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.

Purpose

To address allegations of 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 an award for a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other form of NIH support, or reported using NIH support.

Procedure

Everyone

Immediately notify the NIAID research integrity officer (RIO), Dr. Kelly Poe, at kelly.poe@nih.gov about any of the following types of misconduct:

  • Misconduct in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting research. Research misconduct falls into three categories:
    • 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
    • Plagiarism: appropriating another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit
    • (Note that research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion)
  • Awardee or applicant with an unreported foreign affiliation, component, support, funding, or other form of scientific overlap
  • Human subjects potentially at risk in an ongoing study
  • Harassment at NIH or an NIH awardee institution

After you report an allegation from the list above to the RIO, the RIO will respond within three business days. If you don’t get a response, email the NIH extramural research integrity officer (ERIO).

For research misconduct (fabrication, falsification, plagiarism) allegations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has sole investigation authority and will coordinate a response.

Learn more about grantee, contractor, trainee, and investigator responsibilities on the NIH Research Integrity page. It also covers NIH's role in handling research misconduct.

To report misuse of NIH funds, follow the Reporting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse SOP instead of the process described here.

Awardee Institutions

  • Follow NIH’s Expectations, Policies, and Requirements to foster an environment free from harassment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, retaliation, and other forms of inappropriate conduct that can result in a hostile work environment. 
  • Before July 9, 2022, your organization must send a prior approval request to the NIH grants management official for changes to the status of a principal investigator (PI) or other senior/key personnel named in the notice of award, e.g., modified employment or leave status during an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct. Refer to the June 11, 2020, Guide notice and NIAID Prior Approvals for Post Award Grant Actions SOP.
  • Starting on July 9, 2022, your authorized organizational representative (AOR) must notify NIH within 30 days after your institution removes or otherwise disciplines a PI or other senior/key personnel named in the notice of award due to concerns about harassment, bullying, retaliation, or hostile working conditions. Use NIH’s Institutional Reporting Process.

NIAID Staff

  • If you have any reason to suspect a misconduct issue described above, or someone reports such an issue to you, immediately contact the NIAID RIO.
  • Also advise complainants to contact the NIAID RIO.
  • Advise complainants that some types of allegations are handled by the awardee institution, not NIH or the RIO:
    • 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") However, institutions must still report harassment-related personnel actions to NIH as described in the Awardee Institutions section above. 
    • Disputes over intellectual property.
    • For allegations of plagiarism, complainants may also follow the reporting instructions in the Everyone section above.
  • Treat any information you receive about such allegations as strictly confidential. Discuss only with the RIO.
  • Do not take any of the following actions:
    • Divulge any other information
    • Express personal opinions
    • Attempt to investigate the allegation
    • Request supporting documentation
    • Contact a principal investigator, extramural institution official, contractor, reviewer or any other NIH staff other than the RIO
  • If you are 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, deny, or comment on an allegation
    • Only ORI has authority over investigations of research misconduct (fabrication, falsification, plagiarism)  
    • Refer them to the NIH Research Integrity website for more information
    • If they wish to persist in their inquiry, they should contact the NIAID RIO
  • Grants management specialists should consult the GMP Office of Research Integrity (ORI)—Misconduct in Science SOP.

NIAID Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

  • In the event of an allegation, the RIO may contact the program officer, grants management specialist, or other relevant NIAID staff to request information about the allegation and the awards involved.
  • The RIO performs the following actions:
  • ERIO works with ORI and other HHS staff to determine a response.
  • If the allegation involves financial matters or fiscal misconduct, follow the Reporting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse SOP instead of the process described here.

Contacts

NIAID Research Integrity Officer (RIO)—Dr. Kelly Poe, kelly.poe@nih.gov 

NIH Extramural Research Integrity Officer (ERIO)—NIHResearchIntegrity@mail.nih.gov

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

Links

42 CFR 93—Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct

Bars to Grant Awards—Research Misconduct SOP

HHS Office of Research Integrity

Research Misconduct – for NIH staff, NIH Extramural Intranet

U.S. Department of Labor Whistleblower Protection Program

Content last reviewed on