Investigating and Responding to Allegations of Misconduct in Research

Procedure Number: 
001
Policy Number: 
3403
Responsibility: 
Vice-President, Academic
Approved: 
Executive
Effective: 
October 6, 2009
Last Amended: 
June 3, 2019
Procedure Statement: 

Scope

This procedure forms part of the JIBC Student Academic Integrity Policy (the “Policy”) and should be followed and applied in relation to allegations of Student Academic Misconduct under the Policy. Terms are as defined in the Policy.

Procedural Guiding Principles

NOTE: This procedure is consistent with Justice Institute of British Columbia policies and procedures and the principles of the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (2016).

Individuals, including faculty, staff, students or other individuals performing research, disseminating research results, applying for or holding research funds under the auspices of, in affiliation or in collaboration with the Justice Institute of British Columbia (“JIBC” or the “Institute”) must comply with JIBC Policy 3403 – Integrity of Research and Scholarship. A misconduct in research described under Policy 3403 is unacceptable. The procedure for investigating an allegation of misconduct in research, the response to a finding of misconduct and the resolution of conflicts must be fair, unbiased, appropriate to the nature of the alleged misconduct and timely.

In determining whether an individual is responsible for misconduct in research, it is not relevant to consider whether the conduct was intentional or a result of honest error. However, intent is a consideration in deciding on the severity of the recourse that may be imposed.

JIBC’s procedure for investigating and responding to allegations of misconduct in research adopts both an informal and a more formal process.

General

1. Individuals are expected to report in good faith and confidentially any information pertaining to possible breaches to institutional policies and misconduct in research by an individual who is currently employed, enrolled as a student or has a formal association with JIBC.

2. Confidential enquiries, allegations of misconduct in research or breaches of policies and information related to allegations should be directed to the Dean, Office of Applied Research and Graduate Studies (OARGS). Any individual who believes that there may have been a breach of JIBC Policy 3403 – Integrity of Research and Scholarship may seek clarification from the Dean, OARGS (the “Dean”). In the absence of the Dean, or in the event the Dean has a conflict of interest, the Vice-President Academic (VPA) will appoint a delegate who will act as the principal point of contact with the Dean’s responsibilities for the purposes of this procedure.

3. Any individual receiving confidential enquiries, information regarding allegations of misconduct in research or a complaint of potential research misconduct is required to contact and inform the Dean in writing.

4. If the Dean determines that confidential enquiries, information or facts alleged, if true, could constitute misconduct in research, the Dean will treat the matter as a formal complaint.

5. Anonymous allegations, 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, will be considered by the Dean and may lead to an Initial Inquiry initiated by the Dean.

6. All complaints shall be kept confidential to the extent that is possible and privacy of individuals will be maintained as far as is possible, in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.

7. To protect agency funding, the Institution may withhold a portion of or the entirety of research funds from the implicated individuals until matters of misconduct are resolved. It may also, independently, or at the funding agency or organization’s request in exceptional circumstances, take immediate action to protect the administration of Agency funds, including freezing grant accounts, requiring a second authorized signature from an institutional representative on all expenses charged to the researcher’s grant accounts, or other measures, as appropriate.

8. Allegations of misconduct in research will be addressed promptly. The timelines referred to in this procedure are guidelines, which may be shortened or extended as required in the circumstances, including time required to file a notice of appeal under this procedure or report time requirements of relevant funding agencies or organizations.

Initial Inquiry

1. The complaint will be the subject of an Initial Inquiry to establish whether the allegation received according to the General section in this Procedure has merit. A formal investigation is required if:

a. the person making the complaint (the “Complainant”) requests that the complaint be addressed on an informal basis; or

b. the complaint was made anonymously and will be investigated as described below; or

c. the Dean, in reviewing the complaint forms the opinion that there is a reasonable probability the matter can be properly addressed by way of an informal investigation.

2. The Dean will take such steps as deemed appropriate for an Initial Inquiry, which will include advising the subject of the complaint (the “Respondent”) of the substance of the complaint and giving the Respondent an opportunity to respond, and may include but are not limited to:

a. communicating with, meeting with and/or interviewing the Complainant;

b. reviewing relevant documents, allegations, and information; and

c. communicating with, meeting with, and/or interviewing individuals (third parties) who may have knowledge of the subject of the complaint.

3. The Dean may determine that:

a. the complaint is without merit and dismiss the complaint;

b. the complaint has merit and work with the Complainant and the Respondent to develop an appropriate resolution. If the Dean, the Complainant and the Respondent agree on an appropriate resolution, and such resolution is generally consistent with the recourse or action taken in similar situations applied at JIBC, comparable institutions and/or the Tri-Agency, and consistent with applicable laws, regulations and policies, that resolution will be implemented. If the parties are unable to agree on an appropriate resolution, the matter will be the subject of a Formal Investigation;

c. the matter cannot be properly addressed on the basis of an Initial Inquiry and commence a Formal Investigation described in the next section; and

d. the Dean will notify both the Respondent and Complainant within five (5) working days of the determination of the Initial Inquiry in writing.

Formal Investigation of Complaints

Establishment of a Formal Investigation

1. In the event the complaint is not resolved by way of an Initial Inquiry, the complaint will be addressed under this Formal Investigation process.

2. The Formal Investigation process will determine the validity of an allegation. It will provide the Complainant and the Respondent with an opportunity to be heard as part of an investigation, and allows the respondent to appeal if a breach of policy is confirmed, as described below.

3. The Complainant (or, if the complaint is anonymous, the Dean) must provide a written complaint to the Dean which will include:

a. the name and contact information of the Complainant;

b. the name and contact information of the Respondent(s);

c. details of the alleged misconduct;

d. names of third parties (e.g., potential witnesses); and

e. the outcome sought.

4. Within ten (10) working days of receiving or initiating the complaint as described in the General section of this Procedure, the Dean will advise the Respondent and the Vice President Academic in writing of the complaint.

5. The Dean will establish a three-person committee, with relevant experience in the area of research involved with the particular case and who are without conflict of interest – whether real or apparent, to conduct an investigation (the "Investigating Committee"). To avoid a conflict of interest, no member of the Institute’s Division involved in the research will be appointed to the committee. Persons external to the Institute may be appointed at the discretion of the Dean for all investigations, except in the case of investigations related to matters of the Tri-Agency Framework, in which case at least one external member with no current affiliation with the institution must be appointed.

6. The Investigating Committee will determine, in its discretion, the procedures to be followed on the Formal Investigation and will advise the Complainant and the Respondent of the process. The procedure will include providing the Respondent a copy of the written complaint, and an opportunity to respond to the complaint. The Complainant will also be provided an opportunity to meet with the Investigating Committee. The investigation will be kept confidential.

Formal Investigation Report

1. The Investigating Committee will report its findings and its conclusions (the "Investigation Report") to the VPA, within 60 days after the Investigation Committee’s determination of the complaint. The Investigation Report will include:

a. the specific allegation(s);

b. composition of the Investigating Committee;

c. procedure and timelines followed on the Formal Investigation;

d. persons interviewed or supplying information (if any);

e. the Respondent’s response to the allegation and investigation, and any measures the Respondent has taken to rectify the breach;

f. a summary of the finding(s) and the reasons for the findings;

g. conclusion on whether or not the Respondent committed misconduct in research; and

h. recommendations and actions (if any) taken by the Institution.

2. The Investigation Report may include a proposed plan to restore reputations and protect a Complainant that has acted in good faith and other relevant details.

3. The Investigation Report should not include personal information about the Respondent, or any other person, that is not material to the Institution’s findings on allegations of misconduct in research and in accordance with applicable legislation.

Determination of Findings and Decision

1. Within 30 days, the VPA or, if the VPA is in a conflict of interest or is unavailable, the VPA’s delegate, will review the Investigation Report.

2. If the complaint is without merit, the VPA (or delegate) will dismiss the complaint and:

a. provide the Complainant and the Respondent with a written response summarizing the reasons for the decision;

b. if appropriate, direct steps to be taken to protect or restore the reputation and credibility of the Respondent; and

c. advise the Complainant of the appeal process.

3. If misconduct in research has occurred, the VPA will determine what disciplinary actions should be taken. These will be communicated, in writing, to the Respondent, and to others on a “need to know” basis.

4. Disciplinary actions will reflect the severity and nature of misconduct and may include, but are not limited to:

a. a verbal warning;

b. a letter of concern;

c. special monitoring of future work, with or without a request of correction of the research record and proof that the research record has been corrected;

d. a letter of reprimand to the individual's permanent personnel file;

e. withdrawal of specific privileges;

f. removal of specific responsibilities;

g. recommendation of suspension or termination of the Respondent's appointment; and

h. in the case of scholarly misconduct of a Respondent applying for or holding research funds, any recourse determined by the funding agency’s decision in relation to the breach, including:

i. advising the Respondent that the agency will not accept applications for future funding from the Respondent for a defined time period or indefinitely;

ii. terminating remaining instalments of the grant or award;

iii. seeking a refund within a defined time frame of all or part of the funds already paid;

iv. advising the Respondent that the agency will not consider the Respondent to serve on agency committees (e.g., peer review, advisory boards); and/or

v. such other recourse available by law.

5. A copy of the final report, including a summary of the decision regarding scholarly misconduct, recourse and disciplinary actions, subject to privacy legislation, will be forwarded to the Dean, the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) within ten (10) working days following the decision.

6. When the VPA (or delegate) determines it to be in the best interests of the institution, a report of the investigation of misconduct and its outcome will be disseminated to persons with a legitimate interest in knowing about them, such as research subjects or participants, or a co-investigator/co-author. This report should not include information that would identify the parties or contain personal information about the Respondent that is not material to that person’s interest in knowing about the final outcome or to the institution’s findings.

Notification Where a Funding Agency is Involved

1. In the case of allegations or findings of scholarly misconduct of a Respondent who has applied for or holds research funds:

a. JIBC should submit inquiry letters or inquiry reports to the funding agency’s relevant body within 60 days of receipt of an allegation;

b. if an investigation was requested by the funding agency, a full copy of the report, subject to privacy legislation, should be sent to the agency, whether or not misconduct is concluded to have occurred, within 30 days of the decision and no later than five (5) months following the end of the inquiry to conduct an investigation.

c. If the investigation was initiated internally, within the institution, and misconduct was found to have occurred in research funded by one or more of the agencies, the institution should provide the agencies with a copy of the report, subject to privacy legislation, within 30 days of the decision and no later than five (5) months following the end of the inquiry to conduct an investigation.

2. In addition to the reporting requirements listed above, the report to the funding agency should include, at a minimum:

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 and/or investigation;

c. the response to the allegation by the Respondent, investigation and findings, and any measures the Respondent has taken to rectify the breach; and

d. the institutional investigation committee’s decisions and recommendations and actions taken by the institution.

3. The institution’s report to the funding agency should not include:

a. information that is not related specifically to Agency funding and policies; or

b. personal information about the Respondent, or any other person, that is not material to the institution's findings and its report to the funding agency.

Appeal Process

1. The Complainant or the Respondent may challenge the decision reached through the Formal Investigation process by submitting a Notice of Appeal to the VPA (or delegate). Complaints resolved through an Initial Inquiry may not be appealed.

2. The Notice of Appeal must be in writing and delivered to the VPA (or delegate) and copied to the Dean, and the other party of the investigation, i.e. the Respondent of the Appeal (Complainant or Respondent in the Formal Investigation), within 20 working days from the time that the appellant is informed of the decision. The Notice of Appeal will include:

a. a copy of the written complaint or, if there was no written complaint, a summary of the complaint;

b. a copy of the report of the Investigation Committee;

c. a copy of the decision of the Formal Investigation;

d. the grounds of appeal, which are limited to the following questions or potential issues:

i. procedural fairness in the investigation process;

ii. patently unreasonable findings of material fact;

iii. disciplinary action inappropriate in all of the circumstances;

e. the resolution being sought, and

f. any additional relevant information, not previously submitted, that, after determination and permission granted to submit the information by the VPA (or delegate), would help the VPA (or delegate) understand the matters at issue.

3. The VPA (or delegate) will establish a three-person appeal committee to hear the appeal (the Appeal Committee). The members of the Appeal Committee may include a Divisional Director, Director, Human Resources, Registrar, persons with knowledge of the area of research or any such other person as the VPA (or delegate) may choose. The members of the Appeal Committee must not be in a conflict of interest. The VPA will chair this committee.

4. The Appeal Committee will review the Notice of Appeal and documentation and determine the procedure to be followed on the appeal; which procedure will include giving the Appellant an opportunity to present a submission on appeal (in writing or in person as the Appeal Committee may determine) and for the Appeal Respondent to submit a response in writing or in person, and may also include:

a. a request for written submissions from any interested person, including the Dean and the Respondent’s Director;

b. a request that the Complainant and Respondent attend before the Appeal Committee to make submissions and answer questions; and

c. such other procedures as the Appeal Committee deem appropriate.

5. The Appeal Committee may uphold, overturn or vary the decision of the Formal Investigation.

6. The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and binding.

7. The Appeal Committee will render a decision, in writing, within 20 working days of the completion of the appeal process. The decision of the Appeal Committee will be sent to the Complainant and the Respondent and, where appropriate, the funding agency.

Last updated August 30, 2019