Procedure for handling cases of suspected research misconduct or questionable research practices

1. Who can report a case (informant)

Anyone who suspects questionable research practices or research misconduct at Aarhus University, and anyone who wishes to be cleared of such suspicions.

2. Before a case is reported
Before deciding to make a formal report, anyone affiliated with Aarhus University has the option of consulting one of the university’s responsible conduct of research and freedom of research advisers on a confidential basis (faculty advisers).

In certain cases, advisers are under an obligation to refer such cases to the university’s Committee for Responsible Conduct of Research and Freedom of Research (called The Research Practice Committee), after advising the informant. In such cases, the faculty is responsible for providing relevant information (details below) on the case.

3. How to report a case

The informant must submit the following information/documents:

  • Information about the product which is the object of the report, such as an article or a book;
  • The name of the researcher(s), academic staff members or others whom the report concerns;
  • An account of the allegations being made concerning research misconduct or questionable research practices, in addition to evidence for these allegations;
  • All relevant documentation, for example, in connection with an allegation of plagiarism, both the plagiarised material and the instance of plagiarism must be included, and the relevant passages must be highlighted.

All material must be forwarded to the Research Practice Committee secretariat by filling in the form Report a suspected breach of responsible conduct of research at AU or by contacting legal@au.dk.

 

4.  Screening and determination of jurisdiction over the case

When the secretariat receives a report, the chair of the Research Practice Committee is informed. The chair and the secretariat then perform an initial screening of the case.

If the report does not contain the necessary information, and the informant does not provide this at the request of the committee, the secretariat of the Research Practice Committee, in consultation with the chair, may decide to dismiss the case.

If the report contains the necessary information, the secretariat confirms receipt of the report and informs the informant of the university’s procedures for handling reports of alleged breaches of good conduct of research, including the fact that as a general rule, an informant is not considered a party to the case, and therefore cannot expect to be involved further in its consideration.

The secretariat also informs the defendant that the case has been reported, and that it will initially be screened in order to determine which body has jurisdiction over the case (either AU’s Research Practice Committee or the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct (NVU)).

If there is any doubt regarding which body has jurisdiction over the case, this will be resolved by the Research Practice Committee secretariat in dialogue with the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct secretariat. If the matter cannot be resolved at secretariat level, the question of jurisdiction will be decided by NVU.

When these matters have been clarified, the Research Practice Committee secretariat informs the informant and the defendant about the procedure for considering the case, including which body will be considering it. 

The rector will be informed in the event that the case is referred to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct.

5. Suspicion of questionable research practices – handling of cases by Research Practice Committee

Before a case is considered by the Research Practice Committee, it must be submitted to the relevant parties for comment. A deadline of 2-3 weeks is normally set.

When the date for the consideration of the case by the Research Practice Committee is set, the complainant is informed.

Once the case has been considered, the Research Practice Committee submits a statement to the rector.

5.1 Follow-up on the Research Practice Committee statement

The rector notifies the relevant faculty.

In collaboration with the Rector's Office, the faculty follows up on the case to the relevant extent, and informs the defendant(s) of the outcome of the case.

6. Suspicion of research misconduct – handling of cases by NVU

The Research Practice Committee secretariat transfers the case materials to NVU for consideration.

NVU may dismiss a case, either on the grounds that it is manifestly unfounded or because it concerns questionable research practices. In the latter case, the case is returned to the Research Practice Committee for consideration, cf. item 5.

Once the case has been considered and decided by NVU, a report will be sent to the rector.

NVU also publishes an anonymised version of its decision on the committee’s website.

6.1 Follow-up on NVU’s decision

Correspondingly, the rector follows up as described under item 5.1.