Investigating and Responding to Allegations of Misconduct in Research

Procedure Number: 
001
Policy Number: 
3403
Responsibility: 
Vice-President, Academic
Approved: 
Vice President, Academic
Effective: 
October 6, 2009
Last Amended: 
September 10, 2014
Procedure Statement: 

NOTE:  This procedure is consistent with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, Section 2: Responsibility of Researchers and Section 3: Breaches of Agency Policies by Researchers. This Procedure includes application of the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, algorithm Appendix A: Summary of Process (Tri-Agency Process for Addressing Allegations of Policy Breaches).

Misconduct in research is unacceptable. The procedure for investigating an allegation of misconduct in research and the response to a finding of misconduct must be appropriate to the nature of the alleged misconduct. JIBC’s procedure for investigating and responding to allegations of misconduct in research contemplates both an informal and a more formal process.

1.      General 

a.  Questions and complaints regarding misconduct in research should be directed to the Dean, Office of Applied Research and Graduate Studies (OARGS).  In the absence of the Dean OARGS (the Dean), or in the event the Dean is in a conflict of interest, the Vice-President Academic Services (“Vice-President, Academic”) will appoint a delegate who will act as the Dean for the purposes of this procedure.

 b.  Anyone receiving a complaint of potential research misconduct is required to contact the Dean.

 c.  Anyone who believes that there may have been a breach of the Integrity of Research and Scholarship Policy may seek clarification informally from the Dean.

 d.  If the Dean determines that the facts alleged, if true, could constitute misconduct in research, the Dean will treat the matter as a complaint.

e.  Anonymous allegations will not normally be considered; however if the Dean receives compelling evidence anonymously, an informal investigation may be initiated.

f.  All complaints shall be kept as confidential as possible, however confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

g.  To protect agency funding, the Dean may withhold research funds until matters of misconduct are resolved.

h.  Allegations of misconduct in research will be addressed as promptly. Except for the time limit for filing a notice of appeal under this procedure, the times referred to in this procedure are guidelines, which may be shortened or extended as required in the circumstances.

2.      Informal Investigation

a.  The complaint will be the subject of an Informal Investigation if:

  • the person making the complaint (the “Complainant”) requests that the complaint be addressed on an informal basis; or
  • the complaint was made anonymously and will be investigated pursuant to paragraphs 5 above; or
  • the Dean, in reviewing the complaint forms the opinion that there is a reasonable probability the matter can be properly addressed by way of an informal investigation.

b.  The Dean will take such steps as he or she deems appropriate for an Informal Investigation, which steps will include advising the subject of the complaint (the “Respondent”) of the substance of the complaint and giving the Respondent an opportunity to respond, and may include but are not limited to:

  • interviewing the Complainant;
  • reviewing relevant documents; and
  • interviewing individuals who may have knowledge of the subject of the complaint.

c.  The Dean may determine:

  • the complaint is without merit and dismiss the complaint;
  • the complaint is meritorious and work with the Complainant and the Respondent to develop an appropriate response. If the Dean, the Complainant and the Respondent agree on an appropriate response, and such response is generally consistent with the response in similar situations, that response will be implemented. If the parties are unable to agree on an appropriate response, the matter will be the subject of a Formal Investigation;
  • that the matter cannot be properly addressed on the basis of an Informal Investigation and commence a Formal Investigation; and
  • The Dean will notify both the Respondent and Complainant within five (5) working days of the determination made under paragraph 11 of these procedures.

3.      Formal Investigation of Complaints

a.  In the event the complaint is not resolved by way of an Informal Investigation, the complaint will be addressed under this Formal Investigation procedure.

b.  The Complainant (or, if the complaint is anonymous, the Dean) must provide a written complaint which will include:

  • the name and contact information of the Complainant;
  • the name and contact information of the Respondent(s);
  • details of the alleged misconduct;
  • names of potential witnesses; and
  • the outcome sought.

c.  Within ten (10) working days of receiving the complaint, the Dean will advise the Respondent and the Vice President Academic in writing of the complaint.

d.  The Dean will establish a three-person committee, with relevant experience in the area of research involved with the particular case, to conduct an investigation (the "Investigating Committee"). To avoid a conflict of interest, no member of the Division involved in the research will be appointed to the committee. Persons external to the Institute may be appointed at the discretion of the Dean.

e.  The Investigating Committee will determine, in its discretion, the procedures to be followed on the Formal Investigation and will advise the Complainant and the Respondent of the process. The procedure will include providing the Respondent a copy of the written complaint, and an opportunity to respond to the complaint. The Complainant will also be provided an opportunity to meet with the Investigating Committee. The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible.

f.  The Investigating Committee will report its findings and its conclusions (the "Investigation Report") to the Vice-President, Academic, within sixty (60) days of being struck. The Investigation Report will include:

  • a summary of the allegation;
  • composition of the Investigating Committee;
  • procedure followed on the Formal Investigation;
  • persons interviewed or supplying information (if any);
  • findings of fact relating to the complaint;
  • conclusion on whether or not the Respondent committed misconduct in research; and
  • recommendations for disciplinary actions (if any).

g.  The Investigation Report may include a proposed plan to restore reputations and protect a Complainant that has acted in good faith and other relevant details.

h.  Within thirty (30) days, the Vice-President, Academic or, if the Vice-President, Academic is in a conflict of interest or is unavailable, his or her delegate, will review the Investigation Report.  

i.  If the complaint is without merit, the Vice-President, Academic (or delegate) will dismiss the complaint and: 

  • provide the Complainant and the Respondent with a written response summarizing the reasons for the decision;
  • if appropriate, direct steps to be taken to protect or restore the reputation and credibility of the Respondent; and
  • advise the Complainant of the appeal process.

j.  If misconduct in research has occurred, the VICE-PRESIDENT, Academic will determine what disciplinary actions should be taken.  These will be communicated, in writing, to the Respondent, and to others on a “need to know” basis.  

k.  Disciplinary actions will reflect the severity and nature of misconduct and may include, but are not limited to:

  • a verbal warning;
  • special monitoring of future work;
  • a letter of reprimand to the individual's permanent personnel file;
  • withdrawal of specific privileges;
  • removal of specific responsibilities; and
  • recommendation of suspension or termination of the Respondent's appointment.

l.  A copy of the final report, subject to privacy legislation, will be forwarded to the Dean, the Complainant and the Respondent within ten (10) working days following the decision. 

4.     Notification where a funding agency is involved

a.  If the investigation was requested by the funding agency, a full copy of the report, subject to privacy legislation, should be sent to the agency, whether or not misconduct is concluded to have occurred, within thirty (30) days of the decision.

b.  If the investigation was initiated internally, within the institution, and misconduct was found to have occurred in research funded by one or more of the agencies, the institution should provide the agencies with a copy of the report, subject to privacy legislation, within thirty (30) days of the decision. 

5.     No Retaliation for complaints made in good faith

a.  Where a complaint is advanced in good faith, JIBC will take all reasonable steps to protect the Complainant from reprisals or harassment.  If a complaint is advanced in bad faith, the Complainant may be subject to disciplinary action.  

6.     Appeal Process

a.  The Complainant or the Respondent may challenge the decision reached through the Formal Investigation process by submitting a Notice of Appeal to the Vice-President, Finance and Administration or delegate. Complaints resolved through an Informal Investigation may not be appealed.

b.  The Notice of Appeal must be in writing and delivered to the Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or delegate) and copied to the Dean within twenty (20) working days from the time that the appellant is informed of the decision. The Notice of Appeal will include:

  • a copy of the written complaint or, if there was no written complaint, a  summary of the complaint;
  • a copy of the report of the Investigation Committee;
  • a copy of the decision of the Formal Investigation;
  • the grounds of  appeal, which are limited to the following:
       I.  want of procedural fairness in the investigation process;
       II. patently unreasonable findings of material fact;
     III.  disciplinary action inappropriate in all of the circumstances;
  • the resolution being sought, and
  • any additional relevant information, not previously submitted, that would help the Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or delegate) understand the matters in issue.

c.  The Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or delegate) will establish a three-person appeal committee to hear the appeal (the “Appeal Committee”). The members of the Appeal Committee may include a Divisional Director, Director, Human Resources, Registrar, persons with knowledge of the area of research or any such other person as the Vice-President, Finance and Administration (or delegate) may choose. The members of the Appeal Committee must not be in a conflict of interest. The Vice-President, Finance and Administration will chair this committee.

d.  The Appeal Committee will review the Notice of Appeal and documentation and determine the procedure to be followed on the appeal; which procedure will include giving the appellant an opportunity to present his or her submission on appeal (in writing or in person as the Appeal Committee may determine) and may also include:

  • a request for written submissions from any interested person, including the Dean and the Respondent’s Director;  
  • a request that the Complainant and Respondent attend before the Appeal Committee to make submissions and answer questions; and
  • such other procedures as the Appeal Committee deem appropriate.

e.  The Appeal Committee will render a decision, in writing, within twenty (20) working days of the completion of the appeal process.

f.  The Appeal Committee may uphold, overturn or vary the decision of the Formal Investigation.

g.  The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and binding. The decision of the Appeal Committee will be sent to the Complainant and the Respondent and, where appropriate, the funding agency.

7.    Privacy and Confidentiality

a.  The Dean OARGS will be responsible for keeping and controlling access to records. Such records will be kept in accordance with the Institute’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Policy.

b.  The privacy of both the Complainant and the Respondent will be protected as far as is possible, given the need for due process in pursuing an investigation and reporting the findings.

c.  In the case of the allegation of misconduct in research being dismissed, the file will be destroyed at the conclusion of the appeal process or after the time for filing a notice of appeal or applying for judicial review has elapsed and no notice or application has been filed, whichever is later.

Last updated June 22, 2015