Scientific Misconduct

Spelman College aims to foster an environment that encourages integrity in all research activities. Scientific integrity is required of all employees, students, and persons within the College's control who engage in scientific activities.

Scientific Misconduct or Misconduct in Science means:

the fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research; or 2) retaliation of any kind against a person who has reported or provided information about suspected or alleged misconduct and who has not acted in bad faith.

Spelman College will conduct an inquiry, and if necessary, a subsequent investigation in every instance of alleged or apparent scientific misconduct of any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with the College, such as faculty, scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, or guest researchers. The policy and procedures will normally be followed when an allegation of possible misconduct in science is received by a College official. If particular circumstances dictate the need for variation from the normal procedure, the Provost of the College must approve the change in advance and ensure fair treatment of the subject of the inquiry or investigation.

In cases involving research, research-training or research-related grants, subcontracts or cooperative agreements from or with federal agencies, notification and reporting regulations of the particular agency will be followed. In particular, the Public Health Service Regulation of 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart A and the National Science Foundation Regulation in GPM (NSF 95-26), Part 930 will be upheld.


Research Integrity Officer

The Provost will serve as the Research Integrity Officer who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the procedures set forth in this document. The Research Integrity Officer will appoint the inquiry and investigation committees and ensure that necessary and appropriate expertise is secured to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in inquiry or investigation. The Research Integrity Officer will attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

The Research Integrity Officer will assist inquiry and investigation committees and all institutional personnel in complying with these procedures and with applicable standards imposed by the College and government or external funding sources. The Research Integrity Officer is also responsible for maintaining files of all documents and evidence and for the confidentiality and the security of the files.

The Research Integrity will report to ORI of DHHS, OIG of NSF, or other government offices as required by regulation and keep the offices apprised of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential DHHS, NSF, or other funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that PHS, NSF or other agencies need to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.


The complainant will have an opportunity to testify before the inquiry and investigation committees, to review portions of the inquiry and investigation reports pertinent to his/her allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation, and to be protected from retaliation. Also, if the Research Integrity Officer has determined that the complainant may be able to provide pertinent information on any portions of the draft report, these portions will be given to the complainant for comment. The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.


The respondent will be informed of the allegations when an inquiry is opened and notified in writing of the final determinations and resulting actions. The respondent will also have the opportunity to be interviewed by the present evidence to the inquiry and investigation committees, to review the draft inquiry and investigation reports, and to have the advice of the counsel. The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation. If the respondent is not found guilty of scientific misconduct, he or she has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation.

Deciding Official

The President of the College will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the respondent or the complainant on the draft report. The President will consult with the Research Integrity Officer and will determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions.


Responsibility to Report Misconduct

All employees or individuals associated with Spelman College should report observed, suspected, or apparent misconduct in science to the Provost. If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of scientific misconduct, he or she may call the Provost to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of scientific misconduct, the Provost will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.

At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Provost and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

Protecting the Complainant

The Research Inquiry Officer will monitor the treatment of individuals who bring allegations of misconduct or of inadequate institutional response thereto, and those who cooperate in inquiries and investigations. The Research Integrity Officer will ensure that these persons will not be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their employment or other status at the institution and will review instances of alleged retaliation for appropriate action. Employees should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation to the Provost.

Also, the College will protect the privacy of those who report misconduct in good faith to the maximum extent possible. For example, if the complainant requests anonymity, the College will make an effort to honor the request during the allegations assessment or inquiry within applicable policies and regulations and state and local laws, if any. The complainant will be advised that if the matter if referred to an investigation committee and the complainant's testimony is required, anonymity may no longer be guaranteed. The College will undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those persons who, in good faith, make allegations.

Protecting the Respondent

Inquiries and investigations will be conducted in a manner that will ensure fair treatment to the respondent(s) in an inquiry or investigation and confidentiality to the extent possible without compromising public health and safety or thoroughly carrying out the inquiry or investigation.

Spelman employees accused of scientific misconduct may consult with legal counsel or non-lawyer personal adviser (who is not a principal witness in the case) to seek advice and may bring the counsel or personal adviser to interviews or meetings on the case.


Spelman employees will cooperate with the Research Integrity Officer and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Employees have an obligation to provide relevant evidence to the Research Integrity Officer or other institutional officials on misconduct allegations.

Preliminary Assessment of Allegations

Upon receiving an allegation of scientific misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry, whether PHS, NSF or other government agency support or applications for funding are involved, and whether the allegation falls under the definition of scientific misconduct.

Policy No.  780  Effective Date:  9/1/2000