Misconduct in Research


Duke University policies and procedures governing misconduct in research establish how allegations or evidence of possible research misconduct will be addressed. The Standing Committee on Misconduct in Research is charged with administering the Duke University policies and procedures governing misconduct in research for the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Duke University Health System.

The misconduct review officer is the individual designated by the institution as responsible for assessing allegations of research misconduct to determine if they fall within the definition of research misconduct as defined in University policy and warrant an inquiry, overseeing inquires and investigations and providing administrative support for the Standing Committee on Misconduct in Research.

Research misconduct is defined in accordance with federal policy as:

  • Fabrication: The making up of data or results and the recording or reporting them;
  • Falsification: The manipulation of research materials, equipment or processes, or the change or omission of data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record;
  • Plagiarism: The appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.

Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion, authorship disputes that do not involve plagiarism, and violations of other University policies.

Reporting Concerns or Allegations of Research Misconduct

Any individual having reason to believe that research misconduct has possibly occurred must report the matter to the misconduct review officer (MRO), their department chair or division chief, dean or other appropriate institutional official. Allegations brought to individuals other than a MRO will be promptly forwarded to the MRO.

Donna Kessler, Ph.D.
Research Integrity Officer
(919) 668-5115

If an individual is unsure whether a suspected incident falls within the definition of research misconduct, he or she may meet with or contact the MRO to discuss the suspected research misconduct informally, which may include discussing it anonymously and/or hypothetically.

If the circumstances described by the individual do not meet the definition of research misconduct, the MRO will refer the individual or allegation to other offices or officials with responsibility for resolving the problem. At any time, an institutional member may have confidential discussions and consultations about concerns of possible misconduct with the RIO and will be counseled about appropriate procedures for reporting allegations.

Concerns about research misconduct should be reported through the Integrity Line: 1-800-826-8109. The Integrity Line is a telephone hotline open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Individuals can call the hotline to report a concern without giving a name. Calls will not be traced. If an individual wants to leave his or her name to help answer questions about the situation, the individual's confidentiality will be protected to the extent the law allows.