ETHICAL CONDUCT PROVISIONS FOR UNIVERSITY RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
The following policies shall govern the conditions which are to safeguard the ethical conduct of research activities at Andrews University and provide appropriate procedures for communication with peers and funding agencies.
|Written Faculty Acknowledgement for Ethical Conduct Responsibility
At the time that a faculty member applies for university research funding or submits a proposal for extramural funding or sponsorship, he/she shall be required to sign a statement:
- accepting responsibility for the ethical conduct of the proposed venture (see policies # 2:187:1-4).
- denying any conflict of interest as defined in policies #2:187:2:3 and #2:115 or receiving a waiver in certain circumstances.
- acknowledging the obligation of the university in the event of actual or alleged academic misconduct, to take action as necessary to ensure the integrity of research, the rights of research subjects and the public as well as the observance of legal requirements and responsibilities.
- acknowledging that the university has the obligation to promptly make a report to any extramural sponsor that an investigation of ethical misconduct is in progress.
- acknowledging that the university has a clear policy for dealing with academic misconduct complaints, investigation, due process and appeal process connected therewith.
|Conflict of Interest Waiver
The university shall have the right to grant waivers in certain circumstances where the researcher’s private holdings are determined not to amount to a conflict of interest or have the potential for influencing research results or the reporting of such results. It shall be the responsibility of the individual researcher to request such a conflict of interest waiver from the Director of the Office of Scholarly Research.
In order to deal with a conflict of interest waiver or where deemed necessary, the Director of the Scholarly Research Office will convene a panel of three persons who are members of the Scholarly Research Council to act as a panel to consider waiver requests or to investigate conflict of interest conflicts. All information on financial interests necessary to considering conflict of interest complaints or waivers shall be held with utmost confidentiality. In the event of a finding of a conflict of interest, a faculty member may file an appeal using the usual procedure for appeal process outlined in policy #2:190.
|Investigation of Ethical Misconduct Complaints
|Rationale to Characterize Ethical Misconduct Investigations
In order to ensure due process, fair treatment and speedy resolutions, the following objectives shall govern all ethical misconduct investigations as set forth in Framework for Institutional Policies and Procedures to Deal with Fraud in Research, published in 1988 by the Association of American Universities, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and Council of Graduate Studies:
- Attempt to safeguard the research process itself.
- Resolve to pursue and resolve all ethical misconduct charges with vigor and dispatch to be expeditious and timely in the resolution of problems.
- Treat all parties with equal justice and fairness and with due sensitivity to the reputation and vulnerabilities of all concerned.
- Maintain the highest attainable degree of confidentiality compatible with effective and efficient responses.
- Maintain the integrity of the process by careful avoidance of real or apparent conflict of interest.
- Ensure that at each stage of the misconduct investigation all the pertinent facts and actions are documented.
Discharge the university’s responsibility for appropriate and allowable communication via the Office of Scholarly Research both internally to all involved individuals, and externally to the public, sponsors of research, academic literature, and the academic community.
|The Investigation Process Details
The investigation shall be a two-stage process consisting of a preliminary inquiry and a formal investigation which shall conclude with recommendations for a resolution of the problems.
The first stage is marked by the receipt of either a verbal or written complaint. An informal assessment and inquiry will then be undertaken by the provost assisted by a Committee of Inquiry consisting of three (3) uninvolved (with two  alternatives as reserves) members of the Scholarly Research Council approved by the provost. Their task shall be to determine if there is cause for a more extensive investigation. This stage shall be completed within 30 days of receipt of the allegation and during which factual information is gathered. The inquiry is designed to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from frivolous, unjustified, or clearly mistaken allegations.
If the allegation is found to warrant further investigation, the respondent, the complainant (if there is one), as well as any federal agency sponsoring the research will also be notified at this point by the Director of the Office of Scholarly Research. If the allegation is unsubstantiated, the institution will take reasonable steps to minimize reputation damage that may result from inaccurate reports. No penalties will be levied against a complainant where allegations were brought in good faith. The university will in such a case seek to protect the complainant against retaliation. Where allegations were not brought in good faith, the complainant will be disciplined. Any retaliation discovered in such a case will result in institutional discipline against the offender.
Where an allegation appears to be substantiated, a more formal and thorough investigation as stage two is undertaken and is to be completed within 120 days. In this stage charges may be formulated and formal dismissal procedures undertaken. The formal investigation is carried out by an Investigative Committee consisting of at least five (5) members selected from among the members of the Scholarly Research Council who have substantial expertise in the research field of the respondent. The members of the Investigative Committee are appointed by the president and shall not comprise any members who served on the Committee of Inquiry. The members of the Investigative Committee, may on the advice of the Scholarly Research Council, include members not on the Scholarly Research Council or persons from outside the university with appropriate expertise. The Investigative Committee shall report to the provost.
|Interim Action During Investigation
If at any time during the formal investigation the Committee concludes that interim action by the administration is needed to safeguard the interests of any parties involved, it may recommend such appropriate measures to the provost.
The findings of the Investigative Committee including a summary of the allegations, the evidence regarding them, conclusions of the Committee about the allegations with assignment of responsibility if appropriate, and recommendations as to action which should be taken shall be submitted in writing to the provost with copies to the respondent(s) as well as all federal agencies, research sponsors, or other entities involved in the project.
In the event that a finding of academic misconduct is made, the provost, either alone or with the help of the Committee, shall formulate a recommendation to the president on appropriate disciplinary action. Examples of possible discipline include removal from a particular research project, a letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, suspension, rank reduction, or dismissal (see policies #2:160:3 and #2:165 for procedures). Recommendations on disciplinary action shall be within the provisions of the Andrews University Working Policy with respect to dismissal of faculty, appeal process and the University Grievance Policy as contained in policies #2:165 and/or #2:190.
If the alleged misconduct is not substantiated by the formal investigation stage, formal efforts will be made to restore fully the reputation of the respondent(s). Any evidence that unfounded allegations were made by the complainant(s) with malicious or dishonest intent will result in appropriate disciplinary action against the complainant.
|Communication of Ethical Misconduct Findings
The Director of the Office of Scholarly Research shall notify all extramural sponsors of relevant research projects of the findings of the Investigative Committee. The university, via the Director of the Office of Scholarly Research will also, by any of the following appropriate actions, seek to rectify damage done to the community of scholars: (1) withdrawal of pending abstracts and papers derived from the fraudulent research and notification of editors of journals where previous abstracts or articles appeared; (2) notification of any institutions or agencies where the respondent previously was affiliated that the validity of former research might be questionable; (3) release, after consultation with legal counsel, of information about the incident to the public press, particularly if public funds were supporting the research.