Procedures for investigating allegations

Cooperation between research institutions and journals on research integrity cases
To provide guidance on investigating possible misconduct. These guidelines focus on the roles of institutions and journals but we hope they may help funders to develop their own policies to foster research integrity and responsible conduct of research in collaboration with institutions and journals.
Investigations into possible misconduct should generally be undertaken by the researcher’s institution and not by editors. If a journal has published unreliable or fraudulent information, the editor has a duty to correct or retract this. However, responsibility for disciplining researchers and ensuring they do not commit further misconduct lies with their institution / employer. Therefore, even when faced with apparently strong evidence of misconduct (e.g. plagiarism or inappropriate image manipulation), and a clear need to correct the published record, editors should liaise with institutions and ensure they are informed. Journals also need to work with institutions when disputes arise between researchers (e.g. about authorship). As with research misconduct, journals are not in a position to investigate or resolve such disputes, but should refer them to the relevant institution(s). The following guidelines are therefore based on the principle that institutions have responsibilities for the conduct of their researchers, which include investigating possible misconduct and applying appropriate sanctions, while journals are responsible for what they publish. While these guidelines encourage exchange of information between institutions and journals regarding cases of possible and proven misconduct, we recognize that full disclosure may sometimes be restricted by considerations of confidentiality (e.g. to protect the identity of a whistleblower), conventions about confidential communication (e.g. peer review comments), and legal considerations.
Reference of the resource
Cooperation between research institutions and journals on research integrity cases: guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), E. Wager, S. Kleinert on behalf of COPE Council, 2012.
Dealing with breaches of RI
Procedures for investigating allegations
Type of resource:
Relevant discipline(s):
Relevant stakeholder(s):
Post-graduate students
PhD candidates
Early career researchers
Senior researchers
Researchers in industry
Tenured faculty members
Research administrators
Members of Research Ethics Committees
Members of Research Integrity Offices/Bodies
RPO senior management staff (Rectors, Deans)
Peer reviewers
Relevant organisational level(s):
System (macro level)
Institution (meso level)
Published/put into force: