Research misconduct occurs when a researcher fabricates or falsifies data, or plagiarizes information or ideas within a research report. The misconduct must be committed intentionally, and the allegation must be proven by sufficient evidence. The definition of misconduct can also extend to breaches of confidentiality and authorship/publication violations.
Whistleblowers, or those reporting the misconduct, are obligated to act, yet may face serious consequences, such as reduction in research support, ostracism, lawsuits, or termination. Institutions should have a procedure in place to investigate and report findings of misconduct to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and to protect both whistleblowers and the accused until a determination is made.
Researchers found guilty of misconduct can lose federal funding, be restricted to supervised research, or lose their job, so thorough investigation of an allegation is vital. Despite numerous allegations of misconduct, true misconduct is confirmed only about one time in ten thousand allegations.
42 CFR Parts 50 and 93 (PHS policies on research misconduct)
Questions and Answers pertaining to 42 CFR Part 93 (ORI)
Requirements for Institutional Policies and Procedures on Research Misconduct
(under PHS 42 CFR Part 93)
45 CFR 689 (NSF)