Preliminary Investigation Process

Where a Research Misconduct allegation is deemed to be sufficiently serious and has sufficient substance a preliminary investigation process will take place.

As part of this process the NP should identify and advise relevant internal stakeholders of the allegations (and the VPR&I of any initial action required). As well as inform the respondent in writing of the allegation(s), disclosing all the evidence provided, and that it will be investigated under this procedure.

At the discretion of the NP a panel may be appointed to carry out the preliminary investigation (e.g. where the allegation is complex). In such cases, where the NP considers that any such panel has insufficient expertise in the research area in question, the NP will consider whether it is appropriate to appoint an external expert to the Panel.

It would be at this stage that the NP would meet with the with the complainant, the respondent(s) or any others whom the NP considers relevant to the investigations.

The NP will consider the evidence, available concerning the allegation seeking advice/support, as appropriate.

• Dismissal of the allegations as no case to answer e.g. on account of being mistaken or insufficiently substantiated, vexatious, malicious or frivolous. Where found to be making frivolous, malicious or vexatious allegations the NP may recommend referral of the complainant to the disciplinary procedure or other appropriate action.
• Referral to an appropriate University procedure/policy or process, or external organisation.
• Arrange for the matter to be addressed through informal processes where though there is some substance, there is a lack of intent to deceive or the issue is of a relatively minor nature.
• Arrange for a formal investigation, where the NP considers the allegations to be sufficiently serious and to have sufficient substance.

Prior to the NP finalising a confidential report of their investigation, the Respondent and Complainant, will have the opportunity to view this and raise any concerns regarding its factual accuracy. Note that this does not amount to a right of veto over the report or its conclusions.

This stage should normally be completed within 4-6 weeks of the receipt of the written allegation by the NP.

If you are the NP you can find a responsibilities checklist here that will guide you through the necessary steps for any research misconduct allegation at the preliminary investigation process.