Reporting suspected research misconduct
How is an allegation reported?
Misconduct cases can be initiated in three different ways:
- An entity responsible for research may submit a case to Npof.
- An individual or another government agency may report the matter.
- Npof may take up a case of alleged research misconduct that has otherwise come to our knowledge.
The entity responsible for research is obliged to submit a case to Npof if research misconduct may be suspected to have taken place in the work. The threshold for when a submission should take place must be low. According to the preparatory legislative work, the notion of “suspected misconduct” must be interpreted generously, so that all cases that may entail misconduct are investigated by Npof. Accordingly, if it is unclear whether the matter is a case of suspected research misconduct or a breach of good research practice in general, the entity responsible for the research should provide documents relating to the case for Npof to assess.
If a case relates to other breaches of good research practice, the entity responsible for research has a continuing obligation to investigate such breaches.
Individuals and agencies
An individual and another agency may contact Npof directly to report suspicions of misconduct. The purpose of this option, according to the preparatory legislative work, is to improve the prospects of all cases of suspected misconduct being investigated. It also facilitates the situation for complainants unaware of which entity responsible for research they should contact about such suspicions. The option of reporting a matter directly to Npof is also intended to serve as a kind of control function, so that cases do not stop at an assessment by the entity responsible.
To find out what we would like the documentation of alleged misconduct to contain, refer to the list of documentary evidence to be sent with an individual’s allegation.
Npof can investigate suspected misconduct on its own initiative. For example, we may do so if, in a case investigation, we find an additional occurrence of misconduct besides that originally reported, or if details of suspected misconduct reach Npof by other means, such as through the media.