Research Policy and Compliance  /  Compliance  /  Research Misconduct

Research Misconduct & Authorship Disputes

Caltech Policy on Research Misconduct

Caltech's Policy on Research Misconduct is applicable to all Caltech researchers and is maintained by the Office of Research Compliance. Chapter 7 of the Caltech Faculty Handbook also contains a copy of the policy.

Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

  • Fabrication means making up data or results, and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification means 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.
  • Plagiarism means the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.

Research misconduct does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

A finding of research misconduct requires that:

  • there is a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community;
  • the misconduct is committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; and
  • the allegation is proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Research misconduct is a rare occurrence at Caltech. Caltech policies regarding investigating and resolving research misconduct issues comply with federal requirements.

Process for Resolving Authorship Disputes

On rare occasions, there are disputes regarding authorship. Such disputes are not considered research misconduct.  Caltech has a Process for Resolving Authorship Disputes.