NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOMEDICAL GENOMICS
POLICY STATEMENT ON GOOD RESEARCH PRACTICES AND GOOD SCIENTIFIC CONDUCT
The National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani, India, shall conduct scientific research following high standards of research practices and scientific integrity. Therefore, NIBMG expects that all persons engaged in research in the Institute, full-time or part-time, shall follow these practices and adhere to scientific integrity and ethics.
Good Research Practices
Adoption of good research practices insures accuracy, transparency, objectivity and validity of scientific inferences. It is impossible to list all practices that should be followed in conformity with ‘good research practices.’ However, an indicative list of good research practices comprises:
- Detailed planning of scientific research, including sample sizes, experiments, etc., including documentation.
- Obtaining all ethical and regulatory approvals before initiation of research.
- Regular adherence to ethical, regulatory and safety protocols.
- Regular calibration of all instruments and experimental protocols.
- Regular and clear recording of instruments used, experiments performed, data/results generated, on laboratory notebooks and instrument usage notebooks, that shall be open to scrutiny.
- Occasional checks of these notebooks and records, including retrospective checks if necessary.
- Regular and open review of research progress, and discussions on problems encountered, and delineation of protocols to solve the problems and actually solving the problems keeping adequate documentation throughout the process.
- Adherence to Good Laboratory Practices.
- Appropriate storage of raw data with clear guidelines for access and openness to audit, including retrospective audit if necessary.
- Escalation of non-adherence of ‘good research practices’ by anyone in the Institute to appropriate authorities, without hesitation or fear.
Integrity in Research and Scientific Misconduct
Integrity in research is of paramount importance. Researchers should be honest in respect of their own actions in research and their responses to the actions of other researchers. Researchers should declare their conflict of interest wherever appropriate. This applies to the whole range of research work including designing of experiments, generating and analyzing data, applying for funding, publishing results, and when peer reviewing the work of other researchers. The direct and indirect contributions of colleagues, collaborators and others should be acknowledged. Researchers are accountable to the society, their profession, the institutes where the research is taking place, the staff and students involved and in particular, the sponsoring bodies. Researchers, full-time or part-time, of NIBMG shall refrain from engaging in scientific misconduct which is defined as:
- Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting results of research.
- Deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviations from accepted practices in carrying out research.
- It includes failure to follow established protocols if this failure results in unreasonable risk or harm to humans or the environment and facilitating of misconduct in research by collusion in, or concealment of, such actions by others.
- It also includes intentional, unauthorized use, disclosure or removal of, or damage to, research-related property of another, including apparatus, materials, writings, data, hardware or software or any other substances or devices used in or produced by the conduct of research.
Investigation into Alleged Misconduct
The charge of research misconduct has serious implications for all concerned therefore investigation related to the review of alleged misconduct will be kept confidential to the maximum extent possible. Caution shall be exercised to distinguish between differences in interpretation or unintended errors from the misrepresentation of information. Thus, the procedures adopted to address the issue of misconduct shall be flexible and determined on a case-by case basis.
Reporting and evaluation of the complaint
Report of an alleged misconduct is to be made in writing directly to the Director, NIBMG. Misconduct may be reported by a member(s) of the community at NIBMG or elsewhere. The identity of the individual making the complaint (complainant) will not be revealed at this time. In case of potential conflict of interest, the complaint may be made to the Associate Director of Research of NIBMG.
A preliminary evaluation of the complaint will be made by the Associate Director of Research and the Director (which may include consultations with other colleagues) and if both concur that there are no reasonable grounds for the allegation, the complaint will be dismissed. A written report stating the reasons for the dismissal shall be maintained in the office of the Director but will not enter the confidential record of the subject. The complainant will also be notified of the dismissal.
Investigating a credible complaint
If, the preliminary evaluation indicates that the allegation of misconduct warrants a full investigation, the following processes will be initiated with appropriate records of procedures:
- The person against whom the complaint is being made (subject) shall be informed of the allegations.
- The Director/Associate Director of Research shall appoint a committee to conduct a full investigation into the allegation of misconduct.
- The committee may comprise members of the faculty of NIBMG or, if appropriate, experts from outside of the Institute may be requested to serve on the committee. The committee will be invested with complete confidentially and will not be permitted to interact with the Press during the course of the investigation. The committee is expected to function with full cognizance of the rights of the subject and the complainant.
The investigation will assess:
- the accuracy of the charge of misconduct
- the extent and nature of the alleged misconduct,
- the relevance of any other material or information revealed in the course of the investigation into the alleged instance of misconduct
In the course of the investigation the committee shall be given access to grants, reports, primary data, electronic records, manuscripts and any other material requested, considered relevant to the inquiry. The committee shall have access to laboratory premises and permitted interviews with laboratory personnel, the complainant and the subject. The subject will have the opportunity to present a defense. Should any action be recommended, the subject will have the opportunity to explain why such action should not be initiated. The committee is expected to complete its investigation at the earliest not exceeding a period of sixty days.
Outcome of the investigation
The committee will submit its report with a recommended course of action to the Associate Director of Research (or, to the Director in the absence of the Associate Director) in a time frame decided at the outset of the investigation.
The Associate Director will discuss the report with the subject and forward the findings of the committee, along with recommendations, to the Director. The Director will take appropriate action on the findings of the committee and on the Associate Director’s recommendations, which will be communicated to the Associate Director and to the committee. The subject will be notified in writing of the Director's decision, which may be entered on the person’s confidential record.
Safeguard against mala fide intention
Every effort will be made to safeguard the interests of the complainant and to protect the person from any vindictive action. If established however, that the charges were motivated by malice or made frivolously, the Associate Director of Research and the Director will formulate an appropriate course of formal action. The complainant will be given the opportunity to explain why this course of action should not be initiated.
This document has been prepared in consultation with similar documents prepared by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India; Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune; and, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. Many paragraphs from documents available on the web sites of these organizations have been reproduced here.