The University of Wisconsin–Madison (“University”) has long recognized that honesty is an essential component of scholarly activity. The success of our university and of the Wisconsin Idea itself relies on this honesty to maintain the highest standards of integrity in our research enterprise. The citizens of the State of Wisconsin, our funders and supporters inside and outside the state, our students and alumni, and our entire university community all deserve and expect that misconduct in research be dealt with responsibly and effectively. As a scholarly community, we are committed to addressing allegations or evidence of research misconduct fairly and objectively, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and UW System regulations.
The Unclassified Staff Code of Ethics provides that every member of the university community “at the time of appointment makes a personal commitment to professional honesty and integrity” as an essential component of the university’s “proper function in our society and to ensure continued confidence of the people of this state” (Section UWS 8.01, Wisconsin Administrative Code). The state Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures provide that the “Board of Regents, administrators, faculty, academic staff and students of the University of Wisconsin System believe that academic honesty and integrity are fundamental to the mission of higher education” and that the “university has a responsibility to promote academic honesty and integrity and to develop procedures to deal effectively with instances of academic dishonesty” (Section UWS 14.01, Wisconsin Administrative Code). Failure to adhere to these standards can be cause for discipline or dismissal.
In keeping with those regulations and with the spirit and tradition of this institution, this document outlines our campus’ procedures for assessing and investigating allegations of misconduct in scholarly research. Adherence to this policy, including the possible imposition of sanctions on individuals found to have violated the University’s expectations of integrity in research, guarantees that the University discharge its regulatory obligations and, more importantly, helps to preserve the integrity of our scholarly mission.
The assessment period should be brief, preferably concluded within one week.
Mitigation of risk.
At any point during a research misconduct proceeding, the RIO and relevant officials should take appropriate actions, including notifying relevant state or federal agencies, to mitigate health, safety, financial or other risks resulting from or related to the alleged misconduct and to protect the integrity of ongoing research (e.g. 42 CFR § 93.318).
The purpose of the inquiry is to advise the DRO, who determines whether or not to conduct a full investigation of the allegation. The inquiry reviews the available evidence to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from those which are unjustified or clearly mistaken. An inquiry does not require a full review of all the evidence related to the allegation.
The inquiry should commence as quickly as practical. The inquiry, including preparation of the final inquiry report and the decision of the DRO on whether an investigation is warranted, must be completed within 60 days of initiation of the inquiry. Any extension of this deadline requires documentation of unusual circumstances and must be approved by the Deciding Official.
The purpose of the investigation is to develop a factual record by exploring the allegations in detail and examining the evidence in depth, leading to recommended findings on whether research misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. The investigation will also determine whether additional instances of possible research misconduct exist that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations.
Prior to notifying the Respondent of further allegations and the investigation, the RIO will take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of and sequester in a secure manner any research records and evidence needed to conduct the investigation that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry. The need for additional sequestration of records for the investigation 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.
The decision of the Deciding Official should be made within 20 days of receipt of the investigation report.
Restoration of the Respondent’s Reputation.
Following a final finding of no research misconduct, including concurrence when required by the applicable federal agencies or other sponsors, the RIO must, at the request of the Respondent, undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to restore the Respondent’s reputation. Depending on the particular circumstances and the views of the Respondent, the RIO should consider notifying those individuals aware of or involved in the investigation of the final outcome, publicizing the final outcome in any forum in which the allegation of research misconduct was previously publicized, and expunging all reference to the research misconduct allegation from the Respondent’s personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the Respondent’s reputation should first be approved by the Deciding Official.
Maintaining Records for Review.
After completion of the case, whether or not the decision was made to conduct an inquiry or investigation, and completion of all ensuing related actions (e.g., federal investigation or litigation), the RIO will ensure that all records of the proceedings will be maintained securely seven years in compliance with applicable state and federal requirements.
Amended by Faculty document 2721 on 2020-12-07