According to The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
- Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
- 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.
- Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
- Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.
Reporting Fraud, Misconduct, and Retaliation
All institutions who received federal funding must have a process for reporting and investigating research misconduct. UNM has policy E40: Research Misconduct Policy that details assessment of allegation, inquiry, and investigation processes. Once this office is contacted and you provide specific information (your name or any specific claim of misconduct), the research office must proceed with the assessment as outlined in Policy E40. You can, however, discuss your concerns hypothetically in which case no official process begins.
Official reporting of research misconduct can be made to
- The Office of Research Compliance, a division of the Office of the Vice President for Research
- The UNM Hotline: 1-888-899-6092. The UNM Hotline is a risk-free way to anonymously report your knowledge or suspicions of fraud, misconduct or retaliation.
You may also contact AIRE to discuss your specific case and receive recommendations for dealing with and reporting research misconduct.
Suggestions for Responsible Whistleblowing
Modified from Gunsalus, C. K. (1998). How to blow the whistle and still have a career afterwards. Science Engineering Ethics 4: 51–64.
Prior to discussing misconduct with anyone
- Consider alternative explanations. (You may be wrong).
- Ask questions, don't accuse. (Get the other side of the story).
- Have evidence. Be aware of any documentation that supports your concerns and know where it is. (Your concerns will be more convincing if there is concrete evidence).
- Separate your personal and professional problems. (Exposing your personal problems may make your testimony seem less convincing).
- Think about how you want the problem to be resolved. (If you don't know what you want, you may not like the final outcome).
Before moving forward, talk to a few people who are objective
- Seek advice from someone you can trust and take it seriously. (Consult someone in a position to objectively evaluate the issues and listen carefully to what they say).
- Get a second opinion and take it seriously. (If you are going to file charges, you want to make sure you are doing the right thing).
- If you decide to initiate formal proceedings, it will be much easier if you have support. (Are there others who can verify your claims and would be willing to back you up?)
To move forward with a research misconduct claim
- Find out where to make a claim of misconduct and make sure you do it properly.
- Make the misconduct claim as objectively as possible. (You do not want to appear like you are pushing a personal vendetta).
- Throughout the investigation, ask questions and keep thorough notes. (Good records will help you remember important details you may need to recap later).
- Be patient. (A careful, fair evaluation is likely to be much slower than you think it should be).
Read more about The False Claims Act: A Primer here.