Professor Richard Epstein (University of Chicago Law School) has written an article in which he emphasises the importance of “established and settled institutional arrangements” (rather than “sloppy and ad hoc procedures”) to investigate allegations of research misconduct in each university.
Epstein points out that there should be no appearance of bias by the person(s) responsible for the investigation. Referring to his own experience in shaping the procedures at the University of Chicago, he writes that:
“in order to avoid any risk of bias, the appointment of the individuals to conduct the investigation had to be done by persons who were not in the department, or even within the discipline, of the accused person. Towards that end, we eventually devised a standing committee of eminent scholars whose job was to appoint the committee of field experts that would take charge of the initial investigation. Once that was done, the Standing Committee would then oversee its work under an appeals process that gave it power to review the applicable legal standards applied in the hearing and to set aside any findings of fact that were deemed to be clearly erroneous.”
In his article, Epstein refers to the Soman Fraud in 1978 as an illustration of the importance of having formal procedures in place in universities to investigate allegations of research misconduct.
Epstein, R., ‘Academic Fraud Today: Its Social Causes and Institutional Responses’, 21 Stanford Law & Policy Review 135 (2010).