Research Integrity & Compliance Review Office

Research Misconduct

About Research Integrity, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Misconduct in Science

The prevalence of reported unethical behavior in research and academic research institutions is alarming, and reduces the public trust and confidence in our scientific community. CSU is committed to upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct. We seek to empower our faculty, staff and students to model ethical behavior in the proposing, performing, reviewing and publishing of all research endeavors.

The integrity of our research community can only be maintained if each member strives to “keep their own side of the street clean” by modeling ethical research conduct. However, during a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow’s training experience, concerns may arise about the performance of research within their setting. Trainees, like faculty and staff, are members of our scientific community, and are expected to take action when they have reason to believe that someone may be doing something unethical. That action may include speaking to a supervisor, or to that person’s supervisor (a Department Head, for example), or even a Dean. They may also contact someone from outside their lab, such as a member of their thesis committee, or the director of their graduate student program. A trainee may wish to speak about their concerns with someone on campus who is formally involved with ethical issues, such as the University Bioethicist, the University Veterinarian, the Research Integrity Officer, or the Director of the Research Integrity and Compliance Review Office. The rights of a person who makes a formal complaint about someone’s conduct (a “whistleblower”) are protected at both the institutional and federal level.

Research Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing or reporting research results, that significantly departs from accepted practices of the relevant research community. Misconduct does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

The CSU policy entails convening a Pre-Inquiry Panel (which determines whether a claim is frivolous or may have some merit), which could lead to an Inquiry Panel (which determines that there is sufficient evidence of potential misconduct that an investigation is warranted), which could lead to an Investigation Panel (which makes a determination of whether misconduct occurs). The recommendations of these faculty panels are forwarded to the Institutional Officer (The Vice President for Research) for possible institutional action. The findings may also be forwarded to the DHHS Office of Research Integrity, which may impose penalties at the federal level. The entire process is guided by the CSU Research Integrity Officer (RIO). A finding of Misconduct in Science may have permanent, devastating effects on a trainee’s career.

A critical component of the mission of RICRO is to assist departments in training their students in the fundamental aspects of research integrity. We do this within our training modules (provided in conjunction with the IACUC, IBC, IRB, and RCR). In addition, we have developed teaching resources that may be used by departments who wish to enhance their own training in ethics. We will also work with departments to customize training for their students.

Misconduct in Science Contact Information

Allegations of Research Misconduct at CSU

CSU is committed to the accomplishment of our missions while upholding the highest standards of ethical professional conduct. However, like all large, active academic research institutions, we receive allegations of “research misconduct.” We actively pursue all allegations of research misconduct, and take every precaution to protect whistleblowers and other parties involved with a misconduct allegation. On an annual basis we are required to report allegations of misconduct to the DHHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI). A summary of the number of formal allegations made, and their outcome, is provided below. Each year, a number of allegations or informal queries come to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO, Ellen Fisher) about potential wrongdoings. Some correctly allege “research misconduct” but others are determined not to fall in the category of “research misconduct” and are subsequently referred to an appropriate party for disposition. Therefore, the number of allegations recorded here represents a subset of the total number of allegations and queries that are typically brought to the RIO.

CSU treats such allegations as sensitive and confidential personnel records. It conducts its inquiries and investigations in accord with the CSU Administrative Procedures for Research Misconduct – revised 2011. Individuals involved in the conduct of inquiries and investigations are required to maintain this confidentiality. In the cases where there is a final determination that research misconduct occurred, CSU continues to treat such information as confidential, personnel material. Thus, the names of specific individuals determined to have falsified, fabricated or plagiarized data are not made public.

CSU will continue its activities to build and maintain a culture that values and practices the responsible conduct of research. Through education, mentoring and peer involvement, CSU will endeavor to minimize the occurrence of research misconduct.

CSU Incidence of Misconduct Investigations

YearAllegationsInquiriesInvestigationsDeterminations that Research Misconduct Occurred