Frequently Asked Questions About Research Misconduct

What is Research Misconduct?

Research Misconduct is defined by federal law and University policy as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research records.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Improper practices that are not defined as research misconduct may be considered misconduct under other University policies including, but not limited to, conflict of interest, intellectual property, biosafety, use of human and animal subjects, financial management, use of University facilities, outside professional activities, employee relations and faculty-student relations.

Disputes related to research but that do not involve research misconduct or other misconduct should be resolved within the appropriate research group, center, or department.  Such disputes might relate to authorship, attribution of credit, confidentiality, access to or interpretations of data, simple negligence, differences of opinion, or honest error.

How do I report suspected Research Misconduct?

If you suspect that research misconduct has occurred, contact the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) at (949) 824-5796 to submit an oral or written complaint.  If you are unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct, you may consult with the RIO to discuss the incident informally.

What is the process for reviewing a Research Misconduct complaint?

The first stage in reviewing a complaint of research misconduct is a preliminary assessment to determine whether the complaint falls within the definition of research misconduct and whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry.

If the case proceeds to an inquiry, a panel of faculty members will be appointed to review the evidence and interview key witnesses.

If the inquiry panel concludes that there is evidence of research misconduct, a full investigation will be initiated.  For more information about the procedures at each stage of reviewing a complaint, please see the Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.

What are my rights if I am accused of Research Misconduct?

Information about confidentiality of the proceedings in a research misconduct case and other precautions to protect the rights of both the accused (respondent) and the complainant is included in the Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.  The rights of the respondent include the opportunity to testify, to retain representation, and (if there is no finding of research misconduct) reasonable efforts by the University to protect or restore the respondent’s reputation.

How can I help to prevent Research Misconduct?

The best way to prevent research misconduct is to become aware of best practices in the Responsible Conduct of Research.  Consultation with senior research colleagues, as well as School and campus leaders, are invaluable resources.  In addition, there is a variety of training and educational materials available online