5.7 Policy for Responding to Allegations of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct

5.7.1 Introduction

General Policy
Georgia Tech expects all personnel to conduct themselves in a professional manner that will maintain the high standards and integrity of the Institute.

Scope
This policy and the associated procedures apply to all individuals at Georgia Tech engaged in research or other scholarly activity regardless of the source of funding for the activity including but not limited to funding or proposed funding from federal sources (see References 1 and 2). This policy applies to any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with the institution, such as scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers, or collaborators with or at Georgia Tech. The policy and associated procedures will normally be followed when an allegation of possible misconduct in science is received by an institutional official. Particular circumstances in an individual case may dictate variation from the normal procedure deemed in the best interests of Georgia Tech and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Any change from normal procedures also must ensure fair treatment to the subject of the inquiry or investigation. Any significant variation should be approved in advance by the Provost of Georgia Tech.

This policy and the procedural requirements involved in handling allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct are intended to be sensitive to the varied demands made on those who conduct research and other scholarly activities, those who are accused of misconduct, and those who report apparent misconduct in good faith.

This policy does not replace or supersede the Academic Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct found in the Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalogue (see Reference 3) for students subject to that policy, except when the alleged scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurs in sponsor supported activities.

5.7.2 Definitions

Allegation means any written or oral statement or other indication of possible Scientific or Other Scholarly

Misconduct made to an institutional official.

Complainant means a person who makes an allegation of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct.

Conflict of interest means, for purposes of the administration of this policy, the real or apparent interference of one person's interests with the interests of another person, where potential bias may occur due to prior or existing personal or professional relationships (see Reference 4).

Good faith allegation means an allegation made with the honest belief that Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct may have occurred. An allegation is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

Inquiry means gathering information and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct warrants an investigation.

Investigation means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred, and, if so, to determine the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.

ORI means the Office of Research Integrity, the office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that is responsible for the scientific misconduct and research integrity activities of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).  In the event the sponsor is the PHS, ORI will be notified as required by Section 50.104(a)(1-7) of 42CFR Part 50, Subpart A.

PHS means the U.S. Public Health Service, an operating component of DHHS.

PHS regulation means the Public Health Service regulation establishing standards for institutional inquiries and investigations into allegations of scientific misconduct, which is set forth at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A, entitled "Responsibility of PHS Awardee and Applicant Institutions for Dealing With and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science."

PHS support means PHS grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements or applications for such funding.

Research record means any data, document, computer file, computer diskette, or any other written or non-written account or object that reasonably may be expected to provide evidence or information regarding the proposed, conducted, or reported research that constitutes the subject of an allegation of scientific misconduct. A research record includes, but is not limited to, grant or contract applications, whether funded or unfunded; grant or contract progress and other reports; laboratory notebooks; notes; correspondence; videos; photographs; X-ray film; slides; biological materials; computer files and printouts; manuscripts and publications; equipment use logs; laboratory procurement records; animal facility records; human and animal subject protocols; consent forms; medical charts; and patient research files.

Respondent means the person against whom an allegation of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct is directed or the person whose actions are the subject of the inquiry or investigation. There can be more than one respondent in any inquiry or investigation.

Retaliation means any action that adversely affects the employment or other institutional status of an individual that is taken by an institution or an employee because the individual has in good faith made an allegation of scientific misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto or has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation.

Scientific or other scholarly misconduct or misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Sponsor means any agency of the U.S. Federal government, state government, private foundation, corporation, or other entity external to Georgia Tech that provides funds or other support to support a research project, research program, or other scholarly activity.  In the event the sponsor is the PHS, ORI will be notified (as defined above).

Sponsor support means any grant, contract, cooperative agreement, fellowship award, or any proposal or application for such funding.

5.7.3 Rights & Responsibilities

Provost
The Provost in consultation with the Vice President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management (VP-LA&RM) will have primary responsibility for implementation of the procedures set forth in this document.

The Provost 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 VP-LA&RM on behalf of the Provost 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 VP-LA&RM will attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. The VP-LA&RM is also responsible for maintaining files of all documents and evidence and for the confidentiality and the security of the files.

The Provost will report to any sponsor as required by law, regulation, or contractual agreement and keep the sponsor apprised of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the sponsor needs to know to ensure appropriate use of sponsor funds and otherwise protect the public interest.

Complainant
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 his/her allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and to be protected from retaliation. Also, if the Provost has determined that the complainant may be able to provide pertinent information on any portions of the draft report, these portions will be given to the complainant for comment. The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.

Respondent
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 counsel. The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation. If the respondent is not found guilty of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation such as verbal notification or written documentation that no misconduct was found (see Reference 5).

President
The President will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the respondent or the complainant on the draft report. The President will consult with the Provost or other appropriate officials and will determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions as provided in Georgia Tech policies and the policies of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

5.7.4 General Policies & Principles

Responsibility to Report Misconduct
All employees or individuals associated with Georgia Tech shall report observed, suspected, or apparent misconduct in science to the Provost or Executive Vice-President for Research. If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she may call the VP-LA&RM to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct, the Provost will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem. Compliance concerns in the Georgia Tech Research Institute may also be reported via their hotline. At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Provost and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

Protecting the Complainant
The Provost 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 Provost 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 Provost.

Also the institution will protect the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent permitted by Georgia law. 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 and regulations and Georgia law. The Complainant will be advised that if the matter is referred to an investigation committee and the complainant's testimony is required, anonymity may no longer be guaranteed. Georgia Tech will make efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.

Protecting the Respondent
Inquiries and investigations will be conducted in a manner that will 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.

Institute employees accused of scientific or other scholarly 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.

Cooperation with Inquiries and Investigations
All Georgia Tech employees will cooperate with the Committee of Inquiry, committee of Investigation and VP-LA&RM and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. All employees have an obligation to provide relevant evidence to the committees or VP-LA&RM or other institutional officials on misconduct allegations.

Decision to Conduct an Inquiry
Upon receiving an allegation of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, the Provost in consultation with the VP-LA&RM will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry, whether sponsor support is involved, and whether the allegation falls under the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct found in Section 5.7.2 of this policy.

5.7.5 Conducting the Inquiry

Responsibility to Report Misconduct
Following the preliminary assessment, if the Provost determines that the allegation provides sufficient information to allow specific follow-up, involves PHS support, and falls under the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she will immediately initiate the inquiry process. In initiating the inquiry, the Provost 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 scientific or other scholarly 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.

Sequestration of the Research and Other Records
After determining that an allegation falls within the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, the Provost must ensure that all original research and other records and materials relevant to the allegation are immediately secured (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 6).

Appointment of the Inquiry Committee
The Provost, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair within five (5) business days of the initiation of the inquiry. The inquiry committee should consist of individuals who do not have real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case, and who 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 Provost will notify the respondent of the proposed committee membership upon its appointment. If the respondent submits a written objection to any appointed member of the inquiry committee or expert based on bias or conflict of interest within five (5) business days, the Provost will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.

Charge to the Committee and the First Meeting
The Provost will prepare a charge for the inquiry committee that describes the allegations and any related issues identified during the allegation assessment and states that the purpose of the inquiry is to make a preliminary evaluation of the evidence and testimony of the respondent, complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to warrant an investigation as required by this policy. The purpose is not to determine whether scientific or other scholarly misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible.

At the committee's first meeting, the Provost 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 VP-LA&RM will be present or available throughout the inquiry to advise the committee as needed.

Inquiry Process
The inquiry committee will normally interview the complainant, respondent, and key witnesses as well as examining relevant research records and materials.  Then the inquiry committee will evaluate the evidence and testimony obtained during the inquiry. After consultation with the Provost and institutional counsel, the committee members will decide whether there is sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to recommend further investigation.  The scope of the inquiry does not include deciding whether misconduct occurred or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses.

5.7.6 The Inquiry Report

Elements of the Inquiry Report
A written inquiry report must be prepared that states the name and title of the committee members and experts, if any; the allegations; sponsor support; a summary of the inquiry process used; a list of the research records reviewed; summaries of any interviews; a 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. The VP-LA&RM will review the draft report.

Comments on the Draft Report by the Respondent and the Complainant
The Provost will provide the respondent with a copy of the draft inquiry report for comment and rebuttal and will provide the complainant, if he or she is identifiable, with portions of the draft inquiry report that address the complainant's role and opinions in the investigation.

Confidentiality
To the extent permitted by Georgia law, the Provost may establish reasonable conditions for review to protect the confidentiality of the draft report.

Receipt of Comments
Within ten (10) business 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.

Decision by President
The Provost will transmit the final report and any comments to the President, who will make the determination of whether findings from the inquiry provide sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to justify conducting an investigation.  The inquiry is completed when the President makes this determination, which will be made within five (5) business days of receipt of the final report of the inquiry committee. Any extension of this period will be based on good cause and recorded in the inquiry file.

Notification
The Provost will notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing of the President's decision of whether to proceed to an investigation and will remind them of their obligation to cooperate in the event an investigation is opened. The Provost will also notify all appropriate institutional officials of the President's decision.

Time Limit for Completing the Inquiry Report
The inquiry committee will normally complete the inquiry and submit its report in writing to the Provost no more than fifteen (15) business days following its first meeting, unless the Provost approves an extension for good cause. If the Provost approves an extension such that completion of the inquiry including the report will require more than sixty (60) calendar days, the reason for the extension will be entered into the records of the case and the report. The respondent will be notified of any extension.

5.7.7 Conducting the Investigation

Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of the investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, and to determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. 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.

Sequestration of the Research Records
The Provost will immediately sequester any additional pertinent research or other records that were identified during an inquiry and not previously sequestered. 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.

Appointment of the Investigation Committee
The Provost, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an investigation committee and the committee chair within ten (10) business days of notifying the respondent that an investigation will take place. The investigation committee should consist of at least three individuals who do not have real or apparent 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, 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.

Upon selection, the Provost will notify the respondent of the proposed committee membership. If the respondent submits a written objection within ten (10) business days to any appointed member of the investigation committee or expert, the Provost will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.

Charge to the Committee
The Provost 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, define scientific and other scholarly misconduct, and identify 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 a preponderance of the evidence, scientific or other scholarly 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 Provost, who will determine whether it is necessary to notify the respondent of the new subject matter or to provide notice to additional respondents.

The First Meeting
The Provost, with the assistance of the VP-LA&RM, 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 sponsor support is involved, the applicable sponsor regulation.

Investigation Process
The investigation committee will be appointed and the process initiated within thirty (30) calendar 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 examination of 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 complainant(s), the respondents(s), and other individuals who might have information regarding aspects of the allegations. All other interviews should be transcribed, or tape recorded. Summaries of the tape recordings 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.

5.7.8 The Investigation Report

Elements of the Investigation Report
The final report must describe the policies under which the investigation was conducted, describe the procedures used, 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 include 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.

Comments on the Draft Report

Respondent
The Provost will provide the respondent with a copy of the draft investigation report for comment and rebuttal. The respondent will be allowed ten (10) business days to review and comment 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
The Provost will provide the complainant, if he or she is identifiable, with those portions of the draft investigation report that address the complainant's role and opinions in the investigation. The report should be modified, as appropriate, based on the complainant's comments, which must be received by the committee within ten (10) business days.

Vice-President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management (VP-LA&RM)
The draft investigation report will be transmitted to the VP-LA&RM for a review. Comments should be incorporated into the report as appropriate.

Confidentiality
In distributing the draft report, or portions thereof, to the respondent and complainant, the Provost 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 Provost may request the recipient to sign a confidentiality statement, come to his or her office, or come to the VP-LA&RM’s office to review the report.

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 President, through the Provost.

Institutional Review and Decision
The President will review the final report and recommendations of the Investigation Committee. Based on a preponderance of the evidence, the President will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions. The President will make the final decision regarding any institutional actions or the imposition of any sanctions. There is no further appeal within Georgia Tech of any sanctions imposed as a result of a finding of scientific or other scholarly misconduct.

If the President’s determination varies from that of the investigation committee, the President will explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from that of the investigation committee in a letter to the Provost which shall become part of the investigation file.  This shall also be included in Georgia Tech’s letter transmitting the report to appropriate sponsor including ORI if PHS funding or a proposal for such funding is involved. The President's explanation should be consistent with the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct (Section 5.7.2 of this policy) and the evidence reviewed and analyzed by the investigation committee. The President may also return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. The President's determination, together with the investigation committee's report, constitutes the final investigation report for purposes of review as may be required by law or sponsor regulations.

When a final decision on the case has been reached, the Provost will notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing. In addition, the President 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 Provost is responsible for ensuring compliance with all requirements to notify sponsors.

Time Limit for Completing the Investigation Report
An investigation should ordinarily be completed within one hundred twenty (120) calendar 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 President for approval, and submitting the report to the sponsor if required.

5.7.9 Requirements for Reporting to Sponsers

In the event that an allegation of scientific or other scholarly misconduct involves grants, contracts or cooperative agreements or proposals or applications for funding submitted to a Federal or other sponsor, the Provost’s decision to initiate an investigation must be reported in writing to that sponsor if required by state or Federal laws or the sponsor’s regulations or by contractual agreement (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 7). At a minimum, notification, when required, 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 definition of scientific and other scholarly misconduct, and the applications or grant number(s) involved.  In accordance with the applicable regulations, Georgia Tech may also be required to notify the sponsor of the final outcome of the investigation and provide 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 a sponsor.

If Georgia Tech plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements of the applicable regulations, the Provost will submit a report of the planned termination to the sponsor, including a description of the reasons for the proposed termination as required by those regulations.

If Georgia Tech determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in one-hundred twenty (120) days, Georgia Tech may be required to submit to the sponsor 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 such a request is required in the event that the scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurred in a activity supported by PHS, the Provost will submit it and, if the request is granted, the Provost will file periodic progress reports as requested by the ORI.

When an admission of scientific or other scholarly misconduct is made, the individual making the admission will normally be asked to sign a statement attesting to the occurrence and extent of misconduct (see Reference 8).

The Provost will notify sponsors or other appropriate Federal, state or local officials or Georgia Tech administrative officials at any stage of the inquiry or investigation if:

  • There is an immediate health hazard involved;
  • There is an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment;
  • There is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the individual(s) who is the subject of the allegations as well as his/her co-investigators and associates, if any;
  • It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly;
  • The allegation involves a public health sensitive issue, e.g., a clinical trial; or
  • There is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 9).

5.7.10 Institutional Administrative Actions

Georgia Tech will take appropriate administrative actions against individuals when an allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.  If the President determines that the alleged misconduct is substantiated by the findings, he or she will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with the Provost. The actions may include: withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where scientific or other scholarly 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; restitution of funds as appropriate; or failure or reduction of a grade in a course.

5.7.11 Other Considerations

Termination of Institutional Employment, Resignation, or Withdrawal from the Institution Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation
The termination of the respondent's institutional employment or enrollment, by resignation or otherwise, before or after an allegation of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct has been reported, will not preclude or terminate the misconduct procedures.  If the respondent, without admitting to the misconduct, elects to resign his or her position 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.

Restoration of the Respondent's Reputation
If Georgia Tech finds no misconduct, after completing any required consultation with a sponsor and after consulting with the respondent, the Provost will undertake reasonable efforts to restore the respondent's reputation.

Depending on the particular circumstances, the Provost 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 scientific or other scholarly misconduct was previously publicized, or expunging all reference to the scientific or other scholarly misconduct allegation from the respondent's personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the respondent's reputation must first be approved by the President.

Protection of the Complainant and Others
Regardless of whether the institution or ORI determines that scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurred, the Provost will undertake reasonable efforts to protect complainants who made allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct in good faith and others who cooperate in good faith with inquiries and investigations of such allegations. Upon completion of an investigation, the President will determine, after consulting with the complainant, what steps, if any, are needed to restore the position or reputation of the complainant. The Provost is responsible for implementing any steps the President approves.  The Provost will also take appropriate steps during the inquiry and investigation to prevent any retaliation against the complainant.

Allegations Not Made in Good Faith
If relevant, the President will determine whether the complainant's allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct were made in good faith. If an allegation was not made in good faith, the President will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the complainant.

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.

5.7.12 Record Retention

After completion of a case and all ensuing related actions, the VP-LA&RM will prepare a complete file, including the records of any inquiry or investigation and copies of all documents and other materials furnished to the Provost or committees. The Office of Legal Affairs will keep the file for three years after completion of the case to permit later assessment of the case. As required by law or regulation, sponsor personnel, including ORI or other authorized DHHS personnel in cases involving PHS support, will be given access to the records upon request.

5.7.13 References

  1. The PHS regulation at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A applies to any research, research-training or research-related grant or cooperative agreement with PHS.
  2. The DOD Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS) lay out minimum requirements of a system of management controls to promote integrity and honesty in the contractor’s business conduct. These are found at SUBPART 203.70--CONTRACTOR STANDARDS OF CONDUCT.
  3. http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/
  4. The Georgia Institute of Technology Policy on Conflict of Interest, Consulting, and Disclosure may be found in Section 5.6 of the Faculty Handbook.
  5. See Section 5.7.11.
  6. In the event PHS funding or applications for PHS funding are involved, the Provost and VP-LA&RM may consult with ORI for advice and assistance regarding the sequestration of research records.
  7. In the event the alleged scientific or other scholarly misconduct involves PHS funding or proposals or applications submitted for PHS funding, Georgia Tech’s decision to initiate or terminate an investigation must be reported in writing to the Director, ORI, on or before the date the investigation begins.
  8. When the case involves PHS support, Georgia Tech cannot accept an admission of scientific misconduct as a basis for closing a case or not undertaking an investigation without prior approval from ORI.
  9. In this instance, the institution must inform ORI within twenty-four (24) hours of obtaining that information if PHS funding is involved.
     

5.7.1 Introduction

General Policy
Georgia Tech expects all personnel to conduct themselves in a professional manner that will maintain the high standards and integrity of the Institute.

Scope
This policy and the associated procedures apply to all individuals at Georgia Tech engaged in research or other scholarly activity regardless of the source of funding for the activity including but not limited to funding or proposed funding from federal sources (see References 1 and 2). This policy applies to any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with the institution, such as scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers, or collaborators with or at Georgia Tech. The policy and associated procedures will normally be followed when an allegation of possible misconduct in science is received by an institutional official. Particular circumstances in an individual case may dictate variation from the normal procedure deemed in the best interests of Georgia Tech and the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Any change from normal procedures also must ensure fair treatment to the subject of the inquiry or investigation. Any significant variation should be approved in advance by the Provost of Georgia Tech.

This policy and the procedural requirements involved in handling allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct are intended to be sensitive to the varied demands made on those who conduct research and other scholarly activities, those who are accused of misconduct, and those who report apparent misconduct in good faith.

This policy does not replace or supersede the Academic Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct found in the Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalogue (see Reference 3) for students subject to that policy, except when the alleged scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurs in sponsor supported activities.

5.7.2 Definitions

Allegation means any written or oral statement or other indication of possible Scientific or Other Scholarly

Misconduct made to an institutional official.

Complainant means a person who makes an allegation of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct.

Conflict of interest means, for purposes of the administration of this policy, the real or apparent interference of one person's interests with the interests of another person, where potential bias may occur due to prior or existing personal or professional relationships (see Reference 4).

Good faith allegation means an allegation made with the honest belief that Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct may have occurred. An allegation is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

Inquiry means gathering information and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct warrants an investigation.

Investigation means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred, and, if so, to determine the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.

ORI means the Office of Research Integrity, the office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that is responsible for the scientific misconduct and research integrity activities of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).  In the event the sponsor is the PHS, ORI will be notified as required by Section 50.104(a)(1-7) of 42CFR Part 50, Subpart A.

PHS means the U.S. Public Health Service, an operating component of DHHS.

PHS regulation means the Public Health Service regulation establishing standards for institutional inquiries and investigations into allegations of scientific misconduct, which is set forth at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A, entitled "Responsibility of PHS Awardee and Applicant Institutions for Dealing With and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science."

PHS support means PHS grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements or applications for such funding.

Research record means any data, document, computer file, computer diskette, or any other written or non-written account or object that reasonably may be expected to provide evidence or information regarding the proposed, conducted, or reported research that constitutes the subject of an allegation of scientific misconduct. A research record includes, but is not limited to, grant or contract applications, whether funded or unfunded; grant or contract progress and other reports; laboratory notebooks; notes; correspondence; videos; photographs; X-ray film; slides; biological materials; computer files and printouts; manuscripts and publications; equipment use logs; laboratory procurement records; animal facility records; human and animal subject protocols; consent forms; medical charts; and patient research files.

Respondent means the person against whom an allegation of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct is directed or the person whose actions are the subject of the inquiry or investigation. There can be more than one respondent in any inquiry or investigation.

Retaliation means any action that adversely affects the employment or other institutional status of an individual that is taken by an institution or an employee because the individual has in good faith made an allegation of scientific misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto or has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation.

Scientific or other scholarly misconduct or misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Sponsor means any agency of the U.S. Federal government, state government, private foundation, corporation, or other entity external to Georgia Tech that provides funds or other support to support a research project, research program, or other scholarly activity.  In the event the sponsor is the PHS, ORI will be notified (as defined above).

Sponsor support means any grant, contract, cooperative agreement, fellowship award, or any proposal or application for such funding.

5.7.3 Rights & Responsibilities

Provost
The Provost in consultation with the Vice President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management (VP-LA&RM) will have primary responsibility for implementation of the procedures set forth in this document.

The Provost 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 VP-LA&RM on behalf of the Provost 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 VP-LA&RM will attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. The VP-LA&RM is also responsible for maintaining files of all documents and evidence and for the confidentiality and the security of the files.

The Provost will report to any sponsor as required by law, regulation, or contractual agreement and keep the sponsor apprised of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the sponsor needs to know to ensure appropriate use of sponsor funds and otherwise protect the public interest.

Complainant
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 his/her allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and to be protected from retaliation. Also, if the Provost has determined that the complainant may be able to provide pertinent information on any portions of the draft report, these portions will be given to the complainant for comment. The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.

Respondent
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 counsel. The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation. If the respondent is not found guilty of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation such as verbal notification or written documentation that no misconduct was found (see Reference 5).

President
The President will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the respondent or the complainant on the draft report. The President will consult with the Provost or other appropriate officials and will determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions as provided in Georgia Tech policies and the policies of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

5.7.4 General Policies & Principles

Responsibility to Report Misconduct
All employees or individuals associated with Georgia Tech shall report observed, suspected, or apparent misconduct in science to the Provost or Executive Vice-President for Research. If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she may call the VP-LA&RM to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of Scientific or Other Scholarly Misconduct, the Provost will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem. Compliance concerns in the Georgia Tech Research Institute may also be reported via their hotline. At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Provost and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

Protecting the Complainant
The Provost 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 Provost 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 Provost.

Also the institution will protect the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent permitted by Georgia law. 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 and regulations and Georgia law. The Complainant will be advised that if the matter is referred to an investigation committee and the complainant's testimony is required, anonymity may no longer be guaranteed. Georgia Tech will make efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.

Protecting the Respondent
Inquiries and investigations will be conducted in a manner that will 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.

Institute employees accused of scientific or other scholarly 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.

Cooperation with Inquiries and Investigations
All Georgia Tech employees will cooperate with the Committee of Inquiry, committee of Investigation and VP-LA&RM and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. All employees have an obligation to provide relevant evidence to the committees or VP-LA&RM or other institutional officials on misconduct allegations.

Decision to Conduct an Inquiry
Upon receiving an allegation of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, the Provost in consultation with the VP-LA&RM will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry, whether sponsor support is involved, and whether the allegation falls under the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct found in Section 5.7.2 of this policy.

5.7.5 Conducting the Inquiry

Responsibility to Report Misconduct
Following the preliminary assessment, if the Provost determines that the allegation provides sufficient information to allow specific follow-up, involves PHS support, and falls under the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, he or she will immediately initiate the inquiry process. In initiating the inquiry, the Provost 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 scientific or other scholarly 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.

Sequestration of the Research and Other Records
After determining that an allegation falls within the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct, the Provost must ensure that all original research and other records and materials relevant to the allegation are immediately secured (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 6).

Appointment of the Inquiry Committee
The Provost, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair within five (5) business days of the initiation of the inquiry. The inquiry committee should consist of individuals who do not have real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case, and who 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 Provost will notify the respondent of the proposed committee membership upon its appointment. If the respondent submits a written objection to any appointed member of the inquiry committee or expert based on bias or conflict of interest within five (5) business days, the Provost will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.

Charge to the Committee and the First Meeting
The Provost will prepare a charge for the inquiry committee that describes the allegations and any related issues identified during the allegation assessment and states that the purpose of the inquiry is to make a preliminary evaluation of the evidence and testimony of the respondent, complainant, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to warrant an investigation as required by this policy. The purpose is not to determine whether scientific or other scholarly misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible.

At the committee's first meeting, the Provost 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 VP-LA&RM will be present or available throughout the inquiry to advise the committee as needed.

Inquiry Process
The inquiry committee will normally interview the complainant, respondent, and key witnesses as well as examining relevant research records and materials.  Then the inquiry committee will evaluate the evidence and testimony obtained during the inquiry. After consultation with the Provost and institutional counsel, the committee members will decide whether there is sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to recommend further investigation.  The scope of the inquiry does not include deciding whether misconduct occurred or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses.

5.7.6 The Inquiry Report

Elements of the Inquiry Report
A written inquiry report must be prepared that states the name and title of the committee members and experts, if any; the allegations; sponsor support; a summary of the inquiry process used; a list of the research records reviewed; summaries of any interviews; a 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. The VP-LA&RM will review the draft report.

Comments on the Draft Report by the Respondent and the Complainant
The Provost will provide the respondent with a copy of the draft inquiry report for comment and rebuttal and will provide the complainant, if he or she is identifiable, with portions of the draft inquiry report that address the complainant's role and opinions in the investigation.

Confidentiality
To the extent permitted by Georgia law, the Provost may establish reasonable conditions for review to protect the confidentiality of the draft report.

Receipt of Comments
Within ten (10) business 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.

Decision by President
The Provost will transmit the final report and any comments to the President, who will make the determination of whether findings from the inquiry provide sufficient evidence of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct to justify conducting an investigation.  The inquiry is completed when the President makes this determination, which will be made within five (5) business days of receipt of the final report of the inquiry committee. Any extension of this period will be based on good cause and recorded in the inquiry file.

Notification
The Provost will notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing of the President's decision of whether to proceed to an investigation and will remind them of their obligation to cooperate in the event an investigation is opened. The Provost will also notify all appropriate institutional officials of the President's decision.

Time Limit for Completing the Inquiry Report
The inquiry committee will normally complete the inquiry and submit its report in writing to the Provost no more than fifteen (15) business days following its first meeting, unless the Provost approves an extension for good cause. If the Provost approves an extension such that completion of the inquiry including the report will require more than sixty (60) calendar days, the reason for the extension will be entered into the records of the case and the report. The respondent will be notified of any extension.

5.7.7 Conducting the Investigation

Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of the investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, and to determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. 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.

Sequestration of the Research Records
The Provost will immediately sequester any additional pertinent research or other records that were identified during an inquiry and not previously sequestered. 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.

Appointment of the Investigation Committee
The Provost, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an investigation committee and the committee chair within ten (10) business days of notifying the respondent that an investigation will take place. The investigation committee should consist of at least three individuals who do not have real or apparent 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, 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.

Upon selection, the Provost will notify the respondent of the proposed committee membership. If the respondent submits a written objection within ten (10) business days to any appointed member of the investigation committee or expert, the Provost will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute.

Charge to the Committee
The Provost 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, define scientific and other scholarly misconduct, and identify 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 a preponderance of the evidence, scientific or other scholarly 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 Provost, who will determine whether it is necessary to notify the respondent of the new subject matter or to provide notice to additional respondents.

The First Meeting
The Provost, with the assistance of the VP-LA&RM, 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 sponsor support is involved, the applicable sponsor regulation.

Investigation Process
The investigation committee will be appointed and the process initiated within thirty (30) calendar 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 examination of 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 complainant(s), the respondents(s), and other individuals who might have information regarding aspects of the allegations. All other interviews should be transcribed, or tape recorded. Summaries of the tape recordings 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.

5.7.8 The Investigation Report

Elements of the Investigation Report
The final report must describe the policies under which the investigation was conducted, describe the procedures used, 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 include 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.

Comments on the Draft Report

Respondent
The Provost will provide the respondent with a copy of the draft investigation report for comment and rebuttal. The respondent will be allowed ten (10) business days to review and comment 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
The Provost will provide the complainant, if he or she is identifiable, with those portions of the draft investigation report that address the complainant's role and opinions in the investigation. The report should be modified, as appropriate, based on the complainant's comments, which must be received by the committee within ten (10) business days.

Vice-President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management (VP-LA&RM)
The draft investigation report will be transmitted to the VP-LA&RM for a review. Comments should be incorporated into the report as appropriate.

Confidentiality
In distributing the draft report, or portions thereof, to the respondent and complainant, the Provost 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 Provost may request the recipient to sign a confidentiality statement, come to his or her office, or come to the VP-LA&RM’s office to review the report.

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 President, through the Provost.

Institutional Review and Decision
The President will review the final report and recommendations of the Investigation Committee. Based on a preponderance of the evidence, the President will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions. The President will make the final decision regarding any institutional actions or the imposition of any sanctions. There is no further appeal within Georgia Tech of any sanctions imposed as a result of a finding of scientific or other scholarly misconduct.

If the President’s determination varies from that of the investigation committee, the President will explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from that of the investigation committee in a letter to the Provost which shall become part of the investigation file.  This shall also be included in Georgia Tech’s letter transmitting the report to appropriate sponsor including ORI if PHS funding or a proposal for such funding is involved. The President's explanation should be consistent with the definition of scientific or other scholarly misconduct (Section 5.7.2 of this policy) and the evidence reviewed and analyzed by the investigation committee. The President may also return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. The President's determination, together with the investigation committee's report, constitutes the final investigation report for purposes of review as may be required by law or sponsor regulations.

When a final decision on the case has been reached, the Provost will notify both the respondent and the complainant in writing. In addition, the President 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 Provost is responsible for ensuring compliance with all requirements to notify sponsors.

Time Limit for Completing the Investigation Report
An investigation should ordinarily be completed within one hundred twenty (120) calendar 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 President for approval, and submitting the report to the sponsor if required.

5.7.9 Requirements for Reporting to Sponsers

In the event that an allegation of scientific or other scholarly misconduct involves grants, contracts or cooperative agreements or proposals or applications for funding submitted to a Federal or other sponsor, the Provost’s decision to initiate an investigation must be reported in writing to that sponsor if required by state or Federal laws or the sponsor’s regulations or by contractual agreement (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 7). At a minimum, notification, when required, 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 definition of scientific and other scholarly misconduct, and the applications or grant number(s) involved.  In accordance with the applicable regulations, Georgia Tech may also be required to notify the sponsor of the final outcome of the investigation and provide 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 a sponsor.

If Georgia Tech plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements of the applicable regulations, the Provost will submit a report of the planned termination to the sponsor, including a description of the reasons for the proposed termination as required by those regulations.

If Georgia Tech determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in one-hundred twenty (120) days, Georgia Tech may be required to submit to the sponsor 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 such a request is required in the event that the scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurred in a activity supported by PHS, the Provost will submit it and, if the request is granted, the Provost will file periodic progress reports as requested by the ORI.

When an admission of scientific or other scholarly misconduct is made, the individual making the admission will normally be asked to sign a statement attesting to the occurrence and extent of misconduct (see Reference 8).

The Provost will notify sponsors or other appropriate Federal, state or local officials or Georgia Tech administrative officials at any stage of the inquiry or investigation if:

  • There is an immediate health hazard involved;
  • There is an immediate need to protect Federal funds or equipment;
  • There is an immediate need to protect the interests of the person(s) making the allegations or of the individual(s) who is the subject of the allegations as well as his/her co-investigators and associates, if any;
  • It is probable that the alleged incident is going to be reported publicly;
  • The allegation involves a public health sensitive issue, e.g., a clinical trial; or
  • There is a reasonable indication of possible criminal violation (see Section 5.7.13, Reference 9).

5.7.10 Institutional Administrative Actions

Georgia Tech will take appropriate administrative actions against individuals when an allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.  If the President determines that the alleged misconduct is substantiated by the findings, he or she will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with the Provost. The actions may include: withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where scientific or other scholarly 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; restitution of funds as appropriate; or failure or reduction of a grade in a course.

5.7.11 Other Considerations

Termination of Institutional Employment, Resignation, or Withdrawal from the Institution Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation
The termination of the respondent's institutional employment or enrollment, by resignation or otherwise, before or after an allegation of possible scientific or other scholarly misconduct has been reported, will not preclude or terminate the misconduct procedures.  If the respondent, without admitting to the misconduct, elects to resign his or her position 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.

Restoration of the Respondent's Reputation
If Georgia Tech finds no misconduct, after completing any required consultation with a sponsor and after consulting with the respondent, the Provost will undertake reasonable efforts to restore the respondent's reputation.

Depending on the particular circumstances, the Provost 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 scientific or other scholarly misconduct was previously publicized, or expunging all reference to the scientific or other scholarly misconduct allegation from the respondent's personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the respondent's reputation must first be approved by the President.

Protection of the Complainant and Others
Regardless of whether the institution or ORI determines that scientific or other scholarly misconduct occurred, the Provost will undertake reasonable efforts to protect complainants who made allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct in good faith and others who cooperate in good faith with inquiries and investigations of such allegations. Upon completion of an investigation, the President will determine, after consulting with the complainant, what steps, if any, are needed to restore the position or reputation of the complainant. The Provost is responsible for implementing any steps the President approves.  The Provost will also take appropriate steps during the inquiry and investigation to prevent any retaliation against the complainant.

Allegations Not Made in Good Faith
If relevant, the President will determine whether the complainant's allegations of scientific or other scholarly misconduct were made in good faith. If an allegation was not made in good faith, the President will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the complainant.

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.

5.7.12 Record Retention

After completion of a case and all ensuing related actions, the VP-LA&RM will prepare a complete file, including the records of any inquiry or investigation and copies of all documents and other materials furnished to the Provost or committees. The Office of Legal Affairs will keep the file for three years after completion of the case to permit later assessment of the case. As required by law or regulation, sponsor personnel, including ORI or other authorized DHHS personnel in cases involving PHS support, will be given access to the records upon request.

5.7.13 References

  1. The PHS regulation at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A applies to any research, research-training or research-related grant or cooperative agreement with PHS.
  2. The DOD Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS) lay out minimum requirements of a system of management controls to promote integrity and honesty in the contractor’s business conduct. These are found at SUBPART 203.70--CONTRACTOR STANDARDS OF CONDUCT.
  3. http://www.catalog.gatech.edu/
  4. The Georgia Institute of Technology Policy on Conflict of Interest, Consulting, and Disclosure may be found in Section 5.6 of the Faculty Handbook.
  5. See Section 5.7.11.
  6. In the event PHS funding or applications for PHS funding are involved, the Provost and VP-LA&RM may consult with ORI for advice and assistance regarding the sequestration of research records.
  7. In the event the alleged scientific or other scholarly misconduct involves PHS funding or proposals or applications submitted for PHS funding, Georgia Tech’s decision to initiate or terminate an investigation must be reported in writing to the Director, ORI, on or before the date the investigation begins.
  8. When the case involves PHS support, Georgia Tech cannot accept an admission of scientific misconduct as a basis for closing a case or not undertaking an investigation without prior approval from ORI.
  9. In this instance, the institution must inform ORI within twenty-four (24) hours of obtaining that information if PHS funding is involved.