Grades and Marks
Final grades for courses are “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” and “F” (except for courses taken in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, which both use a plus/minus system). No credit is earned for courses in which a grade of "D" or “F” is recorded.
A final grade of “F” shall be assigned to a student who is failing on the basis of work completed but who has not completed all requirements. The instructor may change an “F” so assigned to a passing grade if warranted by satisfactory completion of all requirements.
A mark of “I” may be assigned when a legitimate circumstance has prevented the student from completing all course requirements and the work completed at the time of assigning the “I” is of passing quality. It is the discretion of the instructor that determines what qualifies as a legitimate circumstance. It is recommended that the instructor, prior to the assignment of an “I” mark, document the legitimate circumstance and conditions for completing course requirements. An “I” so assigned may be changed to a grade provided all course requirements have been completed within 12 months after the end of the term in which the “I” was assigned. If the instructor does not report the grade within the 12-month period, the “I” shall be changed to an “F.” When a mark of “I” is changed to a final grade, the grade points and academic standing are appropriately adjusted on the student’s official academic records.
A mark of “AU” (Audit) is given to a student who officially registers in a course for audit purposes (see Registration for Audit).
A mark of “CR” (credit) is given for a course in which the university allows credit toward a degree, but for which no grade points are earned. The mark “CR” is not normally awarded for graduate-level courses but may be granted for independent academic activities. For a master's degree, a maximum of six semester hours of “CR” may be accepted toward the requirements for the degree.
A mixing of course letter grades and the mark “CR” is permitted only in graduate-level courses in which instruction is of an independent nature.
A mark of “R” (Registered) indicates that the student registered for master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. The mark “R” gives neither credit nor grade points toward a graduate degree.
A mark of “S” (Satisfactory) is assigned in courses such as special problems and research when a final grade is inappropriate. The mark “S” is not assigned to courses or work for which credit is given (and thus no grade points are earned for such work). If credit is awarded upon the completion of such work, a grade or mark may be assigned at that time and, if a grade is assigned, grade points will be earned. Courses with marks of S may not be used to count toward graduate degree requirements.
A mark of “W” (Withdrawal) will be given for courses from which students withdraw after the first 10 class days of the semester and before the drop deadline of the semester.
For numerical evaluation of grades, “A” is assigned 4 points for each semester hour of that grade; “B,” 3 points; “C,” 2 points; “D,” 1 point; and “F,” 0 points. Grades of plus and minus are assigned grade-point values in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.
Students awarded a graduate degree must complete the minimum specified hours by the degree program and the Graduate School. Courses not marked in the course description as eligible to be repeated for degree credit may be included in this total only once.
Grade Appeal Process for Graduate Students
The Graduate School of the University of Arkansas recognizes that there may be occasions when a graduate student questions the fairness or accuracy of a grade. Situations that may result in an appeal include those where an instructor’s policy was not applied consistently to all students, the instructor’s actions differed substantially from announced policy or the syllabus, or that a policy was not announced. All grievances concerning course grades must be filed within one calendar year after the end of the term in which the grade is assigned. In such cases, the following process shall apply.
The student should first discuss the matter with the instructor involved, doing so as soon as possible after receiving the grade. If the student chooses to pursue an appeal, the student shall take the appeal in written form to the appropriate department or program chairperson of the program in which the course was instructed. The appeal should present the basis of the appeal with evidence the student may have to support the appeal. If that person determines the case has no merit, that person will inform the student and the instructor within five working days of having received the appeal from the student, or as soon thereafter as is practicable. If that person believes the complaint may have merit, that person will discuss it with the instructor. The instructor will have five working days from the date of that discussion (or as soon thereafter as is practicable) to decide whether to change the grade. In the case that the department or unit chairperson is the instructor, the student should submit an appeal in written form to the appropriate dean of the college in which the course was instructed.
If the matter remains unresolved, the department/program chair/head/director will, within 15 working days after receiving the original written approval (or as soon thereafter as is practicable), refer it to an ad hoc committee composed of programmatic or departmental faculty. This committee will be appointed by the department or program chairperson and will have at least three faculty with graduate faculty status representing the program or department in which the course was instructed. In the case where there are fewer than three faculty within the program or department to serve on the committee, graduate faculty members from a closely related discipline will be appointed to serve. In the case where the department or unit chairperson is the instructor of the appeal, the ad hoc committee will be appointed by the appropriate dean of the college in which the course was instructed. The instructor whose grade is being challenged shall not serve on this ad hoc committee.The department/program chair/head/director or dean will appoint one of the committee members to serve as chair of the committee. The chair will be responsible for convening the committee, ensuring that this policy is followed and that there have been attempts to find a fair and equitable solution to the appeal.
The committee will examine available written information on the dispute, will be available to meet with the student and with the instructor, and will meet with others as it sees fit. The student and faculty member will not be asked to meet with the committee together unless both sides agree to do so. The committee will have a maximum of 20 working days (or as soon thereafter as is practicable), from the date that the committee received the appeal, to deliberate and make a recommendation as follows. However, with the agreement of the instructor and the student, this time limit may be suspended while the committee attempts to negotiate a solution.
If by majority vote, the ad hoc faculty committee determines, through its inquiries and deliberations, that the grade should not be changed, the committee shall communicate this conclusion to the student, the faculty member, and the chairperson. This will end the appeal unless the student can demonstrate a violation of University policy in the original assessment of the grade or in the deliberation by the ad hoc committee. In such cases, the graduate student will have access to the Graduate Student Grievance policy.
If, by a majority vote, the ad hoc faculty committee determines that the grade should be changed, the committee will request that the instructor make the change and provide the instructor with a written explanation. Should the instructor decline, he or she must provide to the ad hoc faculty committee a written explanation for refusing to do so within five working days of receiving the request from the committee (or as soon thereafter as is practicable).
If the ad hoc faculty committee, after considering the instructor’s written explanation, concludes it would be inappropriate to allow the original grade to stand, it may then recommend to the department chairperson, or dean in the case where the department chairperson is the faculty whose grade is being challenged that the grade be changed. That individual (department chair or dean) will provide the instructor with a copy of the recommendation and will ask the instructor to implement it. If the instructor continues to decline, the chairperson or dean is then obligated to change the grade, notifying the instructor and the student of this action. Only the chairperson or dean has the authority to effect a grade change over the objection of the instructor who assigned the original grade, and only after the foregoing procedures have been followed. The final decision on the appeal must be made within 45 days of the student submitting it to the department/program chair/head/director (or as soon thereafter as is practicable). The instructor may appeal the decision to the academic dean or if the instructor is that person, to the Provost.
The final decision of the committee will be communicated to the Graduate School within five working days of its conclusion in the department.
This page includes information and policies about the following:
Academic Grievance Procedures for Graduate Students
The Graduate School of the University of Arkansas recognizes that there may be occasions when a graduate student has a grievance about some aspect of their academic involvement. It is an objective of this University that such a graduate student may have prompt and formal resolution of his or her personal academic grievances and that this be accomplished according to orderly procedures. Below are the procedures to be utilized when a graduate student has an academic grievance with a faculty member or administrator. If the student has a grievance against another student or another employee of the University, or if the student has a grievance which is not academic in nature, the appropriate policy may be found by contacting the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the office of the Graduate Dean. For policies and procedures pertaining to conduct offenses, consult the Code of Student Life.
NOTE: Master’s students in the Graduate School of Business should follow the grievance procedures for that School.
Definition of Terms
Academic grievance. An academic grievance means a dispute concerning some aspect of academic involvement arising from an administrative or faculty decision which the graduate student claims is in violation of his or her rights and is the result of a University error. The Graduate School considers any behavior on the part of a faculty member or an administrator, which the student believes to interfere with their academic progress, to be subject to a grievance. While an enumeration of the students’ rights with regard to their academic involvement is not possible or desirable, we have provided a short list as illustration. However, as in all cases involving individual rights, whether a specific behavior constitutes a violation of these rights can only be decided in context, following a review by a panel of those given the authority to make such a decision.
In general, we consider that the graduate student:
- has the right to competent instruction;
- is entitled to have access to the instructor at hours other than class times (office hours);
- is entitled to know the grading system by which he/she will be judged;
- has the right to evaluate each course and instructor;
- has the right to be treated with respect and dignity;
- has the right to be free of retaliation from University employees for filing a grievance under this policy or the grade appeal policy or participation in the investigation of a grievance as a witness of such a claim.
In addition, an academic grievance may include alleged violations of the affirmative action plans of the University as related to academic policies and regulations, as well as disputes over grades, course requirements, graduation/degree program requirements, thesis/dissertation/advisory committee composition, and/or adviser decisions.
Formal academic grievance. An academic grievance is considered formal when the student notifies the Graduate Dean, in writing, that he/she is proceeding with such a grievance. The implications of this declaration are: 1) all correspondence pertaining to any aspect of the grievance will be in writing and will be made available to the Graduate Dean; 2) all documents relevant to the case, including minutes from all relevant meetings, will be part of the complete written record and will be forwarded to the Graduate Dean upon receipt by any party to the grievance; 3) the policy contained herein will be strictly followed; and 4) any member of the academic community who does not follow the grievance policy will be subject to disciplinary actions. Filing a formal academic grievance is a serious matter, and the student is strongly encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns before taking such a step.
Complete Written Record. The “complete written record” refers to all documents submitted as evidence by any party to the complaint, as subject to applicable privacy considerations.
NOTE: Because the tape recordings of committee meetings may contain sensitive information, including private information pertaining to other students, the tape or a verbatim transcription of the tape will not be part of the complete written record. However, general minutes of the meetings, documenting the action taken by the committees, will be part of the complete written record.
Graduate student. Under this procedure, a graduate student is any person who has been formally admitted into the Graduate School of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and who is/was enrolled as a graduate-level student at the time the alleged grievance occurred.
Retaliation. Any decision to adversely affect the education environment, which is directed against graduate students for filing grievances under this policy or the grade appeal policy for graduate students as well as graduate students who participate in an investigation.
Working Days. Working days shall refer to Monday through Friday, excluding official University holidays.
NOTE: Master’s students in the Graduate School of Business should follow the grievance procedures for that School.
- Individuals should attempt to resolve claimed grievances first with the person(s) involved, within the department, and wherever possible, without resort to formal grievance procedures. The graduate student should first discuss the matter with the faculty member involved, or with the faculty member’s chairperson or area coordinator. The student’s questions may be answered satisfactorily during this discussion. If the grievance is with the departmental chairperson or area coordinator, the student may choose to contact the academic dean or the Graduate Dean, for a possible informal resolution of the matter. Grievances based on dismissal for unethical/unprofessional conduct will first follow the appeal policies of the department/program and if unsuccessful, will follow process 5, below, bypassing the Graduate Dean.
- If a graduate student chooses to pursue a formal grievance procedure, the student shall take the appeal in written form to the appropriate departmental chairperson/area coordinator, and forward a copy to the Graduate Dean. In the case of a grievance against a departmental chairperson or an area coordinator who does not report directly to a departmental chairperson, or in the absence of the chairperson/coordinator, the student will go directly to the dean of the college or school in which the alleged violation has occurred, or to the Graduate Dean. In any case, the Graduate Dean must be notified of the grievance. After discussion between the chairperson/coordinator/dean and all parties to the grievance, option 2a, 2b, or 3 may be chosen.
- All parties involved may agree that the grievance can be resolved by a recommendation of the chairperson/coordinator/dean. In this case, the chairperson/coordinator/dean will forward a written recommendation to all parties involved in the grievance within 20 working days after receipt of the written grievance. The chairperson/area coordinator/dean is at liberty to use any appropriate method of investigation, including personal interviews and/or referral to an appropriate departmental committee for recommendation.
- Alternatively, any party to the grievance may request that the departmental chairperson/area coordinator/dean at once refer the request, together with all statements, documents, and information gathered in his or her investigation, to the applicable departmental group (standing committee or all graduate faculty of the department). The reviewing body shall, within ten working days from the time its chairperson received the request for consideration, present to the department chairperson/coordinator/dean its written recommendations concerning resolution of the grievance. Within ten working days after receiving these recommendations, the department chairperson/area coordinator/dean shall provide all parties to the dispute with copies of the reviewing body’s recommendation and his or her consequent written decision on the matter.
- If the grievance is not resolved by the procedure outlined in step 2, or if any party to the grievance chooses not to proceed as suggested in 2, he/she will appeal in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School. When, and only when, the grievance concerns the composition of the student’s thesis/dissertation committee or advisory committee, the Graduate Dean will proceed as described in step 5 (following). In all other cases, whenever a grievance comes to the attention of the Dean of the Graduate School, either as a result of a direct appeal or when a grievance has not been resolved satisfactorily at the departmental/academic dean level, the Dean of the Graduate School will consult with the person alleging the grievance. If the Graduate Dean determines that there is evidence of a university error and if that person decides to continue the formal grievance procedure, the Graduate Dean will notify all parties named in the grievance, the departmental chairperson/area coordinator, and the academic dean that a formal grievance has been filed. Within ten working days, the Dean of the Graduate School will: 1) with the consent of the student, appoint a faculty member as the student’s advocate, and 2) notify the Academic Appeals Subcommitee of the Graduate Council, which will serve as the hearing committee. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School will serve as the chair of the grievance committee and will vote only in the case of a tie. A voting member of the Graduate Council who is not a member of the Academic Appeals Subcommittee will serve as the non-voting secretary of the committee.
The committee shall have access to witnesses and records, may take testimony, and may make a record by taping the hearing. Its charge is to develop all pertinent factual information (with the exception that the student and faculty member/administrator will not be required to be present in any meeting together without first agreeing to do so) and, on the basis of this information, to make a recommendation to the Graduate Dean to either support or reject the appeal. The Graduate Dean will then make a decision based on the committee’s recommendation and all documents submitted by the parties involved. The Graduate Dean’s decision, the committee’s written recommendation and a copy of its complete written record (excluding those in which other students have a privacy interest) shall be forwarded to the person(s) making the appeal within 20 working days from the date the committee was first convened; copies shall be sent simultaneously to other parties involved in the grievance and to the dean of the college in which the alleged violation occurred. A copy shall be retained by the Graduate School in such a way that the student’s privacy is protected.
- When, and only when, a student brings a grievance concerning the composition of their thesis/dissertation or advisory committee, the following procedure will apply. The Dean of the Graduate School shall meet with the graduate student and the faculty member named in the grievance and shall consult the chair of the committee, the departmental chairperson/area coordinator, and the academic dean, for their recommendations. In unusual circumstances, the Dean of the Graduate School may remove a faculty member from a student’s thesis/dissertation committee or advisory committee, or make an alternative arrangement (e.g. assign a representative from the Graduate faculty to serve on the committee). With regard to the chair of the dissertation/thesis committee (not the advisory committee), the Graduate School considers this to be a mutual agreement between the faculty member and the student to work cooperatively on a research project of shared interest. Either the graduate student or the faculty member may dissolve this relationship by notifying the other party, the departmental chairperson, and the Graduate Dean. However, the student and the adviser should be warned that this may require that all data gathered for the dissertation be abandoned and a new research project undertaken, with a new faculty adviser.
- When, and only when, a student is appealing a dismissal from a degree program on the basis of unethical and unprofessional conduct, and has followed all appeal options contained within the department/program policy, the following process will apply: If a student’s appeal through the department/program process is denied and the student continues to believe the grievance decision is in error, then the student may, within 10 working days after the date of the final written decision from the department/program, appeal the decision in writing to the dean of the academic department within which the degree program resides. The department/program is required to notify the student of the appeal process at the time of the final decision. The academic dean will review the material provided by the student, the grievance decision, any other material which has been assembled regarding the matter, and any applicable university policies and may, at their discretion, gather any additional information that will be helpful to a decision, whether in writing or through meeting or consulting with any individuals deemed necessary in the dean’s discretion. The dean reviewing the appeal shall make a decision, in writing, within 10 working days of receiving the student’s grievance, or as soon as possible thereafter. This is the sole method for appeal of a suspension or dismissal on the basis of unethical or unprofessional conduct. The decision of the dean shall be final.
- If a grievance is not satisfactorily resolved through step 3 or 5, an appeal in writing and with all relevant material may be submitted for consideration and a joint decision by the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. This appeal must be filed within 20 working days of receiving the decision of the Graduate Dean. Any appeal at this level shall be on the basis of the complete written record only, and will not involve interviews with any party to the grievance. The Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs shall make a decision on the matter within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the appeal. Their decision shall be forwarded in writing to the same persons receiving such decision in step 3. Their decision is final pursuant to the delegated authority of the Board of Trustees.
- If a grievance cannot be resolved internally within the university, a student may file a complaint with the appropriate authority in their state of residence. Arkansas residents must file complaints in writing with the ICAC Coordinator, Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE), 114 E. Capitol, Little Rock, AR 72201, within 20 days of completing the institution's grievance process. As required by ADHE, the grievant must provide a statement from the institution verifying that the institution's appeal process has been followed. ADHE inquiries are limited to courses/degree programs certified by the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) under Ark. Code § 6-61-103 and so matters related to the criteria for certification. For other states, the Student Complaint Process by State Directory, available on the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association website provides a list of appropriate state officials and/or entities for each state. Students may also contact the Higher Learning Commission, which is the university's regional accrediting body, at 230 S. LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604, or at email@example.com or 1-800-621-7440. This information is provided pursuant to 34 CFR § 668.43(b).
- If any party to the grievance violates this policy, he/she will be subject to disciplinary action. When alleging such a violation, the aggrieved individual shall contact the Graduate Dean, in writing, with an explanation of the violation.
Grievance Policy and Procedures for Graduate Assistants
NOTE: Graduate Assistants in the Graduate School of Business should follow the grievance procedures for that School.
It is the philosophy of the Graduate School that assistantships are not typical employee positions of the University. This has two implications. First, the sponsor should also serve as a mentor to the student and assist, to the extent possible, in facilitating the student’s progress toward their degree. Second, any questions concerning performance in or requirements of assistantships shall be directed to the Graduate School or, for master’s students in business, to the Graduate School of Business. Note: the term graduate assistant will be used to refer to those on other types of appointments as well, such as fellowships, clerkships, etc.
The Graduate School has the following authority with regard to graduate assistantships:
- All requests for new positions, regardless of the source of the funds, must be approved by the Graduate School. When the position is approved, the requesting department or faculty member must complete the form “Request for a New Graduate Assistant Position” and submit it to the Graduate School. All proposed changes in duties for existing graduate assistantships must be approved by the Graduate School prior to their implementation.
- The duty requirements of the graduate assistantship, including the number of hours required, must be approved by the Graduate School. Fifty percent GAs may not be asked to work more than 20 hours per week (Note: this is not limited to time actually spent in the classroom or lab; the 20 hour requirement also pertains to time required to grade/compute results, develop class/lab materials, etc. Moreover, students cannot be asked to work an average of 20 hours per week, with 30 hours one week and 10 hours the next, for example. The duty hour requirement is no more than 20 hours per week for a 50 percent appointment. See the Graduate Handbook. However, it should also be noted that if the student is engaged in research which will be used in their required project, thesis or dissertation, or if the student is traveling to professional meetings, data sources, etc., the student may work more than 20 hours per week.) The duty requirements must complement the degree program of the graduate student and must abide by the philosophy that the first priority of graduate students is to finish their degrees. If a student is assigned to teach, the maximum duty assignment is full responsibility for two three-hour courses per semester.
- The Graduate School has set the following limits on holding graduate assistantships (not fellowships): Master’s students may hold a graduate assistantship for no more than six major (Fall/Spring) semesters; a doctoral student may hold a graduate assistantship for no more than ten major (Fall/Spring) semesters; a student who enters a doctoral program with only a baccalaureate degree may hold a graduate assistantship for no more than twelve (Fall/Spring) major semesters. The department/program may petition the Graduate School for extensions to these requirements on a case by case basis.
- The Graduate School, in consultation with the Graduate Council, has the right to set the enrollment requirements for full-time status for graduate assistants (as well as graduate students in general).
- The Graduate School sets the minimum stipend for graduate assistantships, but does not have responsibility for setting the actual stipend.
Graduate assistants will be provided with a written statement of the expected duties for their positions, consistent with the duties outlined in the “Request for New Graduate Assistant Position” or any amendments submitted to the Graduate School. A copy of the written statement will be submitted to the Graduate School for inclusion in the student’s file.
Graduate assistants may be terminated from their positions at any time, or dismissed for cause (Board Policy No. 500.1). Termination for convenience is effected through the giving of a notice, in writing, of that action at least 60 days in advance of the date the employment is to cease; termination for cause, excluding unsatisfactory work performance, or because of abandonment of the assistantship is effected immediately upon notice and no advance notice shall be required. The conditions under which a graduate assistant may be terminated for unsatisfactory work performance are described in Board Policy No. 500.1. Termination of a graduate assistantship because of the loss of funds may be effected immediately or with reduced notice. In all cases of termination of the graduate assistantship, a copy of the notice must be sent to the Graduate School.
A graduate assistant has the right to request a review of the termination by the Graduate Dean, following the procedure given below. However, a student should be warned that if the grounds for dismissal are based on any of the following, the only defense to the termination is evidence to show that the charges are not true:
- The student fails to meet the expectations of the assistantship positions, as outlined in the initial written statement provided to him/her at the beginning of the appointment.
- The student provides fraudulent documentation for admission to their degree program and/or to their sponsor in applying for the assistantship position.
- The student fails to meet certain expectations, which need not be explicitly stated by the sponsor, such as the expectation that:
- the student has the requisite English language skills to adequately perform the duties of the position;
- the student has the appropriate experience and skills to perform the duties of the position; and
- the student maintains the appropriate ethical standards for the position. The Research Misconduct Policy provides one reference source for such ethical standards.
- The student fails to make good progress toward the degree, as determined by the annual graduate student academic review and defined by program and Graduate School policies.
- The assistantship position expires.
Definition of Terms
Graduate Assistant. Any graduate student holding a position which requires that the student be admitted to a graduate degree program of the University of Arkansas, regardless of the source of funds, and for whom tuition is paid as a result of that position.
Sponsor. The person responsible for the funding and duty expectations for the graduate assistant.
Formal graduate assistant grievance. Any dispute concerning some aspect of the graduate assistantship, as defined above, which arises from an administrative or faculty decision that the graduate student claims is a violation of his or her rights and is the result of a university error. The formal graduate assistant grievance does not pertain to cases in which there is a dispute between co-workers.
Violation of graduate assistant’s rights. An action is considered a violation of the graduate assistants’ rights if: a) it violates Graduate School policy with regard to graduate assistantships; b) it threatens the integrity of, or otherwise demeans the graduate student, regardless of any other consideration; c) it illegally discriminates or asks the graduate assistant to discriminate; d) it requires the student to do something which was not communicated as a condition of holding the assistantship (or the underlying expectations outlined above); e) it terminates the student from an assistantship for behaviors which are irrelevant to the holding of the assistantship or were never included as expectations for the assistantship; f) it requires the student to do something which violates University policy, the law, or professional ethics; g) the student was a party to a formal academic grievance or utilized the grade appeal policy for graduate students and alleges their termination is retaliation for filing such a grievance or appeal or their participation as a witness in the investigation of such a claim. Note: It is impossible to state all of the conditions which might constitute a violation of graduate assistants’ rights or, conversely, which might defend a respondent against charges of such violations. Such complaints require a process of information gathering and discussion that leads to a final resolution of the matter by those who have been given the authority to do so.
Formal grievance. A grievance concerning graduate assistantships/fellowships is considered formal when the student notifies the Graduate Dean, in writing, that he/she is proceeding with such a grievance. The implications of this declaration are: a) the student will be provided with an advocate; b) all correspondence pertaining to any aspect of the grievance will be in writing and will be made available to the Graduate Dean; c) all documents relevant to the case, including minutes from all relevant meetings, will be part of the complete written record, and will be forwarded to the Graduate Dean upon receipt by any party to the grievance; d) the policy contained herein will be strictly followed; and e) any member of the academic community who does not follow the grievance policy will be subject to disciplinary actions. Filing a formal grievance is a serious matter, and the student is strongly encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns before taking such a step.
Respondent. The person who is the object of the grievance.
Retaliation. Any decision to adversely affect the education environment, which is directed against graduate students for filing grievances under this policy or the grade appeal policy for graduate students as well as graduate students who participate in an investigation.
NOTE: Grievances are confidential. Information about the grievance, including the fact that such a grievance has been filed, may never be made public to those who are not immediately involved in the resolution of the case, unless the student has authorized this release of information or has instigated a course of action which requires the respondent to respond. An exception to this confidentiality requirement is that the immediate supervisor or departmental chairperson of the respondent will be notified and will receive a copy of the resolution of the case. Since grievances against a respondent also have the potential to harm that person’s reputation, students may not disclose information about the grievance, including the fact that they have filed a grievance, to any person not immediately involved in the resolution of the case, until the matter has been finally resolved. This is not intended to preclude the student or respondent from seeking legal advice.
- (Graduate assistants who are master’s students in the Graduate School of Business should contact the Director of that School.) When a graduate student believes that their rights have been violated, as the result of action(s) pertaining to a graduate assistantship he/she holds or has held within the past year, the student shall first discuss their concerns with the respondent. If the concerns are not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student may discuss it with the Graduate Dean and/or with the Office of Affirmative Action. If the concerns are satisfactorily resolved by any of the above discussions, the terms of the resolution shall be reduced to writing, if any of the involved parties desires to have such a written statement.
- If the student’s concerns are not resolved by the above discussions and he/she chooses to pursue the matter further, the student shall notify the Graduate Dean in writing of the nature of the complaint. This notification will include all relevant documentation and must occur within one year from the date of the occurrence.
- Upon receipt of this notification and supporting documentation, the Graduate Dean will meet with the graduate student. If the student agrees, the Dean will notify the respondent of the student’s concerns. If the student does not wish for the respondent to be notified, the matter will be dropped. The respondent will be given ten working days from receipt of the Graduate Dean’s notification to respond to the concerns.
- The Graduate Dean will meet again with the student and make an effort to resolve the concerns in a mutually satisfactory manner. If this is not possible, and if the Graduate Dean determines that there is evidence of a university error, the Graduate Dean will refer the case to a committee.
- Within ten working days from the final meeting between the student and the Graduate Dean, the Graduate Dean will notify the respondent and the Academic Appeals Subcommittee of the Graduate Council, which will serve as the hearing committee. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School will serve as the chair of the grievance committee and will vote only in the case of a tie. A voting member of the Graduate Council who is not on the Academic Appeals Subcommittee will serve as the non-voting secretary of the committee. At this time, the Graduate Dean will also assign an advocate to the student. The advocate must be a member of the graduate faculty. The immediate supervisor of the sponsor will serve as their advocate. Note: The student and sponsor advocates will have the responsibility to help the student/sponsor prepare their written materials and will attend committee meetings with the student/sponsor. The advocate will not speak on behalf of the student/sponsor and will not take part in committee discussions of the merits of the case.
- The committee shall have access to witnesses and records, may take testimony, and may make a record by taping the hearing. Its charge is to develop all pertinent factual information (with the exception that the student and respondent will not be required to be present in any meeting together without first agreeing to do so) and, on the basis of this information, to make a recommendation to the Graduate Dean to either support or reject the grievance. The Graduate Dean will then make a decision based on the committee’s recommendation and all documents submitted by the parties involved. The Graduate Dean’s decision, the committee’s written recommendation and a copy of all documents submitted as evidence by any party to the complaint, consistent with all privacy considerations, shall be forwarded to the person(s) alleging the grievance within 20 working days from the date the committee was first convened; copies shall be sent simultaneously to other parties involved in the grievance. A copy shall be retained by the Graduate School in such a way that the student’s and respondent’s privacy is protected. It should be noted that the Graduate Dean has limited authority to require a sponsor to reappoint a graduate assistant. Consequently, the redress open to the student may be limited.
- If the grievance is not satisfactorily resolved through step 6, an appeal in writing with all relevant material may be submitted by either the student or the sponsor for consideration by the Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Arkansas. This appeal must be filed within 20 working days of receiving the decision of the Graduate Dean. Any appeal at this level shall be on the basis of the complete written record only and will not involve interviews with any party to the grievance. The Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs shall make a decision on the matter within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the appeal. Their decision shall be forwarded in writing to the Graduate Dean, the student, and the respondent. This decision is final.
- If any party to the grievance violates this policy, he/she will be subject either to losing the assistantship position or losing the assistantship. When alleging such a violation, the aggrieved individual shall contact the Graduate Dean, in writing, with an explanation of the violation.
Research and Scholarly Misconduct Policies and Procedures
A. General Policy
The University of Arkansas is committed to the highest integrity in research and scholarly activity. Actions which fail to meet this standard can undermine the quality of academic scholarship and harm the reputation of the University. This policy is designed to help ensure that all those associated with the University of Arkansas carry out their research and scholarly obligations in a manner that is consistent with the mission and values of the University, and provides a means of addressing instances of suspected research misconduct should they arise.
Principal investigators are responsible for maintaining ethical standards in the projects they direct and reporting any violations to the appropriate University official. Students charged with academic misconduct are subject to separate disciplinary rules governing students, however, such cases may also be reviewed under these policies if applicable under the provisions stated below. The Research Integrity Officer, in consultation with the student’s dean shall determine which policy is most appropriate in each case.
A charge of research misconduct is very serious, and will be reviewed carefully and thoroughly. Any allegation of research misconduct will be handled as confidentially and expeditiously as possible. Full attention will be given to the rights and responsibilities of all individuals involved. Charges of research misconduct which are determined not to be made in good faith, as provided for in this policy, may result in administrative action against the charging party.
This statement of policy and procedures is intended to carry out the responsibilities of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville under the Public Health Service (PHS) Policies on Research Misconduct, 42 CFR Part 93 and the research misconduct policies of other funding agencies, as applicable to particular allegations.
This document applies to allegations of research misconduct (as defined below) involving:
- A person who, at the time of the alleged research misconduct, was employed by, was an agent of, or was affiliated by enrolled student status, contract or agreement with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; and
- Is accused of plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification of research records produced in the course of research, research training or activities related to that research or research training. This includes any research formally proposed, performed, reviewed, or reported, or any document or record generated in connection with such research, regardless of whether an application or proposal for funds resulted in a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other form of support.
Severance of the respondent’s relationship with the University, whether by resignation or termination of employment, completion of or withdrawal from studies, or otherwise, before or after initiation of procedures under this policy, will not preclude or terminate research misconduct procedures.
II. Definitions and Standard of Review
Charge. A written allegation of misconduct that triggers the procedures described in this policy.
Complainant. A person who submits a charge of research misconduct.
Deciding Official (DO). The Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs who is the institutional official responsible for making determinations, subject to appeal, on allegations of research misconduct and any institutional administrative actions. The Deciding Official will not be the same individual as the Research Integrity Officer and should have no direct prior involvement in the institution’s allegation assessment, inquiry, or investigation. Discussing concerns regarding suspected research misconduct, as provided for in Section IV.A. of this policy, shall not be considered direct prior involvement. If the Deciding Official is unable to serve as DO in a particular matter, the Chancellor may appoint an appropriate official to act as the DO for purposes of that matter.
Good Faith Charge. A charge of research misconduct made by a complainant who believes that research misconduct may have occurred. A charge is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the charge.
Inquiry. The process under the policy for information gathering and preliminary fact-finding to determine if a charge or apparent instance of research misconduct has substance and therefore warrants an investigation.
Investigation. The process under this policy for the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine whether research misconduct has occurred, and, if so, the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.
Investigator. Any person, including but not limited to any person holding an academic or professional staff appointment at the University of Arkansas, who is engaged in the design, conduct, or reporting of research.
ORI. The Office of Research Integrity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
PHS. The Public Health Service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Preponderance of Evidence. Evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than evidence to the contrary; evidence which shows that something more likely than not is true.
Recklessly. To act recklessly means that a person acts in such a manner that the individual consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk or grossly deviates from the standard of conduct that a reasonable individual would observe; reckless means more than mere or ordinary negligence.
Research. A systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. The term includes the search for both basic and applied knowledge and well as training methods by which such knowledge may be obtained.
Research Integrity Officer (RIO) means the Chair of the Research Council who is the institutional official responsible for: (1) assessing allegations of research misconduct to determine if the allegations fall within the definition of research misconduct, are covered by 42 CFR Part 93 or other applicable federal policies, and warrant an inquiry on the basis that the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified; (2) overseeing inquiries and investigations; and (3) the other responsibilities described in this policy. If the Research Integrity Officer is unable to serve as RIO in a particular matter, the DO may appoint an appropriate official to act as the RIO for purposes of that matter.
Research Misconduct. Research misconduct means the 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 disputes regarding honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data, and is not intended to resolve bona fide scientific disagreement or debate. Research misconduct is also not intended to include “authorship” disputes such as complaints about appropriate ranking of co-authors in publications, presentations, or other work, unless the dispute constitutes plagiarism (as defined above).
Research Record. Any data, document, computer file, computer storage media, or any other written or non-written account or object that reasonably may be expected to provide evidence or information regarding the proposed, conducted, or reported research that constitutes the subject of a charge of research misconduct. A research record includes, but is not limited to, grant or contract applications, whether funded or unfunded; grant or contract progress and other reports; laboratory notebooks; notes; printed or electronic correspondence; memoranda of telephone calls; videos; photographs; X-ray film; slides; biological materials; computer files and printouts; manuscripts and publications; equipment use logs; laboratory procurement records; animal facility records; human and animal subject protocols; consent forms; medical charts; and patient research files.
Respondent. The person against whom a charge of research misconduct is directed, or the person whose actions are the subject of an inquiry or investigation.
Standard of Review.
A finding of research misconduct requires that:
- There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and
- The research misconduct be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
- The allegation be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
This standard and related definitions are restated in the charge to the investigation committee located in section V.E. of this policy.
III. Rights and Responsibilities
A. Research Integrity Officer
The Chair of the Research Council will serve as the RIO who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the institution’s policies and procedures on research misconduct. These responsibilities include the following duties related to research misconduct proceedings:
- Consult confidentially with persons uncertain about whether to submit an allegation of research misconduct;
- Receive allegations of research misconduct;
- Assess each allegation of research misconduct in accordance with Section V.A. of this policy to determine whether the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct and warrants an inquiry;
- As necessary, take interim action and notify ORI of special circumstances, in accordance with Section IV.H. of this policy;
- Sequester research data and evidence pertinent to the allegation of research misconduct in accordance with Section V.C. of this policy and maintain it securely in accordance with this policy and applicable law and regulation;
- Provide confidentiality to those involved in the research misconduct proceeding as required by 42 CFR § 93.108 or other applicable law or regulations, or institutional policy;
- Notify the respondent and provide opportunities for him/her to review/ comment/respond to allegations, evidence, and committee reports in accordance with Section III.C. of this policy.
- Inform respondents, complainants, and witnesses of the procedural steps in the research misconduct proceeding;
- Appoint the chair and members of the inquiry and investigation committees, ensure that those committees are properly staffed and that there is expertise appropriate to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the evidence;
- Determine whether each person involved in handling an allegation of research misconduct has an unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflict of interest and take appropriate action, including recusal, to ensure that no person with such conflict is involved in the research misconduct proceeding;
- In cooperation with other institutional officials, take all reasonable and practical steps to protect or restore the positions and reputations of good faith complainants, witnesses, and committee members and counter potential or actual retaliation against them by respondents or other institutional members;
- Keep the Deciding Official and others who need to know apprised of the progress of the review of the allegation of research misconduct;
- Notify and make reports to ORI or other applicable federal agencies as required by 42 CFR Part 93 or other applicable law or regulations;
- Ensure that administrative actions taken by the institution, ORI, or other appropriate agencies are enforced and take appropriate action to notify other involved parties, such as sponsors, law enforcement agencies, professional societies, and licensing boards of those actions; and
- Maintain records of the research misconduct proceeding and make them available to ORI or other appropriate agencies as applicable in accordance with Section VIII.F. of this policy.
The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality to the extent permitted by law, and cooperating with the inquiry and investigation. As a matter of good practice, the complainant should be interviewed at the inquiry stage and given the transcript of the interview for comment. The complainant must be interviewed during an investigation, and be given the transcript of the interview for comment. The complainant may be provided for comment with (1) relevant portions of the inquiry report (within a timeframe that permits the inquiry to be completed within 60 days of its initiation); and (2) relevant portions of the draft investigation report. In reviewing reports, the complainant must adhere to time limits set by the corresponding committee for timely completion of the inquiry or investigation
The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry and investigation. The respondent is entitled to:
- A good faith effort from the RIO to notify the respondent in writing at the time of or before beginning an inquiry;
- An opportunity to comment on the inquiry report and have their comments attached to the report;
- Be notified of the outcome of the inquiry, and receive a copy of the inquiry report that includes a copy of, or refers to 42 CFR Part 93 or other applicable law or regulations and the institution’s policies and procedures on research misconduct;
- Be notified in writing of the allegations to be investigated within a reasonable time after the determination that an investigation is warranted, but before the investigation begins (within 30 days after the institution decides to begin an investigation), and be notified in writing of any new allegations, not addressed in the inquiry or in the initial notice of investigation, within a reasonable time after the determination to pursue those allegations;
- Be interviewed during the investigation, have the opportunity to correct the recording or transcript, and have the corrected recording or transcript included in the record of the investigation;
- Have a good faith effort made to interview during the investigation any witness who has been reasonably identified by the respondent as having information on relevant aspects of the investigation, have the recording or transcript provided to the witness, have the witness suggest any corrections in the transcript, and have the recording or corrected transcript included in the record of investigation; and
- Receive a copy of the draft investigation report and, concurrently, a copy of, or supervised access to any records or materials on which the report is based, and be notified that any comments must be submitted within 30 days of the date on which the copy was received and that the comments will be considered by the institution and addressed in the final report
- Appeal the decision of the DO as provided in Section XIII.D.
The respondent should be given the opportunity to admit that research misconduct occurred and that he/she committed the research misconduct. With the advice of the RIO and/or other institutional officials, the Deciding Official may terminate the institution’s review of an allegation that has been admitted, if the institution’s acceptance of the admission and any proposed resolution is approved by ORI or the appropriate federal agency, if required.
D. Deciding Official
The DO will receive the inquiry report and after consulting with the RIO and/or other institutional officials, decide whether an investigation is warranted under this policy, the criteria in 42 CFR § 93.307(d), or other applicable law or regulations. Any finding that an investigation is warranted must be made in writing by the DO and must be provided to ORI or other federal agencies, if required, together with a copy of the inquiry report meeting the requirements of 42 CFR § 93.309, within 30 days of the finding. If it is found that an investigation is not warranted, the DO and the RIO will ensure that detailed documentation of the inquiry is retained for at least 7 years after termination of the inquiry, so that ORI or other applicable agencies may assess the reasons why the institution decided not to conduct an investigation.
The DO will receive the investigation report and, after consulting with the RIO and/or other institutional officials, decide the extent to which this institution accepts the findings of the investigation and, if research misconduct is found, decide what, if any, institutional administrative actions are appropriate. The DO shall ensure that the final investigation report, the findings of the DO and a description of any pending or completed administrative actions are provided to ORI, as required by 42 CFR § 93.315 or to other federal agencies as required by their respective misconduct policies.
IV. General Policies and Principles
A. Responsibility to Report Misconduct
All institutional members will report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the RIO, the DO, or their designees. Prior to submitting a formal charge, a potential complainant is encouraged to consult informally with the RIO, the DO, or their designees to consider whether the case involves questions of research misconduct, should be resolved by other University procedures, or does not warrant further action. Contact information for the RIO may be obtained from the Office of Research Support and Sponsored Programs or the listing of Research Council members on the Faculty Senate website. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of research misconduct, but further action is required, the RIO will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.
At any time, to the extent permitted by law, an institutional member may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the RIO, the DO, or their designees and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations and their obligation to cooperate in any inquiry or investigation that may occur.
B. Cooperation with Research Misconduct Proceedings
Institutional members shall cooperate with the RIO and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Institutional members, including respondents, have an obligation to provide evidence relevant to research misconduct allegations to the RIO or other institutional officials.
The RIO shall, as required by 42 CFR § 93.108 or other applicable law or regulation: (1) limit disclosure of the identity of respondents and complainants to those who need to know in order to carry out a thorough, competent, objective and fair research misconduct proceeding; and (2) except as otherwise prescribed by law, limit the disclosure of any records or evidence from which research subjects might be identified to those who need to know in order to carry out a research misconduct proceeding.
D. Conflicts of interest
At each stage of handling an inquiry or subsequent investigation, all persons involved shall be vigilant to prevent any real or perceived conflict of interest, or personal conflicts or relationships between colleagues, from affecting the outcome of the proceedings and resolution of the charges. Possible conflicts of interest may include co-authorship of work within the recent past with any of the individuals directly involved with the alleged misconduct, or professional or personal relationship with the respondent beyond that of mere acquaintances or colleagues. Committee members shall not have had any personal, professional or financial involvement with the matters at issue in the investigation that might create an appearance of bias or actual bias. If such relationships or involvement are present, the individual shall recuse himself or herself from any investigative or decisional role in the case. If any prospective committee member at any point in the process presents a conflict of interest, that committee member shall be replaced by another appointee. If the RIO has a conflict of interest, the DO shall appoint a replacement; if the DO has a conflict of interest, the Chancellor shall appoint a replacement. The RIO may use a written conflict of interest statement to implement this provision; a sample statement is referenced in the Appendix to this policy.
E. Protecting complainants, witnesses, and committee members
Institutional members may not retaliate in any way against complainants, witnesses, or committee members. Institutional members should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation against complainants, witnesses or committee members to the RIO, who shall review the matter and, as necessary, make all reasonable and practical efforts to counter any potential or actual retaliation and protect and restore the position and reputation of the person against whom the retaliation is directed.
F. Protecting the Respondent
As requested and as appropriate, the RIO and other institutional officials shall make all reasonable and practical efforts to protect or restore the reputation of persons alleged to have engaged in research misconduct, but against whom no finding of research misconduct is made.
During the research misconduct proceeding, the RIO is responsible for ensuring that respondents receive all the notices and opportunities provided for in 42 CFR Part 93, or other applicable federal policies, and the policies and procedures of the institution.
G. Adviser to the Respondent
The respondent may consult with an adviser, who may or may not be an attorney. The adviser may not be a principal or witness in the case. The adviser may accompany the respondent to proceedings conducted as a part of the research misconduct proceeding, but shall not speak on behalf of the respondent or otherwise participate in the proceedings. The adviser must maintain confidentiality and be available as needed to ensure that that all proceedings are completed on a timely basis.
H. Interim Administrative Actions and Notifying ORI or Other Federal Agencies of Special Circumstances
Throughout the research misconduct proceeding, the RIO will review the situation to determine if there is any threat of harm to public health, federal funds and equipment, or the integrity of the research process. In the event of such a threat, the RIO will, in consultation with other institutional officials and ORI or other federal agencies, if applicable, take appropriate interim action to protect against any such threat. Interim action might include additional monitoring of the research process and the handling of federal funds and equipment, reassignment of personnel or of the responsibility for the handling of federal funds and equipment, additional review of research data and results or delaying publication. The RIO shall, at any time during a research misconduct proceeding, consult with appropriate University officials and legal counsel immediately if he/she has reason to believe that any of the following conditions exist:
- Health or safety of the public is at risk, including an immediate need to protect human or animal subjects;
- Federal resources or interests are threatened;
- Research activities should be suspended;
- There is a reasonable indication of possible violations of civil or criminal law;
- Federal action is required to protect the interests of those involved in the research misconduct proceeding;
- The research misconduct proceeding may be made public prematurely and federal action may be necessary to safeguard evidence and protect the rights of those involved; or
- The research community or public should be informed.
Following such consultation, the institution shall take appropriate steps to address such conditions, such as by notifying ORI or other applicable agency.
I. Computation of Time
In this policy, any reference to days shall mean calendar days. Any period of time equal to ten days or fewer shall exclude University holidays. If a deadline falls on a weekend or University holiday, the deadline shall be the next University business day.
J. Procedural Changes
- Deadlines. Due to the sensitive nature of allegations of misconduct, each case shall be resolved as expeditiously as possible. The nature of some cases may, however, render normal deadlines difficult to meet. If at any time an established deadline cannot be met, a report shall be filed with the DO setting out the reasons why the deadline cannot be met and estimating when that stage of the process will be completed. A copy of this report shall be provided to the respondent. If PHS funding is involved, an extension must be received from the Office of Research Integrity.
- Other Procedural Changes. Particular circumstances in an individual case may dictate variation from the procedures set out in this policy in order to ensure fair and efficient consideration of the matter. Any change in the procedures must ensure fair treatment of the respondent. Any major deviations from the procedures described in this policy shall be made only with the written approval of the DO in consultation with the respondent. Any minor deviations from the procedures described in this policy shall not require the written approval of the DO.
K. Exclusive Process
The procedures described in this policy constitute the exclusive process for raising and resolving charges of research misconduct.
V. Conducting the Assessment and Inquiry
A. Assessment of Allegations
Upon receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the RIO will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether it is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified and further review is warranted. The RIO shall also determine whether the alleged misconduct is within the jurisdictional criteria of 42 CFR § 93.102(b), and whether the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct in 42 CFR § 93.103. An inquiry must be conducted if these criteria are met. In conducting this assessment, the RIO may consult with the institution’s legal counsel and other appropriate University officials. If a charge is frivolous, does not raise questions of research misconduct, is more appropriately resolved by other University procedures, or does not warrant further action, the RIO may, at his or her discretion, handle the matter informally or refer it to the appropriate person or process, and will notify the complainant and anyone else known to be aware of the charge.
The assessment period should be brief, preferably concluded within a week. In conducting the assessment, the RIO need not interview the complainant, respondent, or other witnesses, or gather data beyond any that may have been submitted with the allegation, except as necessary to determine whether the allegation is sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified and further review is warranted. The RIO shall, on or before the date on which the respondent is notified of the allegation, obtain custody of, inventory, and sequester all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding, as provided in paragraph C. of this section.
B. Initiation and Purpose of the Inquiry
If the RIO determines that the criteria for an inquiry are met, he or she will immediately initiate the inquiry process. The purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the available evidence to determine whether to conduct an investigation. An inquiry does not require a full review of all the evidence related to the allegation.
C. Notice to Respondent; Sequestration of Research Records
At the time of or before beginning an inquiry, the RIO must make a good faith effort to notify the respondent in writing, if the respondent is known. With the approval of the respondent, the RIO will also notify the dean of the school or college in which the respondent holds his or her primary appointment. If the inquiry subsequently identifies additional respondents, they must be notified in writing. On or before the date on which the respondent is notified, or the inquiry begins, whichever is earlier, the RIO must take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of all the research records and evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding, inventory the records and evidence and sequester them in a secure manner, except that where the research records or evidence encompass scientific instruments shared by a number of users, custody may be limited to copies of the data or evidence on such instruments, so long as those copies are substantially equivalent to the evidentiary value of the instruments. The RIO may consult confidentially with the institution’s legal counsel and other appropriate University officials for advice and assistance in this regard. In addition, if necessary, the RIO may consult with ORI or other applicable federal agency.
D. Appointment of the Inquiry Committee
The RIO, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, shall appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair as soon after the initiation of the inquiry as is practical. The inquiry committee must consist of individuals who do not have unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with those involved with the inquiry and should include individuals with the appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the inquiry. The RIO shall notify the respondent of the proposed inquiry committee membership. The respondent may then submit a written objection to any appointed member of the inquiry committee based on bias or conflict of interest within seven days. If an objection is raised, the RIO shall determine whether to replace the challenged member with a qualified substitute. The RIO’s decision shall be final. The RIO may, with the concurrence of the DO, appoint one or more experts to assist the inquiry committee if necessary to evaluate specific allegations. The RIO shall direct the members of the committee that the investigation and all information relating to the investigation shall be kept confidential.
E. Charge to the Committee and First Meeting
The RIO will prepare a charge for the inquiry committee that:
- Sets forth the time for completion of the inquiry;
- Describes the allegations and any related issues identified during the allegation assessment;
- States that the purpose of the inquiry is to conduct an initial review of the evidence, including the testimony of the respondent, complainant and key witnesses, to determine whether an investigation is warranted, not to determine whether research misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible;
- States that an investigation is warranted if the committee determines: (1) there is a reasonable basis for concluding that the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct and is within the jurisdictional criteria of 42 CFR § 93.102(b), if applicable; and, (2) the allegation may have substance, based on the committee’s review during the inquiry.
- Informs the inquiry committee that they are responsible for preparing or directing the preparation of a written report of the inquiry that meets the requirements of this Policy and 42 CFR § 93.309(a), if applicable.
At the committee’s first meeting, the RIO will review the charge with the committee, discuss the allegations, any related issues, and the appropriate procedures for conducting the inquiry, assist the committee with organizing plans for the inquiry, and answer any questions raised by the committee. The RIO will be present or available throughout the inquiry to advise the committee as needed. Prior to the first meeting, the RIO shall also consult with legal counsel for the institution as to the need for counsel to provide legal advice to the committee at the first meeting and in subsequent phases of the inquiry, including, but not limited to, for the purpose of reviewing institutional policies governing research misconduct proceedings, confidentiality and potential conflicts of interest.
F. Inquiry Process
The inquiry committee shall interview the complainant and the respondent, and may interview witnesses as well as examine relevant research records and materials. Then the inquiry committee will evaluate the evidence, including the testimony obtained during the inquiry. After consultation with the RIO, the committee members will decide whether an investigation is warranted based on the criteria in this policy and 42 CFR § 93.307(d) as applicable. The scope of the inquiry is not required to and does not normally include deciding whether misconduct definitely occurred, determining definitely who committed the research misconduct or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses. However, if a legally sufficient admission of research misconduct is made by the respondent, misconduct may be determined at the inquiry stage if all relevant issues are resolved. In that case, the institution shall promptly consult with ORI or other appropriate agencies, as as required, to determine the next steps that should be taken. See Section IX.
G. Time for Completion
The inquiry, including preparation of the final inquiry report and the decision of the DO on whether an investigation is warranted, must be completed within 60 days of initiation of the inquiry, unless the RIO determines that circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If the RIO approves an extension, the inquiry record must include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period. The respondent will be notified of the extension.
VI. The Inquiry Report
A. Elements of the Inquiry Report
A written inquiry report must be prepared that includes the following information: (1) the name and position of the respondent; (2) a description of the allegations of research misconduct; (3) the PHS or other federal support, if any, including, for example, grant numbers, grant applications, contracts and publications listing support; (4) the basis for recommending or not recommending that the allegations warrant an investigation; (5) any comments on the draft report by the respondent or complainant. An outline for reports to be furnished to ORI is referenced in the Appendix to this policy.
Institutional counsel shall review the draft inquiry report prior to transmission of the draft to the respondent. Modifications shall be made as appropriate in consultation with the RIO and the inquiry committee. The inquiry report shall include the following information: the names and titles of the committee members and experts who conducted the inquiry; a summary of the inquiry process used; a list of the research records reviewed; summaries of any interviews; and whether any other actions should be taken if an investigation is not recommended.
B. Notification to the Respondent and Opportunity to Comment
The RIO shall notify the respondent whether the inquiry found an investigation to be warranted, together with a copy of the draft inquiry report, and a copy of or reference to 42 CFR Part 93 or other applicable federal policies and the institution’s policies and procedures on research misconduct. The report shall clearly be labeled “DRAFT” in bold and conspicuous type font. The RIO shall notify the respondent that the respondent shall have 10 days to comment on the draft inquiry report. The RIO shall also direct the respondent that the draft report shall be kept confidential.
On a case-by-case basis, the RIO may provide the complainant a copy of the draft inquiry report, or relevant portions of it, for comment. If so, the report shall clearly be labeled “DRAFT” in bold and conspicuous type font, and the complainant will be allowed no more than 10 days to submit comments to the RIO. The complainant shall be directed that the draft report shall be kept confidential.
Any comments that are submitted by the respondent or the complainant shall be attached to the final inquiry report. Based on the comments, the inquiry committee may revise the draft report as appropriate and prepare it in final form. The committee will deliver the final report to the RIO. The RIO shall notify the complainant in writing whether the inquiry found an investigation to be warranted.
C. Institutional Decision and Notification
- Decision by Deciding Official
- The RIO will transmit the final inquiry report and any comments to the DO, who will determine in writing whether an investigation is warranted. The inquiry is completed when the DO makes this determination.
- Notification to ORI and Respondent
- Within 30 days of the DO’s decision that an investigation is warranted, the RIO will provide ORI, if required, with the DO’s written decision and a copy of the inquiry report. The RIO shall also provide a copy of the DO’s written decision and a copy of the inquiry report to the respondent within 30 days of the DO’s decision. Subject to confidentiality, the RIO will also notify those institutional officials, if any, who need to know of the DO’s decision because they will be directly involved in the investigation or otherwise have a need to know because of their official duties. The RIO must provide the following information to ORI, if required, or other applicable federal agency upon request: (1) the institutional policies and procedures under which the inquiry was conducted; (2) the research records and evidence reviewed, transcripts or recordings of any interviews, and copies of all relevant documents; and (3) the charges to be considered in the investigation.
- Documentation of Decision Not to Investigate
- If the DO decides that an investigation is not warranted, the RIO shall secure and maintain for 7 years after the termination of the inquiry sufficiently detailed documentation of the inquiry to permit a later assessment by applicable federal agencies of the reasons why an investigation was not conducted. These documents must be provided to such agencies or their authorized personnel upon request.
VII. Conducting the Investigation
A. Initiation and Purpose
The investigation must begin within 30 days, after the determination by the DO that an investigation is warranted. The purpose of the investigation is to develop a factual record by exploring the allegations in detail and examining the evidence in depth, leading to recommended findings on whether research misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. The investigation will also determine whether there are additional instances of possible research misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations. This is particularly important where the alleged research misconduct involves clinical trials or potential harm to human subjects or the general public or if it affects research that forms the basis for public policy, clinical practice, or public health practice. The findings of the investigation must be set forth in an investigation report.
B. Notifying ORI and Respondent; Sequestration of Research Records
On or before the date on which the investigation begins, the RIO must: (1) notify the ORI Director of the decision to begin the investigation and provide ORI a copy of the inquiry report, if required; and (2) notify the respondent in writing of the allegations to be investigated. The RIO must also give the respondent written notice of any new allegations of research misconduct within a reasonable amount of time of deciding to pursue allegations not addressed during the inquiry or in the initial notice of the investigation.
The RIO will, prior to notifying respondent of the allegations, take all reasonable and practical steps to obtain custody of and sequester in a secure manner all research records and evidence needed to conduct the research misconduct proceeding that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry. The need for additional sequestration of records for the investigation may occur for any number of reasons, including the institution’s decision to investigate additional allegations not considered during the inquiry stage or the identification of records during the inquiry process that had not been previously secured. The procedures to be followed for sequestration during the investigation are the same procedures that apply during the inquiry.
C. Appointment of the Investigation Committee
The RIO, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an investigation committee and the committee chair as soon after the beginning of the investigation as is practical. The investigation committee must consist of at least three individuals who do not have unresolved personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with those involved with the investigation and should include individuals with the appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the respondent and complainant and conduct the investigation. Individuals appointed to the investigation committee may also have served on the inquiry committee. When necessary to secure the necessary expertise or to avoid conflicts of interest, the RIO may select committee members from outside the institution, or, with concurrence of the DO, may appoint experts to assist the committee in particular aspects of the case. The RIO will notify the respondent of the proposed investigation committee membership and any appointed experts. If the respondent then submits a written objection to any appointed member or expert based on bias or conflict of interest within seven days, the RIO will determine whether to replace the challenged member or expert with a qualified substitute, and the decision of the RIO shall be final.
D. Charge to the Committee and the First Meeting
1. Charge to the Committee
The RIO will define the subject matter of the investigation in a written charge to the committee that:
- Describes the allegations and related issues identified during the inquiry;
- Identifies the respondent;
- Informs the committee that it must conduct the investigation as prescribed in paragraph E. of this section;
- Reviews the definition of research misconduct as stated in this Policy;
- Informs the committee that it must evaluate the evidence and testimony to determine whether, based on a preponderance of the evidence, research misconduct occurred and, if so, the type and extent of it and who was responsible;
- Informs the committee that in order to determine that the respondent committed research misconduct it must find that a preponderance of the evidence establishes that: (1) research misconduct, as defined in this policy, occurred (respondent has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence any affirmative defenses raised, including honest error or a difference of opinion); (2) the research misconduct is a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and (3) the respondent committed the research misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and
- Informs the committee that it must prepare or direct the preparation of a written investigation report that meets the requirements of this Policy and any other applicable federal policies, such as 42 CFR § 93.313.
2. First Meeting
The RIO will convene the first meeting of the investigation committee to review the charge, the inquiry report, and the prescribed procedures and standards for the conduct of the investigation, including the necessity for developing a specific investigation plan. The RIO shall also direct the members of the committee that the investigation and all information relating to the investigation shall be kept confidential. The investigation committee will be provided with a copy of this statement of policy and procedures and any applicable federal research misconduct policies. The RIO will be present or available throughout the investigation to advise the committee as needed. Prior to the first meeting, the RIO shall also consult with legal counsel for the institution as to the need for counsel to provide legal advice to the committee at the first meeting and in subsequent phases in the investigation, including, but not limited to, for the purpose of reviewing institutional policies governing research misconduct proceedings, confidentiality and potential conflicts of interest.
E. Investigation Process
The investigation committee and the RIO must:
- Use diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation;
- Take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased investigation to the maximum extent practical;
- Interview each respondent, complainant, and make a good-faith effort to interview any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent, and record or transcribe each interview, provide the recording or transcript to the interviewee for correction, and include the recording or transcript in the record of the investigation; and
- Pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of any additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the investigation to completion.
F. Time for Completion
The investigation is to be completed within 120 days of the first meeting of the investigation committee, including conducting the investigation, preparing the report of findings, providing the draft report for comment and sending the final report to ORI, if applicable. However, if the RIO determines that the investigation will not be completed within this 120-day period, he/she will submit a written request for an extension to the DO and to ORI or other applicable federal agencies, setting forth the reasons for the delay. If the request for an extension is approved by the DO and applicable federal agencies, then the RIO will ensure that periodic progress reports are filed with the approving officials.
G. Amended Charges
If issues of research misconduct that fall outside of the charge arise during the course of the investigation, the committee shall so inform the RIO, including in its communication the evidence on which its concerns are based. The RIO in consultation with the DO and the investigation committee, will consider the issues raised and, in the RIO’s discretion, provide the investigation committee with an amended charge. The respondent shall be notified of any such amendments.
VIII. The Investigation Report
A. Elements of the Investigation Report
The investigation committee and the RIO are responsible for preparing a written draft report of the investigation that:
- Describes the nature of the allegation of research misconduct, including identification of the respondent and the respondent’s curriculum vitae;
- Describes and documents the federal support, if any, including, for example, the numbers of any grants that are involved, grant applications, contracts, and publications listing federal support;
- Describes the specific allegations of research misconduct considered in the investigation;
- Includes the institutional policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted;
- Identifies and summarizes the research records and evidence reviewed and identifies any evidence taken into custody but not reviewed; and
- Includes a statement of findings for each allegation of research misconduct identified during the investigation. Each statement of findings must: (1) identify whether the research misconduct was falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism, and whether it was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; (2) summarize the facts and the analysis that support the conclusion and consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the respondent, including any effort by respondent to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she did not engage in research misconduct because of honest error or a difference of opinion; (3) identify the specific federal support, if any; (4) identify whether any publications need correction or retraction; (5) identify the person(s) responsible for the misconduct; and (6) list any current support or known applications or proposals for support that the respondent has pending with federal agencies.
- If the committee determines that any allegation of research misconduct is true, the report shall recommend appropriate institutional actions in response to the findings of research misconduct.
The report and other retained documentation must be sufficiently detailed as to permit a later assessment of the investigation. An outline for reports to be furnished to ORI is referenced in the Appendix to this Policy.
B. Comments on the Draft Report and Access to Evidence
The RIO must give the respondent a copy of the draft investigation report for comment and, concurrently, a copy of, or supervised access to the evidence on which the report is based. The report shall clearly be labeled “DRAFT” in bold and conspicuous type font. The respondent will be allowed 30 days from the date he/she received the draft report to submit comments to the RIO. The respondent’s comments must be considered and made a part of the final investigation record. The respondent shall be directed that the draft report shall be kept confidential.
On a case-by-case basis, the RIO may provide the complainant a copy of the draft investigation report, or relevant portions of it, for comment. If so, the report shall clearly be labeled “DRAFT” in bold and conspicuous type font, and the complainant will be allowed no more than 30 days from the date on which he/she received the draft report to submit comments to the RIO. The complainant’s comments must be included and considered in the final report. The complainant shall be directed that the draft report shall be kept confidential.
C. Decision by Deciding Official
The RIO will assist the investigation committee in finalizing the draft investigation report, including ensuring that the respondent’s and, if applicable, complainant’s comments are included and considered, and transmit the final investigation report to the DO, who will determine in writing: (1) whether the institution accepts the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions; and (2) the appropriate institutional actions in response to the accepted findings of research misconduct. If this determination varies from the findings of the investigation committee, the DO will, as part of their written determination, explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from the findings of the investigation committee. Alternatively, the DO may return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. When a final decision on the case has been reached, whether at this stage of after a subsequent appeal, the RIO will notify the respondent in writing. If the DO’s findings are not appealed within ten days, the DO’s findings shall become the institution’s final decision. At the time of a final decision, whether at this stage or after an appeal, the RIO will also notify the complainant in writing of the final outcome of the case. After informing ORI or other applicable federal agency, as required, the DO will determine whether law enforcement agencies, professional societies, professional licensing boards, editors of journals in which falsified reports may have been published, collaborators of the respondent in the work, or other relevant parties should be notified of the outcome of the case. The RIO is responsible for ensuring compliance with all notification requirements of funding or sponsoring agencies.
The respondent, within ten days of receiving written notification of the decision of the DO, may file an appeal with the Chancellor. The appeal may result in (i) a reversal or modification of the DO’s findings of research misconduct or determinations of institutional action, (ii) the Chancellor may direct the DO to return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis, or (iii) other action the Chancellor deems appropriate. The appeal process must be completed within 120 days of the filing of the appeal unless an extension is granted by appropriate officials and federal agencies. The decision of the Chancellor shall be final.
E. Notice to Federal Agencies of Institutional Findings and Actions
Unless an extension has been granted, the RIO must, within the 120-day period for completing the investigation or the 120-day period for completion of an appeal, submit the following to any applicable federal agencies as required: (1) a copy of the investigation report with all attachments and any appeals; (2) the findings of research misconduct, including who committed the misconduct; (3) a statement of whether the institution accepts the findings of the investigation; and (4) a description of any pending or completed administrative actions against the respondent.
F. Maintaining Records for Review by Federal Agencies
If required, the RIO must maintain and provide to ORI, if required, or other applicable federal agencies upon request “records of research misconduct proceedings” as that term is defined by 42 CFR § 93.317 or other applicable policies, as appropriate. Unless custody has been transferred to an appropriate federal agency or such agency has advised in writing that the records no longer need to be retained, records of research misconduct proceedings must be maintained in a secure manner for 7 years after completion of the proceeding or the completion of any federal proceeding involving the research misconduct allegation. The RIO is also responsible for providing any information, documentation, research records, evidence or clarification requested by ORI or other appropriate federal agency to carry out its review of an allegation of research misconduct or of the institution’s handling of such an allegation.
IX. Completion of Cases; Reporting Premature Closures to Federal Agencies
Generally, all inquiries and investigations will be carried through to completion and all significant issues will be pursued diligently. A case may be closed at the inquiry stage if it is determined that an investigation is not warranted. A case may be closed at the investigation stage if there is a finding that no research misconduct was committed. If the alleged misconduct was in the jurisdiction of the ORI or other federal agency, then this finding must be reported to the applicable agency. An advance notification by the RIO to any applicable federal agency must be made if there are plans to close a case at the inquiry, investigation, or appeal stage on the basis that respondent has admitted guilt, a settlement with the respondent has been reached, or for any other reason except those noted above.
X. Institutional Administrative Actions
If the DO and any subsequent appeal determine that research misconduct is substantiated by the findings, then the DO will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with the RIO and the Chancellor. The administrative actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where research misconduct was found;
- Removal of the responsible person from the particular project, letter of reprimand, special monitoring of future work, probation, suspension, salary reduction, or initiation of steps leading to possible rank reduction or termination of employment;
- Restitution of funds to the grantor agency as appropriate; and
- Other action appropriate to the research misconduct.
XI. Other Considerations
A. Termination or Resignation Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation
The termination of the respondent’s institutional employment, by resignation or otherwise, before or after an allegation of possible research misconduct has been reported, will not preclude or terminate the research misconduct proceeding or otherwise limit any of the institution’s responsibilities under 42 CFR Part 93 or the corresponding research misconduct policies of other federal agencies.
If the respondent, without admitting to the misconduct, elects to resign his or her position after the institution receives an allegation of research misconduct, the assessment of the allegation will proceed, as well as the inquiry and investigation, as appropriate based on the outcome of the preceding steps. If the respondent refuses to participate in the process after resignation, the RIO and any inquiry or investigation committee will use their best efforts to reach a conclusion concerning the allegations, noting in the report the respondent’s failure to cooperate and its effect on the evidence.
B. Restoration of the Respondent’s Reputation
Following a final finding of no research misconduct, including ORI concurrence where required by 42 CFR Part 93 or other federal agencies, if required, the RIO must, at the request of the respondent, undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to restore the respondent’s reputation. Depending on the particular circumstances and the views of the respondent, the RIO should consider notifying those individuals aware of or involved in the investigation of the final outcome, publicizing the final outcome in any forum in which the allegation of research misconduct was previously publicized, and expunging all reference to the research misconduct allegation from the respondent’s personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the respondent’s reputation should first be approved by the DO.
C. Protection of the Complainant, Witnesses and Committee Members
During the research misconduct proceeding and upon its completion, regardless of whether the institution or ORI determines that research misconduct occurred, the RIO must undertake all reasonable and practical efforts to protect the position and reputation of, or to counter potential or actual retaliation against, any complainant who made allegations of research misconduct in good faith and of any witnesses and committee members who cooperate in good faith with the research misconduct proceeding. The DO will determine, after consulting with the RIO, and with the complainant, witnesses, or committee members, respectively, what steps, if any, are needed to restore their respective positions or reputations or to counter potential or actual retaliation against them. The RIO is responsible for implementing any steps the DO approves.
D. Allegations Not Made in Good Faith
If relevant, the DO will determine whether the complainant’s allegations of research misconduct were made in good faith, or whether a witness or committee member acted in good faith. If the DO determines that there was an absence of good faith he/she will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the person who failed to act in good faith.
A. Summary of Items that must be Reported or Submitted to the ORI in those Cases Covered by 42 CFR Part 93
(Note: This list is subject to modification based on adherence to current ORI regulations.)
- • An annual report containing the information specified by ORI on the institution’s compliance with the final rule. Section 93.302(b).
- Within 30 days of finding that an investigation is warranted, the written finding of the responsible official and a copy of the inquiry report. Sections 93.304(d), 93.309(a), and 93.310(a) and (b).
- Where the institution has found that an investigation is warranted, the institution must provide to ORI upon request: (1) the institutional policies and procedures under which the inquiry was conducted; (2) the research records and evidence reviewed, transcripts or recordings of any interviews, and copies of all relevant documents; and (3) the charges for the investigation to consider. Section 93.309.
- Periodic progress reports, if ORI grants an extension of the time limits on investigations or appeals and directs that such reports be submitted. Sections 93.311(c) and 93.314(c).
- Following completion of the investigation report or any appeal: (1) a copy of the investigation report with all attachments and any appeals; (2) the findings of research misconduct, including who committed the misconduct; (3) a statement of whether the institution accepts the findings of the investigation; and (4) a description of any pending or completed administrative actions against the respondent. Section 93.315.
- Upon request, custody or copies of records relevant to the research misconduct allegation, including research records and evidence. Section 93.317(c).
- Notify ORI immediately of the existence of any of the special circumstances specified in Section 93.318.
- Any information, documentation, research records, evidence or clarification requested by ORI to carry out its review of an allegation of research misconduct or the institution’s handling of such an allegation. Section 93.400(b).
B. Outline for an Inquiry/Investigation Report for ORI
(Note: A recommended outline for inquiry and investigation reports has been furnished by ORI and is available on the Research Support and Sponsored Programs web site. Committee members should consult this outline in preparing reports. The outline is subject to modification based on adherence to current ORI regulations.)
C. Conflict of Interest Statement
(Note: A sample conflict of interest statement is available on the Research Support and Sponsored Programs web site. This statement shall be provided to the RIO for use in implementing the conflict of interest portions of this policy.)