Office of Research Integrity
V. Conducting the Assessment and Inquiry
After receiving the allegation of misconduct, the RIO will assess it and determine within seven days if it meets the definition of research misconduct as defined in II. V. of this document and if it is sufficiently credible and specific so that sufficient evidence may be identified to proceed with an inquiry.
At the time that or shortly before the respondent is notified of the allegation, the RIO shall obtain custody of, inventory, and sequester in a secure location the research evidence thought necessary to conduct the research proceeding. [42 CFR § 93.305(a)]. This will be accomplished with the assistance of other individuals e.g. the RIC Chair, RIC Administrator, and Chair of the respondent’s department.
At the time of sequestration of evidence, the RIO will notify the respondent in writing of the allegation, provide him/her with a copy of the inventory of material secured, and copies of the applicable policies and procedures. A similar notification will be made to additional respondents that are identified.
The RIO will contact the members of the RIC regarding their ability to serve as the inquiry committee. The respondent will also be provided with a list of members. Members themselves or respondents may request removal from the committee if there are unresolved conflicts of interest. Replacement and/or additional members should be appointed as needed replace those with real or apparent conflicts of interest and to provide appropriate scientific expertise to conduct the inquiry. The RIO in consultation with the RIC, and other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint other members.
At the first meeting of the inquiry committee to address the allegation of research misconduct in question, the RIO will present the charge. The charge will include the allegations and the purpose and scope of the inquiry. The committee will also be informed of its responsibility to prepare a written report that meets the requirements of this policy and 42 CFR § 93.309(a). The RIO will discuss the charge with the committee, answer questions, assist with the development of plans to conduct the inquiry within the time limit, and emphasize the need to maintain confidentiality.
The inquiry committee will interview individuals who can provide pertinent information normally beginning with the complainant, then the respondent, and finally other witnesses. Relevant research evidence is also examined. Testimonies and evidence are evaluated to determine if there is sufficient evidence of possible research misconduct to recommend that an investigation be conducted. Throughout this process the RIO and institutional counsel will be present or available to provide advice.
The inquiry process including preparation of the final inquiry report and decision of the DO regarding conduct of an investigation must be completed within 60 calendar days of the initiation of the inquiry i.e. the date of the first meeting of the inquiry committee. If additional time is required, the extension must be approved by the RIO and documentation of the reasons included in the report. Both the complainant and respondent will be notified of any extension.