Research Integrity and Misconduct

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The Office of Research Integrity (ORIC) at UNM is responsible for aiding researchers in monitoring and avoiding research misconduct.

Research misconduct (RM) is behavior in which the research record is distorted by reporting false or misleading data, or by misattribution of credit for work, ideas, data, or words.

Funding agencies and UNM have a vested interest in ensuring that their research resources are not wasted. The research community has an expectation that results reported in the literature are accurate and that they can be built upon by others. When research misconduct occurs, resources (including those spent on follow up studies) are wasted and the research community is misled. In addition, high profile research misconduct erodes the public’s trust in the research process.

UNM’s definition of research misconduct, consistent with federal regulations, is:

“Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, conducting, reporting, or reviewing sponsored or unsponsored research.”

In addition: “The misconduct must have been committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.”

UNM’s RM policy and procedures are outlined in UNM Faculty Handbook E40: Research Misconduct.

Under this policy, only falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism are considered and investigated by ORIC.

This definition is in line with the US Public Health Services Office of Research Integrity: Scope of Research Misconduct (May 27, 2021).

UNM FHB Policy E40 establishes these definitions:

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

Data suggests that as many as 1 in 100 investigators could be involved in issues of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. Incidences of questionable research practices in general could be much higher, with estimated rates of 10% to 30%.

For more information about how to identify RM, see:

Falsification, fabrication, and/or plagiarism can be reported directly to ORIC at Please keep in mind that such reports are not anonymous.

If you are unsure if what you want to report is RM, you can also contact the UNM Research Integrity Officer at 505-277-1045 to discuss it hypothetically. Although the RIO will do their best to address your question anonymously, certain information that you reveal may compromise your confidentiality or that of the person you are reporting.

If you want to report anonymously, you may do so by reporting through EthicsPoint, UNM’s ethics hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-888-899-6092 or by using the online EthicsPoint reporting portal. Please have as much information as possible regarding the alleged falsification, fabrication or plagiarism when you make these reports because we cannot pursue unsubstantiated reports.

There are two things you should keep in mind when you report:

  1. You are protected from retaliation for reporting by UNM and Federal policies. See UNM Policy on Whistle Blowing. This policy does not prevent retaliation, but offers some recourse if you experience it.
  2. Reports not made in good faith will be dealt with through University disciplinary procedures.

For allegations concerning academic plagiarism or other academic misconduct, or misconduct that does not include falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism, please use the UNM Compliance Hotline, which will direct your report to the appropriate office.

One key part of the definition of RM is that it must be committed “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly”. We recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that Federal regulations are defining several “questionable research practices” (QRP) that, while they do not rise to the level of RM, should be actively avoided.

The biggest key to preventing RM or QRP is education. ORIC, in conjunction with the Office of the Vice President for Research, hosts the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training certification program. This training is required by certain federal funders and is, in general, important training for the whole of your research career. Please see the RCR Certification page for more information: