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AAU Handbook

Procedures of the AAU Practice Committee

Published: 05.01.2018 (Last revised: 06.11.2019)

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Content

1. Actors involved

1.1. The actors involved in the process are:

  • Complainant. The complainant submits allegations of suspected research misconduct or questionable research practice to the AAU Practice Committee. The complainant may be heard in the case; however, as a rule, the complainant is not a party to the case. In the event that allegations are issued by a unit, the allegation must be issued on behalf of Aalborg University by the manager of that unit.
     
  • Respondent. The respondent is the person against whom the allegation has been made The AAU Practice Committee must inform the respondent and allow the individual to respond to the allegation.
     
  • AAU Practice Committee. The AAU Practice Committee conducts preliminary investigations of allegations of research misconduct and subsequently submits the material to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct for further investigation. Furthermore, the AAU Practice Committee is responsible for investigating allegations of questionable research practice as stipulated in the regulations of the AAU Practice Committee, section 11(1). Upon investigating allegations of questionable research practice, the AAU Practice Committee must submit a reasoned statement to the Rector.
     
  • Executive committee of the AAU Practice Committee. The executive committee consists of the chair of the AAU Practice Committee and the additional faculty member from the relevant faculty concerning the case. The executive committee conducts a preliminary assessment of the case, and the chair may decide whether an allegation should be dismissed as manifestly unfounded. In consultation with the relevant dean and head of department, the executive committee may request that the respondent’s access to laboratories, materials, data, etc., be totally or partially restricted.
     
  • Rector. The Rector stipulates guidelines for addressing cases of research misconduct and questionable research practice at AAU, receives statements on cases from the AAU Practice Committee and is updated regularly as well as via annual reports by the AAU Practice Committee on the committee's investigation. The Rector appoints permanent members and additional faculty members to the AAU Practice Committee upon recommendation of the deans.
     
  • The Dean. The relevant dean must be updated regularly when allegations involving staff members of their faculty are submitted to the AAU Practice Committee; moreover, the dean must follow up on allegations investigated by the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct or the AAU Practice Committee. At the request of the AAU Practice Committee, the dean appoints ad hoc members to take part in the committee's investigation.
     
  • Head of department. The relevant head of department must be updated regularly and must follow up on allegations involving staff members of their department submitted to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct and the AAU Practice Committee.
     
  • Head of the doctoral school. The relevant head of the doctoral school must be updated regularly and must follow up on allegations involving the PhD students of their doctoral school submitted to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct and the AAU Practice Committee.
     
  • PhD supervisor. The relevant PhD supervisor must be updated regularly and follow up on allegations involving PhD students under their supervision submitted to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct and the AAU Practice Committee.

Administrative staff members from the Rector’s Office and the AAU PhD Office jointly conduct investigations with the AAU Practice Committee.

 

2. Procedure for investigation

2.1. Anyone who may have reasonable grounds for suspecting research misconduct or questionable research practice may submit allegations against academic staff members conducting research at Aalborg University to the AAU Practice Committee.

2.2. An allegation must include information on the scientific product in question; the researcher(s) or academic staff member(s) against whom the allegation is made; the allegations of research misconduct or questionable research practice raised and the reasons for submitting the allegations. Please use this form for submitting an allegation.

2.3. Upon receipt of an allegation, the AAU Practice Committee will inform the complainant of the administrative procedures of the AAU Practice Committee. In the event that the allegation does not contain the information required for initiating an investigation, the complainant must be informed that this may lead to the allegation being dismissed (cf. ‘Act on Research Misconduct, etc.’ [Lov om videnskabelig uredelighed m.v.] section 11(3)). The respondent, the relevant dean, the relevant head of department and in allegations involving PhD students, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school, must be informed that an allegation has been made and must be informed of the AAU Practice Committee’s procedures for investigation. After this point, the complainant will no longer receive information pertaining to the allegation nor will the complainant be heard in the case unless they are considered a party to the case according to the Danish Public Administration Act.

2.4. The executive committee will subsequently receive the allegation and assess which procedures must be initiated. Depending on the scope and nature of the allegation, the chair of the AAU Practice Committee consults with the additional faculty member and the administrative staff members from the Rector’s Office and the AAU PhD Office to determine who best handles the individual investigative procedures (such as plagiarism detection and assessment, assessment of data and materials, etc.). Following a concrete assessment and in consultation with the relevant dean and head of department, the chair of the AAU Practice Committee may request that the head of department secure any materials and place restrictions on the respondent’s access to laboratories, materials, data, etc.

2.5. Following the preliminary investigation, the chair of the AAU Practice Committee determines whether the allegation should be dismissed as manifestly unfounded. In the event that an allegation is dismissed as manifestly unfounded, the respondent, the relevant dean, the relevant head of department and, if relevant, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school must be informed that the allegation has been subject to investigation and subsequently dismissed.

2.6. If the allegation cannot directly be dismissed as manifestly unfounded, [BT1] the respondent is asked to submit any comments on the allegation and an assessment must be made as to whether further investigations must be conducted. The relevant dean, the relevant head of department and, if relevant, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school must be informed.

2.7. If the case undoubtedly falls under another research institution or under the jurisdiction of the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct, the executive committee may decide that, rather than the AAU Practice Committee, the case be sent directly for investigation by the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct or by the other research institution. The chair informs the AAU Practice Committee of such a decision at the next meeting.

2.8. If the executive committee finds that allegation must be reviewed by the AAU Practice Committee, the relevant dean must recommend an ad hoc member with relevant disciplinary expertise to participate in the investigation of the allegation by the AAU Practice Committee.

2.9. Subsequently, the executive committee and the ad hoc committee member are responsible for preparing the case. If relevant, the respondent is further consulted and further investigations are made before the presentation of the case is prepared for the meeting as determined by the chair.

2.10. The presentation of the allegation must include information on whether the allegation is considered to meet the basic criteria for constituting a case of falsification, fabrication, plagiarism or questionable research practice, (cf. the definitions provided in ‘Lov om videnskabelig uredelighed m.v.’ [the act on research misconduct], section 3). If there is any dispute as to the interpretation of the act, this must be discussed with the secretariat of the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct. Depending on the nature of the allegation, the chair of the AAU Practice Committee determines who will be responsible for preparing the presentation of the case.

During the review by the AAU Practice Committee, a decision must be made as to whether the allegation be:

  • forwarded to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct for further investigation
  • reviewed by the AAU Practice Committee or
  • dismissed or referred for review by other units or other parts of the line management at Aalborg University
     

2.11. If the AAU Practice Committee determines that the allegation must be forwarded to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct, the AAU Practice Committee must prepare a report on the facts of the allegation (cf. ‘Lov om videnskabelig uredelighed m.v.’ [the act on research misconduct], section 11(2)). Subsequently, the allegation must be forwarded to the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct. The Rector, the respondent, the relevant dean, the relevant head of department and, if relevant, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school must be informed of the decisions made by the AAU Practice Committee.

2.12. If the allegation is reviewed by the AAU Practice Committee, the committee prepares a statement on the case. The person responsible for preparing this statement must be appointed. Where the AAU Practice Committee cannot reach an agreement, the person responsible for preparing the note of dissent must also be appointed. The statement must be submitted to the Rector. The respondent, the relevant dean, the relevant head of department and, if relevant, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school must be informed.

2.13. If the AAU Practice Committee decides that the allegation should be dismissed or be reviewed by other units or other parts of the line management at Aalborg University, the case must be forwarded to these units and include the comments of the AAU Practice Committee. In such cases, the respondent, the relevant dean, the relevant head of department and, if relevant, the PhD supervisor and the head of the doctoral school must be informed.

Origin, background and history

The procedure was prepared by a working group composed of administrative staff from the Rector's Office and the deans’ offices. The procedure has been prepared in accordance with the ‘Forslag til reorganisering af praksisudvalgsstrukturen på AAU’ [Scheme for reorganisation of the Practice Committee structure at AAU], adopted by the Executive Management on 24 May 2017 and subsequently approved by the academic councils. The procedure was subsequently revised by the Rector's Office and given final approval 30.09.2019.

Purpose and delimitation

For investigations of allegations of questionable research practice and preliminary investigations of allegations of research misconduct, the Rector has appointed one practice committee for Aalborg University (termed the AAU Practice Committee).

The procedure describes the actors involved and the individual steps for investigating cases in the AAU Practice Committee.

Overall framework

The procedure is consistent with Regulations for the AAU Practice Committee and the Act on Research Misconduct

Contact and responsibility

Rector's Office.

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Rules of procedure for the Practice Committee for Aalborg University (AAU Practice Committee)

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Regulations of the AAU Practice Committee

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