We all have a role to play in building a culture of excellence in UBC’s research community — including through the responsible conduct of research.
We hope that the guides and information provided through this site have helped identify how and where to implement scholarly integrity practices within your research. But what should you do if you suspect that something has occurred which undermines scholarly integrity? And how can you respond if an accusation of misconduct involves your work?
You have defined rights and responsibilities either as a person reporting suspected misconduct or when responding to an accusation through UBC’s Scholarly Integrity Policy.
What is a breach of scholarly integrity?
A breach of scholarly integrity can include failure to comply with any applicable funding applications and agreements, university and other policies, standards of the relevant profession or discipline, and laws and regulations.
Scholarly misconduct can occur intentionally or as the result of an honest mistake. While the researcher’s intention does not change whether or not scholarly misconduct can be found during an investigation, it may be taken into consideration when determining any actions that result from the investigation process.
Scholarly misconduct includes, but is not limited to:
Falsifying data, source material, methodologies or findings, and/or when the above are missing, or cannot be traced to their original source.
Manipulating, changing, or omitting data, source material or methodologies without acknowledgement and when doing so results in inaccurate findings or conclusions.
Destruction of Research Records
Destroying research records to specifically hide wrongdoing or when destroying such records violates applicable laws, policies, regulations, and/or professional or disciplinary standards.
Presenting and using another person’s published or unpublished work without appropriately referencing them and/or, when required, without having obtained permission to use their theories, concepts, data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images.
Redundant Publication or Self-Plagiarism
Re-publishing one’s own previously published work or part thereof, including data, in any language, without adequately acknowledging the source or justifying the re-publication.
Providing authorship credit to persons who have not made substantial contributions to the work or who are not considered responsible for it (e.g. honourary authorship).
Failing to appropriately recognize contributors (e.g. ghost authorship).
Mismanagement of a Conflict of Interest
Failing to appropriately identify and address any real, potential or perceived conflict of interest.
Misrepresentation for, or Mismanagement of, Grants or Award Funds
Misrepresenting information during a funding application process or using grant or award funds for anything other than the designated purpose for which they were awarded.
Breach of Policy or Requirements for Certain Types of Research
Failing to obtain appropriate approvals, permits, or certifications before proceeding with certain types of research activities for which they are required, such as research involving animal subjects or human participants.
If you know, or have reason to believe, that any of the above has taken place, you have a duty to report it.
How to distinguish between scholarly and academic misconduct
The University of British Columbia distinguishes between scholarly misconduct and academic misconduct.
Academic misconduct applies to instances of a student or people engaging in, attempting to engage in or assisting others to engage in actions such as cheating, plagiarism, falsifying records or other conduct that occurs during graded assignments established by instructors for specific courses at the university. Allegations of academic misconduct are sent to the President’s Advisory Committees on Student Discipline. These committees are responsible for determining whether misconduct has occurred. The committees' findings are reported to the president, who is responsible for decisions about discipline or other consequences.
Scholarly misconduct, by comparison, involves some of the same behaviours (e.g. plagiarism, fabricating research data), and could involve others ( e.g. misuse of grant funds, undeclared conflicts of interest or inappropriate authorship). The distinction between academic and scholarly misconduct is generally made based on whether the work in question is intended for publication. For example, an instance of a student's paper containing plagiarized material but which was not intended for publication would be considered by the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. However, if that same paper was published or going to be published, then it would trigger an investigation under the Scholarly Integrity Policy.
Who to talk to
Consultations and inquiries related to scholarly integrity are confidential.
Please contact the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation with any questions about reporting and responding to potential scholarly misconduct. Consultations and inquiries are confidential. In exceptional circumstances, for example where there are significant concerns about health or safety, or if required by law, it may be necessary to disclose the matter to other units at UBC or to investigate the matter under the Scholarly Integrity Policy.
Contact the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
Director, Vice-President Research & Innovation Portfolio
Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
UBC’s process of inquiry and investigation is designed to protect your rights as a complainant and to protect you from retaliation or penalty if your allegation is made in good faith. However, you have a responsibility to ensure your allegation is made in good faith.
In addition to the information available from the university, the Tri-Agency provides resources on the responsible conduct of research that you may find helpful in understanding how and why an allegation should be considered.
- Tri-Agency definition of a breach of responsible conduct of research
- Understanding good faith and confidentiality
- What is a responsible allegation?
- Tri-Agency template for making an allegation of misconduct
UBC’s process of inquiry and investigation is designed to remain fair and to protect your rights as the person responding to an allegation of misconduct. As outlined in UBC’s Scholarly Integrity Policy, you have a right to:
- Have an opportunity to respond to the allegation(s)
- Access a representative or support person at any time during the inquiry or investigation process. You are also encouraged to consult with your employee association or union.
Benefit from reasonable efforts by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation to protect or restore your reputation if scholarly misconduct is not found
As the respondent, you are required to fully cooperate with the investigation and retain clear documentation of any information that may be relevant to the investigation process.
The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation does not become directly involved in investigations of scholarly misconduct once they are initiated. Anyone may contact the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation to seek clarification on how the Scholarly Integrity Policy is administered at UBC.
Canada’s Tri-Agency also provides interpretations and definitions that may be of use to you in the event you are subject to an allegation of misconduct involving responsible conduct of research.
The investigations process
The VPRI will treat all complaints or allegations made in good faith confidentially and with the utmost care.
Once a complaint or allegation is received, the Vice-President, Research and Innovation will first inquire as to whether or not the allegations are responsible and may warrant an investigation. From there, they may initiate a defined procedure as set out by the Scholarly Integrity Policy. This procedure is designed to remain fair to parties involved in an investigation and to protect the rights of both complainants and respondents.