G. Misconduct in Research

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. 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 which 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, or misappropriation of the ideas of others in the proposing, conducting and 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 three years. Members of the inquiry and investigative committees must be selected with a care for their impartiality and personal distance from the principals. Princeton University will comply with reporting requirements of any relevant federal regulations.

  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.
  2. An inquiry is initiated upon submission to the Dean of allegations of misconduct in research. The allegations should be accompanied by or included within 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 confidential, 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. The Dean and, as necessary, the ad- hoc committee, will make every effort to assess the claims fully and fairly even in cases where the claimantchooses to remain anonymous, for example, by presentingthe allegations via the University’s hotline (www.princeton.edu/compliance/hotline). In some such cases, however, the Dean or the ad-hoc committee may not be able to make an appropriate assessment of the matter.
  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, with permission of the claimant, the identity of the claimant. At the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry, the respondent will be provided a copy of the inquiry report. Any comments made will become a part of the record and will be considered in deciding whether to proceed to a formal investigation.
  4. If the committee believes that its 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. 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. The reports of the investigating committee will be made available to the respondent. Any comments on the report by the respondent will be considered by the Dean before the final decision is made. 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 the allegations not sustained.
  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.The claimant may be advised by the Dean that the matter is concluded, misconduct in research was found to have occurred, and appropriate responsive steps have or are being taken by the University.