Retaliation Complaints

The PHS Policies on Research Misconduct (42 C.F.R. 93) require institutions to undertake "all reasonable and practical efforts to protect or restore the position and reputation of any complainant, witness or committee member and to counter potential or actual retaliation against these complainants, witnesses, and committee members." This protection is limited to complainants who make good faith allegations.

The PHS Policies on Research Misconduct state that "good faith as applied to a complainant or witness, means having a belief in the truth of one's allegation or testimony that a reasonable person in the complainant's or witness's position could have based on the information known to the complainant or witness at the time.  An allegation or cooperation with a research misconduct proceeding is not in good faith if made with knowing or reckless disregard for information that would negate the allegation or testimony.  Good faith as applied to a committee member means cooperating with the research misconduct proceeding by carrying out the duties assigned impartially for the purpose of helping an institution meet its responsibilities under this part.  A committee member does not act in good faith if his/her acts or omissions on the committee are dishonest or influenced by personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest with those involved in the research misconduct proceeding."  A retaliation complaint is assessed by the following criteria to determine whether it falls under PHS jurisdiction:

The allegation concerns behavior that falls under the PHS definition of research misconduct:

Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

(a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

(b) Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

(c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

(d) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

The allegations concerns research supported by the PHS.

There is a plausible link between the allegation of misconduct and the alleged retaliation.

Retaliation complaints should be made to the institutional official named to receive research misconduct allegations in the institutional policy on responding to such allegations. Retaliation complaints may also be made to ORI by calling the Division of Investigative Oversight at 240-453-8800.

ORI has developed guidelines for institutions and whistleblowers for responding to possible retaliation. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on whistleblower protection was published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2000.

» NPRM on Protection of Research Misconduct Whistleblowers

» Guidelines to Institutions and Whistleblowers: Responding to Possible Retaliation Against Whistleblowers (PDF)


The contents of this webpage do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This webpage  is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

Source URL: https://ori.hhs.gov/retaliation-complaints