General Standards of Professional Ethics for Conducting Research and Sponsored Programs

Authority: Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management
Date Enacted or Revised: Revised August 6, 2001; February 2016; April 8, 2022

Professional Ethics for Research and Sponsored Program Projects

An underlying principle of academic or applied research is the quest for truth. The credibility of such research must be above reproach if the public trust is to be maintained. Any compromise of the ethical standards required for conducting academic or applied research is a violation of McNeese State University policy.

Principal investigators applying for National Science Foundation (NSF) funding must complete web-based training through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). Information about the training is available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Failure to comply with NSF and federal training requirements may result in appropriate disciplinary action.

Misconduct Defined

“Misconduct”, as used in this policy, is defined as: (1) fraudulent or improper practice in conducting research or reporting the results of research, including intentional falsification or fabrication of data, plagiarism, or intentional misrepresentation of data collection and analysis; (2) material failure to comply with federal, state, or University requirements affecting specific aspects of the conduct of research (e.g., the protection of human subjects and the welfare of laboratory animals); (3) serious misappropriation of research funds, including but not limited to diversion of such funds to personal or non-University use; or (4) other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the research community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. The term “serious misappropriation” as used herein does not include approved deviations within budget categories. Misconduct does not include honest errors or honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data.

Reporting Misconduct

Allegations of misconduct should be reported immediately in writing to the dean of the college in which the incident occurred and in which the accused is employed. All such allegations shall be signed. The confidentiality of those who in good faith report apparent misconduct will be protected to the extent possible.

After consultation with the provost and vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management, the dean shall conduct a preliminary inquiry (which shall include informal consultation with the accused) into the circumstances of the allegations and determine whether there are sufficient grounds to indicate misconduct has occurred. The dean shall attempt to complete this initial inquiry within 30 days.

If the dean finds sufficient evidence to suggest that the allegations may be of concern, and after consultation with the provost and vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management and the director of grants compliance, the dean shall report the information to the internal auditor for further investigation and appropriate action.

Interim administrative actions, as appropriate to the allegations, may be taken prior to the completion of the investigation if such actions are necessary to protect the welfare of human or animal subjects of research or to prevent the inappropriate use of funds.

Investigation or Audit Findings

If the internal auditor has reason to believe that unfounded charges may have been brought with malicious or dishonest intent, appropriate administrative action may be considered. If the internal auditor finds that the allegations are substantiated and the misconduct has occurred, appropriate corrective actions consistent with the policies set forth in University, University of Louisiana System policies, and/or Code of Student Conduct are implemented. In addition, the agency sponsoring the research shall be informed of the findings of the investigation and other appropriate entities may be informed.


This policy is distributed via the Academic Advisory Council and the University Policies webpage.