Suspected research misconduct

If you suspect that fabrication, falsification or plagiarism of research results take place, you should submit a complaint. The same goes for other deviations from good research practice.

 

Photo: Communications Office

Taking an ethical approach in the research process means that researchers safeguard both research subjects and the knowledge that is sought. Good research and an ethical approach always go hand in hand.

Research misconduct is a serious deviation from the good research practice that all researchers and higher education institutions must follow.

You can submit a complaint of your suspicions

If you suspect deviations from good research practice or research misconduct, you can submit a complaint in writing to registrator@umu.se.

It is beneficial if your report includes your contact details, who the complaint involves, why you suspect research misconduct or deviation from good research practice, and any other details that may be relevant.

If you suspect research misconduct, you can submit a complaint straight to the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (NPOF).

Irrespective of where you submit your complaint to, an assessment is made by each respective authority about which party is to process the complaint.

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.

Deviations from good research practice are investigated by the University

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 can propose to the Vice-Chancellor to dismiss the complaint without further action. 

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 information about how the investigation is conducted is available in Procedures – Supporting good research practice and handling suspected deviations.

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.

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 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.

The suspect is absolved from suspicion

If a person is absolved from suspicion, it is important that Umeå University helps take appropriate measures to remedy any damage resulting from the suspicion. 

The suspect is found guilty 

The Vice-Chancellor decides what measures to take if the investigation concludes that the person is guilty of research misconduct or other deviations from good research practice, regardless of whether NPOF or the Vice-Chancellor made the determination.

It is important that any measures are proportional to the seriousness of the deviation. 

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

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
1/21/2022