The Graduate School Advance to a Higher Degree

Detrimental Research Practices (DRPs)

In Purdue’s Policy on Research Misconduct and in research misconduct policies adopted by many Purdue research funders, “Research misconduct” is defined as fabrication, falsification or plagiarism of records from the conduct of research. Detrimental research practices are actions that, while not rising to the level of research misconduct, do threaten the real and perceived integrity of the research and researcher. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM, Fostering Research Integrity, 2017) have provided much information on the connection between DRPs and research misconduct. It advised that:

Rather than focusing exclusively on fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism, the breadth of research misconduct and detrimental research practices should be taken into account and addressed (p. 103).

Behaviors Categorized as DRPs

All Purdue associates (e.g., students, staff, post-docs, visiting scholars, faculty) should be aware of the breadth of behaviors that are categorized as DRPs. The categories and examples below outline four major categories and specific actions that are the DRPs themselves. Three of these definitions (misrepresentation, breach of duty care, and improper dealing of allegations), quoted in Fostering Research Integrity, are from the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct from the Research Council UK. The final definition, neglectful or exploitive supervision in research, is noted by the NASEM.

“Misrepresentation, including:

  • misrepresentation of data, for example suppression of relevant findings and/or data, or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence, presenting a flawed interpretation of data;
  • undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication;
  • misrepresentation of interests, including failure to declare material interests either of the researcher or of the funders of the research;
  • misrepresentation of qualifications and/or experience, including claiming or implying qualifications or experience which are not held;
  • misrepresentation of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship and/or attribution of work where there has been no significant contribution, or the denial of authorship where an author has made a significant contribution.” (NASEM, p. 69-70)

Note that misrepresentation, at a minimum, is a detrimental research practice, but it can also constitute research misconduct in the form of falsification of the research record. Depending on the type of misrepresentation, allegations in this category may be handled by the Graduate School as a DRP or by the Research Integrity Office as research misconduct. Determination is made by the Research Integrity Office.

“Breach of duty of care, whether deliberately, recklessly or by gross negligence:

  • disclosing improperly the identity of individuals or groups involved in research without their consent, or other breach of confidentiality;
  • placing any of those involved in research in danger, whether as subjects, participants or associated individuals, without their prior consent, and without appropriate safeguards even with consent; this includes reputational danger where that can be anticipated;
  • not taking all reasonable care to ensure that the risks and dangers, the broad objectives and the sponsors of the research are known to participants or their legal representatives, to ensure appropriate informed consent is obtained properly, explicitly and transparently;
  • not observing legal and reasonable ethical requirements or obligations of care for animal subjects, human organs or tissue used in research, or for the protection of the environment;
  • improper conduct in peer review of research proposals or results (including manuscripts submitted for publication); this includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for peer review purposes.” (NASEM, p. 69-70)

Note that breach of duty care may require immediate action by Purdue University’s Office of Legal Counsel, IRB, PACUC or LAP or the EVPRP or Purdue’s Office of Institutional Equity. While you may report such DRP allegations to the Graduate School, such duty of care allegations may be referred to other Purdue offices to address the allegation.

“Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct

  • Failing to address possible infringements including attempts to cover up misconduct or reprisals against whistle-blowers
  • Failing to deal appropriately with malicious allegations, which should be handled formally as breaches of good conduct.” (NASEM, p. 69-70)

Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct will be addressed by the Research Integrity Office. The RIO office addresses situations of retaliation and research misconduct allegations that are not provided in good faith or with proper discretion.

“Neglectful or exploitive supervision in research” (NASEM, p. 74)

Neglectful or exploitive supervision amounts to what could be termed mentoring malpractice. While the NASEM does not elaborate further on this category of DRP, it has been further addressed by authors that talk in terms of active and passive forms of mentorship malpractice. Specific details about this can be found in the article titled, Mentorship Malpractice by Chopra, Edelson and Saint, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2016, 315(14), 1453-1454, doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18884).

Reporting Potential DRP

A report of potential DRP can be submitted confidentially via any means of communication to the Purdue Research Integrity Officer, the Graduate School or via the Purdue Hotline using the links below:

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