Procedures in cases of alleged research misconduct
HEIs and non-HEI research institutions establish procedures to handle allegations of research misconduct. They define policies and regulations on the basis of a sufficient legal foundation. The regulations define the circumstances that constitute misconduct, procedural rules and the measures to take should an allegation be upheld. Regulations are applied in addition to relevant higher-level laws.
Not every breach of good research practice constitutes misconduct. Only deliberate or grossly negligent infringements defined in a set of regulations are considered scientific misconduct. Particular examples of misconduct include fabrication of data, falsification of data and plagiarism.
The regulations enacted by HEIs and non-HEI research institutions define responsibility for each step of a procedure, the consideration of evidence, substitutes for ombudspersons and members of investigation committees, conflicts of interest and the procedural principles of the rule of law. The respondent and the complainant are each given the opportunity to be heard at each stage of the process. Until such time as it is demonstrated that misconduct has occurred, information relating to the individuals involved in the process and the findings of the investigation is treated in confidence. HEIs and non-HEI research institutions ensure that the entire process is conducted as promptly as possible and implement the steps necessary to complete each stage of the procedure within an appropriate time frame. The regulations stipulate various measures to be applied according to the seriousness of the scientific misconduct ascertained. If, after it has been established that misconduct has occurred, the revocation of an academic degree is being considered, the responsible bodies are included in deliberations. Once inquiries are complete, the result is announced to affected research organisations and, if relevant, third parties with a justified interest in the decision.