misconduct that can only be resolved by formal investigation. The Inquiry Board shall take no more than 30 days from the date the Misconduct Policy Officer was first notified of the allegation to conduct its inquiry and determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. If the inquiry exceeds the 30-day period, the Inquiry Board shall document the reason(s) for the delay. The Inquiry Board shall make a formal report consisting of the allegation, the Inquiry Boardís findings, and a recommendation on future actions. The report can recommend that either:

 

1. Information collected during the inquiry does not substantiate the allegation and a formal investigation is not warranted; or

 

2. The allegations have sufficient substance to warrant further investigation.

 

A copy of the report and recommendations shall be sent to the complainant, respondent, dean/director or the college or unit, and the President through the appropriate Vice President(s) or the Provost. The respondent may comment on the report which will be made a part of the record. Records from the inquiry and any subsequent investigation will be maintained in a secure manner for a period of at least three years after the termination of the inquiry or investigation, and will be made available to authorized personnel of the funding agency upon request.

 

In the event that Howard University, through the Committee on Scientific Misconduct, elects to terminate an inquiry before all steps are taken, the Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will advise the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the planned early termination.

These reasons for this termination will be specified in this communication. The Committee on Scientific Misconduct will be responsive to ORI review and advice regarding early termination.

 

The Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will, where an inquiry determines that no investigation is necessary, undertake reasonable steps to restore the respondentís reputation. Where appropriate this will include notifying those who were aware of the inquiry of the final disposition, expunging any record of the inquiry from personnel files and where an allegation has been made public, publicizing the final outcome of the inquiry. The Deciding Official will approve all actions to restore a respondentís reputation.

 

Regardless of the final disposition of an inquiry, the Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will undertake reasonable efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those who have made allegations in good faith and who cooperated in good faith with the inquiry. The Deciding Official will determine what steps if any are needed to restore the position and reputation of those who make allegations or cooperate with inquiries. The Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will implement the steps approved by the Deciding Officer. The Research Integrity Misconduct Policy Officer will take appropriate steps to see that those making allegations in good faith are not targets of retaliation during an inquiry.



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