Proposed Federal Policy on Research Misconduct to Protect the Integrity of the Research Record

Article excerpt

Issued by Office of Science and Technology Policy with a Request for Public Comment

The text is taken from the Federal Register, October 14, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 198), pages 55722-55725.

Summary

Address for Further Information and Commenting on the Policy

I. Research Misconduct Defined

II. Findings of Research Misconduct

III. Responsibilities of Federal Agencies and Research Institutions

IV. Guidelines for Fair and Timely Procedures

V. Actions

SUMMARY: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) proposes a government-wide Federal policy for research misconduct for adoption and implementation by agencies that conduct and support research. The proposed policy addresses behavior that has the potential to affect the integrity of the research record and establishes procedural safeguards for handling allegations of research misconduct. It has been cleared by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and is the result of an extensive interagency development, review, and clearance process initiated in April 1996. This policy notice was developed by OSTP in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and OMB supports the solicitation of comment on the proposed policy and procedures.

The policy consists of a definition of research misconduct and guidelines for handling allegations of research misconduct. Following consideration of public comments received, the agencies will be directed to implement the policy. In some cases, this may require agencies to amend or replace regulations addressing research misconduct that are already in place. In other cases, agencies may implement the policy through administrative mechanisms. An important objective of this policy is to achieve uniformity in research misconduct policies across the agencies of the Federal government. It is intended that agencies will adopt the final Federal research misconduct policy, and therefore potentially affected parties should express their views on the policy in response to this notice.

DATES: The Office of Science and Technology Policy welcomes comments on the proposed policy. To be assured consideration, comments must be postmarked no later than December 13, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Sybil Francis, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC 20502.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sybil Francis, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC 20502. Tel: 202-456-6040; Fax: 202-456-6027; e-mail: sfrancis@ostp.eop.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Advances in science and engineering depend on the reliability of the research record, as do the benefits associated with them in areas such as health and national security. Sustained public trust in the scientific enterprise also requires confidence in the research record and in the processes involved in its ongoing development.

It is for these reasons, and in the interest of ensuring uniformity in Federal agency policies addressed to behaviors that might affect the integrity of the research record, that the NSTC initiated discussions regarding the development of a government-wide research misconduct policy in April 1996. Since then, the proposed policy has undergone extensive agency review and clearance at a number of levels. The NSTC's Research Integrity Panel (RIP), comprised of representatives from the major research agencies developed the first draft of the policy. It was tasked by the NSTC to propose a definition of research misconduct and to develop guidelines for responding to allegations of research misconduct. The RIP forwarded its report and recommendations to the NSTC Committee on Science in December 1996, which broadened review of the policy to additional agencies, subjecting it to further analysis. The full NSTC approved the proposed policy in May 1999, clearing the way for this notice of proposed policy. …