Research Misconduct

About Research Misconduct

Research-Misconduct-ALT.pngResearch misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. The three types of misconduct are defined below:

Fabrication is defined as making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

Falsification is defined as 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 defined as the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. It does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

As defined in Penn State Policy RP02 "Addressing Allegations of Research Misconduct," there are established procedures for addressing allegations and handling inquiries/investigations of research misconduct. The ORP provides administrative support and oversight of this process.

Reporting Misconduct

Anyone having reason to believe that a member of the faculty , staff or student body has engaged in research misconduct has a responsibility to report pertinent facts in accordance with policy RP02.

We encourage anyone wishing to make such a report can to contact the Office for Research Protections directly at (814) 865-1775 or  Please also contact us directly for general questions regarding research misconduct and reporting.

To report research concerns that are not misconduct, please see the information at

You can also report using the Penn State Ethics Hotline at (800) 560-1637 or online.

Research Misconduct Process

There are 3 stages in the research misconduct process as listed below:

1. Assessment

The Research Integrity Officer (RIO) assess the allegation to determine if it (1) meets the definition of research misconduct and (2) is sufficiently credible and specific. If both criteria are met, then the case proceeds to the Inquiry stage. There are no time limits imposed in the Assessment stage.

2. Inquiry

The Inquiry stage is used to conduct an initial review of available evidence to determine if an Investigation is needed. At this time, the accused individual(s) is notified and evidence is sequestered if necessary. The RIO appoints and charges an Inquiry Official or Committee. The Inquiry Official or Committee has 60 days to complete this phase. An Investigation is warranted if: (1) the allegation falls within the definition of research misconduct and (2) preliminary information gathering and fact finding indicate the allegation(s) has substance. The final Inquiry report goes to the Vice President for Research for a decision on whether an Investigation is warranted. Federal sponsors may be notified if applicable.

3. Investigation

The Investigation is the stage where the allegation(s) is explored in detail and evidence is examined in depth, leading to a determination of whether research misconduct was committed, by whom and to what extent. Notice to the accused and additional sequestration takes place, if needed. The RIO appoints and charges an Investigation Committee. The Investigation Committee has 120 days to complete this phase. The standard for making a finding of research misconduct is as follows: (1) research misconduct occurred, (2) research misconduct is a significant departure from accepted practices, and (3) the respondent committed the research misconduct intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. Additional interviews are conducted if needed. The final Investigation report goes the Vice President for Research for a decision and imposition of internal actions or recommendations. Federal sponsors are notified if applicable.