Utah Tech University

Research Misconduct

The federal Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) defines “research misconduct” as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results” (see accompanying box for details). It also sets the legal threshold for proving charges of misconduct.
To be considered research misconduct, actions must:

  • Represent a “significant departure from accepted practices”
  • Have been “committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly”
  • And be “proven by a preponderance of evidence.”


Federal Research Misconduct Policy

This policy applies to federally-funded research and proposals submitted to Federal agencies for research funding. It thus applies to research conducted by the Federal agencies, conducted or managed for the Federal government by contractors, or supported by the Federal government and performed at research institutions, including universities and industry.


NSF Statement

by National Science Foundation 45CFR 689
689.4 Role of awardee institutions.

(a) Awardee institutions bear primary responsibility for prevention and detection of research misconduct and for the inquiry, investigation, and adjudication of alleged research misconduct. In most instances, NSF will rely on awardee institutions to promptly:… complete an inquiry.


NEH Statement on Misconduct in Research

When referring an inquiry or investigation to a grantee institution, the Inspector General should require that the grantee institution provide a copy of the policy under which it will conduct the inquiry and investigation and the curriculum vitae of each person who is conducting the inquiry and/or investigation. The curricula vitae should be reviewed in consultation with the Office of General Counsel for indicators of possible conflicts of interest.


US Department of Education policy on Research Misconduct

“The Federal Policy requires a research institution to notify the funding agency (or agencies in some cases) of an allegation of research misconduct if (1) the allegation involves Federally funded research (or an application for Federal funding) and meets the Federal definition of research misconduct, and (2) if the institution’s inquiry into the allegation determines there is sufficient evidence to proceed to an investigation”


The college or university has a formal system, embodied in written policies and guidance, that commits the institution and its faculty, students and research staff to design, conduct and report their scholarly activities in accordance with accepted standards of integrity and ethical behavior.


The college or university has written statements that demonstrate an understanding of ethical scholarship and provide procedures for raising and resolving questions of what professional or ethical standards in conducting research entail.


The college or university has written policy that addresses treatment of allegations of research misconduct and that meets sponsor requirements.

Indicator 3.

The institution has designated Research Integrity Officer(s) and staff prepared to respond to an allegation with practical approaches for securing and protecting (sequestering) source data, laboratory notebooks, and other relevant materials.

Indicator 4.

The institution’s policy contains commitment for protection of the rights of the whistleblower and party against whom the allegation is made.