Research Misconduct


Research Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

Research Misconduct Policy

Integrity in scholarship and research is fundamental to the University of Florida’s mission of excellence in education, research, and service. Accurate and reliable research processes and records contribute to advancement in all fields of research and to sustaining the trust of research sponsors and the public at large. University faculty, staff and students have a shared responsibility to ensure that research processes and records are accurate and reliable.

Additionally, faculty, staff and students must ensure that any potential violations of research integrity are reported to the Research Integrity Officer and are dealt with efficiently and diligently.

The University will review and investigate any allegations of research misconduct and other violations of research integrity in accordance with:

When investigating allegations of research misconduct related to activities sponsored by federal agencies, the University is also required to follow any additional statutory and regulatory requirements published by the sponsoring agency.

Other resources:

Allegation Review

After a research misconduct allegation is reported, there are three phases of review that could occur.

Preliminary Assessment

The initial review of the allegation determines whether an inquiry is warranted. An inquiry is warranted when there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct and the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified.

Inquiry

The purpose of an inquiry is to gather information and facts to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant an investigation of the allegation. An inquiry does not require a full review of all the evidence related to an allegation. An investigation is warranted if there is a reasonable basis for concluding that the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct and preliminary information and fact gathering indicates that the allegation may have substance.

Investigation

The purpose of an investigation is for a knowledgeable committee of faculty and experts to conduct a formal review and examination of the relevant facts to determine if, by a preponderance of the evidence, they conclude that research misconduct had been committed.

A finding of research misconduct requires a determination that there has been a significant departure from the accepted practices of the relevant research community; that the research misconduct was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and that the allegation has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.

Other Research Integrity Violations

UF Research Integrity shall also investigate or refer to the appropriate University official any alleged deviations from research integrity and accepted research practices that do not constitute research misconduct, including but not limited to:

  1. Failure to disclose: failing to disclose outside activities or financial interests, making incomplete disclosures of outside activities, or misrepresenting outside activities by individuals currently involved in research or potentially involved in future research.
  2. Breach of confidentiality: taking or releasing the ideas or data of others by one with whom they were shared with an understanding or expectation of confidentiality (e.g. disclosing or misappropriating ideas from others’ grant proposals, award applications, or manuscripts for publication when one is a reviewer for granting agencies or journals, or is an internal reviewer).
  3. Dishonesty in publication: knowingly publishing material that will mislead readers (e.g. misrepresenting data, misrepresenting research progress; omitting contributors or adding the names of other authors without permission).
  4. Property violations: stealing, tampering with, or destroying property of others, such as research papers, supplies, equipment or products of research or scholarship.
  5. Failure to report observed research misconduct: covering up or otherwise failing to report observed, suspected or apparent research misconduct by others.
  6. Retaliation: taking adverse action against an individual for having reported alleged research misconduct or other deviations in research misconduct or other deviations in research integrity.
  7. Directing or encouraging others to engage in any of the above listed offenses or failing to comply with the reasonable directions of a University official related to a research integrity investigation.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

• UF is committed to elevating its research community beyond regulatory compliance to the highest ethical standards in research. All researchers are encouraged to obtain training and certification in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). To learn more visit https://research.ufl.edu/rcr/
• For more information about required responsible conduct of research training visit https://research.ufl.edu/rcr/rcr-training/

Responsible Research Best Practices

The following best practices were adapted from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/21896; and Fostering Academic Integrity: Report of the Committee on Academic Responsibility. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, April 15, 1992; pp 10-11.

General Considerations

  • Determine the governing rules for a designed experiment before the work is conducted.
  • Exercise commitment to intellectual honesty, transparency and personal responsibility for error or misinterpretation.

Authorship / Communication

  • Limit authorship to the person(s) who made a significant intellectual contribution to the production and presentation of new knowledge to be published. Minor contributors should be recognized, but not as authors.
  • Clearly identify which portion of a project each co-author performed; otherwise, all are held accountable for the entire contents.
  • Authors are responsible for the veracity and reliability of the reported results, compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and defending the work after publication. They must ensure that the submission is not duplicative of prior work and that any prior work is properly and accurately cited.
  • Where applicable, work product should include negative findings or results contrary to stated hypotheses.
  • The submitting author must ensure that each author reviewed and approved the paper prior to submission and that any inquiries or challenges to the manuscript are first reconciled.

Data Handling

  • Develop an effective record keeping, data management and sharing plan at the outset of a project.
  • Incorporate appropriate data management expertise (statistical and analytical) in the project team where needed.
  • Understand and follow data collection, management, and sharing standards, policies, and regulations of the discipline, institution, funder, journal, and relevant government agencies.
  • Provide free and open access to data, models, and code underlying reported results to the fullest extent possible.

Mentoring and Supervision

  • Mentors should model and instruct best practices to junior researchers, taking time to discuss the potential for research misconduct, and regularly checking their work to ensure adherence to best practices.
  • Clarify expectations about ownership and credit, the risks of misrepresenting data, and the importance of transparency about results.
  • Foster a positive environment, acknowledging pressures to obtain results, but encouraging collaboration over competition.