Research Misconduct

The University is committed to high scholarly standards in the substance of research and to high ethical standards in the conduct 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. 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 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. Members of the inquiry and investigative committees must be selected with a care for their impartiality and personal distance from the principals.

  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. Misconduct in research, as understood here, includes: fabrication or falsification of data, plagiarism, interference with the integrity of the work of others, or misappropriation of ideas of others.
  2. An inquiry is initiated upon submission to the dean of a written statement which lays out the allegations and evidence. The person raising the allegations (the "claimant") is expected to be available early on for a personal discussion with the dean. The aim in this is not to assess the accuracy of the allegations, except insofar as they may be patently mischievous or malicious, but to clarify the issues and determine whether the case falls properly under the heading of misconduct in research. If it does, the dean will soon thereafter form a small ad-hoc committee to carry out a preliminary inquiry. The committee will be expected to report to the dean in writing within 90 days.
  3. At the outset of the preliminary inquiry, the person against whom the allegations are raised (the "respondent") must be provided by the dean with a written statement laying out in full the charges, evidence, membership of the inquiry panel, and identity of the claimant.
  4. If the committee believes that its findings warrant a formal investigation, the dean will form an appropriate investigative panel and inform the respondent as to its membership. 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. If government-sponsored research is involved, the University will inform the appropriate agencies in as confidential manner as possible.
  5. Unless there are extenuating circumstances requiring a longer process, the investigating committee will be expected to come to a conclusion and report its findings to the dean, in writing, in no more than three months. 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.
  6. If the respondent acknowledges misconduct, or if the dean accepts a finding of misconduct by the investigating committee, the conclusions and disciplinary recommendations of the dean will be 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.

Academic Fraud

If any member of the staff is aware of or suspects that fraud is taking place in any scholarly or research activity, he or she should bring the matter promptly to the attention of the department chair and the dean of the faculty.