An allegation of research misconduct in connection with a University of Guelph researcher has recently sparked questions, both about how the University addresses such allegations and about the course of events in this particular case.
The University takes allegations of research misconduct extremely seriously.
The University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and Procedures defines responsibilities for upholding the highest standards of research integrity and what constitutes research misconduct.
As with all Canadian universities that receive research funding from the federal government, the University’s policy and procedures to address allegations of research misconduct involve a two-step process: an inquiry stage and, if warranted, an investigation stage.
Throughout, the University is guided by the federal government’s Tri-Agency requirements and the collective agreement between the University of Guelph Faculty Association and the University.
These documents outline confidentiality requirements in place to protect all parties involved in the investigation and to maintain an unbiased and fair process. Based on these terms of confidentiality, the University is limited in what we can say publicly about investigations into any allegations.
As has been reported, the University received an allegation of research misconduct in 2020 and launched an inquiry in accordance with its policies and procedures. Due to the onset of the pandemic, the inquiry stage took longer than usual. The evidence reviewed through the inquiry stage did not support proceeding to the full investigation stage.
A second inquiry was launched in 2021 following a separate allegation of research misconduct. Based on the results of that inquiry, an active investigation is now under way.
The University is following due process, and the investigation is being completed as expeditiously as possible. The length of the investigation will depend on its complexity and circumstances, with planned completion before June 2022. The University will take appropriate action based on the result of the investigation.
Having rigorous processes in place to address allegations of research misconduct is essential for upholding research integrity. The University has been and remains committed to following its processes to maintain accountability and transparency so that U of G research continues to meet the highest integrity standard.
The University is proud of the innovative and impactful research being conducted by our exceptional researchers. They are advancing knowledge and understanding in ways that are improving lives for people across Canada and worldwide.