EFFECTIVE DATE: February 12, 2020
ISSUE #: 3
PRESIDENT: Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz
All members of the university community are expected to follow standards for conduct of
scientific, scholarly, creative, and research activities, including but not limited to, faithful
representation of data, accepting responsibility for the integrity of all work undertaken and
reported individually or collectively, and accurate disclosure of all facts pertaining to all
education and research and scholarly/creative activities.
This PS states the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) policy and procedures for
promoting ethical behavior in all research, scholarly and creative activities, and government-sponsored activities, and outlines how to handle allegations of misconduct in scientific,
scholarly, creative, and research activities.
This policy applies to the body of research, scholarly, or creative activity done during an
individual’s period of employment at the university; this policy operates independently from
all other relevant review processes (including annual reviews and promotion and tenure).
Misconduct committed prior to the date of this policy will be subject to the definition of
misconduct in policy at the time of the misconduct, though procedure will operate under the
current policy version.
Given the serious nature and implications of any allegations of misconduct, the university
expects any individual(s) involved in any part of the reporting, inquiry, or investigation of
alleged misconduct to act in good faith and maintain confidentiality.
2.1 Misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other material deviation
from practices commonly accepted in the academic and scientific communities for
proposing, conducting, or reporting results from education, research, and scholarly or
creative activities. Misconduct also refers to retaliation against a person who, acting in
good faith, reports or provides information about suspected or alleged misconduct.
Misconduct compromises the integrity of the individual, colleagues, and/or organization.
All levels of misconduct, whether intentional or unintentional, are subject to disciplinary
action as described in this policy.
2.1.1 Self-plagiarism, otherwise known as text recycling or text reuse, “occurs when
sections of the same text appear (usually unattributed) in more than one of an
author’s own publications.” (Committee on Publication Ethics, 2013)
2.1.2 Fabrication is making up data or results that are recorded and/or reported as
2.1.3 Falsification is the manipulating of research materials, equipment, processes to
misrepresent data or findings, or omitting data or results such that the research and
its results are not accurately represented.
2.1.4 A ghost author is someone “who is omitted from an authorship list despite
qualifying for authorship.” (Committee on Publication Ethics, 2013)
2.1.5 A guest or gift author is someone “who is listed as an author despite not qualifying
for authorship.” (Committee on Publication Ethics, 2013)
2.1.6 Material deviations from practices that are commonly accepted in the academic and
scientific communities include unethical authorship practices (gift authorship,
ghost authorship, or omitting authors who have made a substantive/bona fide (see
section 3.3) contribution to the work in question) in all forums and venues,
falsifying time and effort reports associated with sponsored programs, forging of
authorizing signatures associated with the work, misrepresenting an individual’s
qualifications, failure to obtain prior approval for human subjects research or
animal research intended for publication or presentation, and deviation from other
practices commonly agreed upon within the disciplines. [See section 3.3 for role of
disciplinary faculty in identifying discipline-specific expectations.]
2.2 Inquiry is defined as a stage of preliminary information-gathering and initial fact-finding
to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an
investigation. All inquiry interviews will be digitally recorded.
2.3 Investigation is a formal examination and evaluation of relevant facts to determine
whether misconduct has taken place or, if misconduct has already been confirmed, to
assess its extent and consequences and/or to determine appropriate action. All
investigation hearings will be digitally recorded.
2.4 Relevant Parties is defined as the person(s) against whom the allegations were made, the
person making the allegations, and the funding agency (if a government-sponsored
2.5 Conflict of Interest is defined as per SAM 02.A.09.
2.6 Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, any adverse employment or educational action
taken for making a report of misconduct or otherwise participating under this Policy
3.1 All members of the University community have the responsibility to report those activities
which they believe constitute misconduct, either directly to the Senior Vice President for
Academic and Student Affairs and Provost (SVPASA) or through the UH System
anonymous fraud system. Such individuals reporting in good faith may not be subject to
retaliation, and, as per the SAM 01.C.04, are protected by the Texas Whistleblower Act.
As part of the protection of these individuals, the SVPASA may choose to notify the
individual’s chair and dean to be watchful (without providing specifics of the allegation).
Any actual or threatened retaliation or any act of intimidation to prevent or otherwise
obstruct the reporting of academic misconduct or violation of this policy or the
participation in proceedings relating to academic misconduct may be considered a
separate violation of this or other UHD Policies.
3.2 All research and government-sponsored activities in which members of the University
community engage shall be conducted according to the standards recognized in the
academy for collegiate education, research, and scholarly/creative activities.
3.3 As part of the review of Annual Evaluation and Rank and Tenure criteria, all tenured and
tenure-track faculty in each department must articulate expectations and definitions of
what constitutes a “bona fide” role in scholarly work that would warrant authorship or
similar credit, as well as identify any other expectations particular to the discipline(s)
housed within the department. Each discipline within a department may develop and
submit separate expectations and definitions; all expectations and definitions should be
reviewed and voted on by all tenured and tenure-track faculty within the discipline or
department. Faculty may consult or reference external professional organizations or
resources as part of this task.
The Department Chair should ensure that the faculty undertake this task each year. All
expectations and definitions must be reviewed annually and included with the Rank and
Tenure Criteria, submitted no later than December 15 to the college dean and SVPASA
as per PS 10.A.01.
3.4 All allegations of misconduct involving any sponsored program must be reported to the
appropriate sponsoring agency as per the agency’s guidelines, including science and/or
engineering activities funded by the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of
Health, and/or the National Science Foundation, must be reported according to the steps
delineated in the procedures of these organizations.
3.5 If at any point during the inquiry or investigation phase the number of allegations and/or
respondents expands beyond the capacity for executing the procedures of this policy as
defined below, the Inquiry Team or the Investigating Committee (IC) may request that the
SVPASA, in consultation with the President, expand timelines, resources, and personnel
to accommodate the expanded scope.
4.1 Allegations of misconduct must be reported in writing to the SVPASA or through the UH
System anonymous fraud reporting system for review and action. If the SVPASA has a
possible conflict of interest, the allegation must be reported to the President. In such
instances, duties assigned to the SVPASA in implementing this policy will be
implemented by the President.
4.2 Interim administrative action may be taken by the university and/or the awarding agency
upon receipt of allegations of misconduct scientific, scholarly, creative, and research
activities. The SVPASA will authorize an inquiry into the suspected or alleged misconduct
and determine whether the allegations warrant further investigation as violations of
University policy. Within five working days of the receipt of a misconduct allegation, the
SVPASA must appoint an Inquiry Team and give the team a timeline for completion and
reporting (see section 4.3). The Inquiry Team will include the a representative from the
Provost’s Office who carries faculty rank along with two faculty members chosen from a
pool of four faculty; the pool of four will consist of one elected tenured faculty member
from each college, elected by Faculty Senate procedures for two-year terms.
4.3 The duration of the inquiry period will be 60 to 90 working days determined by the
SVPASA at the beginning of the inquiry, depending on the complexity of the case. The
inquiry timeline should be as timely as possible while allowing for due process and labor
of individuals involved. The inquiry must include a meeting with the subject(s) of the
allegation within 10 days after the Inquiry Team has been appointed. At that meeting, the
Inquiry Team will inform the subject(s) about the timeline for this phase and provide a
brief overview of this policy and process.
The inquiry should provide information sufficient to make a recommendation but need not
provide exhaustive coverage of the allegation. This inquiry will result in the Inquiry Report
minimally containing the following information:
- Date inquiry was initiated and date completed;
- Name and title of the person(s) against whom the allegations were made;
- General nature of the allegations;
- The application/grant number (if a government-funded activity);
- Evidence reviewed and persons interviewed; and
- Conclusions. (A recommendation to dismiss, expand, or amend the allegation(s)
or proceed with a formal investigation.)
4.4 Within 10 working days of receiving the Inquiry Report, the SVPASA will notify in
writing relevant parties of the decision—either to dismiss the allegations or to move to an
investigation. At this time, the SVPASA will provide a copy of the Inquiry Report to the
subject(s) of the allegation(s). All evidence and materials related to the inquiry shall be
maintained by the Office of SVPASA for seven years after termination of the inquiry.
4.5 Within 30 working days after the SVPASA makes a decision to initiate a formal
investigation, the SVPASA will appoint an IC. The SVPASA will make available to the
IC the inquiry report along with all supporting materials collected during the inquiry. The
members of the IC will be appointed by the SVPASA in consultation with the Chief
Integrity Officer or a similar member of the Provost’s Office who carries faculty rank and
the President of the Faculty Senate (or Senate President-elect in cases of conflict of interest
or availability). The IC will consist of at least two tenured faculty representatives from
each of the four academic colleges as well as the Chief Integrity Officer or other
representative from the Provost’s Office who carries faculty rank as an ex officio member.
4.6 The IC will meet within 10 working days of being appointed. At its first meeting, the IC
will elect a chair from the appointed faculty members to handle procedural and
administrative matters, as well as communicate the membership of the IC to the subject(s)
of the investigation. The IC will also receive an orientation from the Provost and General
Counsel regarding all relevant department, college, and university policies and
documents. The investigative phase will begin at the meeting of the IC. The length of the
investigative phase will be commensurate with the complexity of the allegations, number
of subjects and witnesses in the investigation, and amount of evidence to be reviewed. The
length of the investigative phase will be documented in the charge to the IC with
justification by the Provost, with a maximum of 120 days.
4.7 In the course of the investigation, the IC will investigate and address all allegations of
misconduct identified in the original allegation(s), and those that arise as a result of the
inquiry and investigative process. The IC may conduct interviews, seek advice, request
materials, or seek testimony material to the case.
4.8 The IC shall insure confidentiality of all related proceedings to the extent possible and
shall undertake diligent efforts to protect the position, anonymity, and reputation of all
parties in the investigation.
4.9 As part of its process, the IC must invite the subject(s) of the allegation to appear before
the IC. If the subject(s) chooses to meet with the IC, he/she/they will be given sufficient
time to present his/her/their case, which may include documents, written arguments,
witnesses, and/or statements from external parties (which must be verifiable by the IC).
The IC may ask questions of the subject(s) and any witnesses during this meeting. At this
meeting, the subject(s) may have legal counsel or an advisor but must speak for
himself/herself/themself. Written notification of the presence of legal counsel or an
advisor by either the IC or the subject(s) must be provided to all parties at least one week
in advance of the planned meeting. The subject(s) of the allegation will has/have access
to all evidence available to the IC, including recordings of interviews with other parties.
The subject(s) may also submit information to the IC at any point during the investigation
phase. The subject(s) of the investigation may communicate with the elected IC chair or
the Chief Integrity Officer or other provost’s office IC representative regarding questions
or concerns about the process, or contact the UHD Faculty Ombuds. If those individuals
cannot address the questions or concerns, they will suggest an alternate source.
4.10 A record of the proceedings and all related documentation shall be maintained by the IC
chair throughout the investigative process. All interviews conducted as part of the
investigation will be recorded. Breach of confidentiality by relevant parties may be
grounds .action under existing university policy or procedure.
4.11 Within the given timeframe for the investigation, the IC will conclude its work, and issue
a formal report summarizing its findings and conclusions with respect to all allegations of
misconduct, which may include a majority and minority report. The formal IC report is an
advisory document for the SVPASA, who will consider the report along with other policy
violations, or findings of misconduct for each subject. The formal IC report, the record of
the proceedings and all related documentation will be forwarded to the SVPASA. Within
10 working days of receiving the IC report, the SVPASA will forward copies of the report
to the relevant parties.
4.12 All documentation related to the inquiry and investigation proceedings shall be retained
for seven years in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic and Student
Affairs and Provost.
4.13 Penalties and Appeals
4.13.1 Within 20 working days of receipt of the report, the SVPASA shall weigh the
collected evidence, testimony, and findings of the inquiry and investigation to
determine whether research misconduct has occurred. The SVPASA may consult
with IC as part of this review. Consonant with the seriousness and intentionality
of the offense, if the SVPASA determines that misconduct has occurred, the
SVPASA may impose disciplinary measures which include, but are not limited
to, a written notice to the employee, withholding of pay raises for a period of time,
notification of the offense to pertinent organizations and publishers, or initiating
dismissal procedures within the regulations of the University. The sanctions must
be communicated in writing to the subject(s) of the investigation. If misconduct
occurs related to any sponsored program, the SVPASA will notify the sponsoring
agency as per the agency’s guidelines. The SVPASA will notify the IC and parties
whose decisions may need to consider such information including Rank and
Tenure Committees, Department Chair, and Dean, of any sanctions.
4.13.2 Sanctions imposed by the funding agency, if misconduct occurs in a government-sponsored activity, range from minimal restrictions to suspension or termination
of an active award, loss of funding and/or debarment or suspension of an
individual, a department, or the University from participating in government-sponsored programs.
4.13.3 The subject of the investigation may appeal the sanctions imposed to the
President. This written appeal must occur within 30 working days of the receipt
of the sanctions. The President has 30 working days to render a written decision
on the appeal. The President’s decision will be final and binding.
Responsible Party (Reviewer): Assistant Vice President for Research and Sponsored
Review: Every three years on or before May 1st.
Signed original on file in Employment Services and Operations.
Issue #1: 10/16/95
Issue # 2: 08/17/15
Issue # 3: 02/12/20
Committee on Publication Ethics. (2013). How to spot authorship problems.
Committee on Publication Ethics. (n.d.) Text Recycling Guidelines.