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New Mexico State University

Exerpts from NMSU Policy Manual, Chapter 5 (pages 45-47):

Ethics as Related to Misconduct in Scholarship and Research:

The university hires faculty and exempt staff who have high academic standing and character. It assumes that without oversight, faculty and staff members will conduct themselves according to high ethical standards. Individuals who think that academic misconduct, dishonest behavior, or unethical practices have occurred in scholarship or research are obligated to report such occurrences. Misconduct, dishonest behavior, or unethical practices are defined as any form of behavior which entails an act of deception whereby one's work or the work of others is misrepresented. Other terms, such as research fraud or scientific misconduct, are subsumed within the term .academic misconduct. as defined. Academic misconduct is distinguished from honest error and from ambiguities of interpretation that are inherent in the scientific process. The principal element of academic misconduct is the intent to deceive others or misrepresent one's work. Misconduct involves significant breaches of integrity which may take numerous forms such as, but not limited to:

  • Falsification of Data: Ranging from fabrication to deceptive selective reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data with the intent to falsify results.
  • Plagiarism: The misappropriation of the written work of another and its misrepresentation as one's own original work.
  • Improprieties of Authorship: Improper assignment of credit, such as excluding other authors, inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the work published, or submission of multi-authored publications without the concurrence of all authors.
  • Misappropriation of the Ideas of Others: The unauthorized use of privileged information (such as violation of confidentiality in peer review), however obtained.
  • Violation of Generally Accepted Research Practices: Deceptive practices in proposing, conducting, or reporting research.
  • Material Failure to Comply with Governmental Requirements Affecting Research: Including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, radiation, or radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials.
  • Inappropriate Behavior in Relation to Misconduct: Including unjust and malicious accusation(s) of misconduct, failure to report misconduct, withholding or destruction of information relevant to a claim of academic misconduct, or malicious retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation of academic misconduct.

In the rare event that any member of the university community is accused of unethical conduct as it relates to scholarship and research activity, the matter will be referred, in writing, to the vice president for research who will examine the allegation, hold necessary discussions, including the faculty member(s) if necessary, and verify if there is substance to the allegation. This investigation will be conducted thoroughly and in the shortest possible time. If the allegation is not deemed substantive, the matter will be dropped. The decision of the vice president for research will be reviewed by the dean of the Graduate School and the dean of the college. If the allegations, however, are deemed serious, the vice president for research will discuss the allegation with the faculty member(s) and refer the matter to the director(s) of the research center(s), the dean(s) of the college(s), or the vice president of the appropriate administrative unit. These individuals will conduct a more extensive, private, and careful inquiry safeguarding the character of the faculty member(s) and affording the affected individual(s) confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible. At this stage, no notice will be sent to the fund-granting agency or to other areas in the university. However, a written report will be prepared by the vice president for research that states what evidence was reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and includes the conclusion of the inquiry. A period of 60 days will be allowed for this inquiry.

As a result of this inquiry, the matter may be dropped or, if the infraction is minor, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken by the dean(s) of the college(s) or appropriate vice president. If the infraction is deemed substantive and serious, the matter will be formally investigated by the university within 30 days of the completion of the inquiry, and the funding agency, if any, that supports the research will be notified that such investigation is underway. The investigation will be conducted by a committee chaired by the vice president for research and consisting of the dean(s), the director(s) of the research center(s), the department head(s), and three faculty or exempt staff members from the University Research Council selected by the vice president for research. Substitutions, in the event of conflict of interest, will be made by the vice president for research. The investigation should be completed within 120 days of its initiation. This includes conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, making the report available for comment by the subjects of the investigation, submitting the comment by the subjects of the investigation, and submitting the report to the appropriate governmental agency. The affected individuals shall be offered an opportunity to comment on allegations and findings of the inquiry and/or the investigation.

If the committee concludes that serious infractions have occurred, the matter will be referred to the executive vice president and provost for disciplinary action. As in all other disciplinary actions, the usual university appeal procedures will be available to the faculty member or exempt staff member. The decision of the executive vice president and provost will be the final step in the university process. In addition to the above procedures, detailed documentation of the inquiry and investigation must be maintained in the office of the vice president for research for at least 3 years and must, upon request, be provided to authorized governmental personnel. If the research is funded by the Public Health Service, the institution must also notify the appropriate governmental agency within 24 hours of obtaining a reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, take appropriate interim administrative actions to protect federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the federal financial assistance are being carried out. The institution must also advise the Office of Scientific Integrity of any developments during the course of the investigation which disclose facts that may affect current or potential federal funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the funding agency needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest, make efforts to restore the reputations of persons alleged to have engaged in misconduct when allegations are not confirmed, and protect to the maximum extent possible the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations of scientific misconduct, and those against whom allegations of misconduct are not confirmed.

Proprietary, Secured, and Patentable Material: Some materials and/or information developed at the university may be proprietary. The Physical Science Laboratory, as well as all other research centers and institutes receive many contracts in which information may be considered proprietary. (See the Physical Science Laboratory's Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Conduct, P. 9.) Likewise, other employees may be involved in activity which results in patents and copyrights. (See also Research - Intellectual Property.)