other misconduct in the academic environment. For example, information on the disciplinary procedures used to address complaints of incompetence or alleged violations of academic codes of conduct by faculty members or students might be helpful in understanding how to deal with misconduct in science. Lessons could also be derived from the experiences of other federal agencies in the investigation of charges of Medicare or Medicaid fraud; charges alleging fabrication or falsification of scientific data supporting new pharmaceutical products and devices examined by the Food and Drug Administration; and alleged violations of contractor performance in space, defense, agriculture, or energy-related research programs. In exceptional cases, when deliberate institutional cover-ups of misconduct in science investigations are suspected, governmental responses should be guided by the same practices that govern cover-ups of contractor fraud or financial misconduct.

The success of interactions among scientists, university representatives, and government officials in handling allegations of misconduct in science can be assured only if all groups agree about actions that constitute misconduct in science and make a commitment to addressing misconduct in science by invoking consistent, firm, and fair procedures.


The courts have become centrally involved in disputes arising from allegations and investigations of misconduct in science. A researcher who is the subject of an allegation of misconduct may seek judicial examination of the actions of the government or the university following or prior to the completion of an investigation of the allegations. Those whose interests may be affected by misconduct—for example, those with interests in intellectual property that has been appropriated or those with copyright interests—may bring the subject of the allegation before the courts. And in particularly egregious cases of misconduct, the government may pursue criminal charges against the researcher. 22

Only in a few cases have the courts imposed criminal sanctions on scientists found guilty, of misconduct in science and other violations of research regulations. The courts have imposed financial penalties as well as requirements for community service.23 More recently, a court has considered policies and procedures used by the PHS to guide daily operating processes in addressing allegations of misconduct. The court concluded that these statements had not been validly promulgated, and the case is now on appeal.24

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