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Research Misconduct

Defining Research Misconduct

Although there are many forms of questionable or inappropriate behaviors that can take place in the course of the research endeavor, the term "research misconduct" is specifically and narrowly limited to fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research or in reporting research results.  This definition derives from federal regulation and is reflected in the University of Maryland Policy and Procedures Concerning Scholarly Misconduct, which governs the review of allegations of research misconduct at the institution.

  • Fabrication is the intentional generation of research data or results that are fictitious in some regard, and the recording or reporting of these data or results as being genuine.
  • Falsification is the manipulation of research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting research data or results in a way that deviates from common practice in the field, such that the research purposely is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, words, images, or other creative works as one’s own without giving appropriate credit.

However, other forms of inappropriate activity related to research or scholarly endeavors may constitute scholarly misconduct under the University of Maryland Policy and Procedures Concerning Scholarly Misconduct, depending on the specific facts of the situation.  In addition, issues involving lapses of integrity in student academic work may be addressed under the University of Maryland Code of Academic Integrity.

Generally speaking, authorship disputes do not constitute research misconduct.  Honest error of differences of opinion similarly do not constitute research misconduct.

Reporting Research Misconduct

The review of allegations of research misconduct is handled by the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) in the Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA).  More information regarding the University's policy, including how to report concerns regarding research misconduct and how those concerns will be handled, can be found in this handout. Questions can also be sent to

The institution will make diligent efforts to protect individuals who report allegations in good faith and to honor requests for confidentiality to the extent possible.  Anonymous allegations can be made and hypothetical scenarios can be discussed.

We all play a role in identifying research misconduct, as well as recognizing and addressing the risks factors.  These materials from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) help us to understand our roles, the motivations for people to commit misconduct, the potential red flags that it may have occurred, and what to do about concerns.  You are encouraged to print, post, or otherwise share and distribute these one-page materials.