All university employees are entrusted with protecting the property, equipment and other assets of the University. Per USU Policy Use and Security of University Property #344, “All University property should be safeguarded against possible loss or misuse.
University employees must take reasonable precautions to ensure the security of people, facilities, property and vehicles.” Responsibilities of this trust include actions ranging from locking doors and cabinets to reporting observed patterns of unusual behavior.
All property, supplies and services purchased with university funds should be used only in the operation of the business of the University. Misuse of assets takes on many forms and can involve some deception or misrepresentation of facts and information for personal gain as well as deliberate appropriation of property or funds for personal use.
The actions of every member of the university community reflect on the institution itself. Employees and students at USU are strongly encouraged to apply sound moral judgment when making decisions, especially when those decisions are made on behalf of the university.
There are many occasions when faculty and other employees act as representatives of the university. Examples include recruiting meetings, meetings with peers from other institutions, government agencies, companies or foundations; presenting at or attending professional conferences; interviewing prospective faculty and staff, conducting research, or participating as a member of a performing arts group. It is important that each such representation be characterized by professionalism, honesty and accuracy.
All faculty, staff, students and others acting on behalf of the university are expected to comply with relevant laws, grant and contract requirements, regulations, policies and practices and all applicable university and professional standards.
Any faculty, staff member or student may be considered an agent of the university whenever he or she is acting on behalf of the university and within the scope of his or her assigned duties at USU. Individuals, when acting within their assigned roles at the university, will be indemnified under the Utah Governmental Immunities Act when applicable, unless damages are caused intentionally or result from dishonesty, fraud or criminal acts or negligence. The Division of Research Integrity and Compliance and other university resources are available to assist institutional officials, employees and students to understand and comply with university policies, and procedures, and to establish a productive work environment.
In addition to the responsibilities all members of the USU community bear for representing the institution with integrity and professionalism, institutional officials have a special duty in their oversight of the university’s administration. Under the direction of the Board of Trustees of the university, senior administrators are responsible for establishing and maintaining a climate of trust and respect, both through their personal conduct and through proper discharge of supervisory duties.
Institutional officials assume broad administrative responsibilities. They are expected to establish systems of operation that ensure appropriate accountability on matters of finance and resource utilization that are open and transparent, and that protect the rights of employees and students of the university. Institutional officials are stewards of resources that originate from governmental, student and other contributors, and should make decisions about the use of those resources impartially and in accordance with good business practices. Decisions should be made in an environment of open communication with university stakeholders and the public, helping to ensure that actions taken are in the best interest of the institution, and that they are not influenced by personal or institutional bias. In their deliberations, institutional officials should exercise care to protect the rights and privacy of USU employees and provide a positive workplace environment.
In the scientific endeavor, no principle is of greater importance than integrity. The advancement of knowledge relies on the collaboration of theorists and experimentalists through a system of information sharing that takes place primarily in scientific publications. Though these publications are “refereed” by fellow scientists, it is a moral imperative that the information submitted accurately and completely reflects the findings of the authors. Each article is used by colleagues in subsequent inquiries as a launching point. It follows that scientific progress relies wholly on the integrity of scientists in truthfully reporting their observations. Whenever there is a breakdown in this honor system, progress is impeded, and the public trust is lost. Years may be spent in attempting to replicate results that were never actually observed.
Scientific misconduct is defined by federal statute (Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 50), and in USU policy as any incident of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. Fabrication refers to the making up of data which were not observed as purported. Falsification includes the changing of data or the way in which observations are reported, and spans a broad spectrum, from omitting observed data points from reported data sets to wholesale changing of data to fit the investigator’s hypothesis. Plagiarism is the claiming as one’s own material that is the product of someone else’s work.
USU assures that it supports scientific integrity through an established program of guidelines for reporting incidents of misconduct, and conducting prescribed inquiries and investigations.
USU Research Policy #306, provides guidance to all university employees and students regarding scientific misconduct. In addition, Policies Academic Due Process: Sanctions and Hearing Procedures #407 and Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities #403, address scientific misconduct, also referred to in the policies as “research fraud.”