Integrity in all scholarship is a foundational principle that underlies Harvard’s core mission to discover, transmit and apply new knowledge for the benefit of society. While all scholars strive to distinguish themselves by contributing to their disciplines and to the world’s greater bodies of knowledge, compromising integrity for personal or professional gain harms the scholar, the academic discipline, the University, and the entire community of scholars. In recent decades, the federal agencies that fund scientific research have encapsulated the concept of research integrity in a construct dubbed the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), which parses research integrity into nine specific activities ranging from authorship to data sharing to behaviors defined by the federal government as “research misconduct.” Consequently, recognizing, practicing and teaching the Responsible Conduct of Research, and preventing and reporting research misconduct, are equally essential duties of University scholars.Back to Top
The Office of Science and Technology Policy, a federal agency responsible for advising the President of the United States on science, technology, and innovation, issued in December of 2002 a policy applicable to all federal agencies, which defined research misconduct, as follows:
“Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Plagiarism is appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI) oversees the integrity of all research conducted by any entity with support from the Public Health Service (PHS), including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On an annual basis, Harvard must file an attestation with ORI affirming that Harvard's research misconduct policies and procedures are in compliance with federal regulations, and summarizing any incidents of research misconduct that have been detected in the past year, as well as the status of such incidents from prior years that are still under investigation and disposition. ORI published its policy on research misconduct in Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct; Final Rule, Federal Register 42 CFR Parts 50 and 93.
The National Science Foundation’s procedures for addressing allegations of misconduct in NSF-funded research are overseen by the NSF Office of the Inspector General, and are codified at 45 CFR 689.
Many other federal agencies have adopted policies based on the OSTP definition of research misconduct, and oversight responsibility typically rests with each agency’s Office of the Inspector General. Links to other federal agencies’ policies are available on the DHHS ORI website.Back to Top
Although the federal government mandates research integrity policies for activities it funds, it is the responsibility of individual institutions to prevent and detect its occurrence. At Harvard, each school creates, implements, and enforces its own research integrity and misconduct policies that must be consistent with federal requirements. HMS and HSPH file individual reports with ORI, whereas the Office of Sponsored Programs does so for the University area. For school-based information regarding research integrity, please refer to the following sources: