The University of North Carolina at Charlotte supports and encourages full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, of research and publication, and of teaching. Members of the faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff recognize that accuracy, forthrightness and dignity befit their association with the University and their position as men and women with a shared commitment to the highest principles of learning.
Public trust in the integrity and ethical behavior of scholars must be maintained if research and other scholarly activities are to continue to play their proper role in our University and society. It is the policy of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte that research and educational activities carried out by its faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff be characterized by the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior. It is further the policy of the University to inform fully all affected parties where research data or other information related to projects or programs sponsored by, or under the administrative supervision of, the University have been falsified or otherwise misrepresented. Finally, it is the policy of the University to protect to the maximum extent possible the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of scientific misconduct and of those persons against whom allegations of misconduct are not confirmed.
Each member of the University community has a personal responsibility for implementing this policy in relation to any scholarly work with which he or she is associated and for helping his or her associates in continuing efforts to avoid any activity which might be considered in violation of this policy. Failure to comply with this policy shall be dealt with according to the procedures specified herein and is considered to be a violation of the trust placed in the faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff.
- "Misconduct in research or educational programs" is defined as:
- Serious deviation, such as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, from practices commonly accepted in the research community for proposing or carrying out research, or in reporting the results of research.
- Material failure to comply with Federal requirements affecting specific aspects of the conduct of research or educational programs. (Examples include, but are not limited to:
the protection of human subjects and the welfare of laboratory animals;
fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing, carrying out, or reporting results from an activity funded by the National Science Foundation.)
- Retaliation of any kind against a person who reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith.
- Anyone having reason to believe that a member of the faculty, a postdoctoral fellow, or staff member has engaged in misconduct in research or educational programs should consult informally and in confidence with his or her own department chair1 regarding the situation. If the results of such discussions confirm the seriousness of the reports, or if the individual who observed the alleged violations remains convinced of the serious nature of the events, then the matter should be reported, in writing, to the chair of the department in which the accused employee is primarily employed. These procedures shall also be followed in the event that an investigatory committee appointed in accordance with Section 4, below, obtains information that any individual, other than the one(s) under investigation, has allegedly engaged in misconduct in research or educational programs.
Upon receipt of written allegations, the chair shall immediately report the concern to the appropriate dean, or his or her designee, and notify the accused employee of the alleged violation of the policy.
- Immediately upon receipt of the report, the dean and the Provost, in consultation with the department chair, shall conduct an inquiry, consisting of information-gathering and initial fact-finding to determine whether the charge warrants an investigation. The inquiry should normally be concluded within 30 days. If the judgment is made that the charge does not warrant an investigation, any reference to the charge in the personnel file of any individual shall be promptly removed. All materials relating to the charge and the determination shall be sent to the University Attorney, who shall be responsible for their security. Detailed documentation of the inquiry will be maintained for a minimum of three years, and in all appropriate cases will be provided to the Department of Health and Human Services personnel as authorized by law.
- If it is determined that the charge warrants further investigation, the dean, in consultation with the Provost and the department chair concerned, shall, within 30 days after the inquiry was completed, (a) appoint anad hoc committee composed as provided herein and refer the matter to it, (b) take appropriate action to preserve and protect the data and other records relevant to the charge, and (c) notify the individual of the initiation of the investigation and of his or her opportunity to appear on his or her own behalf before that committee, and (d) take the appropriate steps to notify sponsors in accordance with applicable law and regulations. The dean may also suspend the individual accused from the project or activity in question, but only if the dean determines that serious harm to the individual or others would be threatened by the individual's continuance of his or her duties. Any such suspension shall not interrupt payment of salary.
- The ad hoc committee shall consist of at least five faculty members with permanent tenure and the rank of professor or associate professor who are free of conflict of interest and competent in the judgment of the dean to evaluate the questions before the committee. External scholars or persons with expertise in other areas may be included in this number where warranted by the nature of the field or by the nature of the allegations. The committee shall elect its own chair, who shall be a member from the UNC Charlotte faculty.
- The committee shall conduct a prompt and thorough investigation in order to ascertain the facts of the case and to determine whether the individual has violated this policy, and if so, to what extent. Early in the course of the investigation the committee shall discuss the matter in confidence with the individual accused and with all persons with whom he or she has collaborated in relation to the work under review. Throughout the investigation the committee shall be sensitive to the effects of the proceedings on the individual, protecting his or her rights, and avoiding disclosure except to individuals who need to be involved in the investigation.
- The hearings shall be closed to the public unless the accused faculty, postdoctoral fellow, or staff member and the committee agree that it may be open. The individual accused shall have the right to counsel, to present the testimony of witnesses and other evidence, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and to examine all documents and other evidence. The scope of the investigation shall be determined by the committee chair in his or her discretion according to the charge and the facts. The committee shall consider only such evidence as is presented at the hearing. The committee shall use its judgment in deciding what evidence presented is fair and reliable and in doing so is not bound by the rules of evidence. A verbatim transcript shall be kept of all proceedings in which evidence is presented. Upon request, a copy thereof shall be furnished to the accused faculty member, postdoctoral fellow, or staff member at the University's expense. Except as herein provided, the conduct of the hearing is under the charge of the chair of the hearing.
- A preliminary report will be provided to the accused, who will be given a chance to respond orally, or in writing, before final recommendations are made.
- If the majority of the committee finds that the individual has violated this Policy, it shall recommend, in writing, an appropriate course of action to the dean, which may include appropriate sanctions and which shall include adequate steps to insure that the institution meets its obligations, if any, to third parties affected by the violation; these third parties would include coinvestigators and coauthors, granting agencies, and other research sponsors, professional journals, and relevant clients.
- The dean shall consider the committee's recommendations, and in consultation with the Provost, produce a written decision as promptly as possible. The decision shall accept or reject all or any part of the committee report, conclusions, and recommendations as, in his or her judgment, the best interests of the University require. The dean shall report to the Chancellor the full account of the hearings and the basis for his or her own decision.
- In the event the dean finds the policy to have been violated, the dean shall take all appropriate steps to insure that the institution meets its obligations to all parties affected by the violation. In the case of a policy violation, the dean's report shall include an assurance to the Chancellor of the steps the dean has taken to notify all affected parties. Any recommendation to the Chancellor from the dean for suspension from employment, diminishment in rank, or for dismissal, shall proceed in accordance with the established University policies and procedures on dismissal for cause.
- If an investigation is undertaken pursuant to this Policy, the investigation should normally be concluded and the dean's decision reached within 120 days from the initiation of the investigation. The dean shall be responsible for compliance with any reporting requirements imposed by the sponsor of the research or activity in question, including any such requirements relating to anticipated delays in the investigation process. Documents to substantiate the findings of an investigation will be preserved for at least three years after the later of the date of the dean's decision or the date of acceptance of the final report by the appropriate Federal agency.
- In all appropriate cases, the Office of Scientific Integrity will be notified within 24 hours after the University obtains reasonable evidence of possible criminal violation, and will promptly notify that Office of any developments during the course of an investigation which disclose facts that may affect current or potential Department of Health and Human Services funding for individuals under investigation or that the Public Health Service needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.
1 "Chair" is used in the Policy as a generic term for department chairs, deans, directors, and unit heads as the context requires.
Guidelines for Coauthorship of Scholarly Publications
The coauthorship of scholarly publications has raised ethical questions about the responsibility for collaborative research and scholarship. In response to several well publicized cases in the scientific literature, a number of other universities have instituted policies with respect to coauthorship. The University recommends that members of its faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff observe the following principles regarding coauthorship.
- An author submitting a paper should never include the name of a coauthor without the person's consent. Moreover, each coauthor should be furnished with a copy of the manuscript before it is submitted. On the other hand, coauthorship should be offered to anyone who has clearly made a material experimental or intellectual contribution to the work.
- Anyone accepting coauthorship of a paper must realize that this action implies a responsibility as well as a privilege. In the ideal case, each coauthor should understand the content of the publication well enough to be able to take responsibility for all of it, or the publication should clearly indicate the parts for which each coauthor has responsibility. If a potential coauthor has doubts concerning the correctness of the contents or conclusions of a publication, and if these doubts cannot be dispelled by consultation with the other coauthors, the individual should decline coauthorship.
Guidelines for Research
The ultimate responsibility for the quality of research rests with the individual member of the faculty or postdoctoral fellow who produces and reports the research. Since the University has a responsibility as well for assuring the integrity of the research reported from it, the faculty and postdoctoral fellows are expected to meet certain standards in performing and reporting their research. These standards include:
- Maintaining the raw research data for a reasonable period (e.g., five years) after publication.
- Documenting in permanent files the required approval of human rights and animal use committees' review.
- Seeking critical analysis of research and results prior to publication, with colleagues knowledgeable of the subject matter but not involved in the research.
- Meeting appropriate criteria for authorship and coauthorship.
- Avoiding duplicate publication and fractionation of papers into multiple small units.
- Abiding by University, College, and Departmental standards and policies concerning research.
- Submitting copies of all publications to the Department after publication.
- As a general principle, assuring that full reports of research are recorded in the scientific literature before reports of scientific research are released to the public press.