Ethical Conduct in Research & Scholarship

This statement of Policy and Procedures on Ethical Conduct in Research and Scholarship shall be effective February 1, 1991.

NOTE: "Chair" is used in the policy as a generic term for department chairs, directors, and unit heads as the context requires. "Applicable law, regulations and requirements by the research sponsor" shall include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, current regulations appearing in the Code of Federal Regulations at 42 CFR 50.101-.105 (1989) and 45 CFR 689.1-.9 (1991), as hereafter amended.

Policy

Davidson College "is dedicated to the quest for truth and would set no limits to the adventures of the mind." These words from the College's Statement of Purpose reflect its commitment to support and encourage full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, research and publication. Members of the faculty and staff recognize that accuracy, forthrightness and dignity befit their association with the college and their position as men and women with a shared commitment to the highest principles of learning.

In addition to our the policy that research and scholarship shall be characterized by the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior, it is further the policy of the college to inform fully all affected parties where research data or results of projects or programs sponsored by, or under the administrative supervision of, the college have been falsified or otherwise misrepresented or other misconduct in research or scholarship has occurred.

Each member of the college community has a personal responsibility for implementing this policy in relation to any scholarly work with which he or she is associated, and for helping his or her associates in continuing efforts to avoid misconduct in research, scholarship and any other activity which might be considered in violation of this policy. Failure to comply with this policy is considered to be a violation of the ethical standards of the college and of the trust placed in each member of the faculty and staff, and shall be dealt with according to the procedures specified herein.

Definition

"Misconduct in research or scholarship" means (i) fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or results from scholarly programs or projects or (ii) retaliation of any kind against a person who reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Allegations of Misconduct

Anyone having reason to believe that a member of the faculty or staff has engaged in misconduct in research or any other activity that might be considered in violation of this policy should consult informally and in confidence with his or her own department chair regarding this situation.

If the results of such discussions confirms the seriousness of the reports, or if the individual who observed the alleged violations remains convinced of the serious nature of the events, then the matter should be reported, in writing, to the chair of the department in which the employee under inquiry is primarily employed.

Allegations of misconduct involving human or animal subjects should be reported to the chair of the department in which the employee under inquiry is primarily employed. Allegations of misconduct in research or scholarship involving human or animal subjects shall be reported as provided herein and shall be handled in accordance with the policies and procedures set forth herein; however, a copy of any written allegations shall be forwarded to the Chair of the Human Subjects Committee or Animal Care and Use Committee, as appropriate, in order to assure compliance with regulations specific to research involving human or animal subjects.

These procedures shall also be followed in the event that an investigatory committee appointed in accordance with Section 4, below, obtains information that any individual, other than the one(s) under inquiry or investigation, has allegedly engaged in misconduct in research or scholarship.

VPAA Inquiry

Upon receipt of written allegations, the chair shall immediately report the concern to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), and notify the individual under inquiry of the alleged violation of the policy.

In the event that the faculty or staff member believed to have engaged in misconduct in research or scholarship is a chair, the matter shall be referred directly to the VPAA, who shall appoint a tenured member of the faculty to serve in place of the chair in these procedures.

In the event that the VPAA is believed to have engaged in such misconduct, the matter shall be referred directly to the president, who shall serve in the place of the VPAA in these procedures. In such an event, the chair of the academic department to which the VPAA belongs shall not participate in these procedures in his or her administrative capacity.

Immediately upon receipt of the report, the VPAA, in consultation with the chair, shall conduct an inquiry, consisting of information gathering and initial fact finding to determine whether the charge warrants an investigation. The VPAA shall secure necessary and appropriate expertise to evaluate the evidence thoroughly and authoritatively. The inquiry should normally be concluded within 60 days.

Detailed documentation of an inquiry will be maintained. The documentation shall normally state what evidence was reviewed, summarize relevant interviews and include the conclusions of the inquiry. A copy of such documentation shall be furnished to the individual under inquiry and any written comments of such individual shall become part of the documentation.

If the judgment is made that there exists insufficient evidence of a violation of this policy to warrant an investigation, no reference to the charge shall be included in personnel files, and all documentation relating to the charge and the determination shall be sent to the college attorney, who shall be responsible for their security. The documentation of an inquiry will be maintained for three years after termination of the inquiry. When required by law, such documentation will be provided to authorized federal agency personnel upon request.

Professional Affairs Committee Investigation

If it is determined that there exists sufficient evidence of a violation of this policy to warrant further investigation, the VPAA and the chair shall (a) refer the matter to the Professional Affairs Committee within 30 days of the completion of an inquiry, (b) take appropriate action to preserve and protect the data and other records of the individual's research, (c) notify the individual of the initiation of the investigation and of his or her opportunity to appear on his or her own behalf before that committee, and (d) take the appropriate steps to notify research sponsors in accordance with applicable law, regulations and requirements by the research sponsor.

The VPAA may temporarily suspend the individual under investigation from research projects, but only if the VPAA determines that the integrity of the investigation or serious harm to the individual or others would be threatened by the individual's continuance of his or her duties. Any such suspension shall not interrupt payment of salary.

Individuals serving on the Professional Affairs Committee with actual or potential conflicts of interest will be excused from the investigative process at their own initiative, by a majority vote of the committee upon its own initiative, or by a majority vote of the committee upon the request of the individual under investigation. If necessary, the Executive Committee of the Faculty will appoint a tenured member of the faculty to replace any individual so excused for the purposes of the investigation.

The Professional Affairs Committee shall conduct a prompt and thorough investigation in order to ascertain the facts of the case and to determine whether the individual has violated college policy, and if so, to what extent.

Early in the course of the investigation the committee shall discuss the matter in confidence with the individual under investigation and with all person with whom he or she has collaborated in relation to the work under review. Throughout the investigation the committee shall be sensitive to the effects of the proceedings on the individual, protecting his or her rights, and avoiding disclosure except to individuals who need to be involved in the investigation.

The scope of the investigation shall be determined by the committee chair at his or her discretion according to the charge and the facts. The committee may secure necessary and appropriate expertise to evaluate the evidence thoroughly and authoritatively. The investigation shall normally include examination of all documentation of the inquiry and, whenever possible, interviews of individuals involved.

Completed summaries of the interviews shall be provided to the interviewed party for comment and revision, and included as part of the documentation. The committee shall prepare and maintain documentation to substantiate its findings. When required by law, such documentation shall be provided to authorized federal agency personnel on request.

Professional Affairs Committee Hearing

If the committee chair, in his or her discretion, elects to hold a hearing, the hearing shall be closed to the public unless the individual under investigation and the committee agree that they may be open. During the hearing, the individual under investigation shall have the right to counsel, to present the testimony of witnesses and other evidence, to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and to examine all documents and other evidence.

The committee shall consider only such evidence as is presented at the hearing and reflected in the documentation. The committee shall use its judgment in deciding what evidence presented is fair and reliable and in doing so is not bound by the rules of evidence. A verbatim transcript shall be kept of all proceedings in which evidence is presented. Upon request, a copy thereof shall be furnished to the individual under investigation at the college's expense. Except as herein provided, the conduct of the hearing is under the charge of the chair of the meeting.

A preliminary report and the support documentation shall be provided to the individual under investigation, who shall be given a chance to respond orally, or in writing, before final recommendations are made. Any written comments of the individual under investigation shall become part of the documentation.

If Professional Affairs Committee Finds Violation of Policy

If the majority of the committee finds that the individual has violated this policy, it shall recommend, in writing, an appropriate course of action to the VPAA. Those recommendations may include appropriate sanctions and shall include adequate steps to insure that the college meets its obligations, if any, to third parties affected by the violation; these third parties would include co-investigators and co-authors, granting agencies, and other research sponsored, professional journals and relevant clients.

The VPAA shall consider the committee's recommendations and produce a written decision as promptly as possible, in which the VPAA shall accept or reject all or any part of the committee report, conclusions, and recommendations as in his or her judgment is in the best interest of the College. The VPAA shall report to the president the full account of the hearings and the basis for his or her own decisions.

Other than decisions to suspend permanently from employment or to dismiss the individual under investigation, the decision by the VPAA shall be deemed final. Decisions by the VPAA to suspend permanently from employment or to dismiss the individual under investigation shall take the form of a recommendation to the president.

In the event the VPAA finds this policy to have been violated, the VPAA's report to the president shall include a discussion of the steps taken to notify all affected parties. Any recommendation to the president from the VPAA for permanent suspension from employment or for dismissal, shall proceed in accordance with the established college policies and procedures on dismissal set forth in Article X, Section 8(c) of Constitution of the College.

If the VPAA Finds No Violation of Policy

In the event the VPAA finds that there has been no violation of this policy, the VPAA's report to the president shall include a discussion of the steps taken to notify all affected parties of the results of the investigation and other efforts undertaken, as appropriate, to restore the reputation of the individual under investigation.

If an investigation is undertaken pursuant to this policy, the investigation should normally be concluded and the VPAA's decision reached with 120 days from the initiation of the investigation. The VPAA shall be responsible for compliance with any reporting requirements imposed by the research sponsor, including any such requirements relating to anticipated delays in the investigation process.

Documents to substantiate the findings of an investigation shall be maintained by the college attorney for at least three years after the termination of the investigation. All inquiries and investigations shall be conducted in accordance with law, regulations and research sponsor requirements, specifically applicable to the particular research project.

The Professional Affairs Committee and all those involved in the investigation shall protect to the maximum extent possible the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, have made allegations of misconduct in research or scholarship and of those persons against whom allegations of misconduct are not confirmed.