The University of Miami investigates and resolves allegations of research misconduct as directed by the Vice Provost for Research. Research misconduct includes fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism of research.
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. According to Assessing Research Misconduct Allegations Involving Clinical Research, fabrication would be alleged in the following scenarios:
- Completing a questionnaire for a fictitious subject that was never interviewed. Refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Research Integrity’s site: Can Survey Research Staff Commit Research Misconduct?
- Creating a data set for an experiment that was never actually conducted
- Adding fictitious data to a real data set collected during an actual experiment for the purpose of providing additional statistical validity
- Inserting a clinical note into the research record to indicate compliance with an element of the protocol
Fabrication of data is rendered punishable when the false data is incorporated into the official study notebook, submitted to a funding agency, or publicly disseminated through the process of publication, patent application, or at a public forum such as a professional meeting, seminar, or symposium, regardless of whether the data is subsequently published or not.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. Falsification also includes the selective omission/deletion/suppression of conflicting data without scientific or statistical justification.
- Altering data to render a modification of the variances in the data
- Falsifying dates and experimental procedures in the study notebook
- Misrepresenting results from statistical analysis
- Misrepresenting the methods of an experiment such as the model (e.g., cell line) used to conduct the experiment
- Adding false or misleading statements in the manuscript or published paper; for example, the misrepresentation of “n”
- Falsifying research accomplishments by publishing the same research results in multiple papers (self-plagiarism)
- Falsifying data in a continuation application for research supported by U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) funds
- Misrepresenting the materials or methods of a research study in a published paper
- Providing false statements about the extent of a research study in an abstract submitted for publication and oral presentation at a professional society meeting
- Falsifying telephone call attempts to collect data for a survey study such as in a federally funded program to determine risk factors for new mothers and babies
Examples of Falsification in Clinical Studies
According to Assessing Research Misconduct Allegations Involving Clinical Research, fabrication would be alleged in the following scenarios:
- Substituting one subject’s record for that of another subject
- Falsely reporting to a data coordinating center that certain clinical trial staff, who were certified to perform the procedures on the subjects, had done so, when they had not
- Altering the dates and results from subjects’ eligibility visits
- Altering the dates on patient screening logs and/or submitting the same log with altered dates on multiple occasions
- Failing to update the patients’ status and representing data from prior contacts as being current
- Altering the results of particular tests on blood samples to show that the test accurately predicted a disease or relapse
- Backdating follow-up interviews to fit the time window determined by the study protocol
- Falsifying the times that blood samples were drawn from human subjects
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property and is not unlike stealing from a commercial business. A special case of plagiarism is the unacceptable practice of “self-plagiarism” in which an author will use segments of his/her own published material (e.g., the methods section of a scientific paper) in a new publication without reference.
Although the University of Miami has established strict policies against plagiarism by students, there are currently no web-based courses on plagiarism available.
- Comprehensive Plagiarism Site from the University of Illinois
- What is Plagiarism? by S.E. Van Bramer, Widener University
- Identifying Plagiarism The History News Network provides definitions of plagiarism from the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association, and the American Psychological Association.
- Articles on Composition and Plagiarism by Rebecca Moore Howard, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University, one of the most well-known researchers in this area. Dr. Howard presented a seminar at the University of Miami in September 2002 and a video of the talk is available from the Office of Research Education & Training (305) 243-7970.
- Online Ethics Center of the National Academy of Engineering offers resources for understanding and addressing ethically significant problems that arise for scientists and engineers.