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Report of the
Senate Committee on the Faculty

Proposed Revisions to Procedures
Regarding Misconduct in Research

April 18, 2002

The Senate Committee on the Faculty ("SCOF") was asked to consider a draft of revised "Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research" (the "Procedures") that was developed by the Research Misconduct Procedures Review Committee, chaired by Professor David Manning (the "Manning Committee").

The Manning Committee's work represents a continuation of an effort to revise the Procedures so as to reflect developing federal law. Thus, in 1997 the Procedures (as published in Almanac on September 3, 1991) were revised to include an addendum recommended by the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Public Health Service (Almanac, September 9, 1997). [The existing procedures that would be changed by these proposed revisions can be located at:]. Thereafter, SCOF considered and commented upon proposed revisions prepared by the Manning Committee's predecessor. In a letter dated December 7, 1999, Gregory Possehl, Chair of SCOF, recommended that "the Provost should select a body to redraft the Procedures ... in light of the final White House Office of Science and Technology ["OSTP"] recommendations." Notification of OSTP's final federal policy on research misconduct was published on December 6, 2000, and that policy is reflected in the Manning Committee's draft.

SCOF discussed the draft at two meetings, including one attended by Professor Manning and Robert Terrell of the General Counsel's office, an ex officio member of the Manning Committee. In addition, the Chair of SCOF met personally or in telephone conference with the same individuals on two occasions. As a result of those meetings, the draft was extensively revised to accommodate concerns expressed by members of SCOF. We are now pleased to recommend approval of the revised draft, which we believe represents a sensible and fair approach to a difficult and complicated subject, one that implicates individual, institutional and public interests and that is embedded in a complex federal regulatory environment.

The field of policy choice with respect to the Procedures narrowed considerably after OSTP's final policy was published, at least if, as SCOF believes, it is not thought sensible to have one policy on research misconduct for federally sponsored research and another for non-federal research. The federal policy defines research misconduct, prescribes the necessary predicates for a finding of research misconduct, invites research institutions to make the initial response to allegations of research misconduct (with the alternative being immediate direct federal agency involvement), and sets forth the general elements of an acceptable process for such a response.

The federal policy provides that the institutional response will usually consist of several organizationally separated phases, including an inquiry to determine whether an investigation is warranted, an investigation leading to recommendations, and an adjudication, defined as a phase "during which recommendations are reviewed and appropriate corrective actions determined." The policy contemplates that the institutional process may be supplemented by additional oversight or investigative steps by the appropriate federal agency, and it sets forth a variety of requirements to notify federal authorities during and at the conclusion of the institutional process. Finally, the policy provides guidelines for developing "fair and timely procedures for responding to allegations of research misconduct," including safeguards for informants, safeguards for subjects of allegations, norms of objectivity and expertise for those involved in reviewing allegations and conducting investigations, reasonable time limits for the conduct of each stage, and protections to ensure confidentiality.

SCOF believes that the revisions to the Procedures now proposed by the Manning Committee faithfully reflect the requirements of federal law and will fairly and responsibly serve the sometimes conflicting interests of the individuals involved in allegations of research misconduct, of the University and of the public. The process prescribed provides numerous protections against hasty or ill-considered judgments concerning research misconduct, while requiring that serious and credible allegations be examined thoroughly and promptly. Apart from protections afforded to complainants and informants, a respondent is afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate at each stage of the process, including (1) the right to reply to the report of a preliminary inquiry committee (1.3), (2) the right to an advisor (who may be a lawyer) when appearing before a formal investigation committee (2.2), (3) the right to make a written reply to (2.3), and to initiate a hearing concerning any material findings of fact in (2.4), the draft report of a formal investigation committee, and (4) the right to make a written reply to the final report of a formal investigation committee (2.5). In addition, a respondent has the right to challenge alleged procedural irregularities and/or instances of bias at any stage of the process and to appeal a denial of such a challenge to the Provost (4.2). Finally, and a provision reflecting SCOF's expressed concerns, under section 4.3, "[a]ny final action taken by the Dean under Section 3.3, and any administrative action taken under Sections 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 or 4.7 may be reviewed under other established University grievance and appeal procedures to the extent such review is within the stated jurisdiction of such procedure."

SCOF recognizes that some aspects of these proposed revisions to the Procedures may not comport with the expectations and/or views of some members of the community, particularly those whose exclusive focus is the interests of potential respondents. We repeat, however, our view that such a focus is incomplete and that, when all of the legitimate interests are taken into view, the proposed revisions represent a fair and responsible approach to a complex problem. We commend the Manning Committee for its efforts and in particular for its thoughtful responses to our concerns.

Emily A. Blumberg, Medicine
Stephen B. Burbank, Law, Chair
Charles Dwyer, Education
Vincent Price, Communication
Gino C. Segre, Physics & Astronomy

Ex Officio
Faculty Senate Chair David B. Hackney, Neuroradiology
Faculty Senate Chair-elect Mitchell Marcus, Computer & Information Science

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 33, May 7, 2002


May 7, 2002
Volume 48 Number 33

A memorial gathering will be held at noon today, in remembrance of Shannon Shieber who was killed four years ago today.

This year's Perkins Award goes to a long-time member of the GSFA faculty.
The School of Veterinary Medicine awards to seven members of its faculty.
The Penn's Way 2002 campaign raised over $400,000.
Speaking Out on Bicyclists vs Pedestrians, and Convenience vs. Confidentiality.
Death of Dr. Frederic Roll, emeritus professor of civil engineering.
Reports from the Senate Committee on the Faculty as well as the Senate Committee on Administration, along with Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research and Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows.
Two faculty are named to the National Academy of Sciences and one to AAAS.
The expanded PENNCard Policy covers emergency events.
The Three-Year Academic Calendar covers through 2004-2005.