Policies for Handling Allegations of Research Misconduct

(Adopted by Council on November 10, 2002)

Research misconduct, defined as fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results, is an egregious departure from the expected norms of scientific conduct. It can lead significant numbers of other scientists along fruitless paths. It diminishes the vital trust that scientists have in each other. It undermines public confidence in science. It is imperative, therefore, that the institutions responsible for the funding and performance of scientific research, as well as the relevant professional societies, take appropriate steps to discourage such conduct and have policies and procedures in place to deal with allegations of misconduct.

The Council of the American Physical Society and its Panel on Public Affairs have undertaken a reassessment of the Society's policies and practices relevant to professional ethics. As part of that assessment, the Council has recognized that the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct of December 6, 2000, which is attached, has become a cornerstone of efforts in the United States to maintain the integrity of the scientific literature. The Policy, which applies to all Federal agencies that fund research, defines research misconduct, delineates responsibilities of the involved organizations and provides procedural guidelines for dealing with allegations of misconduct in federally funded research. It has been used effectively by both university-managed federal laboratories and private corporations in dealing with accusations of scientific misconduct.

Implementation of this policy by all Federal agencies that fund research - and by all U.S. institutions performing physics research - will be a significant advance in ensuring the proper treatment of allegations of research misconduct.

The Council of the American Physical Society, therefore, urges:

  • All Federal agencies to complete and publish their implementation plans, as called for in the Preamble to the attached Federal Policy on Research Misconduct.
  • All research institutions that receive Federal research funding to establish implementation plans that are consistent with the attached Federal policy.
  • All research institutions that do not receive Federal research funding to develop policies and implementation plans that are consistent with the attached Federal Policy if they have not already done so.

Download PDF version of December 6, 2000 Federal Policy on Research Misconduct.