Allegations of Research Misconduct SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.

Some links will work for NIAID staff only.


To address allegations of research misconduct in work conducted with PHS funding or work submitted in applications or proposals that request PHS funding, regardless of whether the funds resulted in a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other form of NIH support.


Research misconduct is fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting research.

  • Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification means 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 means appropriating 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 (HHS) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has sole authority over investigations of research misconduct and will coordinate a response.

Go to the NIH Research Integrity website for more information on grantee, contractor, trainee, and investigator responsibilities, as well as details on NIH's role in handling research misconduct.


  • Immediately notify the NIAID research integrity officer (RIO) of any allegation of the following types of misconduct:
    • Research misconduct (fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism)
    • Misuse of NIH grant or contract funds
    • Whistleblower retaliation for reporting misconduct or misuse of NIH funds
    • Unreported scientific overlap (e.g., unreported foreign affiliations, components, or funding)
    • Human subjects potentially at risk in an ongoing study
  • If you do not receive a response within three business days for an allegation of research misconduct, email the NIH extramural research integrity officer (ERIO).


  • If you have any reason to suspect research misconduct, or you receive a report or allegation of research misconduct, follow the instructions above.
  • Advise anybody with an allegation of research misconduct to also contact the NIAID RIO.
  • Advise complainants that some allegations are handled by the institution, not NIH or the RIO. These types of allegations include:
    • Personnel issues (e.g., "I was fired unfairly" or "I wasn't included as a co-author on a paper when I should have been")
    • Intellectual property theft
    • Discrimination
    • Harassment
  • Treat any information you receive about such allegations as strictly confidential. Discuss with only the RIO.
  • Do not take any of the following actions:
    • Divulge any other information
    • Express personal opinions
    • Attempt to investigate the allegation. Investigations fall within the exclusive purview of ORI
    • Request supporting documentation
    • Contact a principal investigator, extramural institution official, contractor, scientific review officer, or reviewer
  • If contacted by the news media, Congressional representatives, other official sources within NIH or outside of NIH, or any other outside source such as the public, inform them of the following:
    • NIAID staff cannot acknowledge or deny an allegation
    • Only ORI has authority over investigations
    • They can get more information at the NIH Research Integrity website
    • If they wish to persist in their inquiry, they should contact the NIAID RIO
  • Grants management specialists can also read the GMP Office of Research Integrity (ORI)—Misconduct in Science SOP.

NIAID Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

  • In the event of an allegation, the RIO is likely to contact the program officer, grants management specialist, or other relevant NIAID staff to request more information about the allegation and the awards involved.
  • The RIO performs the following actions:
    • Sends allegations to the ERIO using the Research Misconduct SharePoint System. ERIO works with ORI and other HHS staff to determine a response.
    • Ensures that NIAID enforces administrative actions, if any.
    • Represents NIAID on matters of research integrity policy through membership on the NIH Research Integrity Group.
    • Informs the director of the NIAID Office of Science Management and Operations of all investigations.
  • If the allegation involves financial matters or fiscal misconduct, the RIO will enter the case into the RMSS, and the ERIO will forward it to the NIH Office of Management Assessment (OMA) for review.


NIAID Research Integrity Officer (RIO)—Matthew Fenton

NIH Extramural Research Integrity Officer (ERIO)—

Director, Office of Science Management and Operations—John McGowan

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


42 CFR 93—Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct

Bars to Grant Awards—Research Misconduct SOP

HHS Office of Research Integrity

Reporting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse SOP

Research Misconduct on the NIH extramural intranet

Content last reviewed on September 24, 2018