Whistleblower and Respondent Obligations and Protections

NC State University REG 10.00.02 states that "All employees or individuals associated with NC State University should report observed, suspected, or apparent research misconduct." A summary of whistleblowers' obligations and references about protections for whistleblowers are provided below. For more information about whistleblower protections, read this September 2017 3D Memo.

Whistleblower Obligations

  • NC State Research Integrity Officer encourages concerned individuals to report observed, suspected or apparent research misconduct to the senior administrator responsible for research programs within the college, school or unit where the respondent is employed or appointed (4.1.1).
  • Upon receipt of a complaint, the senior administrator should counsel the complainant of the regulation, discuss the nature of the complaint and direct the whistleblower to the appropriate administrative officer of the institution.
  • Cases that involve student cheating, including falsification, fabrication and plagiarism on class assignments, are referred to the Student Misconduct Officer.
    • Cases that meet all of the following criteria are referred to the Research Integrity Officer:
      • The complaint involves falsification, fabrication or plagiarism committed while…
      • During the proposing, conduct or reporting of research where…
      • Research is the systematic investigation designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge
  • Whistleblowers will be responsible to provide an assessment of the allegations and substantive assistance in the compilation of supporting evidence once the Research Integrity Officer is involved.
  • Whistleblowers must be prepared to meet with the Research Integrity Officer and where necessary an inquiry or investigative board.
  • Whistleblowers must maintain the confidentiality of the case at all times.

Whistleblower Protections

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. As such, although not formally adopted through administrative policy, NC State subscribes to the Office of Research Integrity’s Whistleblower Bill of Rights. Links to the Whistleblower Bill of Rights and another resource are provided below:

Respondent's Obligations and Protections

Adapted from Public Health Service – Office of Research Integrity website.

Most allegations of research misconduct are not substantiated. Nevertheless, respondents should take such allegations seriously — because they can have a negative effect on researchers’ careers. If accused of research misconduct, a respondent should:

  • review the NC State University regulation on Responding to Allegations of Possible Research Misconduct (10.00.2);
  • gather documentation and identify witnesses;
  • consider whether an advisor, expert or counsel is needed;
  • avoid actions that are, or could be perceived as, retaliatory against the whistleblower;
  • and maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings.

In responding to an allegation, NC State’s regulation provides the respondent with confidential treatment to the maximum extent possible, which includes:

  • providing an opportunity to comment on allegations and findings;
  • providing a copy of the inquiry report for comment;
  • conducting a prompt and thorough investigation;
  • providing a copy of the investigation report for comment;
  • and making a diligent effort, as appropriate, to restore the reputation of the respondent if the allegation is not confirmed.

Who is NC State University's Research Integrity Officer and How Can I Reach Them?

Director of Research Compliance Mary Millsaps serves as NC State’s Research Integrity Officer and can be reached by email at mdmillsa@ncsu.edu or via phone at 919.515.0158.