Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
The definition of ‘Fabrication’ is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Some examples are below:
- A possible example of fabrication: In order to meet recruitment pressure and expectations, a study coordinator completed trial enrollment forms using faked names and participants' information.
- Vermont investigator Eric Poehlman made up patients' data that never existed to support his scientific claims. Read about "Poehlman's case" in the New York Times
The definition of ‘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 record. Some examples are below:
- Investigators might falsify results by 'splicing and pasting' together different segments of western blot images so that the final image presented appeared to have come from a single western blot procedure.
- Harvard investigator Marc Hauser was found to have fabricated and manipulated research results. Read about "Hauser's case" in Boston.com
- Read news article "Image Manipulation: CSI: cell biology" in Nature.com
The definition of ‘Plagiarism’ is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism excludes:
- The limited use of identical or nearly-identical (general) phrases that are not substantially misleading or of great significance
- Disputes among former collaborators
The Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) oversees and directs Public Health Service (PHS) research integrity activities on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the exception of the regulatory research integrity activities of the Food and Drug Administration.
ORI carries out its responsibility by:
- Developing policies, procedures and regulations related to the detection, investigation, and prevention of research misconduct and the responsible conduct of research;
- Reviewing and monitoring research misconduct investigations conducted by applicant and awardee institutions, intramural research programs, and the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS);
- Recommending research misconduct findings and administrative actions to the Assistant Secretary for Health for decision, subject to appeal;
- Assisting the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to present cases before the HHS Departmental Appeals Board;
- Providing technical assistance to institutions that respond to allegations of research misconduct;
- Implementing activities and programs to teach the responsible conduct of research, promote research integrity, prevent research misconduct, and improve the handling of allegations of research misconduct;
- Conducting policy analyzes, evaluations and research to build the knowledge base in research misconduct, research integrity, and prevention and to improve HHS research integrity policies and procedures;
- Administering programs for: maintaining institutional assurances, responding to allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers, approving intramural and extramural policies and procedures, and responding to Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act requests.