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CALS issues scientific misconduct policy for graduate students and postdoctoral research associates

The College has finalized its Scientific Misconduct Policy for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows. It is posted on the CALS Research Policies page on the CALS Research Division website at http://www.cals.wisc.edu/research/Policies/policies.html. You can also download a copy here. The text of the policy follows:

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Scientific Misconduct Policy for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Introduction
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences strives to foster the highest scholarly and ethical standards among its students, faculty, and staff. Though extremely rare, we realize there are times when misconduct may occur in our midst and that it is our responsibility to take steps to rectify it. This policy is directed to on scientific misconduct and wrongdoing associated with the research process. Such misconduct may occur in the preparation of grant proposals or in the investigative process, including publication and communication of research findings. For additional details on how scientific misconduct is defined, please see the Federal Research Misconduct Policy from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, located on the website of the Office of Research Integrity at http://www.ori.dhhs.gov/. Academic misconduct, or that strictly associated with instruction, is managed separately at UW-Madison through the Office of the Dean of Students. Details on this process can be found at http://www.wisc.edu/students/saja/misconduct/misconduct.html.

Graduate students and research associates are among the most vulnerable groups when reporting misconduct because their source of financial support and the progress in their careers may be at risk by raising questions of wrongdoing. They are also often the closest witnesses to wrongdoing when it occurs and therefore must be appropriately protected from the consequences of reporting wrongdoing and be informed of their rights.

To this end, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has developed a policy to apply in cases where disclosed information has the potential to jeopardize status, appointment, funding, and degree progress.

College Policy
The Dean’s Office of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will use its best effort to secure funding for CALS graduate students, including Research Assistants, Fellows, and Trainees, and research associates whose positions and funding may be jeopardized by his/her good faith disclosure of scientific misconduct. Graduate and postdoctoral study represents unique endeavors that cannot always be supervised by interchangeable advisors. There may be circumstances where considerable research time is lost and/or when it becomes necessary for students to find a new advisor or research associates to find a new supervisor or advisor and in some cases, it may not be possible for the Dean’s Office to provide an advisor or supervisor at UW-Madison or to secure funds to support the affected students and research associates. However, it is our goal to support and protect our students and research associates from circumstances arising because of their good faith disclosure of wrongdoing and misconduct that is not their fault and to encourage them to step forward and report misconduct that they may witness. It is, however, important to recognize that unfounded or bad faith allegations of scientific misconduct have a serious impact on the individual accused of the wrongdoing even when the allegations are proven wrong. Students are reminded that under UWS 17, “Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures”, disciplinary sanctions may be imposed for knowingly making a false statement to any university employee or agents regarding a university matter.

Procedures
Graduate students and research associates should report wrongdoing or misconduct to their faculty advisor or supervisor, or if necessary, the department Chair. Faculty advisors and supervisors should discuss the situation with department Chairs, who in turn should to discuss the situation with the CALS Associate Dean for Research. At any time in this process, and particularly if a witness does not believe that due attention has been given to a written report of wrongdoing, the Associate Dean for Research may be consulted and will serve as the college’s main point of contact in such matters.

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