If you are being investigated for research misconduct

If you are a suspect of research misconduct or other deviation from good research practice, the University or the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct will conduct an investigation. Being the subject of investigation for research misconduct or deviation from good research practice can be trying and stressful.

 

Photo: Communications Office

These pages describe how an investigation is processed and what support is available.

Through dialogue with your manager, you can get support if you need it. Your manager is responsible for making sure that potential work environment related consequences of the complaint against you are dealt with.

Who are informed of a complaint?

One of the university’s legal officers, in consultation with the Vice-Chancellor, always makes an initial assessment of the case. When the case is opened for processing, the dean responsible for your part of the organisation, as well as your manager will be contacted. Your manager will in turn contact you.

If any research funding organisations requested to be notified of suspected research misconduct or deviations from good research practice when they granted funding, they will also be informed.

How does an investigation work? 

Depending on the type of deviation, an investigation is carried out by two different parties – the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (NPOF) when it comes to research misconduct, or by an investigative team at Umeå University when it comes to other deviations from good research practice.

When a complaint has been received by the University, one of the university’s legal officers makes an initial assessment of the case to determine if the case is to be processed by Umeå University or NPOF.

Suspected deviations from good research practice are investigated by the University

Statute of limitations

Cases based on circumstances older than ten years when the case is initiated are not examined, unless special reasons exist.

When a complaint has been filed

If the complaint concerns deviations from good research practice, the dean at the faculty at which the suspicion has arisen proposes what individuals are most suitable to investigate the case. Selection is made among pre-proposed team members who all have extensive experience of research and the respect of the research community.

Investigation procedure

If the investigative team immediately determines that the complaint is unfounded, the team may propose to the Vice-Chancellor to dismiss the complaint without further actions.

During the investigation, the investigative team gathers facts, and the accused party is given the opportunity to respond in writing to the complaint. If necessary, the investigative team will also contact other authorities.

The investigative team submits a written report to the Vice-Chancellor when the investigation is complete describing the conclusions and proposed measures.

More details regarding the investigation can be found in the procedures.

The Vice-Chancellor reaches the final decision

The Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University reaches the final decision based on the written report that the investigative team submits. The Vice-Chancellor can decide that

  • no deviation from good research practice has taken place, or
  • one or several deviations from good research practice have taken place, and if they occurred intentionally or through gross negligence.

Suspected research misconduct is investigated by NPOF

The National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (NPOF) is responsible for investigating suspected research misconduct. More information about assessments by NPOF can be found on www.oredlighetsprovning.se/in-english.

The Vice-Chancellor decides on potential measures

The Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University decides on any potential measures based on the conclusions of the case, regardless of whether the case was investigated by NPOF or internally within Umeå University. 

If you are found not guilty

If you are found not guilty, it is important that Umeå University helps by taking appropriate measures to remedy any damage resulting from the suspicion or the processing of the case.

The dean of each faculty is responsible for ensuring that the measures decided upon by the Vice-Chancellor are implemented.

If the investigation finds you guilty

If the investigation of the case finds you guilty of the charges you have been reported for, it is important that any counter measures are proportional to the seriousness of the behaviour.

Measures can be determined based on how severely the offence has damaged research processes, negatively affected relations between researchers, undermined trust and credibility of research at the University, been wasteful with regards to resources, or exposed the research subjects, users of the research, society or the environment to unnecessary harm.

Relevant research funding organisations, authorities, scholarly journals and other relevant parties are to be informed.

The dean of each faculty is responsible for ensuring that the measures decided upon by the Vice-Chancellor are implemented.

In cases of misuse of office or neglect of duty

If the investigation shows that you are also found guilty of misuse of office or neglect of duty, this will be processed separately. Misuse of office is defined in Chapter 20 of the Swedish Penal Code (1962:700) and neglect of duty is defined in Section 14 of the Public Employment Act (1994:260).

Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials (SAN)

The Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials (SAN) processes misuse of office or neglect of duty performed by professors. The Vice-Chancellor decides if a case is to be handed over to SAN. SAN then decides whether disciplinary measures are to be taken or if the case is to be referred for prosecution.

Read more about the Government Disciplinary Board for Higher Officials

The University’s Staff Disciplinary Board (PAN)

The University’s Staff Disciplinary Board (PAN) processes misuse of office or neglect of duty for other staff, other than professors, that is.

Read more about the Staff Disciplinary Board at Umeå University

Definitions

Deviations from good research practice

Deviations from good research practice is misdemeanour that harms or risk harming the research process, the integrity of the research or the researcher. This could be issues of co-authorship.

Research misconduct

Research misconduct is a serious deviation from good research practice in the form of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism (sometimes referred to as FFP), whether intentional or through gross negligence. 

Reports regarding events that occurred over ten years ago are subject for statutory limitation.

Lag om ansvar för god forskningssed och prövning av oredlighet i forskning [Act on Responsibility for Good Research Practice and Examination of Research Misconduct] (2019:504)

Anja Axelsson
4/1/2022