Research Integrity Policy

1      Policy statement

Research, artistic expression, and all forms of scholarly investigation are the modes through which we create new knowledge. Knowledge creation is not the product of technical skills alone; it requires critical thinking, communication, and ethical decision making. Franklin & Marshall College is committed to educating active leaders in the creation of new knowledge. Regarding this commitment, communication, technical, and ethical decision making skills are key aspects of the institutional scholarship and educational process regardless of discipline. Faculty must remain current in discussions of professional research conduct, so that they can model that conduct for students.

It is the Principal Investigator's (PI) role to protect the integrity of the research they conduct. The PI must ensure that all students, postdoctoral scholars, or other persons performing work on projects under their direction have received proper training in the area of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Furthermore, the institution has responsibilities to document the training and to investigate all allegations of research misconduct and to fully and openly communicate those investigations with funding agencies and federal authorities.

2      Reason for policy

Researchers have important professional and regulatory responsibilities related to the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), which is broadly defined as the practice of scholarship and investigation with integrity. In the context of our Liberal Arts College these responsibilities extend to the education of our students.

Federal research sponsors; such as NSF (all research grants) and NIH (currently only for certain grant types, NOT R01 or R15), have implemented regulations requiring RCR training to be provided to research personnel.

From NSF: The NSF’s implementation of Section 7009 of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act states that the responsible and ethical conduct of research (RCR) is critical for excellence, as well as public trust, in science and engineering. Consequently, education in RCR is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers.

The Statutory Requirement to the NSF states the following:

"The Director shall require that each institution that applies for financial assistance from the Foundation for science and engineering research or education describe in its grant proposal a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the proposed research project."

From NIH (not currently R01 or R15 grants): In 1989, the NIH published its first Notice of policy concerning instruction in responsible conduct of research in the NIH Guide (Volume 18; Number 45. December 22). This Notice required that institutional training grant applications include a description of activities related to instruction about responsible conduct of research. A subsequent Notice (NOT-OD-94-200 NIH Guide Volume 23, Number 23, June 17), published in 1994, updated all previous Notices and required that applications for institutional research training grants lacking a plan for instruction in responsible conduct of research be returned without review, established review procedures, and established the minimum requirements for an acceptable plan.  Similar requirements were subsequently adopted for instruction via research education grants, individual fellowships, and career awards as funding opportunity announcements for these programs were published.

From Franklin & Marshall College: Beyond federal requirements, F&M recognizes that education in the ethical conduct of scholarship is an important part of our mission to “foster in our students qualities of intellect, creativity, and character, that they may live fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to their occupations, their communities, and their world” (F&M Mission Statement).

This plan is designed to comply with federal and state requirements. The plan has two parts: 1) a program for training students and monitoring that training (currently required only for federally funded grants); and 2) a requirement that the Principal Investigators for all proposals seeking support for post-graduate researchers must develop a plan for RCR training specific to their projects and in compliance with any requirements set by the funding sponsor.

3      Contents

Section 1        Policy statement

Section 2        Reason for policy

Section 4        Policy/procedures

                4.1         Definition of “Responsible Conduct of Research”

                4.2         Background and context

               4.3         Responsible conduct of research training

              4.4         Implementation

               4.5         Allegations of fraud or misconduct in research

Section 5        Website address for this policy

Section 6        Related information

Section 7        Who approved this policy

Section 8        Origination/revision dates

4      Policy/procedures

4.1    Definition of “Responsible Conduct of Research”

The “Responsible Conduct of Research” is defined as the practice of scholarly investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scholarly research. 

4.2    Background and context

Ensuring that researchers understand and adhere to the core norms, principles, and rules governing the practice of responsible research is now part of funding requirements for many agencies. Therefore- and in accordance with the mission of Franklin & Marshall College, best pedagogical practices, and short- and long-term interests of F&M students- faculty and staff who conduct research or who supervise student or postdoctoral researchers, regardless of the source of funding, are responsible for ensuring that all such research and research-related activities are conducted in compliance with both Franklin & Marshall College’s Faculty Research Policies, descriptions in the Faculty Handbook, and with institutional research-related policies framed in accordance with relevant federal, state and other funders for the ethical and responsible conduct of research. This responsible conduct of research policy is responsive to federal regulations and guidance concerning required RCR education in the collegiate setting.

4.3    Responsible conduct of research training

The individual faculty member conducting research, in conjunction with her/his department, will have the primary responsibility to provide training in ethics and responsible conduct of research (RCR) for her or his students or postdoctoral researchers. Franklin & Marshall College will continue to offer RCR training through the CITI program module. All research-active faculty should complete this training program, which covers the relevant core areas of RCR. Furthermore, departments/programs may choose to develop and offer additional training sessions or modules of particular relevance to their disciplines. These additional training components are subject to approval by the Associate Dean of Faculty. Training may include a combination of in-person and web-based training options (eg., CITI).

Core Areas in Responsible Conduct of Research

  • Responsibility for integrity
  • Ethical challenges of academic research and projects
  • Avoidance of conflicts of interest
  • Authorship, peer review and collaboration
  • Data acquisition, handling, sharing, ownership and management
  • Responsibility to subjects of research (welfare of human subjects and animals)
  • Management/stewardship of funds
  • Guidelines for mentoring and advising students or postdocs in research
  • Safety relative to the conduct of research in various settings (e.g. laboratory, studios, on- or off-campus field settings, travel to research sites)

4.4    Implementation

  • RCR training must be completed within the first semester of joining a faculty-led research team (students who move from one team to another do not need to repeat general training, but may need additional training if research focus changes), within the first year of involvement in a faculty-guided independent research project, or by the end of a funded summer research period.
  • Ideally, but dependent on department/program training needs, training will be offered twice a year, once during the academic year and once during the summer, taking into consideration funded summer research periods that may be only 5 weeks in length. Additional training may be required for students or postdoctoral researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.
  • Participants should sign in at each in-person or web-based training session and indicate the source of any federal funding for their research project.
  • The instructor will maintain a training attendance record, a copy of which will be provided to the Associate Dean of Faculty for Research.
  • Alternatively, principle investigators who use their own training curriculum must certify that adequate training has been provided for all research personnel involved with their projects by signing a statement to that effect.
  • The Associate Dean of Faculty will keep the record of trained students and postdocs for all federally-funded projects on file for a period of eight years from the start date of the project.

4.5    Allegations of fraud or misconduct in research

Franklin & Marshall College expects its officers, members of the Faculty, and students to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards in the conduct and management of research. Federal law requires the College to maintain uniform policies and procedures for investigating and reporting instances of alleged or apparent misconduct involved in research supported by the National Institutes of Health or in applications for the support of such research. This section is consistent with those requirements, but applies to research undertaken in all disciplines, whether or not it is supported by a grant from either internal or external sources.

The Associate Dean of Faculty for Research is responsible for the dissemination of information, to ensure that members of the Faculty are fully informed of the institution’s policies and of federal regulations that govern the conduct of research. Misconduct in research means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other practices that seriously deviate from those commonly accepted in the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences of opinion in the evaluation or interpretation of data. Investigators whose research is supported by funding from external sources or from the Committee on Grants are responsible for compliance with College policies and with federal regulations in the disposition of funds.

Allegations of fraud or misconduct in research must be reported to the Associate Dean of Faculty, who shall protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of those who in good faith report apparent misconduct and those against whom allegations are made. The Associate Dean shall immediately conduct an inquiry, to be completed within 60 days off the filing of the allegation. A written report shall be prepared, indicating what evidence was reviewed, summarizing relevant interviews, and setting out the conclusions of the inquiry. The individual against whom the allegation was made shall be provided with a copy of this report and the opportunity to submit comments, which will be made part of the record. If the Associate Dean concludes that further investigation is not warranted, sufficient documentation to permit later assessment of the reasons for this determination shall be retained for at least three years. If the results or the inquiry provide a sufficient basis for conduct of a full investigation, this shall be initiated within 30 days.

If an investigation is called for, the President of the College shall appoint an ad hoc committee for this purpose, chaired by the Provost and including two faculty members from departments other than that of the individual against whom the allegation has been made and one individual with relevant expertise and high professional standing from beyond the institution. The investigation will normally include examination and assessment of all relevant documentation, including research data, proposals, and correspondence. Whenever possible, interviews shall be conducted with all individuals who may have information bearing on the investigation and summaries certified as accurate by the parties involved shall be entered into the record. The results of this investigation shall be reported to the President of the College. If an allegation of misconduct is substantiated, the results of the investigation shall also be reported to the Professional Standards Committee and, if appropriate, the Judicial Committee for possible disciplinary action.

Throughout the course of these proceedings, the Associate Dean shall be responsible for providing appropriate information to the officers of any federal, state or private agency that may be involved in support of the research in question. In the case of the National Institutes of Health, the Associate Dean shall ensure that the College is in compliance with all requirements of 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart A that are not covered by the above policy and procedures.

As a result of the investigation and reporting requirements imposed by law and by sound practice, information on the subject of an investigation may become public and may affect the reputation of the person whose activities are investigated or that of the person or persons who made the initial allegation. If the allegation is not substantiated, diligent efforts shall be made to restore the reputation of the person alleged to have engaged in misconduct and to protect the positions of those who in good faith made the allegation.

5      Website address for this policy

http://www.fandm.edu/college-policies/academic/research-integrity-policy

6      Related information

7      Who approved this policy

A copy of this Policy is located in the Associate Dean of Faculty’s Office.

Joel W. Martin, Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Alan S. Caniglia, Vice President for Planning and Vice Provost

Pierce Buller, General Council

Endorsed by the Senior Officers of the College, October 5, 2015

8      Origination/revision dates

Origination Date:              November 13, 2009

Last Amended Date:       August 10, 2015

Last Review Date:           August 31, 2018

Responsible College Official:  Associate Dean of  the Faculty

Responsible Office:        Office of the Provost