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Research Misconduct

CAUT Policy Statement

Research misconduct is defined as a serious breach of good research practice that includes but is not limited to falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism committed willfully or through gross negligence when planning, carrying out or reporting on research.

Each post-secondary institution should have negotiated procedures for dealing with allegations of research misconduct. These procedures should include the right to the grievance procedure in the collective agreement. Recognizing the importance of safeguarding academic reputations, procedures should emphasize confidentiality and include joint agreement on any information that may be given to the public, other institutions etc. before or after the disposition of any allegation and in accordance with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research. There should also be a negotiated agreement on records and how they will be kept. 

Anyone accused of research misconduct has the right to a full, fair and impartial hearing. From the onset of any investigation, they should have complete access to all charges and to any evidence upon which these are based. Just as those accused of research misconduct should be treated fairly, those whose research results or writings have been plagiarized or otherwise prejudiced by misconduct should be justly acknowledged.

The policy should provide for the following or similar sequence of steps:

a) A fair, prompt, judicious and confidential preliminary investigation of the charges should be conducted by the institution’s administration to see if  there is a case that warrants formal investigation;

b) If formal investigation is indicated, it must also allow for procedural fairness and confidentiality;

c) From the outset, the Administration must ensure that accused academic staff members and the academic staff association are informed of such allegations at the earliest opportunity; 

d) Academic staff members must be informed of their rights to consult the academic staff association or a lawyer paid for by the Institution before responding to any queries related to the allegations;

e) The results of any investigation should be communicated to the member and provided to the academic staff association.

If the institution’s administration finds that the charges are valid, whether or not discipline is imposed, such findings and potential discipline should be subject to arbitration under the grievance procedure of the collective agreement. Under the arbitration procedure, any investigation arising out of the disciplinary hearing should be held de novo.

The arbitrator or arbitration panel shall have the power to rule on the validity of the complaint and to determine the appropriate remedies and or penalties consistent with any relevant collective agreement.

Anyone who raises a concern or an allegation about misconduct in research in good faith deserves to have that concern investigated and any evidence evaluated by the Administration of the post-secondary institution. The person(s) coming forward with an allegation deserves to be informed about the disposition of the allegation in such a way that observes the requirements of confidentiality and procedural fairness. Retaliation for raising a concern is not acceptable and shall itself be considered a breach of the policy. 

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2015;
Reviewed, no changes, October 2020.