G. Misconduct in Research

       The University is committed to high ethical and scholarly standards in the substance, conduct, and reporting of research. Safeguards on both fronts are embodied in the best traditions of disinterested scholarly inquiry, including skepticism, independent cross checks, and a sense of personal responsibility. These traditions presuppose that one’s colleagues are honorable, even if occasionally mistaken: room has to be left open for intellectual risk-taking and honest error. However, any serious indication of research misconduct calls for systematic institutional response. Members of the Princeton community have a duty to foster a climate that encourages ethical conduct of scholarly research. They also have a responsibility to report if ever they encounter serious indications of misconduct in research. Reporting such concerns in good faith is a service to the University and to the larger academic community. The University is committed to maintaining an environment that enables and encourages such service.  The University prohibits retaliation of any kind against a person who, acting in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected or alleged misconduct in research.

       “Misconduct in research”, as understood here, includes, but is not limited to, fabrication or falsification of data, plagiarism, interference with the integrity of the work of others, misappropriation of the ideas of others, or misrepresentation in the proposing, conducting, or reporting of research. The procedures adopted for dealing with possible incidents of misconduct must be sensitive to the personal reputations and careers of the person bringing the allegation of misconduct, of the person against whom the allegation is directed, and of others caught up in the events. Confidentiality in the proceedings has to be respected throughout, to the maximum extent possible. Procedures must be expeditious and fair. It is important that a written record be kept covering all phases of the proceedings. These records will be kept for at least seven years. Members of the inquiry committees and investigative panels must be selected with a care for their impartiality and personal distance from the principals. Princeton University will comply with the requirements of all relevant federal regulations throughout, and if applicable, should there be a conflict between these general procedures and the regulations, the regulations shall govern.

1.    The responsibility for pursuing allegations of misconduct in research rests with the Dean of the Faculty. If a graduate student is involved as one of the principals, the Dean of the Faculty will consult throughout with the Dean of the Graduate School. If the Dean of the Faculty has a conflict, the responsibility shall fall upon the Provost or another academic officer designated by the President.

2.     Any allegations of misconduct in research should be communicated by written or oral statement. The person raising the allegations (the “claimant”) is expected to be available early on for confidential communications with the Dean of the Faculty, or his or her designee. The aim in this is to determine whether the case falls within the definition of “misconduct in research” and whether the allegations are sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified. The Dean will make every effort to assess the claims fully and fairly even in cases where the claimant chooses to remain anonymous, for example, by presenting the allegations via the University’s hotline (https://oac.princeton.edu/compliance/hotline). In some such cases, however, the Dean may decide that it is not possible to make an appropriate assessment of the matter. If the allegations meet the assessment criteria above, the Dean will soon thereafter form an ad-hoc committee to carry out a preliminary inquiry and to issue a confidential written report recommending to the Dean whether or not a formal investigation is warranted. The preliminary inquiry formally commences with the initial meeting of the inquiry committee.

3.    At the time of or before beginning an inquiry, the person against whom the allegations are raised (the “respondent”) must be provided by the Dean with a written statement laying out the charges in full, evidence, membership of the inquiry committee, and, with permission of the claimant, the identity of the claimant. On or before the date on which the respondent is notified of the inquiry, the Dean will determine what reasonable and practical steps should be taken to protect the research records and evidence needed to conduct the proceedings. Before the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry, the respondent will be provided a confidential draft copy of the inquiry report and an opportunity to comment. Any comments are expected to be submitted within seven days of the respondent’s receipt of the draft report, and such comments will become a part of the record and will be considered in deciding whether to proceed to a formal investigation. The preliminary inquiry, which shall conclude within 60 days unless an extension is warranted and documented, shall end upon issuance of the Dean’s decision. If the Dean determines that a formal investigation is not warranted, the matter shall be closed and final.

4.    If the Dean believes that his or her findings warrant a formal investigation and, in the case of an anonymous complaint, are capable of being formally investigated despite the anonymity of the complainant, the Dean will form an appropriate investigative panel and inform the respondent as to its membership within 30 days. The panel must include two members of the standing University Research Board, one of whom will normally serve as Chair of the panel. It may include members from outside the University community, and the panel may consult with outside experts. If government-sponsored research is involved, the University will inform the appropriate agencies in as confidential manner as possible on or before the date the investigation begins. If, during the course of the proceedings, the University learns that the alleged research misconduct poses a threat to public health, federal funds or equipment, or the integrity of the government-supported research process, the University shall (i) notify the applicable federal sponsor(s) immediately, and (ii) promptly take appropriate action to protect against the perceived threat(s).

5.    Unless there are extenuating circumstances requiring a longer process, the investigative panel will be expected to come to a conclusion and report its findings to the Dean, in a confidential draft report, in no more than 60 days from the initial meeting of the investigative panel. The confidential draft report of the investigative panel will be made available to the respondent. Any comments on the report by the respondent are expected to be submitted within 30 days of the respondent’s receipt of the draft report and will be considered by the panel in preparing its final report. The comments of the respondent shall be appended to the final report and considered by the Dean before the final decision is made. It is expected that all aspects of the investigation will be completed within 120 days of the panel’s initial meeting.

6.    If the allegations of misconduct are not sustained, the case must be dropped, and nothing of it may appear in the personnel record of the respondent or claimant. The claimant may be advised by the Dean that the matter is concluded and final, and the allegations not sustained.  The Dean should take reasonable steps, if requested and as appropriate, to protect or restore the reputation of persons alleged to have engaged in research misconduct but against whom no finding of research misconduct is made.

7.     If the respondent acknowledges misconduct, or if the Dean accepts a finding of misconduct by the investigative panel, the conclusions and disciplinary recommendations of the Dean will be implemented or forwarded to the President for decisions and implementation, subject to standard University grievance protections. If misconduct has occurred, the University must make every reasonable effort to reach and inform journal editors, research collaborators and other parties affected by the misconduct and, in the case of sponsored research, the sponsoring organizations. The claimant may be advised by the Dean that the matter is concluded and final, misconduct in research was found to have occurred, and appropriate responsive steps have been or are being taken by the University. The Dean should take reasonable and practical efforts to protect or restore the position and reputation of any complainant, witness, or committee member and to counter potential or actual retaliation against them.

8.    The University will cooperate, to the extent required by law or term of award, with the appropriate federal sponsor during its oversight review or any subsequent administrative proceedings.