Institutional policies and procedures for research misconduct

What is this about?

When formal allegations of misconduct are made, institutions handling such allegations must follow certain procedures to ensure that legal and professional rights are not encroached upon.

Why is this important?

The person who makes an allegation of misconduct may be penalized if he or she is not protected by the institutional investigation. Also, the accused has a right to due process, as false accusations can be made. That is why it is important that institutional procedures respect the rights both of the accuser and accused.

For whom is this important?

Researchers, Research institutions, Universities

What are the best practices?

The European Code of Conduct (2017) specifies the following principles relating to integrity and fairness, for any investigation process into allegations of research misconduct


• Investigations are fair, comprehensive and conducted expediently, without compromising accuracy, objectivity or thoroughness.

• The parties involved in the procedure declare any conflict of interest that may arise during the investigation.

• Measures are taken to ensure that investigations are carried through to a conclusion.

• Procedures are conducted confidentially in order to protect those involved in the investigation.

• Institutions protect the rights of ‘whistleblowers’ during investigations and ensure that their career prospects are not endangered.

• General procedures for dealing with violations of good research practice are publicly available and accessible to ensure their transparency and uniformity.


• Investigations are carried out with due process and in fairness to all parties.

• Persons accused of research misconduct are given full details of the allegation(s) and allowed a fair process for responding to allegations and presenting evidence.

• Action is taken against persons for whom an allegation of misconduct is upheld, which is proportionate to the severity of the violation.

• Appropriate restorative action is taken when researchers are exonerated of an allegation of misconduct.

• Anyone accused of research misconduct is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.



Hugh Desmond contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was June 1, 2019