Revised Motions concerning Allegations of Research Misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO (15 May 2012)

Following the Senate Agenda Committee’s rejection of the original motions on 14 May 2012, the following three motions were resubmitted to the Agenda Committee on 15 May.  In rejecting the original motions, the Agenda Committee claimed that “the OCUFA Statement [. . .] is not factually correct.”  Although it provided no specification or evidence of this incorrectness, and although the objection had no application to the first motion, the second and third motions were revised such that they suspend judgment on OCUFA’s allegations. Nevertheless, the Agenda Committee refused the re-submitted motions, this time without explanation.  On 22 May, the motions will be re-submitted for the Agenda from the floor of Senate as they appear below, and a majority vote will suffice for their inclusion on the Agenda (as per the Rules of Procedure, III.17, paragraph 3). [1]

First Motion (to be moved by Jordan Morelli, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science) 

Given that the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has released a “Statement on allegations of research misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO” (27 April 2012);

And given that the statement advises OCUFA members “that working with HEQCO requires the researcher to surrender all ownership of, and moral rights to, the final product” (p. 2), that “The terms of the HEQCO research contract puts serious constraints on the academic freedom of those who undertake HEQCO-funded research,” and that “care must be taken to ensure that [. . .] researchers understand the terms and conditions of the HEQCO contract,” especially where these researchers are “students and early-career academics,”

I move that Senate endorse OCUFA’s recommendations and take the following practical measures in keeping with its Statement:

that it urge Queen’s Research Services (QRS) and Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) to acknowledge OCUFA’s caveats concerning “HEQCO-funded research”; and

that it direct QRS to advise all Queen’s researchers of the nature of HEQCO (and HEQCO-style) research contracts and of the fact that they put “serious constraints on the academic freedom of those who undertake HEQCO-funded research.”

*

Second Motion (to be moved by Terry Bridges, Senator for the Society of Graduate and Professional Students)

Given that the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has released a “Statement on allegations of research misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO” (27 April 2012);

Given that it is alleged in this “Statement,” and in documents it references, that under a research contract between HEQCO and Queen’s University, the Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Queen’s made “significant changes” to a Report at the request of the Dean of Student Affairswithout the knowledge or consent of the Report’s authors, and that the Report was then published by HEQCO with a disclaimer implying that it was wholly the work of those authors (see OCUFA, “Statement,” pp. 1, 3, and “Research misconduct and HEQCO,” http://cfsontario.ca/en/section/192);

Given that, as OCUFA has expressed it, “changing the conclusions of a research paper without the knowledge or consent of its authors, and then publishing that work under the authors’ names, is unethical practice, and steps should be taken to ensure it does not happen again” (p. 3);

Given that OCUFA’s “Statement” holds “Queen’s University to be primarily responsible” for the alleged “lapse” (p. 4);

Given OCUFA’s conclusion “that a serious breach of research ethics occurred at Queen’s University” (p. 4); and

Given that these circumstances and OCUFA’s “Statement” are damaging to the University’s reputation,

I move that without necessarily assuming or conceding the correctness of OCUFA’s “Statement on allegations of research misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO,” Senate acknowledge the seriousness of the allegations and of the underlying situation and take the following practical measure toward remedying the present situation and preventing recurrences:

that it urge the Directors of Queen’s Research Services, Queen’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, and Queen’s Student Affairs to acknowledge “that changing the conclusions of a research paper without the knowledge or consent of its authors, and then publishing that work under the authors’ names, is unethical practice and steps should be taken to ensure it does not happen.”

*

Third Motion (to be moved by Mark Jones, Faculty Senator for Arts and Science)

Given that the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has released a “Statement on allegations of research misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO” (27 April 2012);

Given that this “Statement” alleges that under a research contract between HEQCO and Queen’s University, the Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Queen’s made “significant changes” to a Report without the knowledge or consent of the Report’s authors, and that the Report was then published by HEQCO with a disclaimer implying that it was wholly the work of those authors (“Statement,” pp. 1, 3);

Given that, as OCUFA has expressed it, “changing the conclusions of a research paper without the knowledge or consent of its authors, and then publishing that work under the authors’ names, is unethical practice, and steps should be taken to ensure it does not happen” (p. 3);

Given that OCUFA’s “Statement” holds “Queen’s University to be primarily responsible” for the alleged “lapse” (p. 4); and

Given OCUFA’s conclusion “that a serious breach of research ethics occurred at Queen’s University. The severity of the case requires that the breach be fully investigated by the institution” (p. 4),

I move that without necessarily assuming or conceding the correctness of OCUFA’s “Statement on allegations of research misconduct at Queen’s University and HEQCO,” Senate acknowledge the seriousness of the allegations by directing the Provost to appoint a qualified arms-length expert in research management and research ethics to investigate and report to Senate by September 2012 on points including:

  • The extent, if any, of research misconduct in this case, and of Queen’s responsibility for it;
  • whether the misconduct, if any, is representative or anomalous (with particular but not exclusive reference to any other research contracts between Queen’s and HEQCO, whether completed or ongoing);
  • the best means for preventing future cases of misconduct such as the one alleged in OCUFA’s “Statement”; and
  • whether an apology is due from the Directors of Queen’s Research Services, Queen’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, and/or Queen’s Student Affairs to the primary investigator Jennifer Massey and her co-authors Sean Field and Jeff Burrow.


[1] The only provision in the Rules of Procedure for the Agenda Committee’s prerogative to exclude submitted materials for the agenda is where a motion or resolution “falls outside of the jurisdiction of the Senate.”  The provision is as follows:  “Under the Senate Rules of Procedure the preparation of the agenda is the responsibility of the Agenda Committee. It is the responsibility of that Committee to ensure that no motion or resolution is placed on the agenda which falls outside the jurisdiction of the Senate as defined in the Functions of the Senate. If the Agenda Committee rejects a resolution as not being within the jurisdiction of Senate, it should give notice of such rejection to the person who proposed such a resolution and report such action to the Senate. If a Senator believes the Agenda Committee’s ruling is in error and wishes to challenge the ruling excluding such a resolution, he or she may do so in the Senate meeting when the Senate considers the adoption of the agenda as recommended by the Agenda Committee. Under the present Rules of Procedure, a vote of a majority of Senators present would be sufficient to have such a resolution included in the agenda” (Rules of Procedure III. 17).  (In the present case no claim or demonstration has been made that any of the three motions lie outside of the jurisdiction of Senate.)

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