Research Integrity

The University is committed to the design, performance, analysis, dissemination, and review of research and scholarly activities according to the highest ethical standards. This implies adherence to the core values of the research enterprise, including honesty, fairness, impartiality, transparency, efficiency, and protection of confidentiality. Below we provide guides to help researchers understand and appreciate some of the ethical issues associated with adherence to these values and standards.

University of Miami Authorship Guidelines

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  • Background

    Authorship has important implications and carries substantial responsibilities. Authorship of books and journal articles is used in evaluation of scholars for jobs, promotions, grants/fellowships, and awards. In turn, authors are those who can be assigned responsibility both for the accuracy of published data and conclusions and for any ethical or scientific concerns that arise; they may also own or control data, tissues, reagents and other scientific materials discussed in the published work. As commonly understood, an author is someone who is an originator of a novel written work. In scholarly journals and other outlets for scholarly publication, an author is understood as someone who has made a substantial intellectual contribution to the published work. These guidelines cover authorship in books, scientific journals, conference proceedings, published abstracts, scientific posters, grant proposals, and other scholarly works. Although efforts have been made to be as general in scope as possible, it must be acknowledged that the guidelines outlined below are most clearly relevant to scholarly works in STEM or social science fields, and do not account for all differences in practices in different scholarly fields.

  • Guidelines

    Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in scholarly works is prohibited, as are the practices known as “guest authorship”, “courtesy authorship”, and “ghost authorship” (or ghostwriting). Criteria for authorship can be summarized as follows:

    • Authorship should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design of research, or to the gathering, analysis or interpretation of data; 2) drafting or reviewing the work for intellectual content; and 3) approval of the final version to be published. Authors should meet each of the 3 criteria. Acquisition/provision of funding, collection of data, supervision of the research group, or occupation of a leadership position (e.g., department chair) does not, by itself, suffice for authorship.
    • When a large group is involved, the members should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. Each of these individuals should meet the 3 criteria for authorship defined above. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the lead/corresponding author should identify all individual authors as well as the group name, if applicable.
    • All persons named as authors should qualify for authorship, and all persons who qualify should be listed as authors.
    • Each author should have sufficient knowledge of the work to take public responsibility for at least those portions of the work in which they are involved. Where feasible, a summary of author contributions (e.g., conceived and designed research, performed research, analyzed results, wrote initial draft, edited manuscript) should be clearly and explicitly listed in the publication. One useful taxonomy can be found in the CRedIT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) system developed by the Consortium Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information (CASRAI).
    • Those who contribute to the research in a published work but who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the Acknowledgments. Examples include persons who provided purely technical help (such as performing experiments under direction), writing assistance, or financial support. If assistance is provided with study design, data collection or analysis, or preparation of the manuscript, the authors should disclose the identities of the individuals who provided such assistance and the entity providing financial support for this assistance (if any) in the Acknowledgements. Individuals, such as students, fellows, and research assistants, who provide substantial technical support for the research should be given the opportunity to contribute intellectually as well, so as to qualify for authorship. Persons and groups who have made substantial contributions to the work may be acknowledged under categories such as “participating investigators,” and their functions or contributions should be described—for example, “provided advice on study design”, “critically reviewed the initial proposal”, “provided technical assistance”, or “enrolled study participants.” Persons listed in the Acknowledgements should be asked for permission to be listed, since acknowledgement of contributions to an article may imply agreement with or endorsement of the work’s findings or conclusions. If these persons have left the institution and are not reachable by the other authors, they may be acknowledged upon agreement by the senior author(s).

  • Authorship decisions

    Decisions about inclusion/exclusion of authors, and their listed order in the published work, should be made jointly by the authors. A person may refuse to be listed as an author despite having made substantial intellectual contributions; this however may not be done deliberately to subvert the prohibition on “ghost authorship” described below. Discussions about authorship and author order should occur as early in the research process as feasible, to reduce the probability of later disputes. These discussions should be re-opened when required by changes to the direction or scope of the project. The “lead” (senior or corresponding) author(s) should lead authorship discussions. Note that when a publication is substantially based on the work comprising a student’s dissertation, the student should be the primary author. Each research group leader should ensure that each member of the research team understands the group's authorship policies and practices. This information should ideally be conveyed in writing at the time that a person joins the research group.

    When disputes about author inclusion or author order arise, they should be handled by consensus among the group of authors, or, if necessary, by disinterested individuals chosen as mediators by the group; e.g., the consult service offered by the University of Miami Bioethics Institute. If the mediators selected by the author group cannot provide a resolution acceptable to the group, the dispute should be brought to research leadership for review and advice. Final decisions about authorship, where disagreement still exists, are made by the senior author(s).

  • Ghost Authorship

    The practice of “ghost authorship” or “ghostwriting”, in which a person who has made substantial intellectual contributions to the writing of a submitted article is not listed as an author, is prohibited. Persons who make substantial intellectual contributions to the writing of a manuscript should be allowed to approve the final version and thus to qualify for authorship.

  • Guest Authorship

    The practice of “guest authorship” or “courtesy authorship”, in which a person is listed as an author despite failing to meet the criteria for authorship, is prohibited.

  • Authorship of grant proposals

    As with all research-related work, fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in the writing of grant proposals is prohibited. “Self-plagiarism”, in which investigators “re-cycle” their own writing (previously used in other documents) may be acceptable in grant proposals. Data, written material, or figures originated by or obtained from individuals who are not members of the research team may not be used in a grant proposal without explicit written permission from (and acknowledgement of) the individuals who originated the work. Agreements about who will be Principal Investigator(s), Co-Investigators, unpaid collaborators/consultants, etc. and their (paid and unpaid) efforts should be joint decisions of the investigators involved. Discussions about these issues should occur as early as possible in the grant writing process. Submittal of the same or substantially similar grant proposals to more than one funding agency is permissible, as long as 1) this is permitted by each of the involved funding agencies; 2) this is made clear in any “Other Support” sections of the relevant grant proposals; and 3) agencies are notified of any scientific/financial overlap in grant funding by the time of award(s). In the case of “limited submissions”, where there are limits on the number of proposals that may be submitted by the University or an individual school, investigators must make clear at the time of the competition whether they plan to submit a substantially similar grant to a different agency.

  • Simultaneous submission of manuscripts

    It is inappropriate to submit the same or a substantially similar manuscript to more than one outlet at the same time, unless this practice is explicitly permitted or is disclosed and agreed to by each outlet. Authors should therefore wait until a review decision has been made before submittal to a different outlet. Editors generally assume that they are being given an exclusive opportunity to review and publish, which is necessary to avoid the possibility that they go to the trouble and expense of reviewing an article that is then withdrawn and published elsewhere.

  • Redundant publication

    Various pressures have been known to lead some scholars to attempt to publish the same or a substantially similar document more than once – in different journals and/or under different titles. If this is done with the intent to inflate a scholar’s curriculum vitae (CV), or otherwise deceive supervisors, reviewers, or readers, it is inappropriate, constitutes research misconduct, and may also constitute a copyright violation. If a journal or book editor wants to include a closely related version of a previously published document, this may be permissible if it is adequately disclosed to readers and documented as such on the author’s CV.

  • Acknowledgements

    Guidelines by John L. Bixby, PhD, revised January 24, 2020. These guidelines, in part, closely adhere to principles developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Editing help and important suggestions were contributed by Kenneth Goodman, Reid Cushman, Richard Bookman, Douglas Anderson, Mary Moore, Susan Morgan, Ali Mosser, Rebecca Adkins, and Cindy Augustyn.

Scientific Peer Review: What to do (and not do)

Do

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  • Principal Investigator

    • Disclose all potential conflicts about reviewers in your grant application (including, but not limited to, all individuals who reviewed or communicated about your application)
    • Know all rules, regulations, policies and requirements regarding the review process
    • Contact the appropriate individual (e.g., SRO for NIH) about any potential inappropriate communications or conflicts not disclosed in the application

  • Reviewer

    • Complete and submit your conflict of interest form and/or disclose all potential conflicts. Conflicts may include:
      • Serving as PI or key personnel on an application under review
      • The potential to receive a direct or indirect financial benefit
      • An employee of the PI or institution of an application
      • Applications that include professional associates or personal relationships
      • Appearance of a conflict
    • Keep all grant applications and materials strictly confidential
    • Notify the appropriate individual if you discover additional conflicts once you begin your review
    • Immediately disclose any inappropriate communications such as request for a favorable review
    • Leave the room prior to any discussion for an application in which you are in conflict
    • Destroy or return all documents as instructed or required

Don't

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  • Principal Investigator

    • Contact reviewers on the study section reviewing your application to request or provide information about the review
    • Attempt to influence the outcome of the review or reviewer(s)
    • Send information or data directly to a reviewer
    • Attempt to access information reviewed to the review of the application

  • Reviewer

    • Discuss the grant application with anyone outside of the review panel – before, during or after the meeting
    • Discuss the grant applications with review panel members before the meeting
    • Bring up concerns of scientific misconduct during the review meeting, discuss them privately with the appropriate person (e.g., SRO for NIH)
    • Mention previous scores received by the application or compare an application to another
    • Discuss funding, budget or administrative issues

Standards and Guides

Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest in Publications and Presentations

A guide from our Office of Disclosures and Relationship Management

Integrity and Confidentiality in NIH Peer Review

The National Institutes of Health's extensive resource for reviewers and applicants

Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

The latest guidelines from the Committee on Public Ethics (COPE).
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