Office of Research Integrity and Outreach

Reporting Alleged Research Misconduct and Animal Protocol Violations

Reporting Alleged Research Misconduct Policy

What is Research Misconduct?

Research Misconductmeans:

a) The knowing fabrication, falsification, or manipulation by a researcher of data or information;

b) The knowing theft by a researcher of data, materials, or information, including but not limited to plagiarism;

Implicit in this definition of misconduct is that a preponderance of the evidence proves that fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism; theft; non-compliance with legal requirements; or disregard of associate conduct was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, and not merely carelessly.

Protocol Violations involving the Use of Animals in Research means:

a)     That there is a variance between the activity that has been reviewed and approved by the IACUC and the actual activities being performed. A violation may be minor or major in nature.

  1. Minor Protocol Violation: Minor protocol violations 1) have no substantive effects on animal welfare or to animal handlers; or 2) have no substantive effects on the value of the data collected (meaning the violation does not confound the scientific analysis of the results); or 3) did not result from willful or knowing disregard of IACUC requirements on the part of the investigator(s).
  2. Major Protocol Violation: Major protocol violations include violations that 1) have or pose a significant risk of substantive harm to the animals; or 2) damage the scientific integrity of the data collected; or 3) include evidence of willful or knowing disregard of IACUC requirements on the part of the investigator; or 4) the investigator(s) demonstrate other serious or continued noncompliance with federal, state or local research policy, laws or regulations.

Implicit in this definition of protocol violations involving the use of animals in research is any suspected misuse, mistreatment, or cruelty to animals while under researcher or institutional care. Any such suspected activities should be reported, without question, to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO).

What should be reported?

All members of the USM community should report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct, or protocol violation involving the use of animals in research to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO).

What if I am unsure if it is actually Research Misconduct or an Animal Protocol Violation?

If you are unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct or animal protocol violation you can contact the RIO to discuss it hypothetically.

Who should I report to?

Please contact the RIO at the Office of Research Integrity and Outreach (ORIO) the contact information for which is:

Ross Hickey, JD, CIP, CPIA
Assistant Provost for Research Integrity
7 Chamberlain Ave.
Portland Campus

Contact Information:

Phone: (207) 780-4340
Email: rhickey@usm.maine.edu

At any time, a USM community member may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct or animal protocol violations with the RIO and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

What if I don’t want to be identified?

You have several options for discussing the suspected research misconduct or animal protocol violantion, including discussing it anonymously and/or hypothetically.

If you wish to report the information anonymously:

1) one option is to create a new e-mail account, such as Yahoo or Juno, using pseudonyms and e-mailing the RIO directly at rhickey@usm.maine.edu, or

2) an alternative method is to send us a comment via our website without providing your name or contact information and with the subject “Research Misconduct” or "Animal Protocol Violation", or

3) Click here to go to an ORIO secured website to submit comments to RIO. 

What happens if it is not Research Misconduct or an Animal Protocol Violation?

If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of research misconduct or animal protocol violation, the RIO can still refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem.