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.

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