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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Misconduct code faces vote again

    The Faculty Senate will look at revising the UA’s policy on investigating misconduct in scholarly, creative and research activities today, for the third time this school year.

    Michael Cusanovich, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics who has crafted the proposed changes, said it is not unusual for a controversial item on the Faculty Senate agenda to take this long to pass. He recalled a change to the organization’s constitution that took eight years to get approval.

    Part of the reason the revised policy has stalled is opposition from faculty members who are concerned about allowing anonymous complaints.

    The changes Cusanovich first proposed two months ago, in consultation with university attorneys, allow investigations of fraud in research to begin based on accusations from unidentified individuals.

    Cusanovich had said the Office of Research Integrity, the federal government’s watchdog for university research, put forth a statement on investigations in the Federal Register in 2005.

    “”They expect that anonymous complaints will be investigated,”” Cusanovich said.

    For that reason, Cusanovich said he did not make any new changes to his proposal in regards to anonymity.

    Cusanovich’s decision comes after law professor Roy Spece Jr. said at the last meeting he disagreed with the policy changes because the Federal Register says only that universities must accept “”complaints.””

    Spece said the ORI has since interpreted the text to mean “”all complaints,”” including anonymous ones, but that universities are not bound to that interpretation.

    However, Cusanovich said he worried about the implications of a situation where the UA did not investigate an anonymous complaint against a faculty member that turned out to be legitimate after a federal investigation.

    If the university failed to investigate in that situation, Cusanovich said the UA could face sanctions and punishments ranging from restricted funding for research to monetary fines.

    Also at issue during the last meeting were worries that human subjects in some research projects could be left vulnerable to identity theft during an investigation of the presiding faculty.

    Cusanovich said he had thought a phrase in his earlier draft, using the words “”all applicable laws and policies,”” was enough to protect the privacy of human research participants.

    This time, Cusanovich said he has made it clearer that human subjects will be shielded in the event of an investigation.

    “”That was an easy fix,”” Cusanovich said.

    While Cusanovich said he believes his changes are necessary to reflect current law, the Faculty Senate is not required to approve his revised policy. Senators may decide not to make any changes to the current policy, which dates back to 2003.

    The Faculty Senate meets today at 3 p.m. in Room 14 of the James E. Rogers College of Law.

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