REG 10.00.02 - Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct

Authority: Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

History: First Issued: April 15, 2002. Last Revised: February 13, 2008.  

Related Policies: 
NCSU POL10.00.02 - Research Policy

Additional References: 
NCSU Research Integrity Website 
National Science Foundation Research Misconduct Regulation 45 CFR 689
Public Health Service Misconduct Regulations 42 CFR 93

Contact Info: Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration (919-513-2148)


1.       Introduction 

1.1.  General Regulation

1.1.1. Integrity in research is the basis for the academic search for knowledge. Those involved in academic research must guard the truth and protect the public trust that has long been attached to such an enterprise. Creating and preserving an environment in which activities that interfere with an honest search for truth are not tolerated is the shared responsibility of every member of the university community, each of whom must be dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in research. It is clear that misconduct in scholarly research cannot be prevented by university regulation or federal law but only by each individual's firm commitment to academic ideals and integrity. Mentors, project directors, and department and unit heads must impress the importance of such commitment upon faculty, students, staff, and research assistants and associates.

1.1.2. In developing a regulation on integrity in scholarship and scientific research, the faculty and administration recognize that researchers and scholars for the most part are highly principled. However, since the actions of every individual cannot be accounted for, this regulation represents a mechanism to deal with dishonest behavior. It is not the intention of the regulation to stifle freethinking or limit creativity. The regulation recognizes that research results or findings and theories believed in all honesty to be correct at one time may still be proven wrong in the normal course of scholarly investigation.

1.1.3. In the belief that honesty and integrity are essential to the search for knowledge, it is the regulation of North Carolina State University (NC State) that all persons involved in research and scholarship must guard the truth, uphold the highest standards in their research and scholarship, and protect the public trust that the academic environment has long held. Whenever any NC State faculty member, graduate student, undergraduate student, or any other person involved in research is accused of serious misconduct in scientific or scholarly research, the university will conduct an inquiry, make a determination concerning the truth or falsity of the allegations, and take appropriate disciplinary action. The process of inquiry will be expeditious and protect the rights of all those concerned, including the complainant and the accused.

1.2. An Overview of the Process for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct

1.2.1. All employees or individuals associated with NC State University should report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct to the Research Integrity Officer, who is appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. The Research Integrity Officer will review the allegation and determine whether the allegation falls under the University definition of research misconduct, and whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry. If the allegation does not fall under the university's definition of research misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will refer the individual making the allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem. At any time, an employee may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the Research Integrity Officer and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

1.2.2. If the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegation falls under the university's definition of research misconduct, and that there is sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation, s/he will immediately initiate the inquiry process and appoint an inquiry committee. The inquiry committee will consist of at least three (3) persons, including the committee chair. The inquiry committee will normally interview the whistleblower, respondent, and key witnesses and will examine relevant research records and materials. The purpose of the inquiry is to make a preliminary evaluation of the available evidence and testimony of the respondent, whistleblower, and key witnesses to determine if there is sufficient evidence of research misconduct to warrant further investigation. At the end of its investigation, the inquiry committee will submit a report and a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

1.2.3. If, upon review of the inquiry report and the committee recommendation, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation determines that there is sufficient evidence of possible research misconduct to warrant further investigation, an investigation will be initiated and an investigation committee appointed. The investigation committee will consist of at least five (5) individuals. The purpose of the investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, and to determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. The findings of the investigation including recommendations will be set forth in an investigation report, which will be submitted to and reviewed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. Based on a preponderance of the evidence, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions.

1.3. Scope

1.3.1. This regulation and the associated procedures apply to all individuals at NC State engaged in research, regardless of the sponsor of the research. All pertinent federal regulations, including, but not limited to, the PHS regulation at 42 C.F.R. Part 50, Subpart A, the NSF regulations at 45 C.F.R. 689, and the various implementations of the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct published by the Office of Science and Technology Policy at Federal Register: December 6, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 235) Pages 76260-76264 apply to any research, research-training or research-related grant or cooperative agreement with the relevant federal agency. This regulation applies to any person paid by, under the control of, or affiliated with NC State, such as scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers, or collaborators.

1.3.2. The regulation and associated procedures will normally be followed when an allegation of possible misconduct in science is received by an institutional official. Particular circumstances in an individual case may dictate variation from the normal procedure deemed in the best interests of NC State. Any change from normal procedures also must ensure fair treatment to the subject of the inquiry or investigation. Any significant variation should be approved in advance by the NC State Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and the Chair of the Faculty Senate.

2. Definitions

2.1. "Research misconduct" is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

2.2. "Research," as used herein, includes all basic, applied, and demonstration research in all fields of science, engineering, mathematics, and humanities. This includes, but is not limited to, research in economics, education, linguistics, medicine, psychology, social sciences, statistics, and research involving human subjects or animals.

2.3. "Fabrication" is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

2.4. "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.

2.5. "Plagiarism" is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

2.6.  "Preponderance of the Evidence" means that a review of the evidence leads to a finding that is more likely than not, or more than 50% likely.

2.7.  "Research Sponsor" means the agency, institution, or organization, if any, that sponsored the research that is the subject of an inquiry or investigation. The research sponsor can be governmental, private, or non-profit in nature. It also includes the Office of Research Integrity of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services for research that is sponsored by any part of DHHS.

2.8. "Sufficient Evidence" means that there is some substance to the allegation. The use of this term is intended to separate serious allegations deserving further investigation through this process from frivolous, unjustified, or clearly mistaken allegations.

2.9. "Whistleblower" means a person who makes an allegation of scientific misconduct

2.10. In any inquiry or investigation that involves research sponsored by a federal agency where that federal agency uses a definition of research misconduct that is different from the one in this Regulation, the Committee will be obligated to use that agency's definition for purposes of the university's responsibilities to that agency. In carrying out the inquiry or investigation for the university's own purposes, the committee will use either the agency's definition or the definition in section IIA above, as directed by the Research Integrity Officer.

3. Rights and Responsibilities

3.1. Research Integrity Officer

3.1.1. The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will appoint the Research Integrity Officer, who will have primary responsibility for implementation of the institutional policies and procedures governing Research Misconduct allegations. The Research Integrity Officer will be an institutional official who is well qualified to handle the procedural requirements involved and is sensitive to the varied demands made on those who conduct research, those who are accused of misconduct, and those who report in good faith apparent misconduct.

3.1.2. In consultation with and assistance from the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, the Research Integrity Officer will appoint the inquiry and investigation committees and ensure that necessary and appropriate expertise is secured to carry out a thorough and authoritative evaluation of the relevant evidence in an inquiry or investigation. The Research Integrity Officer will organize and manage the inquiry and investigative committees, and attempt to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

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

3.1.4. If the research is federally funded, the Research Integrity Officer will report to the Research Sponsor, as required by applicable regulations and keep the Research Sponsor apprised of any developments during the course of the inquiry or investigation that may affect current or potential federal funding for the individual(s) under investigation or that the Research Sponsor needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest. In the case of a non-federal sponsor of research, where that research is the subject of an inquiry or investigation, the Research Integrity Officer will keep the non-federal sponsor informed as to the inquiry and investigation as appropriate under the circumstances.

3.2. Whistleblower

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

3.2.2. The whistleblower is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with an inquiry or investigation.

3.3.     Respondent

3.3.1. The respondent will be informed of the allegations when an inquiry is opened and notified in writing of the final determinations and resulting actions. The respondent will also have the opportunity to be interviewed by and present evidence to the inquiry and investigation committees, to review the draft inquiry and investigation reports, and to have the advice of counsel.

3.3.2. The respondent is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and cooperating with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation. If the respondent is not found guilty of Research Misconduct, he or she has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring his or her reputation.

3.4. Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will receive the inquiry and/or investigation report and any written comments made by the respondent or the whistleblower on the draft report. The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will consult with the Research Integrity Officer or other individuals familiar with the practices and standards in the field of the research under question, and will determine whether to conduct an investigation, whether misconduct occurred, whether to impose sanctions, or whether to take other appropriate administrative actions.

4. General Policies and Principles

4.1. Responsibility to Report Misconduct

4.1.1. All employees or individuals associated with NC State should report observed, suspected, or apparent Research Misconduct to the Research Integrity Officer or to the senior administrator responsible for research programs within the college, school or unit where the respondent is employed/appointed. If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of Research Misconduct, he or she may call the Research Integrity Officer at 919.515.2444 to discuss the suspected misconduct informally. If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of Research Misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.

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

4.2. Protecting the Whistleblower

The Research Integrity Officer will monitor the treatment of individuals who bring allegations of misconduct, and those who cooperate in inquiries or investigations. The Research Integrity Officer will ensure that these persons will not be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their employment or other status at the institution and will review instances of alleged retaliation for appropriate action.

Employees should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation to the Research Integrity Officer.

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

4.3. Protecting the Respondent

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

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

4.4. Cooperation with Inquiries and Investigations

Institutional employees will cooperate with the Research Integrity Officer and other institutional officials in the review of allegations and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Employees have an obligation to provide relevant evidence to the Research Integrity Officer or other institutional officials on misconduct allegations. Further, personnel will cooperate with the Research Sponsor in its conduct of inquiries and investigations, its oversight of NC State inquiries and investigations, and any follow-up actions.

4.5. Preliminary Assessment of Allegations

Upon receiving an allegation of Research Misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer will immediately assess the allegation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry, whether federal or other outside support or applications for funding are involved, and whether the allegation falls under this regulation's definition of Research Misconduct. If at any time during the preliminary assessment, inquiry, or investigation proceedings, reasonable indication of possible criminal violations is found, or the case involves immediate health hazards, the need to protect federal funds, equipment  or individuals affected by the proceedings, or the alleged incident will probably be publicly reported, the RIO will notify ORI within 24 hours.

5. Conducting the Inquiry

5.1. Initiation and Purpose of the Inquiry

Following the preliminary assessment, if the Research Integrity Officer determines that the allegation provides sufficient information to allow specific follow-up and falls under the applicable definition of Research Misconduct, he or she will immediately initiate the inquiry process. In initiating the inquiry, the Research Integrity Officer should identify clearly the original allegation and any related issues that should be evaluated. The purpose of the inquiry is to make a preliminary evaluation of the available evidence and testimony of the respondent, whistleblower, and key witnesses to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of Research Misconduct to warrant an investigation. The purpose of the inquiry is not to reach a final conclusion about whether misconduct definitely occurred or who was responsible. The findings of the inquiry must be set forth in an inquiry report, which will be forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who will consider the committee's recommendation and determine whether an investigation is warranted.

5.2. Sequestration of the Research Records

After the determination by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation that an allegation falls within the definition of Research Misconduct, the Research Integrity Officer must ensure that all original research records and materials relevant to the allegation are immediately secured and sequestered. The sequestration of research records should take place before or concurrently with notification to the respondent that an inquiry has been initiated. The Research Integrity Officer may consult with the Research Sponsor or other appropriate agencies or officials for advice and assistance in this regard. Where feasible and appropriate, the Research Integrity Officer will work with the affected laboratories and researcher to enable ongoing research to continue.

5.3. Appointment of the Inquiry Committee

The Research Integrity Officer, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an inquiry committee and committee chair. The inquiry committee will consist of at least three (3) persons, including the committee chair. The inquiry committee should consist of individuals who do not have real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegation, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the inquiry. These individuals may be scientists, subject matter experts, administrators, lawyers, or other qualified persons, and they may be from inside or outside the institution. At least one of the committee members should be from the research community of the respondent, and one should be a peer of the respondent. The respondent has the right to object to the appointment of any appointed member based on bias or conflict of interest. The Research Integrity Officer will consider any objections and will make the determination whether to replace or retain the committee member.

5.4. Inquiry Process

The inquiry committee will normally interview the whistleblower, the respondent, and key witnesses and will examine relevant research records and materials. Then the inquiry committee will evaluate the evidence and testimony obtained during the inquiry. After consultation with the Research Integrity Officer and institutional counsel, the committee members will decide whether there is sufficient evidence of possible Research Misconduct to recommend further investigation. The scope of the inquiry does not include deciding whether misconduct occurred or conducting exhaustive interviews and analyses.

5.5. Inquiry Report

The inquiry committee will prepare a report of their deliberations and findings, and forward that report to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation for a final decision of whether or not to proceed to an investigation.  The inquiry report will include the evidence reviewed by the committee, interview summaries, and the conclusions of the committee, as well as any other information that the committee deems relevant to include.  The inquiry will be complete, including the report, within 60 calendar days of its initiation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period.  If a longer period than 60 calendar days is necessary, the RIO will document the reasons for extending the inquiry.

6. Conducting the Investigation

6.1. Purpose of the Investigation

If, upon review of the inquiry report and the committee recommendation, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation determines that an investigation is warranted, an investigation will be initiated within 30 days of the completion of the inquiry. The purpose of the investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth, and to determine specifically whether misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent. The investigation will also determine whether there are additional instances of possible misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations. This is particularly important where the alleged misconduct involves potential harm to human subjects or the general public, or if it affects research that forms the basis for public policy or public health practice. The findings of the investigation will be set forth in an investigation report, which will be submitted to and reviewed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

6.2. Sequestration of the Research Records

The Research Integrity Officer will immediately sequester any additional pertinent research records that were not previously sequestered during the inquiry. This sequestration should occur before or at the time the respondent is notified that an investigation has begun. The need for additional sequestration of records 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.

6.3. Appointment of the Investigation Committee

The Research Integrity Officer, in consultation with other institutional officials as appropriate, will appoint an investigation committee and the committee chair. The investigation committee should consist of at least five (5) individuals who do not have real or apparent conflicts of interest in the case, are unbiased, and have the necessary expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues related to the allegations, interview the principals and key witnesses, and conduct the investigation. These individuals may be scientists, administrators, subject matter experts, lawyers, or other qualified persons, and they may be from inside or outside the institution. Individuals appointed to the investigation committee may also have served on the inquiry committee. The majority of the committee members should be from the scientific community of the respondent, with at least one representative from the respondent's peer group. The respondent has the right to object to any appointed member of the investigation committee. The Research Integrity Officer will consider any objections and will make the determination whether to replace or retain the committee member.

6.4. Investigation Process

The investigation will normally involve examination of all documentation including, but not necessarily limited to, relevant research records, computer files, proposals, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, memoranda, and notes of telephone calls. Whenever possible, the committee should interview the whistleblower(s), the respondents(s), and other individuals who might have information regarding aspects of the allegations. All interviews should be transcribed by a court reporter. Summaries or transcripts of the interviews should be prepared, provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision, and included as part of the investigatory file. The University will provide the respondent with a copy of his/her interview transcript, if requested.

6.5. Investigation Report

6.5.1. An investigation report will be drafted by the investigation committee.  The investigation report will be made available to the respondent(s) for comment.  Pertinent portions of the investigation report will be made available to the whistleblower(s) for comment., The allegations and findings of the investigation will be made available to all affected parties for comment. The investigation report with comments from the respondent(s), whistleblower(s), and/or other affected parties as attachments will be sent to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, through the Research Integrity Officer. The investigation report will include the committee's findings with respect to whether Research Misconduct has occurred and the committee's recommendations for what actions should be taken. In reaching its conclusions, the committee will use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard. 

6.5.2. When appropriate, the investigation report will be the foundation of a final report provided to the federal agency with jurisdiction over the case.  This final report will be written upon the completion of the investigation and final decision by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.  The final report must be submitted to the appropriate federal agency within 120 days of the initiation of the investigation.  The final report must describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained relevant to the investigation, the findings, and the basis for the findings, and include the actual text or an accurate summary fo the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the institution. 

6.6. Institutional Review and Decision

6.6.1. Based on a preponderance of the evidence, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will make the final determination whether to accept the investigation report, its findings, and the recommended institutional actions. If this determination varies from that of the investigation committee, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will explain in detail the basis for rendering a decision different from that of the investigation committee. Such explanation must also be included in the institution's letter transmitting the report to Research Sponsor. The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation' explanation should be consistent with the definition of Research Misconduct, the institution's policies and procedures, and the evidence reviewed and analyzed by the investigation committee. The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation may also return the report to the investigation committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis. The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation' determination, together with the investigation committee's report, constitutes the final investigation report for purposes of Research Sponsor review.

6.6.2. When a final decision on the case has been reached, the Research Integrity Officer will notify both the respondent and the whistleblower in writing. In addition, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation 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 Research Integrity Officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with all notification requirements of funding or sponsoring agencies.

7. Reporting to Federal Research Sponsors

7.1. While this regulation applies to all research at NC State regardless of the sponsor (or lack thereof), the federal government requires that the following guidelines apply to federally funded research.  If a federal research sponsor has a federally appointed oversight agency (such as ORI or OIG), the correspondence and other activities described below will be directed to the appropriate oversight agency.

7.2. An institution's decision to initiate an investigation must be reported in writing to any Research Sponsor on or before the date the investigation begins. The Research Sponsor must also be notified of the final outcome of the investigation and must be provided with a copy of the investigation report. Any significant variations from the provisions of the institutional policies and procedures should be explained in any reports submitted to the federal agency.

7.3. If an investigation involves research or proposed research supported or proposed by a Research Sponsor and the institution plans to terminate an inquiry or investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements of the Research Sponsor's regulations, the Research Integrity Officer will submit a report of the planned termination to Research Sponsor, including a description of the reasons for the proposed termination.

7.4. If the institution determines that it will not be able to complete the investigation in 120 days, the Research Integrity Officer will submit to Research Sponsor a written request for an extension that explains the delay, reports on the progress to date, estimates the date of completion of the report, and describes other necessary steps to be taken.

7.5. When Research Sponsor funding or applications for funding are involved and an admission of Research Misconduct is made, the Research Integrity Officer will contact Research Sponsor for consultation and advice. Normally, the individual making the admission will be asked to sign a statement attesting to the occurrence and extent of misconduct. When the case involves PHS funds, the institution cannot accept an admission of Research Misconduct as a basis for closing a case or not undertaking an investigation without prior approval from Research Sponsor.

7.6. The RIO will promptly advise Research Sponsor of any developments during the course of an investigation which disclose facts that may affect current or potential federal funding for individual(s) under investigation or that the Research Sponsor needs to know to ensure appropriate use of Federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest.

8.    Institutional Administrative Actions

8.1. NC State will take appropriate administrative actions against individuals when an allegation of misconduct has been substantiated.

8.2. A finding of research misconduct requires that: a) there be significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; b) the misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly, and c) the allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence. If the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation determines that the alleged misconduct is substantiated by the findings, he or she will decide on the appropriate actions to be taken, after consultation with the Research Integrity Officer.

8.3. The actions may include, but are not limited to:

8.3.1. withdrawal or correction of all pending or published abstracts and papers emanating from the research where research misconduct was found;

8.3.2. removal of the responsible person from the particular project, letter of reprimand, or special monitoring of future work;

8.3.3. restitution of funds as appropriate;

8.3.4. initiation of steps leading to possible probation, suspension, salary reduction, rank reduction or termination of employment, or appropriate student disciplinary proceedings, where applicable. If any such action is taken, applicable NC State procedures for initiating and carrying out the action will be followed.

9. Other Considerations

9.1. Termination of Institutional Employment or Resignation Prior to Completing Inquiry or Investigation

9.1.1. 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 misconduct procedures.

9.1.2. If the respondent, without admitting to the misconduct, elects to resign his or her position prior to the initiation of an inquiry, but after an allegation has been reported, or during an inquiry or investigation, the inquiry or investigation will proceed. If the respondent refuses to participate in the process after resignation, the committee will use its best efforts to reach a conclusion concerning the allegations, noting in its report the respondent's failure to cooperate and its effect on the committee's review of all the evidence.

9.2. Restoration of the Respondent's Reputation

If the institution finds no misconduct and Research Sponsor or other affected federal agency concurs, the Research Integrity Officer will undertake reasonable efforts to restore the respondent's reputation, after consulting with the respondent. Depending on the particular circumstances, the Research Integrity Officer should consider notifying those individuals aware of or involved in the investigation of the final outcome, publicizing the final outcome in forums in which the allegation of Research Misconduct was previously publicized, or expunging all reference to the Research Misconduct allegation from the respondent's personnel file. Any institutional actions to restore the respondent's reputation must first be approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

9.3. Protection of the Whistleblower and Others

Regardless of whether the institution or Research Sponsor determines that Research Misconduct occurred, the Research Integrity Officer will undertake reasonable efforts to protect whistleblowers who made allegations of Research Misconduct in good faith and others who cooperate in good faith with inquiries and investigations of such allegations. Upon completion of an investigation, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will determine, after consulting with the whistleblower, what steps, if any, are needed to restore the position or reputation of the whistleblower. The Research Integrity Officer is responsible for implementing any steps the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation approves. The Research Integrity Officer will also take appropriate steps during the inquiry and investigation to prevent any retaliation against the whistleblower.

9.4. Allegations Not Made in Good Faith

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will determine whether the whistleblower's allegations of Research Misconduct were made in good faith. If at any point, it is determined that an allegation was not made in good faith, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will determine whether any administrative action should be taken against the whistleblower.

9.5. Interim Administrative Actions

Institutional officials will take interim administrative actions, as appropriate, to protect Federal funds and ensure that the purposes of the Federal financial assistance are carried out.

10. Record Retention

After completion of a case and all ensuing related actions, the Research Integrity Officer will prepare a complete file, including the records of any inquiry or investigation and copies of all documents and other materials furnished to the Research Integrity Officer or committees. The Research Integrity Officer will keep the file for at least three years after completion of the case to permit later assessment of the case. To the extent required by law or applicable federal regulation Research Sponsor will be given access to the records upon request.