CSU Policy: Research and Research-Related Misconduct

Policy Title: Research and Research-Related Misconduct Category: Research
Owner: Vice President for Research Policy ID#: 7-2001-006
Research Integrity & Compliance Review Office (RICRO)
Web: https://www.research.colostate.edu/ricro
Phone: (970) 491-1553
Original Effective Date: 2/22/2010
Last Revision: 7/6/2021
Print Version: Click Here to Print
Attachments to this Policy:


Professional misconduct is unacceptable in all forms. CSU is committed to upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct. We seek to empower our faculty, staff and students to model ethical behavior in the proposing, performing, reviewing and publishing of all research and scholarly endeavors. In addition, federal agency regulations require that CSU have and maintain robust policies and procedures addressing research misconduct (also called “misconduct in science”). The purpose of this policy is to require the ethical conduct of research and define the responsibilities of those who conduct and oversee research and scholarly activities at the University.


This policy applies to all members of the Colorado State University community, including academic faculty, students, administrative professionals, state classified personnel, and postdoctoral fellows, both with respect to reporting situations and to being named a Respondent in a situation.

This policy and all related procedures apply to every person who, at the time of the alleged research misconduct or research-related misconduct, was employed by, was an agent of, or was affiliated by contract or agreement with the University.


Allegation: Written notice to the institution or the Responsible Official of the institution, that wrongdoing is suspected or known to have occurred. An allegation should be stated with the greatest degree of specificity possible under the circumstances.

Appeal: An opportunity for review, pursuant to this policy, of the final determination of the Investigation.

Complainant: An individual who makes the allegation of Misconduct. There can be more than one Complainant in any Inquiry or Investigation.

Confidentiality: The obligation to refrain from disclosing allegations, the identities of the parties involved in the process described herein, or communications, records, or information generated as part or learned as a result of the process to others including the existence of the allegation, except to those as identified and authorized by the Vice President for Research (VPR) as having a “need to know.” In addition to Respondents and Complainants, individuals having a “need to know” could include research collaborators, research assistants, government funding or regulatory agencies, etc. Confidentiality will apply while the investigation is ongoing. At the conclusion of the Investigation and after the close of the final appeals window, the VPR may permit public dissemination of the official findings.

Conflict of Interest: A real or apparent bias, resulting from a familial, financial, or close collegial or other relationship, now or in the past, with any of the parties involved, which would prevent one from being objective if serving on an Inquiry Committee or Investigation Committee.

Determination: The ultimate finding(s) of an Inquiry Committee or Investigation Committee regarding an allegation of Misconduct.

Fabrication: Making up data or results and recording or reporting them as actual or real data or results.

Falsification: Manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research materials, equipment, processes, data or results are not accurately represented in the research record.

Inquiry: The initial sixty-day period for information-gathering, preliminary fact finding, and evaluation of an allegation to determine whether an allegation may have substance and an Investigation is warranted.

Investigation: The formal review (90 days) of an allegation of Research Related Misconduct after a Pre-Inquiry of Research Misconduct that occurs when the Inquiry determines that an allegation has substance and an Investigation is warranted. The purpose of the Investigation is to explore in detail the allegations, to examine relevant evidence in depth, and to determine whether the evidence supports a finding that Misconduct has been committed, by whom, and to what extent, and to recommend institutional sanctions and report the findings to the Vice President for Research (VPR).

Misdeed: A questionable or unacceptable practice that does not rise to the severity of Misconduct but deserves corrective action or sanctions and is otherwise contrary to CSU policy. For example, a Misdeed would include retaliation of any kind against a person who has, in good faith, reported or provided information about suspected or alleged Misconduct or who has acted pursuant to this policy. Misconduct: Research Misconduct or Research-Related Misconduct as defined herein.

Plagiarism: The appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Preponderance of the Evidence: The standard for weighing evidence that requires a showing that it is more probable than not that Misconduct occurred. The greater weight of the evidence; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other. This is the customary standard in civil trial cases.

Research Integrity Officer (RIO): The RIO is appointed by the VPR to ensure that institutional procedural responsibilities are met concerning Misconduct issues. The RIO reports to the VPR and fosters standardized processing of allegations and institutional consistency. The RIO monitors situations for potential retaliation and reports suspected retaliation to the VPR. The RIO assists all institutional representatives in implementing these procedures and meeting standards and requirements imposed by external entities. The RIO is responsible for maintenance of all files and evidence. Should the RIO need to recuse from a case, the VPR shall designate a substitute RIO for that case.

Research Misconduct: Research Misconduct means and includes Fabrication, Falsification, or Plagiarism in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reporting research results, where federal funding is involved. Research Misconduct does not include honest error or difference of opinion.

Research-Related Misconduct: Research-Related Misconduct does not include honest error or difference of opinion. Colorado State University will consider the following to be Research-Related Misconduct when it occurs in proposing, performing or reviewing research or reporting research result

  1. Research Misconduct as defined above where federal funding is not involved, including Fabrication, Falsification, and Plagiarism; 
  2. Intentionally misleading or deliberately false reporting of credentials and related information; 
  3. Abuse of confidentiality with respect to unpublished materials and data;
  4. Misappropriation of research materials including, without limitation, research data;
  5. Knowing evasion of, or intentional failure to comply, after notice, with research regulations such as those governing human subjects, laboratory animals and radioactive materials;
  6. Failing to promptly disclose (a) actual or potential conflicts of commitment or conflicts of interest, or (b) foreign collaborations, funding sources, or intellectual property transfers; and
  7. Ordering, suggesting or advising that subordinates engage in Misconduct.

If any of the foregoing occur in the preparation or submission of academic assignments including papers by a graduate or undergraduate student, these issues may be addressed through other existing university policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, the Student Conduct Code.

Respondent: an individual against whom the allegation of Misconduct has been directed or a person whose actions are the subject of the Inquiry or Investigation. There can be more than one Respondent in any Inquiry or Investigation.

Responsible Official: The VPR is the Responsible Official for the University who will make the final determinations on allegations of Research Misconduct and any university administrative actions taken to address such misconduct (except for employee disciplinary sanctions, which may only be imposed in accordance with policies and procedures of the University, including, for faculty, section E.15 of the Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual).

Retaliation: an action by the University or an employee of the University adversely affecting the employment or institutional status of an individual because he or she has, in good faith, made an allegation of Misconduct, an allegation of inadequate institutional response thereto, or cooperated with the process of examining such an allegation. Retaliation is a violation of this policy and may constitute a violation of other university policies.

Sanctions: Discipline or remedial action imposed on the culpable individual(s).

Sponsor: The governmental agency or private organization which has funded a project at Colorado State University.

Whistleblower: an employee who, in good faith and upon a reasonable belief that conduct has occurred, reports to the RIO suspected wrongful activity of an employee that is in violation of University policy or applicable law. 


Colorado State University is committed to the highest principles of integrity in all its research and scholarly activities. Professional misconduct is unacceptable in all forms. Research Misconduct is a specific type of professional misconduct. This policy governs Research Misconduct as well as Research Related Misconduct. Other types of unprofessional or unethical behavior may be governed by additional university policies and procedures.

The University seeks to emphasize education about ethical issues, to achieve consensus regarding good ethics, and to promote good practices. CSU does not condone verified instances of Research Misconduct or Research-Related Misconduct, and it will pursue violations of this policy vigorously.


Duty to Report Misconduct

All members of the academic community (students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff) have a responsibility to report instances of what they believe in good faith to be a lack of integrity in scholarship and research. Suspected Misconduct must be reported to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) without delay. Examination of such concerns is then a continuation of the search for intellectual truth, not a breach of collegiality. See the Research Misconduct web page for more information.

Misconduct Administrative Procedures

The CSU Research Misconduct and Research-Related Misconduct Administrative Procedures entail convening a Pre-Inquiry Panel to determine whether an allegation of Misconduct may have merit. Meritorious allegations are referred to an Inquiry Panel to determine if there is sufficient evidence of potential misconduct that an investigation is warranted. If such evidence is found, the University will convene an Investigation Panel to determine whether Misconduct has occurred.

The recommendations of these faculty panels are then forwarded to the Institutional Officer (the VPR ) for possible institutional action. The findings may also be forwarded to the applicable federal agency’s Office of Research Integrity or similar authority, which may impose penalties at the federal level. The entire process is guided by the CSU RIO.

All members of the University are responsible for cooperating with the RIO and other institutional officials in the review of allegations of Misconduct and the conduct of inquiries and investigations.

Confidentiality; Whistleblower; Retaliation

While Misconduct procedures are ongoing, all of those involved in the process must refrain from disclosing to others any allegations, identities of the parties involved in the process, communications, records, or information generated as part of or learned as a result of the misconduct process, including the existence of an allegation, to the fullest extent possible, except where disclosure is required by law, is made to those employees who are necessarily part of an Inquiry or Investigation, or to those as identified and authorized by the VPR as having a “need to know.” A breach of confidentiality is a violation of the Code of Ethical Behavior in the Academic Faculty and Administrative and Professional Manual and the Student Conduct Code and may be grounds for disciplinary action. At the conclusion of the investigation of the alleged Misconduct and after the close of the final appeals window, the VPR may permit public dissemination of the official findings by the Research Integrity Officer, and such dissemination would be in compliance with applicable University policy and law.

The University is committed to protecting individuals from Retaliation for making a good-faith report of possible violations of this policy. An individual may not retaliate against any Whistleblower for having made a good faith report of a suspected violation or participating in any way in these misconduct procedures. Individuals may not use or attempt to use authority or influence related to their University position or association to interfere with another individual’s rights to make a report of violation as provided for in this policy.

The University will adhere to state and federal laws that protect employees from any adverse action taken in response to a Whistleblower's actions.


Compliance with this policy is required. For assistance with interpretation or application of this policy, contact the Research Integrity & Compliance Review Office.


Research Integrity and Compliance Review Office (RICRO)

Administrative Procedures for Research Misconduct Policy


Policy approved February 22, 2010.

Revisions approved by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations on July 6, 2021.


Print Version: Click Here to Print

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