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Commonly asked questions – and the answers related to:
- RCR and CITI
- SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
- REPORTING SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
- PREDATORY JOURNALS & CONFERENCES
- RESEARCH COMPLIANCE
RCR and CITI
- Who is required to do RCR training?
All the undergraduates, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers who are involved in research activities or are working on sponsored projects supported by organizations including but not limited to NSF, NIH and USDA. Graduate students admitted to the graduate program must complete the RCR training within their first 12 semester hours.
- What CITI modules do I need to complete?
The required CITI modules are the Responsible Conduct of Research appropriate for your field of research (Biomedical, Social and Behavioral, Physical science, Humanities, Engineers or Administrators). Your department/college should provide information on which format is required. In addition, other specific modules may be required depending on the situation and/or research project.
- If I am a transfer student and took an RCR course at my previous university, does that credit transfer or do I need to retake it at ODU?
You can transfer the CITI Records. Log onto the CITI website and add your new School to your Affiliate section. Download previously completed courses and ensure that you complete any new modules designated by that new institution.
- Where can I get advice on issues involving research misconduct?
The RIO can provide either informal or formal advice on all issues involving research misconduct. The RIO works directly with the University Counsel and legal advice is obtained as necessary. Discussions with the RIO are strictly confidential.
- What is the definition of scientific misconduct?
Scientific misconduct is the fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.
- What is NOT research misconduct?
Differences of opinions, honest mistakes, or personal disputes, disagreements over the order of authorships or arguments about the ownership of data.
- What happens if I plagiarize?
Plagiarism involves taking another person’s or persons’ words, ideas or data and portraying them as your own. It is generally understood that if you use more than three words from any one source you will put quotation marks around the borrowed words and credit the source. If you paraphrase the words, ideas, or data of others you will credit the source as well. Anyone engaging in plagiarism is committing intellectual theft and is guilty of research misconduct. At Old Dominion University serious consequences result from plagiarism and research misconduct.
- Who is required to participate in the identification of research misconduct?
It is the responsibility of every member of the Old Dominion University community to ensure integrity in scientific research and scholarly activity.
- Who is required to participate in the investigation of scientific misconduct?
All members of the Old Dominion University community are required to cooperate fully with the investigation of an allegation of scientific misconduct.
- What policy governs procedures for reporting, and investigating research misconduct?
ODU Policy # 1426. Policy, Procedures and Timeline for Responding to Allegations of Misconduct in Scientific Research and Scholarly Activity.
- What should I do if I suspect someone is conducting fraudulent research?
All incidences of suspected scientific misconduct must be reported to the Research Integrity Officer either directly or through the Dean of their College.
- Are there any special issues if the research is supported by outside funds?
Any scientific misconduct, whether the research is funded or not is taken seriously. If federal funds from agencies such as Health and Human Services (HHS – NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) or applications for funds to such agencies are related to the alleged research misconduct, the RIO will inform the Research Office and the VP for Research will contact the appropriate agency.
- I have been accused of breaking some ethical regulations in the lab. I think these accusations are false, how can I defend myself or appeal?
Consult with the Research Integrity Officer (RIO). When the RIO receives an allegation of misconduct, it will be investigated. The RIO will treat all allegations as sensitive and confidential personnel records. Every effort will be made to protect those involved, from the whistleblower to other parties involved with the allegation. An initial investigation will be carried out by the RIO and as the respondent (defendant) you will have the opportunity to provide information to defend yourself.
- Does research stop in a laboratory when scientific misconduct is alleged?
Not necessarily; the process is designed to be minimally disruptive. After any safety issues are addressed and evidence is secured, research may be continued.
- What are the potential penalties for research misconduct?
At the University level, penalties range from a simple reprimand to dismissal. If federal granting agencies are involved, they may impose their own sanctions; these can range from supervision of research, banishment from serving on federal panels, fines, through to imprisonment for criminal wrongdoing.
REPORTING SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
- How do I report suspected research misconduct?
Any suspicions of research misconduct within the University should be reported to the Research Integrity Officer or to the Dean. Research misconduct is a serious offense, and each case will be investigated appropriately.
- What is the typical process for investigating research misconduct? Will all research activity have to stop during that time, including lab activities that are not the subject of the investigation?
The process for responding to allegations of research misconduct are laid out in the ODU policy (Policy # 1426).
- Is the Complainant protected from retaliation when they report potential cases of misconduct?
The University will keep all matters confidential to protect all involved. Retaliation is strictly prohibited. University policy states that employees shall not intimidate or take retaliatory action, directly or indirectly, against any member of the University community as a result of whistleblowing. The types of retaliation that are prohibited include, but are not limited to: (1) intimidation, (2) adverse actions with respect to the whistleblower’s work assignments, salary, vacation, and other terms of employment; (3) unlawful discrimination; (4) termination of employment; (5) adverse actions against a relative of the whistleblower who is a University employee or student; and (6) threats of any of the above.
- Can I report my suspicion anonymously?
Yes, but a written, signed statement is preferred
- What if the misconduct is potentially dangerous to humans or animals in the laboratory?
Contact the RIO immediately. The RIO has a sequestration team to deal with such issues. The RIO will contact the appropriate committee chair and they will work to ensure the safety of any animals or people.
- What do I do if I realize I accidentally altered the results of an experiment and have already reported the results?
Contact the publisher and make full disclosure. Then follow the procedures of the publication. Honest mistakes are not considered scientific misconduct but errors need to be acknowledged and corrected.
- What if there are criminal implications in the misconduct?
The RIO, with the help of University Counsel, will determine if criminal behavior is involved and report such to the authorities. Any investigative process will be put on hold until criminal matters have been addressed.
- If I witness or am involved in an inappropriate situation with my mentor or someone in my lab, who can I contact?
The Graduate Program Director, Chair of the Department or another mentor you trust can provide you with assistance.
PREDATORY JOURNALS & CONFERENCES
- How do I know if I am submitting to a predatory journal or paying to attend a predatory conference?
There are many ways to determine if the conference or publication is legitimate, such as poor grammar and unreal peer review times. A full list of predatory red flags can be found here (insert hyperlink that takes you to the predatory journal pages).
- I am not sure if my research requires approval. Who do I contact to find out if my study is exempt from requirements relating to human or animal research?
Contact the Office of Research; questions should be directed to ARubenst@odu.edu.
- What if I disagree with current/established protocols regarding the use of animals in my lab?
Speak with your PI and establish new protocols. The PI will then seek approval from IACUC either through submission of new protocol or an amendment. Do not deviate from the current protocol until the new or amended protocol is approved.
- How is a violation of research integrity different from an IACUC or IRB protocol violation?
A violation of research integrity or “research misconduct” includes plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification or actions/behavior unbecoming a scientist. Other actions such as violations of IACUC or IRB protocols may be determined not to fall in the category of “research misconduct” and are referred to an appropriate party for disposition.
- Who should I contact if I witness mistreatment of research animals?
Contact the Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee immediately