Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
Per University of Montana Policy 400 - Responsible Conduct of Research, all individuals involved in research, teaching, and service are expected to conduct such activities in a responsible and ethical manner.
It is the responsibility of the PI to certify and document that undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral scholars have completed the RCR training prior to being involved in a sponsored activity.
I. Responsibility to report misconduct
II. Rights and responsibilities
III. Conducting the inquiry
IV. Inquiry report
V. Conducting the inquiry
VI. Investigation report
VII. Requirements for reporting to ORI
VIII. Institutional administrative actions
IX. Other considerations
X. Record retention
XI. Training in research ethics
All employees or individuals associated with the University of Montana should report observed or suspected misconduct in science and creative activities to the Research Integrity Officer. An individual, unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of scientific misconduct, may call the Research Integrity Officer at (406) 243-6670 to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of misconduct listed below, the Research Integrity Officer will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is making up data or 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 person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate conduct. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Research Integrity Officer and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations, which may be made orally and anonymously.
A. Protecting the Complainant
The Research Integrity Officer will monitor the treatment of individuals who bring allegations of misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto, and those who cooperate in inquiries or investigations. The Research Integrity Officer will ensure that these persons will not be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their employment or other status at the institution and will review instances of alleged retaliation for appropriate action. Employees should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation to the Research Integrity Officer.
The institution will protect the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent possible. For example, if the Complainant requests anonymity, the institution will make an effort to honor the request during the allegation assessment or inquiry, within applicable policies, regulations, and state and local laws.
The Complainant will be advised that if the matter is referred to an investigation committee and the Complainant’s testimony is required, anonymity may be lost. Institutions are required to undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.
B. Protecting the Respondent
The Respondent will be provided with written notice of allegations within 5 days of their receipt. Inquiries and investigations will be conducted in a manner that will protect the Respondent and the Respondent’s professional reputation, ensure fair treatment to the Respondent(s) in the inquiry or investigation and confidentiality to the extent possible without compromising public health and safety or thoroughly carrying out the inquiry or investigation.
Institutional employees accused of misconduct may consult with legal counsel or a non-lawyer personal adviser (who is not a principal or witness in the case) to seek advice.
C. Cooperation with Inquiries and Investigations
Institutional employees will cooperate with the Research Integrity Officer and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Employees have an obligation to provide relevant evidence to the Research Integrity Officer or other institutional officials on misconduct allegations.
D. Preliminary Assessment of Allegations
Upon receiving an allegation of scientific misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether there is sufficiently credible and specific evidence to warrant an inquiry, whether federal support or federal applications for funding are involved, and whether the allegation falls under the federal definition of misconduct.
A. Research Integrity Officer
The Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship normally will serve as the Research Integrity Officer who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the procedures set forth in this document. The Research Integrity Officer must be an institutional official who is well qualified to handle the procedural requirements involved and is sensitive to the varied demands made on those who perform research or participate in other creative activities, those who are accused of misconduct, and those who report apparent misconduct in good faith.
The Research Integrity Officer will collect readily available information about the allegations and will perform a preliminary assessment. If warranted, the Research Integrity Officer will appoint the inquiry and investigation committees and ensure that necessary and appropriate expertise is secured to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in an inquiry or investigation. The Research Integrity Officer will make every attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. The Research Integrity Officer shall ensure that confidentially is maintained for any records or evidence from which research subjects might be identified. Disclosure shall be limited to those who have a need to know to carry out a research misconduct proceeding.
The Research Integrity Officer will assist inquiry and investigation committees and all institutional personnel in complying with these procedures and with applicable standards imposed by government or external funding sources. The Research Integrity Officer is also responsible for maintaining files of all documents and evidence and for the confidentiality and security of these files. The Research Integrity Officer will carry out the inquiry and investigation through to completion and diligently pursue all significant issues.
The Research Integrity Officer will report to ORI or the office identified by the involved federal agency as required by regulation and keep that office informed of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential federal funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the involved federal agency needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.
The Complainant will have an opportunity to testify before the inquiry and investigation committees, to review portions of the inquiry and investigation reports pertinent to the Complainant’s allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and to be protected from retaliation. Also, if the Research Integrity Officer has determined that the Complainant may be able to provide pertinent information on any portions of the draft report, these portions may be given to the Complainant for comment.
The Complainant must have credibility, no conflict of interest, be accountable, and is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.
The Respondent will be informed of the allegations when an inquiry is opened and notified in writing of the final determinations and resulting actions. The Respondent will also have the opportunity to be interviewed by and present evidence to the inquiry and investigation committees, to review the draft inquiry and investigation reports, and to have the advice of the Respondent’s counsel.
The Respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperation during inquiry or investigation. If the Respondent is not found guilty of misconduct, the Respondent has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation.
D. Deciding Official
The Deciding Official (Provost) will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the Respondent or the Complainant on the draft report. The Deciding Official will consult with the Research Integrity Officer or other appropriate officials and determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions (see Section VIII).
A. Initiation and Purpose of the Inquiry
Following the preliminary assessment, if the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegation provides sufficient information to allow specific follow-up, involves federal support, or falls under the PHS definition of misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will immediately initiate the inquiry process. In initiating the inquiry, the Research Integrity Officer should identify clearly the original allegation and any related issues that should be evaluated. The purpose of the inquiry is to make a preliminary evaluation of the available evidence and testimony of the Respondent, Complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible misconduct to warrant an investigation. The purpose of the inquiry is not to reach a final conclusion about whether misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible. The findings of the inquiry must be set forth in an inquiry report.
B. Sequestration of the Research Records and Other Material Information
After determining that an allegation falls within the definition of misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer must ensure that all relevant original research records and materials relevant to the allegation are immediately secured for the duration of the process; access to the records will only be made through the Research Integrity Officer. The Research Integrity Officer may consult with ORI or appropriate office of the involved federal agency for advice and assistance in this regard. At any time during the inquiry, Research Integrity Officer or Inquiry Committee members may sequester more relevant records as necessary.
C. Appointment of the Inquiry Committee
The Research Integrity Officer, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair within 10 days of the initiation of the inquiry. The inquiry committee should consist of individuals who do not have personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the inquiry. These individuals may be scientists, subject matter experts, administrators, lawyers, or other qualified persons, and they may be from inside or outside, the institution.
The Research Integrity Officer will notify the Respondent of the proposed committee membership in 10 days. If the Respondent submits a written objection stating a valid objection to any appointed member of the inquiry committee or expert based on bias or conflict of interest within 5 days, the Research Integrity Officer will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.
D. Charge to the Committee and the First Meeting
The Research Integrity Officer will prepare a charge for the inquiry committee that:
- describes the allegations,
- describes any related issues identified during the allegation assessment,
- states that the purpose of the inquiry is preliminary information-gathering and fact-finding to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible misconduct to warrant an investigation as required by the federal regulation and not to determine whether misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible,
- states that a written report must be prepared, and
- sets a deadline of 45 days from the first committee meeting for the inquiry committee to complete its work and the written report.
At the committee's first meeting, the Research Integrity Officer will review the charge with the committee, discuss the allegations, any related issues, and the appropriate procedures for conducting the inquiry, assist the committee with organizing plans for the inquiry, and answer any questions raised by the committee. The Research Integrity Officer and institutional legal counsel, or the legal counsel’s designee, will be available throughout the inquiry to advise the committee as needed.
E. Inquiry Process
The inquiry committee may interview the Complainant, the Respondent, and key witnesses as well as examine relevant research records and materials. Then the inquiry committee will evaluate the evidence and testimony obtained during the inquiry. After consultation with the Research Integrity Officer and institutional legal counsel, the committee members will decide whether there is sufficient evidence of possible misconduct to recommend further investigation. The scope of the inquiry does not include deciding whether misconduct occurred or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses.
F. Standard of Proof
The standard of proof for misconduct must be established by a preponderance of evidence supporting the conclusion that the acts or practices in question were serious departures from those commonly employed in the United States for proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting research and other creative activities. In determining whether or not misconduct occurred, both action and intent will be considered.
A. Elements of the Inquiry Report
A written inquiry report must be prepared that includes the name and title of the committee members and experts, if any; allegations; federal source of support; summary of the inquiry process used; list of the research records reviewed; summaries of any interviews; description of the evidence in sufficient detail to demonstrate whether an investigation is warranted or not; and the committee's determination as to whether an investigation is recommended and whether any other actions should be taken if an investigation is not recommended. It may also state the name and position of the respondent. Institutional legal counsel will review the report for legal sufficiency.
B. Comments on the Draft Report by the Respondent and the Complainant
The Research Integrity Officer will provide the Respondent with a copy of the draft inquiry report for comment and rebuttal and will provide the Complainant with either portions or a summary of the draft inquiry report that address the Complainant’s role and opinions in the investigation.
- Confidentiality - the Research Integrity Officer may establish reasonable conditions for review protect the confidentiality of the draft report.
- Receipt of Comments - Within 14 calendar days of their receipt of the draft report, the Complainant and Respondent will provide their comments, if any, to the inquiry committee. Any comments that the Complainant or Respondent submits on the draft report will become part of the final inquiry report and record. Based on the comments, the inquiry committee may revise the report as appropriate.
C. Inquiry Decision and Notification
- Decision by Deciding Official - The Research Integrity Officer will transmit the final report and any comments to the Deciding Official, who will make the determination of whether findings from the inquiry provide sufficient evidence of possible misconduct to justify conducting an investigation. The inquiry is completed when the Deciding Official makes this determination, which will be made within 60 days of the first meeting of the inquiry committee. Any extension of this period must be made by mutual consent of the Research Integrity Officer and the Respondent and will be based on good cause and recorded in the inquiry file.
- Notification - The Research Integrity Officer will notify both the Respondent and Complainant in writing of the Deciding Official's decision of whether to initiate an investigation and will remind them of their obligation to fully cooperate in the event an investigation is opened. Such notification to Respondent must include a copy of the inquiry report, a copy of or reference to 42 C.F.R. 93.308 and the institution’s policies and procedures. The Research Integrity Officer will also notify all appropriate institutional officials of the Deciding Official's decision. If an investigation is warranted or if it is determined that any conditions in 42 C.F.R. 93.318 exist, the Research Integrity Officer must notify appropriate federal offices as stipulated in 42 C.F.R. 93.309(a)(b)(d). If a decision not to investigate is made, sufficiently detailed documentation of the inquiry must be kept, for at least 7 years, to permit a later assessment by ORI of reasons why it was decided not to conduct an investigation.
D. Time Limit for Completing the Inquiry Report
The inquiry committee will normally complete the inquiry and submit its report in writing to the Research Integrity Officer no more than 45 calendar days following its first meeting, unless the Research Integrity Officer approves an extension for good cause. If the Research Integrity Officer approves an extension, the reason for the extension will be entered into the records of the case and report. The Respondent also will be notified of the extension.
A. Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of the investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, to determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent, and the formal development of a factual record and the examination of that record leading to a decision not to make a finding of misconduct or to a recommendation for a finding of misconduct, including recommendations for appropriate remedies. The investigation will also determine whether there are additional instances of possible misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations. This is particularly important where the alleged misconduct involves clinical trials or potential harm to human subjects or the general public or if it affects research that forms the basis for public policy, clinical practice, or public health practice. The findings of the investigation will be set forth in an investigation report.
B. Sequestration of the Research Records
The Research Integrity Officer will immediately sequester any additional pertinent research records that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry. This sequestration should occur before or at the time the Respondent is notified that an investigation has begun. The need for additional sequestration of records may occur for any number of reasons, including the institution's decision to investigate additional allegations not considered during the inquiry stage or the identification of records during the inquiry process that had not been previously secured. The procedures to be followed for sequestration during the investigation are the same procedures that apply during the inquiry. If additional allegations arise at this point, they will revert to an inquiry phase and be considered as described in Section IV above.
C. Appointment of the Investigation Committee
An investigation must be initiated within 30 days of a completed inquiry and completed within 120 days. The Research Integrity Officer, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an investigation committee and the committee chair within 10 days of the notification to the Respondent that an investigation is planned or as soon thereafter as practicable. The investigation committee should consist of at least three individuals who do not have personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegations, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the investigation. These individuals may be scientists, administrators, subject matter experts, lawyers, consultants, or other qualified persons, and they may be from inside or outside the institution. Individuals appointed to the investigation committee may also have served on the inquiry committee.
The Research Integrity Officer will notify the Respondent of the proposed committee membership within 5 days. If the Respondent submits a written objection stating reason to any appointed member of the investigation committee or expert, the Research Integrity Officer will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.
D. Charge to the Investigation Committee and the First Meeting
- Charge to the Committee - The Research Integrity Officer will define the subject matter of the investigation in a written charge to the committee that describes the allegations and related issues identified during the inquiry, defines misconduct, and identifies the name of the Respondent. The charge will state that the committee is to evaluate the evidence and testimony of the Respondent, Complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether, based on preponderance of evidence, misconduct occurred and, if so, to what extent, who was responsible, and its seriousness.
During the investigation, if additional information becomes available that substantially changes the subject matter of the investigation or would suggest additional respondents, the committee will notify the Research Integrity Officer, who will determine whether it is necessary to notify the respondent of the new subject matter and who must provide notice to additional respondents.
If the Research Integrity Officer decides to pursue any new allegations that become available and were not addressed during the inquiry or in the initial notice of investigation, the Research Integrity Officer must give the respondent written notice within a reasonable time of such decision.
- The First Meeting - The Research Integrity Officer, with the assistance of institutional legal counsel or the legal counsel’s designee, will convene the first meeting of the investigation committee to review the charge, the inquiry report, and the prescribed procedures and standards for the conduct of the investigation, including the necessity for confidentiality and for developing a specific investigation plan. The investigation committee will be provided with a copy of these instructions and, where federal funding is involved, the appropriate federal regulations.
E. Investigation Process
The investigation committee will be appointed and the process initiated within 30 days of the completion of the inquiry, if findings from that inquiry provide a sufficient basis for conducting an investigation.
The investigation will normally involve taking custody of and examining all documentation including, but not necessarily limited to, relevant research records, computer files, proposals, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, memoranda, and notes of telephone calls. Whenever possible, the committee should interview the whistleblower(s), the Respondents(s), and other individuals who might have information regarding aspects of the allegations. Interviews of the Respondent should be tape recorded or transcribed. All other interviews should be transcribed, tape recorded, or summarized. Summaries or transcripts of the interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file.
A. Elements of the Investigation Report
Following the procedure outlined below, a final written report will be prepared and submitted to the Research Integrity Officer and, if federal funds are involved, to ORI or appropriate office of the involved federal agency must describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, describe how and from whom information relevant to the investigation was obtained, state the findings, and explain the basis for the findings. The report will cover the elements in 42 C.F.R. § 93.313,including the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct as well as a description of any sanctions imposed and administrative actions taken by the institution.
B. Comments on the Draft Report
- Respondent - The Research Integrity Officer will provide the Respondent with a copy of the draft investigation report for comment and rebuttal. The Respondent will be allowed 10 days to review and provide written comments on the draft report. The Respondent's comments will be attached to the final report. The findings of the final report should take into account the Respondent's comments in addition to all the other evidence.
- Complainant - TThe Research Integrity Officer will provide the Complainant with those portions of the draft investigation report that address the Complainant's role and statements in the investigation. The Complainant will be allowed 14 days to respond to the report, particularly noting any inaccuracies as they relate to the investigation. The report should be modified, as appropriate, based on the Complainant's comments.
- Institutional Legal Counsel - The draft investigation report will be transmitted to the institutional legal counsel, or the legal counsel’s designee, for a review of its legal sufficiency. Comments should be incorporated into the report as appropriate.
- Confidentiality - In distributing the draft report, or portions thereof, to the Respondent and Complainant, the Research Integrity Officer will inform the recipient of the confidentiality under which the draft report is made available and may establish reasonable conditions to ensure such confidentiality. For example, the Research Integrity Officer may request the recipient to sign a confidentiality statement or to come to the Research Integrity Officer’s office to review the report.
C. Institutional Review and Decision
Based on a preponderance of evidence, the Deciding Official will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions. If this determination varies from that of the investigation committee, the Deciding Official will explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from that of the investigation committee in the institution's letter transmitting the report to ORI or the office of the involved federal agency. The Deciding Official's explanation should be consistent with the HHS definition of misconduct, the institution's policies and procedures, and the evidence reviewed and analyzed by the investigation committee. The Deciding Official may also return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. The Deciding Official's determination, together with the investigation committee's report, constitutes the final investigation report for purposes of review by ORI or the involved federal agency if federal funds were involved.
When a final decision on the case has been reached, the Research Integrity Officer will notify both the Respondent and the Complainant in writing. In addition, the Deciding Official will determine whether law enforcement agencies, professional societies, professional licensing boards, editors of journals in which falsified reports may have been published, collaborators of the Respondent in the work, or other relevant parties should be notified of the outcome of the case. The Research Integrity Officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with all notification requirements of funding or sponsoring agencies.
D. Transmittal of the Final Investigation Report
After comments have been received and the necessary changes have been made to the draft report, the investigation committee should transmit the final report with attachments, including the Respondent's and Complainant's comments, to the Deciding Official, through the Research Integrity Officer. The final report will be sent to ORI.
E. Time Limit for Completing the Investigation Report
An investigation should ordinarily be completed within 120 days of its initiation, with the initiation being defined as the first meeting of the investigation committee. This includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, making the draft report available to the subject of the investigation for comment, submitting the report to the Deciding Official for approval, and submitting the report to the ORI or appropriate office of the involved federal agency.
An institution's decision to initiate an investigation (as defined in the Policy) involving federal funds must be reported in writing to the Director, ORI, or appropriate officer of the involved federal agency on or before the date the investigation begins. At a minimum, the notification should include the name of the person(s) against whom the allegations have been made, the general nature of the allegation as it relates to the HHS definition of misconduct, and the federal applications or grant number(s) involved. ORI or office of the involved federal agency must also be notified of the final outcome of the investigation and must be provided with a copy of the investigation report. Any significant variations from the provisions of the institutional policies and procedures should be explained in any reports submitted to ORI or office of the involved federal agency. There must be full and continuing cooperation with ORI during its oversight review.
If an institution plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements of the HHS regulation, the Research Integrity Officer will submit a report of the planned termination to ORI or the appropriate office of involved federal agency, including a description of the reasons for the proposed termination.
If the institution determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in 120 days, the Research Integrity Officer will submit to ORI or appropriate office of the involved federal agency, a written request for an extension that explains the delay, reports on the progress to date, estimates the date of completion of the report, and describes other necessary steps to be taken. If the request is granted, the Research Integrity Officer will file periodic progress reports as requested by the ORI or office of the involved federal agency.
D. Involvement of Federal Funding
When federal funding or applications for funding are involved and an admission of misconduct is made, the Research Integrity Officer will contact ORI or the appropriate office of the involved federal agency for consultation and advice. Normally, the individual making the admission will be asked to sign a statement attesting to the occurrence and extent of misconduct. When the case involves federal funds, the institution cannot accept an admission of misconduct as a basis for closing a case or not undertaking an investigation without prior approval from ORI or the appropriate office of the involved federal agency.
E. Duties of Research Integrity Officer
The Research Integrity Officer has a duty to notify ORI or the appropriate office of the involved federal agency within 24 hours and at any stage of the inquiry or investigation when the following conditions exist:
- an immediate health hazard;
- an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment;
- the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the individual(s) who is the subject of the allegations as well as such individual’s co-investigators and associates, if any, need immediate protection;
- the alleged incident is going to be or is likely to be reported publicly;
- the alleged incident involves a public health sensitive issue, e.g., a clinical trial; or
- the inquiry or investigation reasonably indicates a possible criminal violation.
If the Deciding Official determines that the alleged misconduct is substantiated by the findings, after consultation with the Research Integrity Officer, the case file will be turned over to the University President who will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken. The actions may include:
- withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where scientific misconduct was found;
- removal of the responsible person from the particular project, letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, suspension, salary reduction, or initiation of steps leading to possible rank reduction or termination of employment; and
- restitution of funds as appropriate.
A. Termination of Institutional Employment or Resignation Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation
The termination of the Respondent's institutional employment, by resignation or otherwise, before or after an allegation of possible misconduct has been reported, will not preclude or terminate the misconduct procedures.
If the Respondent, without admitting to the misconduct, elects to resign from the University prior to the initiation of an inquiry, but after an allegation has been reported, or during an inquiry or investigation, the inquiry or investigation will proceed. If the Respondent refuses to participate in the process after resignation, the committee will use its best efforts to reach a conclusion concerning the allegations, noting in its report the Respondent's failure to cooperate and its effect on the committee's review of all the evidence.
B. Restoration of the Respondent's Reputation
If the institution finds no misconduct and ORI or appropriate office of the involved federal agency concurs, after consulting with the Respondent, the Research Integrity Officer will undertake concerted efforts to restore the Respondent's reputation. Depending on the particular circumstances, the Research Integrity Officer should consider notifying those individuals aware of or involved in the investigation of the final outcome, publicizing the final outcome in forums in which the allegation of misconduct was previously publicized, or expunging all reference to the scientific misconduct allegation from the Respondent's personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the Respondent's reputation must first be approved by the Deciding Official.
C. Protection of the Complainant and Otherwise
Regardless of whether the institution, ORI, or the appropriate office of the involved federal agency determines that misconduct occurred, the Research Integrity Officer will undertake reasonable efforts to protect Complainants who made allegations of misconduct in good faith and any witnesses, committee members or other persons who cooperate in good faith with inquiries and investigations of such allegations. Upon completion of an investigation, the Deciding Official will determine, after consulting with the Complainant, what steps, if any, are needed to restore the position or reputation of the Complainant. The Research Integrity Officer is responsible for implementing any steps the Deciding Official approves. The Research Integrity Officer will also take appropriate steps during the inquiry and investigation to prevent any retaliation against the Complainant.
D. Allegations Not Made in Good Faith
If relevant, the Deciding Official will determine, after consulting with the Research Integrity Officer and members of the Investigation Committee, whether the Complainant's allegations of misconduct were made in good faith. If an allegation was not made in good faith, the Deciding Official will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the Complainant. In addition allegations not made in good faith may subject the Complainant to external legal action.
E. Interim Administrative Actions
Institutional officials will take interim administrative actions, as appropriate, to protect federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are carried out.
F. Time Limitations
There is a six-year limitation to investigate from the date HHS or the University of Montana receives an allegation of research misconduct. Exceptions to this limitation include the following:
- If the respondent continues or renews any incident of alleged research misconduct that occurred before the six-year limitation through the citation, republication or other use for the potential benefit of the respondent of the research record that is alleged to have been fabricated, falsified, or plagiarized.
- If ORI or the University of Montana, following consultation with ORI, determines that the alleged misconduct, if it occurred, would possibly have a substantial adverse effect on the health or safety of the public.
- If HHS or the University of Montana received the allegation of research misconduct before the effective date of 42 C.F.R. § 93.105.
The Research Integrity Officer will prepare a complete file, including the records of any inquiry or investigation and copies of all documents and other materials furnished to the Research Integrity Officer or committees. The Research Integrity Officer will keep the file for seven years after completion of the case. The University is obligated to give ORI, the office of the involved federal agency, or other authorized federal personnel access to the records upon request.
Through the Practical Ethics Center, the University of Montana-Missoula offers an 18 hour seminar series on Research Ethics. Graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty are encouraged to take advantage of this course. If formal training in ethics is mandated for institutions applying for or receiving federal grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, formal training Research Ethics will be required of principal investigators and students supported by these funds and an assurance of compliance will be included in a checklist that accompanies every research or training grant application. Such principal investigators and students shall be informed of the Responsible Research policies and procedures.