As a major funder, producer, and user of research, the Federal government has a vital interest in the integrity of the research record. Advances in science and engineering depend on the reliability of the record, as do the benefits associated with them in areas such as health and national security. Sustained public trust in the scientific enterprise also requires confidence in the record and in the processes involved in its ongoing development. Although most agencies have policies and procedures in place for handling allegations of research misconduct, not all do, and policies are not uniform across agencies. The 1993 National Academy of Sciences panel report on Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process and the 1995 Health and Human Services' “Ryan Commission' s” report on Integrity and Misconduct in Research: Report of the Commission of Research Integrity recommended the development uniform government-wide policies and procedures for research misconduct, although they differed in some specifics. It was with these considerations in mind that the NSTC established a Panel on Research Integrity comprised of representatives of the major research agencies and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Panel was charged to develop guiding principles for agencies and research institutions for handling cases of alleged research misconduct and to recommend a definition of research misconduct that would be adopted by all agencies.
The Research Integrity Panel' s proposed definition and guiding principles has been circulated to the Committee on Science for review and approval, following which the revised policy will be sent to the full NSTC for approval. OSTP is coordinating agency responses and is responsible for developing a revised draft. The policy will be published in the Federal Register for public comment by spring 1999. Agencies and universities that accept Federal research funds will be expected to comply with the new policy when it is finalized.