Research and Scientific Integrity Policy Guidelines

These guidelines have been developed to support the implementation of the NRC Research and Scientific Integrity Policy by outlining the process for addressing issues of research and scientific misconduct. Additional guidelines on other aspects of the Research and Scientific Integrity Policy will be developed in the coming months.

1. Effective date

This guideline document is effective December 12, 2018 and is to be read in conjunction with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Research and Scientific Integrity Policy.

2. Reporting Suspected Research and Scientific Misconduct

2.1 Non compliance

The NRC is committed to an open process that is readily accessible to any person who brings forward an allegation of non-compliance with research and scientific integrity principles. Under this policy, any allegation of serious misconduct in the NRC's research activities will be thoroughly reviewed and, if substantiated, will be addressed in a timely fashion. In this process, the NRC will endeavour to protect the rights and needs of all persons involved.

2.2 Range of sources

Suspicion of misconduct may arise regarding work done within the NRC. Allegations may originate within or outside the organization. They may concern not only current but also former NRC employees, and even visiting researchers for work performed at the NRC.

2.3 Other Policies and Legislation

In accordance with other relevant policies and legislation, the NRC will take steps to protect personal information and otherwise provide safeguards in order to give NRC employees the confidence to bring forward, in good faith, allegations of research misconduct to the attention of the appropriate authorities or participate in an investigation procedure without suffering reprisal.

2.4 Research centre level

Whenever possible, suspicions of misconduct should first be discussed with the relevant manager, the Director or the Director General (DG) concerned.

Recognizing that suspicion of misconduct places the person that is the object of the concerns and the person who brings forward the concerns in vulnerable positions, the first administrative response should be characterized by sensitivity, confidentiality, objectivity, and fairness.

The Research Centre (Director or DG) does not conduct an investigation but prepares, without delay, written recommendations for the VP responsible for the division concerned based upon available information. The recommendations should specify:

  • whether the suspicions appear to be verifiable or unverifiable in an independent manner;
  • if the suspicions are obviously unsubstantiated and why;
  • whether the concerns seem to have been raised in good faith or may be malicious.
  • Whether research activities should be suspended or not, should the allegations relate to an active project or program.

The rationale for the recommendations should also be provided. The VP confirms whether he accepts the recommendation, requires additional information, or decides on a different course of action. If the VP chooses to conclude the process at this stage, the VP keeps a record of the recommendation for his/her documentation in the event that further actions are needed.

2.5 Allegation to the VP or the Senior Ethics Officer

Allegations can also be sent directly to the VP responsible by the person making the allegations with a justification for the absence of discussion at the portfolio level. Persons external to the NRC who wish to submit allegations should be directed to the responsible VP or to the NRC Senior Ethics Officer.

2.6 Other allegations

Allegations that should also be reported to the VP:

  • allegations concerning work done outside of the NRC by NRC researchers or with the NRC's involvement (e.g. a research collaboration or work involving NRC funding); and
  • allegations received from anonymous sources or via a third party if the relevant information is available and the facts are independently verifiable.

2.7 Relations with the Source

The Source of allegations should be aware that he/she will have the opportunity to present relevant information as any person having such information, but will not have special status during the process and will not be informed in detail of the evolution of the process.

2.8 Presumption of good faith

A finding that the allegations are not substantiated does not constitute a finding that the Source was at fault in bringing the allegation forward. The presumption should be that the Source made a mistake in good faith. However, if it is evident that the Source acted maliciously with no reasonable justification for the allegation, a separate report should be prepared on that matter and forwarded to the responsible VP. The unfounded allegation may be dealt with as a possible, separate research misconduct case or cause for disciplinary action.

3. Response to Allegations

3.1 Head of the Response

The VP responsible for the division concerned by the allegations will normally be the Head of the Response. If, for any reason, the responsible VP is not or could not be perceived as neutral, the President will appoint another member of the NRC's Senior Executive Committee to assume the role of Head of the Response.

3.2 Steps

The response to allegations of scientific misconduct may include up to three (3) stages. At each stage, the Head of the Response may decide not to pursue the process any further if developments make this decision appropriate For example, if the respondent admits misconduct, it is possible to complete the process without going through all the stages. In such a case, corrective action and/or disciplinary measures may be decided upon immediately.

Depending on the case, communication with the NRC partners and collaborators, national and international, might be in order. The necessity of this action will be determined by the Head of the Response.

3.3 Preliminary Assessment Stage

(See Annex A for detailed process) This stage should not take more than twenty (20) calendar days from the time the responsible VP receives the allegations. The purpose of this stage is to determine whether the allegation falls under this policy and whether the information available justifies further action. The result of the Preliminary Assessment can be a decision either to not pursue an allegation further or to move to the Fact-Finding Stage.

3.4 Fact-Finding Stage

(See Annex B for detailed process) At this stage, the person who is the object of the allegation (the Respondent) is to be formally notified of the allegation. A Fact- Finding Assessor will be nominated by the Head of the Response in order to collect the relevant data, documents, electronic files, and materials, to take appropriate measures to secure the various items that will be considered, and to proceed to a first interview with persons who might have relevant information. A Fact-Finding Panel (as described in Annex 3) is nominated. The Panel will review the information collected and interview the persons involved including the Source and the Respondent as well as other persons who might have relevant information. The Panel might also want to consult experts in the relevant domain. The role of the Fact-Finding Panel is not to determine whether or not there was misconduct, but to indicate whether a full Investigation is needed.

3.5 Investigation Stage

(See Annex C for detailed process) At this stage a body that comprises a broader range of experience and expertise than that of the Fact-Finding Panel is needed to conduct a full Investigation of the allegation. The role of this body, the Investigation Committee, is to develop a factual record of the issues by exploring the allegations in detail and by examining the evidence in depth, leading to recommendations and a finding of whether research misconduct has been committed, by whom and to what extent. This Committee should also determine whether there are additional instances of possible research misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations. This might include a review of previous scientific work published by the Respondent.

4. Considerations Relevant to Any Stage

4.1 Resource Persons

The process of addressing allegations of research misconduct should be conducted by persons with a significant level of scientific knowledge in the relevant research areas. However, in the application of the procedures involved, those persons will need the support and guidance of other professionals. At each stage, to minimize the risk of complications at a later stage, it is strongly recommended that the following NRC offices be contacted on relevant issues:

  • Legal Services
  • Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP)
  • Human Resources Branch (Labour Relations Group)
  • Secretary General's Office

4.2 Written Statements

All statements should be produced in writing and signed. The Respondent and/or any possible witnesses are not required to make a statement. All concerned should, however, be aware that a lack of cooperation will not impede the proceedings. No statement, including the allegations, will be accepted in the Investigation Stage "in confidence". The NRC will only pay for legal fees in accordance with Treasury Board policies on indemnification and in support of the requirements of its processes.

4.3 Access to Information and Privacy Acts

Under the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Acts, any personal information or written information on the conduct and conclusions of the research integrity process can only be shared within the limits of the legislation or if the persons involved agree. On request, research funding organizations can be informed of the results of the process by the Secretary General's Office or the responsible VP subject to the requirements of the ATIP Acts.

4.4 Disciplinary Measures

Decisions regarding disciplinary measures are a management responsibility and are governed by the NRC's Policy on Discipline Procedures (Section 5.6, Human Resources Manual). The Fact-Finding Panel and the Investigation Committee do not take decisions on disciplinary matters, but may make recommendations on this issue at the request of the Head of Response.

4.5 Policy Improvement

To help improve and update this policy on an ongoing basis, the Head of the Response will inform the Senior Ethics Officer of any issue relevant to the policy and its procedures at the end of the process and, if appropriate, throughout it.

5. Exoneration

5.1 Procedure

When the process concludes, at any stage, that the complaint of research misconduct is unsubstantiated, the Head of the Response should ensure the following:

  • that all persons who are likely to have knowledge of the process, such as witnesses who were interviewed (including the Source), be told, in writing that the matter has been concluded because it was determined to be unfounded; and
  • that the person exonerated of research misconduct should be provided a formal statement, in writing, that an allegation was made, a review process was established, no substantiation was found, and no further action is contemplated.

5.2 Restoring Reputations

If the allegations are not substantiated and the person(s) exonerated of an allegation of research misconduct request(s) assistance in restoring their reputation, the Head of the Response may send identical, formal, letters from the NRC to appropriate concerned parties.

6. Treatment of Documents

6.1 Privacy Protection

Persons involved in a review of a case of suspected research misconduct must make every effort to preserve the privacy and reputation of all parties concerned. Therefore, all documents relating to a case that is in progress should be treated and protected material in a separate file under the control of the Head of the Response and the President as appropriate. After a case has concluded, the documents will be kept as a special category in the NRC's central records, with access restricted to the President and specifically authorized personnel only, preserved for a period of time in accordance with the NRC's policy on records retention, and then destroyed.

6.2 Personal Files

Nothing relating to an unsubstantiated case should appear in the personnel files of any person. The Report of Findings in which the allegations were found to be substantiated will be placed in the personnel files of the person responsible for the research misconduct and regarded as a document concerning disciplinary action.

7. External Notifications and Reports

7.1 Funding Organizations

All research funding organizations concerned will be informed of the final report and findings of an investigation of research misconduct at the NRC, including the results of an investigation that has been terminated before completion for any reason. Unless otherwise specified, it is not necessary to inform funding organizations at the Preliminary Assessment Stage, nor at the Fact-Finding Stage.

7.2 Contents

The report to external organizations must be provided by the Senior Ethics Officer and should include a comprehensive summary of the evidence, the procedure, the conclusions and, if appropriate, the proposed remedial action.

7.3 Copies

A copy of all reports to external agencies, except Federal investigative bodies, must be given to the Respondent, who may supplement those reports with personal comments.

7.4 Formal Agreements

If a formal agreement between the NRC and another institution stipulates that misconduct must be reported to an external organization, such situations will be reported through the NRC Senior Ethics Officer. Misconduct in this context will be those cases that involve fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

8. Timetable

The time required to carry out the research misconduct proceedings will depend largely on the complexity of the issues and the number of individuals involved in the process. The normal timetable for a full process, assuming it is not suspended for any reason, starting when the Head of the Response receives the allegations, would be as follows:

All References are to Calendar Days
Preliminary Assessment (including the submission of the Head of the Response's report) 20
Fact-Finding Assessor Nominated 5 135
Appointment of the Fact-Finding Panel 10
Period of objection by the Respondent 10
First meeting of the Fact-Inquiry Panel 10
Draft Report of the Fact-Inquiry Panel 60
Respondent's comments 10
Final Report of the Fact-Finding Panel 10
Senior Management Response 20
Investigation Committee Appointed 10 210
Period of objection by the Respondent 10
Draft Report of the Investigation Committee 120
Respondent's comments 30
Final Report of the Investigation Committee 10
NRC Decisions 30

Annex A - Preliminary Assessment

A.1 Purpose

The purpose of the Preliminary Assessment is to determine:

  • if the allegations fall under the research integrity policy
  • if the information available justifies further action; and
  • if a Fact-Finding Panel should be appointed

A.2 Timeline

The Preliminary Assessment should not take more than twenty (20) calendar days as measured from the time when the responsible VP receives the allegations until the submission of the Preliminary Assessment Report to the NRC Secretary General.

A.3 Head of the Response

The VP responsible for the division concerned by the allegations will normally be the Head of the Response, who will be responsible for pursuing every case to a conclusion. At the earliest stage, the VP will inform and consult with the Secretary General. If, for any reason, the responsible VP is not or could be perceived as not being in a position to act in a neutral manner, the President will appoint another member of the NRC's Senior Executive Committee to assume this role.

A.4 Interview with the Source of Allegations

The Head of the Response, normally joined by the relevant Director General if there is no counter indications (or by another manager if it is not appropriate to involve the DG), will, if possible, interview the person making the allegation (s) (the Source), promptly after receiving the allegation(s). This will give the Source an opportunity to present relevant information and to be briefed about the procedure, including how he/she will be kept informed of future developments. The interviewers should check with the Source concerning any other persons who may have been made aware of the allegations and/or who may have relevant information. This information is needed in order to protect the identity of the Source and facilitate privacy protection measures. The Source should have the opportunity to indicate the impact of revealing his/her identity.

A.5 Purview of the Research and Scientific Integrity Policy and these Guidelines

At this stage, the Head of the Response must determine if the allegations fall within the purview of the Research and Scientific Integrity Policy and these guidelines. If this is not the case, the Head of the Response should inform the Source in writing and, whenever possible, refer the Source to the appropriate body that may be in a position to assist him/her (e.g. the Human Resources Branch for harassment or discrimination cases). It is the responsibility of the Source to then contact the appropriate body.

A.6 Nature of Information

If the allegations fall within the purview of the Research and Scientific Integrity Policy, the next step is to determine whether the information presented does justify further action.

An allegation may be impossible to pursue without further information, which cannot be obtained because either the Source is anonymous and the facts are not publicly available nor otherwise independently verifiable, or the Source refuses or is unable to provide additional information. The NRC will not pursue an anonymous allegation without separate substantiating information.

When this is the case, the process may be halted upon submission of a written report to the responsible VP (if this VP is not the Head of the Response), the Director General of the Portfolio concerned and the Secretary General. The Head of the Response will also inform the Source in writing that the process is not being pursued. The person targeted by the allegations (the "Respondent") will be informed that the process is not being pursued if, and only if, that person is already aware of the allegation.

It should be noted that mere weakness of information is not a reason for halting the process at this stage, since the next stage is dedicated to the collection of relevant information.

A.7 Notification to SEC

When a decision is made to move to the Fact-Finding Stage, the Head of the Response will notify the NRC Senior Executive Committee (SEC) of the decision.

It should be stressed in such communications that a decision to move to a Fact-Finding Stage does not amount to a finding of fault or misconduct.

A.8 Other NRC Portfolio or Other Organizations

Before moving to the next step, the preliminary assessment should determine if other NRC research centres and/or other organization(s) are involved, and how they will be involved in the process.

The Head of the Response and his/her counterpart in another organization(s) involved in the matter should examine their respective policies to identify any significant differences and ensure, as much as possible, compliance with the highest standards of both policies.

Annex B - Fact-Finding Stage

B.1 Purpose

The objective of this stage is to collect information about the alleged research misconduct and research activities, to protect any relevant material and to have these examined by a restricted panel. The role of the Fact-Finding Panel is to evaluate the evidence submitted to it and the testimonies obtained during the Fact-Finding stage. Normally, the Panel is asked to determine whether a full Investigation is warranted, and not to decide whether misconduct definitely occurred and who is involved.

B.2 Timeline

The Fact-Finding Stage begins after the notification to the SEC committee. This stage may require up to 135 calendar days.

B.3 Head of the Response

The Head of the Response is responsible for:

  • appointing of a Fact-Finding Assessor;
  • notifying the Respondent;
  • appointing the Fact-Finding Panel;
  • facilitating the role of the Fact-Finding Assessor and the Fact-Finding Panel whenever necessary; and
  • inviting the persons that might be interviewed to cooperate with the Fact-Finding Assessor and/or the Fact-Finding Panel.

Through the whole process, the Fact-Finding Assessor and the Chair of the Fact-Finding Panel will report to the Head of the Response on developments in the process.

If administrative actions are considered (regarding the Source, the Respondent, or other persons involved), they will be taken by the responsible GM in consultation with the responsible VP (and/or the Head of the Response) and, if appropriate, the VP of the Human Resources Branch and/or the Director of the NRC Legal Services.

The Head of the Response should contact the Director of the NRC Legal Services at the very beginning of the Fact-Finding Stage to inform them of the process and have a resource person identified if a legal intervention or advice is needed.

The Head of the Response should also contact the NRC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office in order to take appropriate measures to protect personal information throughout the process.

B.4 Appointment of a Fact-Finding Assessor

The Head of the Response will appoint a Fact-Finding Assessor, to assist in conducting the Fact-Finding Stage, within five (5) days following the notification to SEC. The Fact- Finding Assessor may be an employee of the NRC or an external person that has experience with allegations of non-compliance with organizational policies. No conflict of interest should exist or appear to exist on the part of the Fact-Finding Assessor. The Fact-Finding Assessor should have a scientific background or sufficient knowledge in the area under discussion to accurately report the discussions. The Fact-Finding Assessor is responsible for taking prompt and firm action to obtain and preserve tangible evidence, including, when required, elements belonging to the NRC that might have been removed from the NRC's premises.

The Fact-Finding Assessor will conduct a first set of interviews with the persons involved. When meeting with the Respondent and witnesses, the Fact-Finding Assessor shall be accompanied by another person, normally an NRC Labour Relations Officer, to reduce the risk of conflicting interpretations of the conversations.

The Fact-Finding Assessor will gather the following information:

  • documentary evidence such as laboratory notebooks and specimens as well as computer files related to the laboratory work (and obtained in accordance with the NRC policies in this regard);
  • complete information on any external funding for the research activities related to the allegation;
  • statements from people who may know relevant facts. The Respondent or any possible witness should be informed that they are not required to make a statement. However, everyone will be made aware that a lack of cooperation will not impede the proceedings. No statement will be accepted "in confidence."
    The Fact-Finding Assessor will provide the complete file to the Head of the Response, including the Fact-Finding Assessor's notes. Preferably, the Fact-Finding Assessor will also act as the Secretary of the Fact-Finding Panel.

B.5 Notification to the Respondent

The Head of the Response will inform the Respondent, in writing, that a Fact-Finding will be undertaken, with a copy to the Director General concerned. A copy of this policy should be attached. The notification will not normally include the identity of the Source at this stage. The notification will include the name of the Fact-Finding Assessor and explain the role of this person. This should be done within ten (10) days after the notification to SEC.

B.6 Appointment of the Fact-Finding Panel

The Head of the Response will appoint a Fact-Finding Panel. The Head of the Response should be in a position to propose the composition of the Fact-Finding Panel within ten (10) calendar days after having informed the SEC on the decision to move to the Fact- Finding Stage.

The Head of the Response is responsible for notifying the Respondent of the proposed panel membership to give the Respondent an opportunity to object to a proposed member based on a personal, professional or financial conflict of interest. The period for submitting objections should be limited to ten (10) calendar days. The Head of the Response will make the final determination of whether a conflict exists.

The Panel will consist of at least two senior persons, but not the Fact-Finding Assessor. One member of the Panel should be from an external organization and have experience with cases of suspected research misconduct. On specific issues, the Panel may consult other experts. The Panel may request the assistance of subject matter experts on an ad hoc basis, regarding the quality and originality of the research and the methods used, the authenticity and originality of purported results, and/or the named authors' actual contribution to the work. The Head of the Response should be allowed to observe the Fact-Finding Panel Process but should not be a member of the Panel.

B.7 Fact-Finding Panel Process

At its first meeting, the Panel will be briefed by the Head of the Response on the case and related issues, will review its mandate, will confirm the need for the Fact-Finding, and will develop a working plan.

The Head of the Response will make the complete file, including the Fact-Finding Assessor's notes, available to the Panel members, after a review of the document by the NRC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office, to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act. This kind of review should also take place at later stages when other documents are distributed.

The Head of the Response will summon the Respondent to an interview before the Panel to discuss the allegations. If there is more than one person suspected of research misconduct, they shall be interviewed individually. The Panel will also normally interview the Source of allegations and key witnesses as well as examine relevant research records and materials.

Throughout the Fact-Finding Stage, the Head of the Response will review the situation and determine if interim administrative actions need to be taken to prevent any harm to the NRC, its clients and/or collaborators, and/or the research community in general. Such actions might include the suspension of research project(s), notifications to external parties and the temporary withdrawal of papers submitted for publication. Before any action is taken involving external parties, the Head of the Response will consult with the Director of the NRC Legal Services.

B.8 Outcome of the Fact-Finding Panel

At the end of the Fact-Finding, the Panel will submit a written report to the Head of the Response that will provide the relevant background information on the case, a description of the allegation, a review of the evidence, a summary of the testimonies and the rationale for a decision to undertake or not to undertake a full Investigation. All written statements will be attached. The Fact-Finding Panel has 60 days for the interviews and the draft report.

A recommendation not to proceed with a full Investigation might result from a partial or complete admission of responsibility by the Respondent, to the Panel's satisfaction. In such a case, the Panel's report might include proposed corrective action. The role of the Fact-Finding Assessor and the Fact-Finding panel will then be fulfilled and the Head of the Response will finalize the file. Depending on the case, a report to NRC clients and collaborators, national and international, including the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, might be in order. The necessity for this action will be determined by the responsible NRC Vice-President. If the Panel's conclusion is that a full Investigation is warranted, the Head of the Response will consult with the Head of the NRC Legal Services to ensure that the Panel's draft report establishes reasonable grounds for an investigation. If there are doubts, the Panel should meet with the Head of Legal Services to review the issues before sharing its report with other concerned parties.

The Head of the Response will send a copy of the draft report () to the Respondent for comments within ten (10) days. These comments will be forwarded to the Panel and, on that basis, the report will be finalized. Copies of the final report will be made available, in confidence, to the Respondent, the President of the NRC, the Secretary General, the DG of the portfolio concerned and the VP of the Human Resources Branch.

B.9 Conclusion

If the case is concluded at this point, the VP of Human Resources, in consultation with the Research Centre DG, will monitor the situation for a period of up to one (1) year by, for example, providing a contact point for the parties involved to ensure that any residual or new human resources issues that might arise after the closure of the case are promptly and adequately addressed.

Annex C - Investigation Stage

C.1 Purpose

The role of the Investigation Committee is to develop a factual record by exploring the allegations in detail and examining the evidence in depth, leading to recommended findings on whether research misconduct has been committed, by whom and to what extent. The Investigation Committee should also determine whether there are additional instances of possible research misconduct that would justify broadening the scope beyond the initial allegations. This might include a review of previous scientific work published by the Respondent.

C.2 Timeline

The Investigation Stage begins at the time of the submission of the final report of the Fact-Finding Panel. This stage may require up to 210 calendar days.

C.3 Head of the Response

The Head of the Response is responsible for:

  • notifying the agencies concerned;
  • appointing the members of the Investigation Committee;
  • allowing the Respondent to comment on the Committee's membership;
  • convening the first meeting of the Committee;
  • providing the Respondent with a confidential copy of the Committee's draft report;
  • helping the Committee finalize its report, taking into account the Respondent's input;
  • drafting a proposed response to the Committee's recommendations;
  • forwarding the report and the proposed response to the President and the Secretary General;
  • conveying NRC's questions, requests or decisions to the Committee; and
  • informing the Respondent of the final decisions, with a copy of the final report

C.4 External notifications

If the allegation of research misconduct proceeds to the Investigation Stage, and if the research which is alleged to be tainted by research misconduct was ever supported by funding from any agency that requires reports of research misconduct, the Head of the Response must, before the Investigation, notify that agency. The notification would indicate that the NRC is conducting a review into an allegation of research misconduct and that the results of this review will be communicated when available.

If the agency, client, or collaborator has no stated requirement for notification about reports of research misconduct, the Head of the Response should consider whether notification would nevertheless be appropriate at an early stage. If a notice is sent, the Head of the Response should indicate that appropriate interim administrative actions are being taken to protect the external funding interests and to ensure that the purposes of the external body's assistance are being carried out.

C.5 Investigation Committee

If the Head of the Response decides to undertake a full Investigation, he or she will appoint the members of the Investigation Committee as soon as possible after the Fact- Finding Panel has submitted its final report. Members of the Fact-Finding Panel should not serve again on the Investigation Committee as a broader membership will likely be needed in order to provide a sufficient range of expertise and experience and the Respondent should be informed of the membership of the Investigation Committee. At least two members should be from outside the NRC. The Secretary General would normally be a member. Also, NRC Legal Services may assist the Investigation Committee members on procedural and evidentiary issues. It may be prudent for the NRC Legal Services be present when the Respondent or witnesses opt to be accompanied by lawyers when being interviewed.

The NRC will take every appropriate measure to protect the Source of an allegation of research misconduct from reprisal and to keep personal information confidential. However, the Source must be prepared to be identified in the Investigation Stage. The decision on whether the Source would be named and be made known during the Investigation Stage will be taken by the Head of the Response in each case in consultation with the Director of the NRC Legal Services. In such cases, the Source will be informed in advance.

Whenever appropriate and feasible, consideration should be given to the appointment of a Chair from among the external members of the Committee.

C.6 Comments on Committee Membership

The Head of the Response will give the Respondent an opportunity to comment on the proposed Investigation Committee membership, within a period of ten (10) days. Once the membership decisions are finalized, the Head of the Response will convene the first meeting of the Investigation Committee to review the mandate of the Committee, to develop a work plan and to address any issues that could be raised by members.

C.7 Expectations

The Investigation Committee is expected to:

  • use diligent efforts to ensure that the process is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of each allegation;
  • take reasonable steps to ensure an impartial and unbiased process to the maximum extent practical;
  • interview each Respondent, the Source of allegations, and any other available person who has been identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the situation, including witnesses identified by the Respondent;
  • make a record of each interview, provide the record to the persons interviewed for review, and include the record of such interviews in the documentation of the procedure; and
  • pursue diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the review, including evidence of any additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continue the process to completion.

C.8 Preliminary Report

At the end of the Investigation Stage, the Committee will submit to the Head of the Response a written draft report describing the allegations, the nature of the research (including any relevant external collaborations or external funding interests) and the evidence reviewed, as well as a statement of findings for each allegation of research misconduct identified during the process.

C.9 Statement of Findings

Each statement of findings must:

  • identify clearly the Respondent(s);
  • identify whether the research misconduct was falsification, fabrication or plagiarism, and whether it was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly;
  • summarize the facts and the analysis that support the conclusion;
  • consider the merits of any reasonable explanation by the Respondent to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged misconduct was rather the result of honest errors or differences of opinion; and
  • identify whether any publication needs correction or retraction.

In addition to the statement of findings, the Investigation Committee will normally make recommendations on the research activities related to the matter but should refrain from recommending specific disciplinary measures unless specifically requested to do so by the Head of Response.

C.10 Delay

The draft Investigation Report should be completed within 120 calendar days after the appointment of the Investigation Committee is finalized.

C.11 Respondent's Comments

The Head of the Response will give to the Respondent confidential copies of the draft report, including a copy of, or supervised access to, the evidence on which the case is based. The Respondent will have thirty (30) calendar days to provide written comments.

C.12 Final Report

The Head of the Response will assist the Investigation Committee in finalizing the report, will ensure that the comments of the Respondent are included and considered, and will forward the report to the Secretary General and to the President of the NRC.

C.13 NRC Decision

Following consultations with the President and other NRC officials as appropriate, the Head of the Response will inform in writing the Investigation Committee of NRC's decisions regarding the Committee's findings and recommendations. If these decisions are different from the Committee's findings and recommendations, the Head of the Response will explain the basis for the decisions. Alternatively, the Head of the Response may return the report to the Investigation Committee with a request for further fact-finding or analysis.

C.14 Notification to Respondent

When a final decision on the case has been reached, the Head of the Response will notify the Respondent in writing and provide him/her with a copy of the final report.

C.15 Request for Review

Requests for a formal review of the report and findings of an Investigation Committee can be made by a Respondent or other concerned parties to the President of the NRC within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of the Report and must be based upon a failure to follow appropriate procedures or significant new information. The President will not substitute his judgment for the judgment of an Investigation Committee. The President's only recourse, upon finding the request for review to be justified, is to establish an new Investigation Committee which will examine all evidence, including any significant new information put forward by the parties concerned.

C.16 Other Organizations

A report on the outcome of the Investigation must be sent to all organizations that have received or should have received preliminary notification of the Investigation.

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