Allegations of Misconduct
Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, citation manipulation, or plagiarism in producing, performing, or reviewing research and writing an article by authors, or in reporting research results. When authors are found to have been involved with research misconduct or other serious irregularities involving articles that have been published in scientific journals, Editors have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the scientific record.
In cases of suspected misconduct, the Editors and Editorial Board will use the best practices of COPE to assist them to resolve the complaint and address the misconduct fairly. This will include an investigation of the allegation by the Editors. A submitted manuscript that is found to contain such misconduct will be rejected. In cases where a published paper is found to contain such misconduct, a retraction can be published and will be linked to the original article.
The first step involves determining the validity of the allegation and an assessment of whether the allegation is consistent with the definition of research misconduct. This initial step also involves determining whether the individuals alleging misconduct have relevant conflicts of interest.
If scientific misconduct or the presence of other substantial research irregularities is a possibility, the allegations are shared with the corresponding author, who, on behalf of all of the coauthors, is requested to provide a detailed response. After the response is received and evaluated, additional review and involvement of experts (such as statistical reviewers) may be obtained. For cases in which it is unlikely that misconduct has occurred, clarifications, additional analyses, or both, published as letters to the editor, and often including a correction notice and correction to the published article are sufficient.
Institutions are expected to conduct an appropriate and thorough investigation of allegations of scientific misconduct. Ultimately, authors, journals, and institutions have an important obligation to ensure the accuracy of the scientific record. By responding appropriately to concerns about scientific misconduct, and taking necessary actions based on evaluation of these concerns, such as corrections, retractions with replacement, and retractions, Organization and Human Capital Development will continue to fulfill the responsibilities of ensuring the validity and integrity of the scientific record.