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Research Misconduct

The NC State University Research Integrity Office addresses allegations of potential research misconduct made against any University personnel, including faculty, students, staff and research visitors in accordance with REG 10.00.02. Although anyone internal or external to NC State University can report research misconduct, all NC State employees and those associated with NC State are required to report potential research misconduct. 

What is Research Misconduct?

NC State’s REG 10.00.02 – Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct defines research misconduct as: 

  • Fabrication – making up data or results and recording or reporting them;
  • Falsification – 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; or
  • Plagiarism – the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit;

In the proposing, performing, in reviewing research or in reporting research results.  It doesn’t include honest error or differences of opinion.

Expectation and Responsibility for Confidentiality 

NC State’s REG 10.00.02 requires all involved to maintain confidentiality throughout the process to the greatest extent possible. Allegations of misconduct are serious and must be investigated,  but most allegations of misconduct are not substantiated and even an unsubstantiated allegation could do grave harm to a researcher’s reputation.  Therefore the Research Integrity Officer will receive an allegation of research misconduct in confidence and will remind all participants in the process of their obligation to maintain confidentiality.  Violating confidentiality may constitute misconduct that could subject the violator to discipline under other university policies, regulations and rules.

How NC State Handles Allegations

When the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) receives an allegation of Research Misconduct, they immediately conduct a review. Below is a summary of the process. NC State REG 10.00.02 gives more detail on how research misconduct cases are handled.

Summary of Review Process

Preliminary Assessment

The RIO will review the allegation to determine if:

  1. Would the allegation, if taken as true, fall within the regulatory definition of Research Misconduct
  2. Is the allegation sufficiently specific and credible to justify an inquiry?


If the answer is yes to both questions of Preliminary Assessment, the RIO will initiate an Inquiry.  

  • An Inquiry Committee of three individuals is formed to answer the following question:  Is there sufficient evidence of possible Research Misconduct to justify further investigation? Note: the inquiry committee is not deciding whether or not misconduct occurred, that is the responsibility of the investigation committee, if deemed necessary.
  • Once the inquiry is complete, the committee drafts a report with a recommendation for the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who has the authority to decide whether or not to proceed with an investigation. 


If the inquiry results in an investigation,

  • An Investigation Committee of five individuals is formed to explore in detail the allegations, to examine the evidence in depth and to determine specifically whether misconduct has occurred, using the preponderance of the evidence standard.
  • Once the investigation is complete, the committee will draft a report including both the committee’s findings and recommended institutional actions for the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who will make the final determination. 

About Whistleblowers

A whistleblower is a person making the allegation of Research Misconduct.

Whistleblowers are expected to make allegations in good faith, maintain confidentiality and cooperate with NC State officials in the conduct of an inquiry or investigation. 

If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of Research Misconduct, they may contact the Research Integrity Officer to discuss the suspected misconduct informally.

Whistleblowers will have an opportunity to testify before the inquiry and investigation committees, to review portions of the inquiry and investigation reports pertinent to their allegations or testimony, to be informed of the results of the inquiry and investigation and to be protected from retaliation.

  • NC State is committed to protecting whistleblowers from retaliatory behavior and affording anyone with information about observed, suspected or apparent research misconduct a free environment to share such concerns. 
  • NC State personnel should immediately report any alleged or apparent retaliation due to a report of research misconduct against themselves or others to the Research Integrity Officer.

For more information about whistleblower protections, please see the Provost’s September 2017 3D Memo

About Respondents

The respondent is the person against whom an allegation of research misconduct is directed or who is the subject of a research misconduct proceeding. 

A Respondent is expected to cooperate with the conduct of an inquiry or investigation.  Note, this obligation continues even if the Respondent has left NC State University.

  • A Respondent can expect that the process will be handled confidentially as much as possible and that those involved in the process will be reminded of their obligation to maintain confidentiality.
  • A Respondent will be informed of the allegations when an inquiry is opened, an investigation is opened and will be notified in writing of the final determinations and resulting actions.  

A Respondent will also have;

  • The opportunity to be interviewed by and present evidence to the inquiry and investigation committees, 
  • To review the draft inquiry and investigation reports and provide comments 
  • To have the advice of counsel.

If the case does not result in a finding of Research Misconduct, the Respondent has the right to receive institutional assistance in restoring their reputation.