The mission of Gordon Research Conferences is to provide an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in science. A fundamental premise of any such presentation or discussion is that the underlying research shall have been conducted in accordance with the highest standards of scientific integrity. If these ethical standards are not met, GRC and the community of scientists exploring that research are betrayed in their efforts to advance that scientific frontier. Although the GRC Board of Trustees does not believe that scientific research misconduct is an issue within any GRC community of scientists, prudence dictates that the Board proactively establish a policy designed to address such an unlikely event in order to assure each member of every GRC community that scientific research misconduct will not be tolerated.
For purposes of this policy, the definition of “scientific research misconduct” shall be the same definition as adopted by the United States Office of Research Integrity of the US Department of Health and Human Services, as such definition is in effect from time to time.1
This policy also recognizes that GRC, acting as the linchpin of multiple scientific communities, lacks investigatory authority sufficient to address allegations of scientific research misconduct. It further recognizes that there are at least two possible instances of scientific research misconduct which scientific communities may be required to address: (i) scientific research misconduct that is alleged to have occurred at a time or place other than a GRC or GRS and (ii) scientific research misconduct that is alleged to have occurred during a GRC or GRS (i.e., improper or inadequate citation of another’s research).
With respect to scientific research misconduct occurring at a time or place other than a GRC or GRS, it is the policy of GRC that if an institution affiliated with a scientist’s primary employer, or a governmental agency or authority with jurisdiction over scientific research of the scientist or funding of the same, or a nationally recognized funding organization widely accepted by the scientific community of which the scientist is a member, formally makes or declares a verifiable finding that the scientist is guilty of scientific research misconduct and is sanctioned by such entity as a result of such misconduct, the scientist shall be banned from attending any GRC or GRS for a period of five years from the date of sanction, subject to appeal for good cause shown to the GRC Executive Committee (whose determination as to good cause shall be conclusive and binding). Each conferee applicant shall, as part of his or her registration to attend a conference, certify that he or she has not been so sanctioned for any scientific research misconduct during the previous five years. If GRC determines that a conferee applicant misrepresented his or her status as being free of sanction, that applicant will be banned from attending any GRC or GRS for a period of 10 years from the date of such determination. Upon expiration of the applicable period of banned attendance, the scientist will be permitted to register, attend, present and speak at GRCs and GRSs as determined by the applicable Chair, unless the GRC Executive Committee determines, in its sole discretion, that the circumstances resulting in the ban were egregious.
For purposes of this policy, a “sanction” by any of the above described entities includes any of the following actions taken by such entity as a result of a finding of scientific research misconduct:
- debarment of scientist from eligibility to receive funds for grants and contracts from a funding entity;
- removal of scientist from a grant or withdrawal of current funding of a grant to scientist;
- restriction of scientist from making future grant applications;
- requirement of repayment of a grant by scientist or scientist’s primary employer;
- prohibition on scientist serving on entity’s advisory committees, peer review committees, or as consultant;
- requirement of monitoring of scientist’s future work;
- requirement of certification of information sources by scientist;
- requirement of certification of data by scientist’s primary employer;
- imposition of supervision of the scientist by scientist’s primary employer; or
- submission of a retraction of a published article by scientist due to finding of research misconduct.
For the avoidance of doubt, the submission of a retraction or correction of a publication for reasons other than a finding of scientific research misconduct shall not be deemed a sanction under this policy.
With respect to scientific research misconduct occurring during a GRC or GRS, it is the policy of GRC that any allegation of scientific research misconduct shall be brought to the attention of the Chair of that conference, who shall report the allegation to GRC headquarters. The accuser shall be asked by GRC venue staff to complete a statement summarizing his or her allegation to be sent to GRC headquarters, and GRC venue staff will include photographic evidence if available. The Chair shall promptly convene a meeting among the accused, the accuser and the Vice Chair to seek an appropriate resolution satisfactory to each of them. If satisfactory resolution is achieved at the meeting, no further action need be taken by any party. If the allegation or an appropriate remedy remains unresolved at the conclusion of the meeting, the Chair and Vice Chair, acting together, shall inform the parties that the institution affiliated with the accused’s primary employer should be contacted for resolution of the matter. GRC will, if requested, make the summary statement of the accused and any photographic evidence available to both parties. Neither the Chair nor the Vice Chair shall have the authority to direct the removal of the accused from the conference or any conference presentation absent express authority of GRC.
This policy is effective as of November 1, 2019, but shall not apply to Chairs or Vice Chairs duly elected to lead GRCs or GRSs scheduled for 2020 or 2021 (including current Vice Chairs who will serve as Chairs in 2022).
1Research misconduct means, as of the effective date of this policy, “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
(a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
(b) 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.
(c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
(d) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.”