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Scientific Integrity and Research Misconduct

Scientific Integrity

Scientific integrity is the condition resulting from adherence to professional values and practices when conducting, reporting, and applying the results of scientific activities that ensures objectivity, clarity, and reproducibility, and that provides insulation from bias, fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, inappropriate influence, political interference, censorship, and inadequate procedural and information security.

To ensure the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the Department's engagement in scientific and technological activities and use of scientific information in policymaking, USDA established a Department-wide scientific integrity policy (PDF, 4.3 MB) through the issuance of ("Scientific Integrity"). The policy articulates the principles of scientific integrity, and the roles and responsibilities of all USDA employees, including career staff and political appointees, in upholding these principles.

To ensure that the Department has well-defined and robust mechanisms in place for reviewing and resolving allegations that scientific integrity has been compromised, USDA issued ("Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Compromised Scientific Integrity"). The manual establishes a multi-phase process for responding to scientific integrity concerns in a timely and objective manner, and establishes safeguards for those who report scientific integrity concerns.

Research Misconduct

Research misconduct - a subset of compromised scientific integrity - is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. The Department has established procedures for reviewing and resolving allegations of research misconduct involving research conducted or funded by USDA.

For allegations of research misconduct involving USDA-conducted intramural research, the procedures for reporting and responding to such allegations are set forth in:

For allegations of research misconduct involving USDA-funded extramural research, the procedures for reporting and responding to such allegations are set forth in:

Reporting of Allegations of Compromised Scientific Integrity and Research Misconduct Involving USDA Conducted or Supported Scientific and Technological Activities

Reporting by USDA Employees. USDA employees who have good faith and reasonable allegations that scientific integrity has been compromised (including allegations of research misconduct) are encouraged to notify the appropriate USDA Agency Scientific Integrity Officer (ASIO) of their allegations. In most cases, the allegation should be submitted to the ASIO of the USDA agency/staff office where the alleged compromise of scientific integrity is believed to have occurred. If a USDA employee believes that an ASIO has a conflict of interest with regard to the allegation or wishes to shield his/her identity from the ASIO, the employee may notify the Departmental Scientific Integrity Officer of the allegation.

Reporting by a Member of the Public. Members of the public who have good faith and reasonable allegations that scientific integrity has been compromised (including allegations of research misconduct) are encouraged to submit their allegations. Such allegations may be submitted to the appropriate USDA Agency Scientific Integrity Officer, the Departmental Scientific Integrity Officer, and/or the USDA Office of the Inspector General.

Policy and Other Links