This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: Vice-President: Research
Original Approval Date: January 27, 2020
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: N/A
Administrative Responsibility: Office of Research Services
Parent Policy: 11.14 Policy for the Responsible Conduct of Research
1.0 These procedures outline the process for investigating allegations of research misconduct. These procedures meet the requirements of the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research as required under the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions, between the university and the Tri-Agencies.
2.1.1 All matters relating to misconduct in research, including allegations of misconduct in research are to be directed in writing to the vice-president: research. The vice-president: research will conduct an inquiry to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. If the vice-president: research determines that it would be inappropriate to address an allegation for any reason a delegate shall be appointed, which delegate shall be someone other than the provost and vice-president: academic, to serve in the place of the vice-president: research under these procedures.
2.1.2 The university will consider anonymous allegations only if accompanied by sufficient information to enable the assessment of the allegation and the credibility of the facts and evidence on which the allegation is based, without the need for further information from the complainant. If the university decides to proceed with a formal investigation of an anonymous allegation, the source of the allegation will not be entitled to participate in the procedures, receive notice of the status of the allegation, or a report of the outcome of a formal investigation (if applicable).
2.1.3 Subject to any applicable laws, including privacy laws, the university shall advise the relevant funding agency and the Tri-Agency Secretariat, if applicable, immediately of any allegations related to activities funded by the Tri-Agency that may involve significant financial, health and safety, or other risks.
2.1.4 When necessary, the university shall take appropriate measures to protect the administration of research funds. Immediate action includes freezing grant accounts, requiring a second authorized signature on all expenses charged to the researcher’s grant accounts, or other measures deemed appropriate by the university.
2.2.1 In order to conduct an inquiry to determine if a formal investigation is warranted, the vice-president: research or designate shall request in writing a meeting with the respondent. The notice of this meeting shall include a copy of the allegation, and inform the respondent of the purpose of the meeting, that they are to retain all materials relevant to the allegation, and inform the respondent of their right to be accompanied by a representative of their union or association (if applicable).
2.2.2 Within one month of the receipt of the allegation, the vice-president: research or designate shall conduct an inquiry. If the respondent acknowledges wrongdoing at the inquiry phase, no formal investigation will be completed and discipline will proceed as outlined in 2.4. Otherwise the vice-president: research shall advise the respondent in writing whether:
a. There is sufficient evidence to merit a formal investigation; or
b. There is insufficient evidence to merit a formal investigation.
2.2.3 If the vice-president: research or designate finds that there is insufficient evidence to merit a formal investigation, the allegation shall be dismissed and no action taken. The vice-president: research or designate shall inform the respondent and the complainant (if applicable) of this decision in writing. If the allegation involved an activity funded by a Tri-Agency, where the Secretariat was notified of the allegation, the Tri-Agency Secretariat will also be notified of the decision in writing. In this event, no reference to the complaint shall be placed or retained in the official file of the respondent. For allegations determined to be unfounded, the university will make every effort to protect and restore the reputation of those wrongly subjected to an allegation.
2.2.4 If the vice-president: research or designate finds that there is sufficient evidence to merit a formal investigation, they shall give written notice to the respondent and the complainant (if applicable). The written notice shall inform the respondent in writing of their right to seek advice, support and representation from their union or association (if applicable) at all meetings relevant to the investigation. A copy of the written notice shall be provided to the applicable union or association with the respondent’s consent. If the allegation involved an activity funded by a Tri-Agency, where the Secretariat was notified of the allegation, the Secretariat will also be notified of the decision in writing.
2.3.1 If circumstances warrant, timelines may be extended with written approval of the vice-president: research.
Within three weeks of the written notice in 2.2.4 being sent to the respondent, the vice-president: research or designate will appoint an investigative committee of three individuals who have the necessary expertise and who are without conflict of interest, whether real or apparent. At least one of the members must be an external member with no current affiliation with the institution.
2.3.2 The investigative committee shall have two months from their appointment to investigate the allegations fairly, judiciously, and in a confidential manner using means it deems appropriate. The investigative committee must ensure the respondent is provided with adequate opportunity to know any evidence presented and to respond to that evidence in writing if they choose to do so during the two-month formal investigation period.
2.3.3 At the outset of each formal investigation, the investigative committee will inform the respondent of the timelines it intends to follow.
2.4.1 After the conclusion of the formal investigation period, the investigative committee shall make a written report to the vice-president: research. The report shall include a copy of the allegation, the written response, if any, of the respondent, and the finding as to whether the allegation has been upheld or not with a statement of reasons for that finding, and recommendations, if any, on any consequences or corrective actions to be followed. Copies of this report shall be sent to the respondent and to the relevant union or association (if applicable) with the respondent’s consent. The report shall be completed within two weeks of the conclusion of the formal investigation period.
2.4.2 Within two weeks following the receipt of the investigative committee’s report, the vice-president: research or designate shall notify the respondent in writing, with a copy to the relevant union or association (if applicable) with the respondent’s consent, of the outcome of the investigation, including any actions or sanctions they propose to impose on the respondent.
2.4.3 Decisions regarding disciplinary actions associated with findings of research misconduct will be fair, reasonable and consistent with the objectives of this policy and the nature, severity and degree of the research misconduct. If the respondent is:
a. A university employee: For employees who are members of a bargaining unit, the discipline, grievance and arbitration provisions of the applicable collective agreement will apply for any concerns or appeals. For employees who are not members of a bargaining unit, the employee issue resolution process (EIRP) will apply for any concerns or appeals. Appeals of decisions regarding disciplinary actions start at Phase II, Step 2 of the EIRP.
b. A university student: For students, research misconduct is a form of academic misconduct and penalties are determined in accordance with Appendix B of policy 12.2, Student Code of Conduct: Academic Misconduct. Appeals of the discipline imposed are to the Senate Student Appeals Committee as set out in Appendix A of policy 12.2.
2.4.4 If the respondent is a student participating in research at the university, but who has a primary affiliation at another university (e.g. is cross-registered at Laurier, is enrolled in an academic program at another university), the university has the right to terminate any arrangement allowing the student to conduct research at Laurier. The student’s home university may be notified of any finding of research misconduct and any sanction will be at the discretion of their home institution.
2.4.5 If the respondent is a visiting scientist, the university has the right to terminate any arrangement allowing the visiting scientist to conduct research at Laurier. The visiting scientist’s home university may be notified by the vice-president: research. of any finding of research misconduct and any sanction will be at the discretion of their home institution.
2.4.6 The vice-president: research or designate shall inform the complainant in writing of the outcome of the investigation (if applicable) after all relevant grievance and arbitration procedures or appeal procedures have been followed.
2.5.1 If an allegation of misconduct in research is upheld in relation to research that is funded by non-Tri-Agency funder, the vice-president: research shall inform the funder concerned of the decision by the investigative committee only if the terms of funding require notice.
2.5.2 If a formal investigation is undertaken in response to an allegation of policy breaches related to a funding application submitted to a Tri-Agency or to an activity funded by a Tri-Agency, within seven months of the receipt of the initial allegation, the vice-president: research shall submit a report to the Tri-Agency Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research. The timeline may be extended in consultation with the Tri-Agency Secretariat if circumstances warrant, and with periodic updates provided to the Secretariat until the formal investigation is complete. Subject to any applicable laws, including privacy laws, the formal report to the Tri-Agency Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research shall include the following information:
a. The specific allegation(s), a summary of the finding(s) and reasons for the finding(s);
b. The process and time lines followed for the inquiry/investigation;
c. The researcher’s response to the allegation, investigation and findings, and any measures the
researcher has taken to rectify the breach; and
d. The investigation committee’s decisions and recommendations, and actions taken by the university.
The report should not include:
a. Information that is not related specifically to Tri-Agency funding and policies; or
b. Personal information about the researcher, or any other person, that is not material to the university’s findings and its report to the Tri-Agency Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research.
2.5.3 The university shall post annually on its website information on the confirmed breaches (e.g., the number and general nature of the confirmed breaches), subject to applicable laws, including privacy laws, and report annually to the Tri-Agency Secretariat the total number of allegations received involving Tri-Agency funds, the number of confirmed breaches and the nature of those breaches, subject to applicable laws, including privacy laws.
3.1 If the vice-president: research or designate receives an allegation about a university researcher for research misconduct that occurred at another institution (whether as an employee, a student, or in some other capacity), the vice-president: research or designate will contact the other institution and determine with that institution’s point of contact which institution is best placed to conduct the inquiry and investigation, if warranted. The vice-president: research will communicate to the complainant (if applicable) which institution will be the point of contact for the allegation of research misconduct.
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