Chapter 6: Research


Introduction

The University’s Formal Research Program

Section 6.1: Conducting Research

6.1.1 AU Scholarship Incentive Policy
6.1.2 Limited Submission Grant Application Policy
6.1.3 Research Involving Human Subjects
6.1.4 Activities Involving Animal Subjects

Section 6.2: Violations of Research Integrity

6.2.1 Scientific Misconduct Policy
6.2.2 Conflict of Interest Policy

Section 6.3: Research Products

6.3.1 Auburn University Copyright Policy
6.3.2 Auburn University Patent Policy

Section 6.4: Centers and Institutes

6.4.1 Establishment of Centers and Institutes Policy

 

Introduction
The University’s Formal Research Program

Research is essential to the continuing vitality of a large-scale institutional program. All of Auburn’s academic colleges, schools and departments are engaged in research. The University’s research program is coordinated through the Office of Vice President for Research.

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Section 6.1
Conducting Research

6.1.1 AU Scholarship Incentive Policy

Preamble: Externally sponsored academic activity involving university faculty, whether teaching, research, outreach or service, is presumed to satisfy the academic needs of the university and the academically related objectives of the sponsoring agency. The university provides faculty and facilities while the sponsor provides funds for the activities. Because faculty time and effort are required, it is reasonable for the university to request funds from the sponsor to support faculty effort. Whenever possible, it is prudent for the university to dedicate released funds in ways that enhance its academic activities. The purpose of this policy is to provide a direct incentive to faculty who receive extramural funding that includes salary support.

Guiding Principles

  1. When appropriate, sponsoring agencies that have objectives compatible with AU’s academic enterprise may provide funds to support faculty time and effort. Such funds should be substituted for AU funds (state funds, endowment, etc.) that have been dedicated to faculty members’ base salaries.

  2. Eligible funds released when a faculty activity (i.e., teaching, research, outreach or service) is supported by an extramural grant or contract may be used to create an incentive pool within each department to further its academic activities.

  3. The incentive pool may be used to provide funds for travel, equipment, faculty salary supplements, graduate student support, and other activities that enhance the academic mission.

  4. Each department or unit may determine the manner of distributing its own incentive funds with the intent of providing an incentive to the faculty member generating the funds. Departments should review their incentive policy at least every three years.

  5. Incentives for faculty members with joint appointments or with appointments funded from multiple sources should be negotiated between the funding units.

  6. The base salary or contract salary of individual faculty members may not be altered by the receipt of incentive salary.

  7. This policy does not restrict the amount that may be secured for summer salary for faculty with nine-month appointments.

  8. The particular incentive(s) to be received, as described in item 3 above, are to be negotiated between the faculty member receiving the eligible extramural funding and the appropriate department head or chair.

  9. The provost and vice president for Research must approve each department or unit’s plans for distributing funds.

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Requests for Salary Support on Grants and Contracts: Faculty members who apply for externally funded grants or contracts should request a percentage of their total salary, including fringe benefits, from the extramural source, consistent with the time commitment to conduct the proposed academic activity, unless excluded by the funding agency.

All faculty funded from AU sources, unless otherwise restricted, are eligible. Individuals who are split-funded from eligible and ineligible sources will be eligible to participate with that portion of their salary supported by eligible funds.

A faculty member may be eligible for an incentive supplement from the incentive pool not to exceed 20 percent of his or her annualized base salary. The faculty member and the department chair will execute a written contract for the specific amount of the incentive award. The academic incentive allocation to faculty will be made once a year at the end of the fiscal year.

Each contract for academic incentive salary must be approved by the dean and the appropriate vice president.

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6.1.2 Limited Submission Grant Application Policy

Procedure to select the applicants who may submit letters of intent or proposals in response to a Request for Proposal that limits the number of submissions from a single university

https://sites.auburn.edu/admin/universitypolicies/Policies/LimitedSubmissionGrantApplicationPolicy.pdf

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6.1.3 Research Involving Human Subjects

Auburn University established the Institutional Review Board for the Use of Human Subjects in Research (IRB) to evaluate research for compliance with guidelines and regulations established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All research in which human subjects are used, whether by faculty, staff, or students, must be approved in advance by the IRB, no matter the source of funding, lack of funding, or any other consideration. All modifications to approved human subject protocols must be submitted to and approved by the IRB in advance of implementation. Information may be obtained from the Office of Vice President for Research.

https://fp.auburn.edu/vpr/default.aspx

 

6.1.4 Activities Involving Animal Subjects

Auburn University established the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to assure compliance with policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and all other federal, state, and local regulations concerning care, treatment, and use of animals in research, teaching, production, and demonstration activities. All such activities, whether by faculty, staff, or students and whether funded or unfunded, must be approved in advance by the committee. All modifications to approved animal subject protocols must be submitted to and approved by the IACUC in advance of implementation. Information may be obtained from the Office of Vice President for Research.

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Section 6.2
Violations of Research Integrity

6.2.1 Scientific Misconduct Policy

The University’s Scientific Misconduct Policy was developed to effect compliance with the requirements of the Public Health Service Final Rule on “Responsibilities of Awardees and Applicant Institutions for Dealing with and Reporting Possible Misconduct in Science” (42 CFR Part 50). Allegations of scientific misconduct made against any faculty, staff, or student of the University involved in research or research training, application for support of research or research training, or related research activities.

Misconduct in research, herein defined as scientific misconduct, is inappropriate behavior. Allegations of scientific misconduct made against individuals involved in research, or research training, applications for support of research or research training, or related research activities will be handled according to the policies and procedures included herein.These policies and procedures apply to all disciplines throughout the university. For Public Health Service–funded research, additional policies and procedures are included below.

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Definitions:

  1. “Misconduct” or “Misconduct in Science” means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

  2. “Inquiry” means information gathering and initial fact finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of misconduct warrants an investigation.

  3. “Investigation” means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred.

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Allegations: Initial allegations should be reported to the dean(s) of the college(s) or school(s) in which the alleged misconduct occurred. The dean(s) must immediately report such allegations to the vice president for Research. If the vice president for Research has possible conflicts of interest, the allegations shall be referred to the provost and  vice president for Academic Affairs. In the event of such conflict, “provost and vice president for Academic Affairs” shall be substituted for “vice president for Research” hereinafter.

The vice president for Research shall informally review any allegation of scientific misconduct, confer with the appropriate dean(s) and University administrators, and determine whether the allegation warrants initiation to the inquiry process. The vice president for Research shall discuss with the person making the allegations (hereafter referred to as the complainant[s]) the University’s scientific misconduct policies and procedures. If the complainant(s) chooses to make a formal allegation and the vice president for Research determines that the allegation warrants initiation to the inquiry process, the inquiry shall be initiated immediately.

In order to effectively follow through with any allegations of misconduct, the identity of the complainant(s) must be revealed to the vice president for Research. Where the complainant seeks anonymity, the vice president for Research shall operate in such a way as to maintain that anonymity to the degree compatible with accomplishing the initial reviews. However, such anonymity cannot be assured. Further, anonymity of the complainant is neither desirable nor appropriate where an inquiry is instituted.

The University shall pursue an allegation of misconduct to the extent it is reasonably capable of doing so, even if the individual(s) against whom the allegation is made (hereafter referred to as the respondent[s]) has left the University before the case is resolved.

All reported allegations should be kept confidential to the extent permissible by law, and the University will undertake diligent efforts to protect the positions and reputations of those complainant(s), who, in good faith, make allegations of misconduct. If an allegation is found to be unsupported but has been submitted in good faith, no further action, other than informing all involved parties, shall be taken. The notification and the proceedings of an inquiry or an investigation, including the identity of the respondent(s), shall be held in strict confidence to protect the parties involved. If confidentiality is breached by the University, the University shall take such reasonable steps as are requested to minimize the damage to reputations that may result from unsupported allegations.

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Inquiry: An inquiry is designed to separate allegations deserving of further investigation from frivolous, unjustified, or clearly mistaken allegations. Factual information is gathered and expeditiously reviewed to determine if an investigation of the charge is warranted.

The vice president for Research shall appoint an inquiry committee of no fewer than three persons. The committee shall consist of senior tenured faculty who are without conflict of interest, hold no appointment in the department(s) of either the complainant(s) or the respondent(s), and have appropriate expertise for evaluating the information relevant to the case. In the event of conflict of interest or need to acquire appropriate expertise, the vice president for Research may go outside the University to select one or more committee members. Every effort shall be made to appoint a committee of inquiry within 15 days, but the committee must be appointed within 30 days from the receipt of the allegation.

The inquiry phase, including preparation of the written report of the inquiry, shall be completed within 60 calendar days of its initiation unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. In such circumstances, the committee shall advise the vice president for Research, who shall notify all relevant parties. The report of inquiry shall include documentation for justifying an extension of the 60-day period.

Records and proceedings of the inquiry are confidential and are to be passed on to a committee of investigation if an investigation is initiated. In any case, the records should be kept secure, and if no misconduct is found, records should be destroyed three years after completion of an inquiry. Making the records public without authorization is grounds for a charge of misconduct.

The vice president for Research is responsible for notifying respondent(s) in writing of the allegations and of the proposed membership of the inquiry committee for the purpose of identifying in advance any real or potential conflict of interest. As the inquiry is informal and intended to be expeditious, principals are expected to speak for themselves. All individuals may have the assistance of legal counsel and shall have the opportunity to present evidence and to call witnesses.

During the inquiry, the vice president for Research and the members of the committee are responsible for the security of relevant documents. Copies of all documents and related communications are to be securely maintained in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The completion of an inquiry is marked by a determination of whether or not an investigation is warranted. The committee’s recommendation to proceed to an investigation shall be based on demonstrated probable cause for each allegation. The committee shall prepare a written Report of Inquiry that states what evidence was reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and includes the findings and recommendations of the inquiry. The report of inquiry shall be submitted to the vice president for Research, who shall be responsible for notifying the respondent(s) and complainant(s) of the outcome within ten working days.

The respondent(s) shall be given a copy of the report of inquiry and the opportunity to comment in writing upon the findings and the recommendations. If the respondent(s) chooses to comment, such comments shall be forwarded as soon as possible but must be forwarded within ten working days. The respondent’s(s’) comments shall be made a part of the record.

If the outcome of the inquiry indicates a need for formal investigation, the vice president for Research, shall notify this fact in writing to the appropriate dean(s) and University administrators on or before the date the investigation begins. If the vice president for Research finds the allegations to be unfounded and malicious, appropriate University procedures may be invoked to address possible actions to be taken against the complainant(s).

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Investigation: The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether scientific misconduct has been committed. The investigation shall focus on accusations of misconduct as defined previously and examine the factual materials of each case. In the course of an investigation, additional information may emerge that justifies broadening the scope of the investigation beyond the initial allegations. The respondent(s) shall be informed in writing when significant new directions of investigations are undertaken.

The vice president for Research shall appoint an investigating committee of no fewer than three persons. The committee shall consist of senior tenured faculty who are without conflict of interest, hold no appointment in the departments of either the complainant(s) or the respondent(s), and have appropriate expertise for evaluating the information relevant to the case. In the event of conflict of interest or need to acquire appropriate expertise, the vice president for Research may go outside the University to select one or more committee members. Every effort shall be made following the determination that an investigation is warranted to appoint an investigating committee within 15 days, but the committee must be appointed within 30 days. The investigating committee may or may not consist of the same membership as the inquiry committee.

Every effort should be made to complete the investigation within 120 days of its initiation; however, it is acknowledged that some cases may render this time period difficult to meet. In such cases, the investigating committee should compile a progress report, identify reasons for the delay and notify the vice president for Research of the additional time necessary for the investigation.

The vice president for Research shall convey to all relevant parties such information as may be required and shall notify all parties in writing of the allegations and of the procedures that shall be used to examine the allegations. Further, they shall be informed of the proposed membership of the committee of investigation for the purpose of identifying in advance any real or potential conflict of interest.

All parties to the case may be represented by legal counsel, may present evidence, and may call and examine witnesses. The investigation normally shall include examination of all documentation, including but not necessarily limited to relevant research data and proposals, publications, correspondence, and memoranda of telephone calls. The committee shall attempt to interview all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegation is made, as well as other individuals who might have information regarding key aspects of the allegations. Summaries of these interviews shall be provided to the interviewed party for comment or revision and included as part of the investigatory file. The committee may request the involvement of outside experts. The investigation must be sufficiently thorough to permit the committee to reach a decision about the validity of the allegation(s) and the scope of the wrongdoing or to be sure that further investigation is not likely to alter an inconclusive result. In addition to making a judgment on the veracity of the charges, the committee may recommend to the vice president for Research appropriate sanctions.

As the University is interested in protecting the health and safety of research subjects, students, and staff, interim administrative action may be warranted prior to the conclusion of either the inquiry or the investigation. Such action, ranging from slight restrictions to complete suspension of the respondent(s) and notification of external sponsors, when required by federal regulations, is initiated by the vice president for Research.

All parties in the investigation are encouraged to cooperate by producing any additional data requested for the investigation. Copies of all materials secured by the committee shall be provided to the respondent(s) and may be provided to other concerned parties as judged appropriate by the committee. The respondent(s) shall have an opportunity to address the charges and evidence in detail.

After all evidence has been received, the investigating committee shall meet to deliberate and prepare its findings and recommendations. The committee shall find no scientific misconduct unless a majority of the members conclude by clear and convincing evidence, based on the record as a whole, that the allegation(s) have been substantiated. All significant developments during the investigation, as well as the findings and recommendations of the committee, shall be reported to the vice president for Research and to all federal agencies, sponsors, or other entities with a need to know.

Upon completion of the investigation, the committee shall submit to the vice president for Research a full written report that details the committee’s findings and recommendations. This report shall be sent also to the respondent(s) by the vice president for Research within ten days of its receipt. The respondent(s) shall be given the opportunity to comment in writing upon the findings and the recommendations. If the respondent(s) chooses to comment, such comments shall be forwarded as soon as possible but must be forwarded within ten working days. The respondent’s(s’) comments shall be made a part of the record.

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Resolution: In the absence of a finding of scientific misconduct, all parties informed of the investigation shall be informed in writing that allegations of misconduct were not supported. If the allegations were deemed to have been unfounded and maliciously motivated, appropriate actions shall be taken against the complainant(s). If the allegations were deemed to have been made in good faith, no additional measures are indicated and efforts shall be made to prevent retaliatory actions. In publicizing the findings of no misconduct, the University shall be guided by whether public announcements shall be harmful or beneficial in restoring any reputation(s) that may have been damaged. Usually, such decision shall be made in conjunction with the person(s) who was (were) innocently accused.

When it has been determined that scientific misconduct has occurred, the vice president for Research shall consider the recommendations of the committee and shall be responsible for determining and implementing sanction(s) as appropriate. The respondent(s) shall be notified in writing of the sanction(s) within 20 days. If the sanction(s) involve termination of employment, the University termination procedures shall be invoked. The University must take action appropriate for the seriousness of the misconduct. Sanctions shall not be imposed during the appellate process.

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Appeal: Respondent(s) may appeal the decision of the vice president for Research. A written statement of the grounds for the appeal must be submitted to the president within 30 days of written notification of the sanction(s). Appeals shall be restricted to the body of evidence already presented, and the grounds for appeal shall be limited to failure to follow appropriate procedures in the investigation or decisions/recommendations not supported by any reasonable evidence. Upon receipt of a written appeal, the president shall evaluate the evidence and make a determination. The president’s decision shall be binding on all parties and shall be conveyed to all involved in a timely fashion.

Although new previously unconsidered material evidence is not grounds for an appeal, the respondent(s) may submit a request to the president to reopen the investigation in the event such evidence becomes available.

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Policies Applicable Only to Public Health Service–Funded Research: The vice president for Research will notify the Office of Research Integrity when, at any stage of the inquiry or the investigation, there is an immediate health hazard; there is a need to protect federal funds, equipment, or individuals affected by the inquiry or the investigation; and it is probable that the alleged incident will be reported publicly. If there is reasonable indication of possible criminal violations, the vice president for Research shall notify the Office of Research Integrity within 24 hours.

When the inquiry determines that an investigation is not warranted, the University will maintain sufficient documentation of inquiries to permit a later assessment of the reasons. These records shall be maintained in a secure manner for a period of at least three years after the termination of an inquiry, and shall, upon request, be provided to the authorized Department of Health and Human Services personnel.

If the University plans to terminate an inquiry or an investigation for any reason without completing all relevant requirements that are designated in this policy, then a report of the planned termination, including a description of the reasons for such termination, shall be made to the Office of Research Integrity.

If the outcome of the inquiry indicates a need for formal investigation, the vice president for Research, shall notify the Office of Research Integrity in writing on or before the date the investigation begins. At a minimum, the notification should include the name of the respondent(s) against whom the allegations have been made, the general nature of the allegation, and the Public Health Service application or grant number(s) involved.

The Investigating Committee shall immediately advise the vice president for Research of any developments during the course of the investigation that disclose facts that may affect current or potential Department of Health and Human Services funding for respondent(s) under investigation or that the Public Health Service needs to know to ensure appropriate use of federal funds and otherwise protect the public interest, and the vice president for Research shall promptly appraise the Office of Research Integrity of these developments.

When the Investigating Committee is unable to complete the investigation in 120 days, the vice president for Research shall submit to the Office of Research Investigation a request for an extension, and it shall include an explanation for the delay, an interim report on the progress to date, an outline of what remains to be done, and an estimated date of completion. If this request is granted, the vice president for Research will file periodic progress reports, as requested, to the Office of Research Integrity.

The vice president for Research shall submit the final Report of Investigation to the Office of Research Integrity. This report shall describe the policies and procedures under which the investigation was conducted, how and from whom information was obtained relevant to the investigation, the findings, and the basis for the findings. It should also include the actual text or an accurate summary of the views of any individual(s) found to have engaged in misconduct, as well as a description of any sanctions taken by the University. Documentation that substantiates the investigation’s findings will be made available to the director of the Office of Research Integrity. If the respondents can be identified, those who raised the allegation should be provided with those portions of the report that addresses their role and opinions in the investigation. All records of the investigation shall be retained for a period of three years after Public Health Service acceptance of the final report of investigation

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6.2.2 Conflict of Interest Policy

Currently under development by the FRC.

 

Section 6.3
Research Products

6.3.1 Auburn University Copyright Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the determination of the respective rights of Auburn University and its members with regard to copyrights and royalties or other income derived from copyrightable work initiated after October 1, 1984.

https://sites.auburn.edu/admin/universitypolicies/Policies/AuburnUniversityCopyrightPolicy.pdf

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6.3.2 Auburn University Patent Policy

This patent policy of Auburn University applies to Auburn University faculty and other employees and students in the areas of discoveries, inventions, and patents for the benefit of the public.

https://sites.auburn.edu/admin/universitypolicies/Policies/AuburnUniversityPatentPolicy.pdf

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Section 6.4
Centers and Institutes

6.4.1 Establishment of Centers and Institutes Policy

Due to the increasing complexity and interdisciplinary nature of many instructional, research, and outreach programs, traditional academic departments may not have sufficient diversity in their faculty or adequate facilities and resources to allow such programs to reach their full potential. Under these circumstances, it will be the policy of Auburn University to establish centers and institutes to facilitate the management and development of these programs, providing they also fulfill the following criteria:*

  1. The center or institute is consistent with the University’s mission and priorities.

  2. The program represents a well-defined area of instruction, research, or outreach involving faculty and resources from more than one discipline, department, college, or school.

  3. The University has existing strengths and resources in the programs, including a critical mass of faculty and a demonstrated commitment on the part of the involved faculty and administration to actively participate in the center or institute.

  4. The center or institute will enhance instruction, research, or outreach programs in colleges and schools and provide more effective administration of programs.

  5. Establishment of a center or institute will provide the program greater visibility and increased potential for extramural funding.

The difference between centers and institutes will be a matter of degree––that is to say, institutes will be very large programs involving a number of departments, colleges and/or schools, or external partners. The center designation will always be used for interdisciplinary or interdepartmental programs in a single college or school.

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Administration of Centers and Institutes: Each center or institute will have a director who is responsible for the day-to- day administration of the program. Such arrangements may vary from a part-time director who receives release time from other University responsibilities to a full-time director whose primary responsibility is the administration of the center or institute.

While ordinarily all centers and institutes will ultimately be the responsibility of a vice president or the provost,** it is essential that the academic deans be directly involved in the administration of centers and institutes. This involvement is important because all such programs will have an impact on resource allocations in colleges and schools and will require special attention to the appointment and evaluation of participating faculty. For these reasons, all centers and institutes involving more than one college or school shall have an administrative board that includes the deans from the participating colleges and schools, as well as appropriate department heads/chairs and faculty members. The director of the center or institute will report to this administrative board, which, in turn, will report to the appropriate vice president. When centers involve interdisciplinary or interdepartmental programs within a single college or school, the director will report to the dean of that college or school.

All centers and institutes should undergo external review at least every five years to assess quality and effectiveness of programs.

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Procedure for Establishing Centers and Institutes: After detailed review and consultation with appropriate faculty and administrators, the appropriate vice president or provost may separately or jointly recommend to the president of the University the establishment of a center or institute.

When, in the opinion of the president, a program of instruction, research, or outreach fulfills the criteria set forth in this policy statement, he or she may authorize the establishment of such centers and institutes. If establishment of a proposed center or institute requires new funding in excess of $100,000, Board approval is also required. It will be the president’s responsibility, at regular intervals, to report to the Board of Trustees, as a matter of information, on the establishment of centers and institutes.

* This policy addresses administrative or management structures for interdisciplinary activities. The policy does not extend to the use of the terms “centers” or “institutes” in connection with non-interdisciplinary programmatic activities.

** For centers and institutes created on the Auburn Montgomery campus, the functional counterpart to a vice president or the provost will fulfill these responsibilities.

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Last Updated: May 12, 2014