George Mason University      
Misconduct in Research and Scholarship Policy

April 26, 2007
To: Suzanne W. Slayden, Chair, Faculty Senate
From: Barry W. Stevens, Director, Research Policy Development
Subject:  University Policy on Misconduct in Research and Scholarship

This memorandum transmits for the consideration of the Faculty Senate a university policy on Misconduct in Research and Scholarship.  As you know, by consensus, the committee that developed the policy endorsed its contents and recommended that it be adopted by the university.  This morning, the Deans and Directors also endorsed the policy. 

A revised policy on research misconduct is needed to replace the university’s moribund 1990 Policy on Scientific Misconduct and bring the university into compliance with the requirements for the receipt of Federal funds.  A draft of the policy was the subject of discussion at the October 5, 2006 meeting of the Deans and Directors.  As a result of that discussion, the committee that had worked on the draft was expanded to include three members of the Deans and Directors and two additional members of the faculty and the draft was thoroughly reexamined.

The expanded committee included the following:
Matt Kluger, Vice President for Research and Economic Development   
Jack Censer, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Kingsley Haynes, Dean, School of Public Policy
Supported by Jonathan Gifford, Acting Associate Dean
Jim Olds, Director, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
Chip Petricoin, Professor of Life Sciences
Larry Kerschberg, Professor of Information and Software Engineering
Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Bob Nadeau, Professor of English  
Linda Samuels, Professor of Legal Studies   
Jennifer Murphy, Director, Office of Technology Transfer
Ann McGuigan, Director, Office of Sponsored Programs
Tom Moncure, University Counsel

I chaired the committee and served as facilitator, researcher, and drafter.

Among the principal features of the policy that these individuals endorsed are the following: 

1.  The policy sets out the university’s commitment to the highest standards of ethical, scientific, and scholarly practice and to compliance with the requirements for the receipt of Federal funds.  The policy fully complies with Federal law.

2.The policy applies to both Federally-funded research and other research.

3. “Research misconduct,” as that term is used in the policy, includes only conduct that Federal law proscribes; that is, fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism, but not honest error or differences of opinion.

4. “Research” includes both the kinds of activities addressed by Federal rules on research misconduct and other forms of scholarship.

5. Any allegation of “research misconduct” is addressed under the policy and not under any other university policy or procedure except as the policy provides.  Respecting students, this means that the policy applies to post baccalaureate graduate and professional students who are engaged in Federally-funded or non-coursework-related research and to undergraduate students who are involved in Federally-funded research.  Students engaged in other activities are covered by the Honor Code and the University Code of Conduct.  Respecting faculty, it means that the policy and not the Faculty Grievance Process governs the examination of allegations of research misconduct.

6. The policy clearly assigns responsibility for the various steps in a research misconduct proceeding to the respondent’s Dean or Director, the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Provost, or the President.  In doing so, it strikes a balance between unit and central administration and ensures that proceedings are free from both real and apparent lack of fairness.

7. The policy includes all the protections for participants in research misconduct proceedings (respondents, complainants, witnesses, and committee members) that are required by Federal law and adds a number of others, including provisions intended to protect respondents against unfounded allegations.

On behalf of the committee and the Deans and Directors, I would request that the Senate act to bring this important matter to a successful and expeditious conclusion.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Policy on Misconduct in Research and Scholarship

The BOV-approved, official University policy on Misconduct in Research and Scholarship is located at

For comparison with existing policies, see "Grievances" in the 1994 Faculty Handbook ( and "Policy on Scientific Misconduct" approved by the BOV, 1990 (


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