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Research Conduct

Misconduct in Research

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication (reporting of experiments never performed), falsification (misreporting or suppression of data to project a desired result), and plagiarism (reporting another's data as your own) of material by any member of the community at Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB) in any aspect related to the conduct of research. Breach of confidentiality i.e. presenting as one's own, ideas or data obtained from privileged access to original grants, manuscripts etc. is also considered a misdemeanor in the same category.

RCB will organize seminars and workshops at regular intervals to facilitate discussion and generate awareness about:

  • issues related to integrity in the conduct of research.
  • Good laboratory practices that would orient researchers towards the correct way of doing research

Our website will also provide access to articles, debates and examples of such misconduct to sensitize researchers about the nature of questionable research practice.

Investigation into Alleged Misconduct

The charge of research misconduct has serious implications for all concerned therefore investigation related to the review of alleged misconduct will be kept confidential to the maximum extent possible. Caution will have to be exercised to distinguish between differences in interpretation or unintended errors from the misrepresentation of information. Thus, the procedures adopted to address the issue of misconduct will perforce have to be flexible and determined on a case-by case basis.

Reporting and evaluation of the complaint

Reports of alleged misconduct are to be made directly to the office of the Executive Director, RCB. Misconduct may be reported by a member(s) of the community at RCB or elsewhere. The identity of the individual making the complaint (complainant) and person against whom the complaint is being made (subject) will not be revealed at this time. In case of potential conflict of interest, the complaint may be made to the Head Academics, at RCB.

A preliminary evaluation of the complaint will be made by the Executive Director, (which may include consultations with other colleagues) and if found that there are no reasonable grounds for the allegation, the complaint will be dismissed. A written report stating the reasons for the dismissal shall be maintained in the office of the Executive Director but will not enter the subject's confidential record. The complainant will also be notified of the dismissal.

Investigating a credible complaint

If the preliminary evaluation indicates that the allegation of misconduct warrants a full investigation, the following processes will be initiated with appropriate records of procedures:

The person against whom the complaint is being made will be informed of the allegations.

The Registrar / Dean in consultation with the Executive Director will appoint a committee to conduct a full investigation into the allegation of misconduct.

The committee may comprise members of the faculty at RCB or if appropriate, experts from outside of the Institute may be co-opted to serve on the committee. The committee will be invested with complete confidentially and will not be permitted to interact with the Press during the course of the investigation. The committee is expected to function with full cognizance of the rights of the subject and the complainant.

The investigation will assess:

  • the accuracy of the charge of misconduct
  • the extent and nature of the alleged misconduct,
  • the relevance of any other material or information revealed in the course of the investigation into the alleged instance of misconduct

In the course of the investigation the committee will be given access to grants, reports, primary data, electronic records, manuscripts and any other material requested, considered relevant to the inquiry. The committee will have access to laboratory premises and will be permitted interviews with laboratory personnel, the complainant and the subject. The subject will have the opportunity to present a defense. Should any action be recommended, the subject will have the opportunity to explain why such action should not be initiated. The committee is expected to complete its investigation at the earliest but not exceeding a period of sixty days.

Requirements for making a finding of misconduct:

  • There be a significant deviation from accepted practices of the relevant research community;
  • The misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
  • The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Outcome of the investigation

The committee will submit its report, with a recommended course of action, to the Registrar / Dean in a time frame decided at the outset of the investigation.

The Registrar / Dean will discuss the report with the subject and forward the findings of the committee, along with recommendations, to the Executive Director. The Executive Director will take appropriate action on the findings of the committee and on the Registrar /Dean's recommendations, which will be communicated to the Registrar / Dean and to the committee. The subject and the complainant will be notified in writing of the Executive Director's decision, which could enter the subject's confidential record.

Safeguard against mala fide intention

Every effort will be made to safeguard the interests of the complainant and to protect the person from any vindictive action. If established however, that the charges were motivated by malice or made frivolously, the Executive Director will formulate an appropriate course of formal action. The complainant will be given the opportunity to explain why this course of action should not be initiated.

(Recommended readings: On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine; Rossner and Yamada 2004, What's in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation J. Cell Biology 166,?11-15; Editorial, 2006 Beautification and Fraud, Nature Cell Biology 8, 101 - 102).

Other examples of research misconduct: