Retaliation Complaints from Complainants

The PHS Policies on Research Misconduct (42 C.F.R. Part 93) requires institutions to "take all reasonable and practical steps to protect the positions and reputations of good faith complainants, witnesses and committee members and protect them form retaliation by respondents and other institutional members." 

The PHS Policies 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.

    ORI has developed guidelines for institutions and complainant 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 - Comment Period Closed 1/29/01
    - Guidelines to Institutions and Whistleblowers: Responding to Possible Retaliation Against Whistleblowers - Being revised to comply with 42 C.F.R. Part 93.

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