oversight

Plagiarism (Verbatim)

Published by the National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General on 2014-10-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
                                                  OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
                                                    OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS

                                           CLOSEOUT MEMORANDUM

Case Number: A12080057                                                                     Page 1 of 1



                 Our investigation determined that the Subject 1 knowingly plagiarized in proposals
         submitted to NSF. NSF made a finding of research misconduct; sent a letter of reprimand to the
         Subject; required the Subject to submit certifications to the Assistant Inspector General for
         Investigations (AlGI), NSF OIG for three years; required the Subject's employer to submit
         assurances to the AlGI of NSF OIG for three years; and required the Subject to provide
         certification to the AlGI that he has completed a course on the responsible conduct of research.

                 This memo, the attached Report of Investigation, and the letter from NSF with a finding
         of research misconduct constitute the case closeout. Accordingly, this case is closed.




NSF OIG Form 2 (11/02)
                                   NATlON~LSCiSN6E,F00NIYATlON
                                       4201. WILS'ON BOUlEVARD
                                      .ARUNGt'fON, VJRGlNIA 222SO




    OFFl~E;OF tHE
   PEPUT'f DIRECTOR




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prqpas~l thatcontained76 uriiq11elines of•cqpi~dtext&nd· two ti~splagiatized fromei~
so1.trces• Thls.pla~iE!iismJS.doctil:rtem#tin·tlw ~tt~ched InvestigatWii~ort,ptepa@d.'bYN$'F·~
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                            1


plagiarismin ptopositigor perfiJtming"r~s~~'dh. func.ied by NSF .,)' 45 CER § ·689.t(a). NSF
defines ~'pl~$iarism) 1 as th,e ·~~~propriatiop. of~otherpersonr:s ideas~ pto~s~~rt r¢1lults:or words
without giyjng;a,pptnpi1ate·creilit•• 45 CPR.:§ 6&9.l(a)\~J·
                                                                                                                            ~ :


A:fitldingofresearch misconduct:tequires.that:·
       (1) l'hereh~ a.&tgn,ificantdepm1.Ui"e'noltl ace:eptedpxactices· <?ftl:le•relevant.research
            comiriunit:Y; an,d                                           ,
       (*) The::~searchmiscqnductbe.e.onm1ittedintent1on:ally;, .orJctJOwit1gly.•cn«:kteSs1y;.and
       (3) Tbeai1egation.J)e ptove:n: by a pre,~n9etance ofevidence;

4$ CFR §; o89.2(c)
                                                                                                               Pa"ge''4

  Th~"(;)f,(J ItJ\'¥$tiga:~ive Report.desctib~~ i!:l d¢tm1 the plagjatlzed mateii~J that: was f:ouna itt an
  NSF'CtmEER·pfoposai that was fiJndedJ>yNSiF, m:adc\i:tipn, the:Universij;yconclp_d¢d as,patt
  of it$· own ib.YestigatiP»: that th~ NSF CAREER proposaLcontained.plagiarizedm!l.terial, This
  1nformationpennitsme to ponclu!i~ t:hatyouJ; actionstp,ee,tihe:.a:pplic~i~,ble. definin<>J::i of
  plagiat'ism, !:l& set fut1:h..in.NSF; s regulations.
  PtJrsuant to NSF~s regUlati()n~- tl'ie:Foundation must,&lso deteiniine-whethertomak:e.afinding of
   research misconduct based ona·p:[!epC)n({et,a]l~e·of'Qte eyl:den~e; 4S' QFR § 689;2~q)~: :Based on
- irtfortnati~n in both the: 0tG Investigative( Report antfthe iJnWersl~y''investigation~ it/is ·clear that
   the plaghwized material. ~ppeared·not pp.lyiil the NSF CArfltERptiJposal, butalso in:two
                              the
   proposals·submittedto Depaitm,entdf'Defense.up:to '1'7 J.i1Q1ith.s·Jater.This it.t(<mnat~<>n
  unc;lerrnines:t1re·(;l'¢&i,b:il#y ofyou:r ~settiof.rthat the pl@iaiism.'~$ the W1intenlional
  ·cons¢qu.ence of being ino:a rush-to put togetherthei.NSF GARBER prqppsaL Aft~r revi~win:g.~he
   OIG Investig&tjve R~port. and the tJ]iivei'sity !nyestigatitm, NSF has detennlrtetlthat~ based on a
   ptepoildetance.oftheevidence; the:plagiaris!lt·wcas coro;rpjtted ,know~p,gly and~~op.sti'tllted a
  signlil.cant departqre f:rqm;accept~d practic~-s··or:the·re1~vantresearc1tcommmll.fp1 .. ·I:.ani~
  therefore;. issuing a finding·ot:res¢arch 1;11isp~uPt:~ain.st you.

  NSF's regql~tions ~~ta:bUsh three categp:rles (!factions (0Jlo~P I, JI, a~d,lll) that can be taken in
  respopse to a finditig. oftrtlscortduct •4S.>CER,§ 689 .:i(a:)~ <.Group I actions l.nelude issl.liirg aletter
  ~fr.eprimand.; condi~Pning aw~ds QI1 pqqr ,8,p,proval .ofp:atti(}ular a,cti'Yitl:esofrt1»1 NBE;:r~qqidng
  that!3:ii h;lstitutional reptesen;tativ:e-,certify·as:to'llie acci]iiacy of report:;;· mtcettifications.of  ..
  compliance wi1;b,particul&:rreguit.e:tnepts. 45 :CFR,§ 6$9:~{a)U). <J~:oup1I.acti'QnsJ1Jcltide,a'Watii
  suspension ortesuictioils on designated activities or'.expenditures;,t:equiring spe~!~lreview:s {if
  reqp¢sts· for :furJi:ting; and·reqtdrlng·corr¢¢iit~nt{vtbeteseatchtecord. 45 CPR.§ 6g9.:l(a)(Z").
  GrotlP' Ill actions include suspension p~{e®inaiiop, :()f~wru;cls;·:PTP:bll?~tiw"l~ on p~:ttitiPipat~on ~:
  N$Frev1ewers,.;advis.orsor consl,tltants; ~ana debarmentorsu:spen~ion 'from p{ltticipation-in NSF
  prognu~s •. As CER § 689,3(a)(3).

  Incl.l!termlningtheseverity·qfthe sanction to i'tp,pqse f'ortksear¢Jjmiscopdupt, l.h,av~.cd:Qsic:iered
  the s,eriousness ofthe m1scortduct;-iliy deteririihAtron tlifit itwas·coinnrltted kriow<xrigl_y;the.fact
  t\mt t4€1 tnisconti11<:it }ia,d art ~111pactontfJ~;Je$earchr¢eqt'CI:in tP,at'NS:P t\nliiedth~C~REEE,
  proposalthat ~6lit~ined the plagiarized' text; and. the factthatthere was·apattern ofnilsconductiJ:l
  wluc}l' tht'l.pJ~~arism.r¢c:txl,1Ct}d ih Jil1east two t1jlj.er p~·oposttlltslitbm{tf¢ct tiT <?1h¢t f~detaJ f'tlnd1J1~
  agencies. See.45:CFR§ 689.3(b).

  Ba,sednnthefor~going,        Lall'lil1lpos1J]gthe following actiQns on y9u:

       • You ate required to comp1et¢~!i ·compr~oonsive responsible :eond:uctofr~se.atph .ti-aimng
         c~mrse within on~ ye&r,.~:tnd provi(ie dqcumentatiott·oHh~ program·~ ,conteQt,· The
         instrUction f>hould b;¢.in an tlitetao~ive format (¢•g~, .art instt:uctot..Jed coutst:l, worksllop, .
         e,tc;).and shmUd incl~de•a di$CUs!?ion.9fp~a~iarfsm.
      • For a pet{\,id ofthtoe year~~you:are ~uirettto s11hmit~rtidicatil)ns that any :ProPfls~ls or
        reports you subm,il,t>.NSF 9gnqt ,contain plagiadzedr.falslfied; otfabri~dmateriaL
      • For a.periodoft..1tee years; you.~~'¢:reqm.red to sl.lbm~t assttrance::rbyar~spot)$il)l¥
        officfid of~out' ¢l}:1ployelrthatany~prQ;p!Ysals or reports you SlJl>mRto NSR.do not·co11~»
         pla~iari.zed,falsified)·,or·fabricnted.ma,te~lal

 All·cettification~,· assut:a!lv¢8; at~r.Ltrainint•documen£&tiv;.n~ shoula be •. submittea~ht m:ltingto
 NSF~s. Ofti'~oH~e· ~eeitPr. Q¢rteritl~ Assoei~e Ins~tprOetl.etru·for Investigations, 42Q.l
 W:iison.Boulevaoo·, Atfit1gton; V'l;tgtni~ 2Q.2:1()•
.. Apneal .Procedures fotdindbigui'Jlte§en,rt~b MiSconduct.
 t1:nder NSF~s r~gul:atiQi:ts, y()~havc· 3(}. AaYS'·aff~r re~iptoft}U~ Iette11t9 sq:bmitafl.appeal of'dlis
 np9i~; in wtiting,Jo the• Directoi·· of the F:Q~m~atjQn. 4~ QFR §689.10(~). Any app~l ~houla Qe
 addr:essed.to,theDir~etpt' at'the,National .Scieilc,tfFoundafioA~420l WiJsonl!oUlevw.·d,
 Arlington, Vtrgin~a 22'236. Ifwe do: Iil;)tt¢~eive 1 yonr £tPPCill within the 30'-daY ~riod~·tfle
 decision on the ,fjtldi:hS' qf:r$sQaroh.rri1sc~liductwillbe¢.rne,fip.al~ :Vor yotu~·infotJ11at~of), weare
 att~cb:l:~ a;,copy.oftheapplie~blette,gul~ti~m~,·

 Shnu.ld youhave. any question~ abot~hheforegoltif:!i,please ·contact-· Assistant
 General Cpu.ns¢1, at(70:;3:) ·292•              ·                 ·


                                                            Sincerely,



                                                            Cora a, Marrett
                                                            Deputy Dir1:l!;tor


 Encl(Jsu~s:
 Investigative, Report
 Nonprocurem.entDe\nwmetitRegtilations
 FAIL1tegu1ations
 4'CFltRatt 6:89
                                  NATiONAL SCIENCE F,QtJ('ltDATION
                                         ~:ZG'I WTtsr$n S.oulijv.~
                                        A.fllti9t9ri:; Virginia Z223{)




   OFl'l!'m'OF'Tfllif
 :GENEAAL coti~SEL




Pear-
l' has e:ot:n~to OlJr att¢ntion that thertwas,a cl~nci1l errorregir<lmgth~ de;testmtp'orifhe rec.~t
NoticeofR:esea1'cli:rvfisconductt>etetminatio)lJ~et:U1®~tQ,yo1l•,, 'The;I:¢~W~'date', ~tl:Jlm.pe~
wtUt rutincon·~9t' dat~ of.Augt(st R8l, ,lOU., '1'h¢<le1ter was ru!U1edon.Augu~Jf4; ~~j4 andtht\ti,$
the date which shou1d have, been reflect!\'id on the¢ite stamp,, We,apt)ltJgi.zefctthe error •al'l(i
wUl refl~ct \Ae ®.tret.t~di~t~:i1r O:tll' records:..                                             '
SENSITIVE                                                                         SENSITIVE




      National Science Foundation
        Office of Inspector General




                  Report of Investigation
                 Case Number A12080057
                      March 07, 2014


                        This Report of Investigation is provided to you
                                  FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.
 It contains protected personal information, the unauthorized disclosure of which may result in
 personal criminal liability under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. This report may be further
 disclosed within NSF only to individuals who must have knowledge of its contents to facilitate
 NSF's assessment and resolution of this matter. This report may be disclosed outside NSF only
    under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, 5 U.S.C. §§ 552 & 552a. Please take
                  appropriate precautions handling this report of investigation.



                                                                                                  1
SENSITIVE                                                                             SENSITIVE


                                      Executive Summary


OIG's inquiry established that:
  • copied text appeared in the Subject's funded NSF CAREER proposal.

University's investigation concluded that:
   • the Subject plagiarized text into his NSF proposal;
   • the Subject's plagiarism was intentional, and a significant departure from the standards of
      the research community; and,
   • the Subject's plagiarism constituted research misconduct.

OIG's   investigation established that:
  •     plagiarized text appeared in the Subject's NSF CAREER proposal;
  •     the Subject's proposal presented data from others as if it were the Subject's own; and,
  •     the Subject's plagiarism recurred in proposals submitted to other federal agencies.

OIG concludes that:
  • Act: The Subject plagiarized approximately 76lines oftext and several figures into a
      funded NSF CAREER proposal.
  • Intent: The Subject acted intentionally.
   • Standard of Proof: A preponderance of the evidence supports the conclusion that the
      Subject's acts were a significant departure from the standards of the research community,
      and therefore constitute research misconduct.
   • Pattern: The Subject's actions show a pattern of plagiarism in submitted proposals.

OIG recommends that NSF:
      • send the Subject a letter of reprimand notifying him that NSF has made a finding of
         research misconduct.
      • require the Subject to certify to the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
         (AlGI) his completion of a responsible conduct of research training program and
         provide documentation of the program's content within 1 year ofNSF's finding. The
         instruction should be in an interactive format (e.g., an instructor-led course).

For a period of3 years as ofthe date ofNSF's finding:

        •   require for each document (proposal, report, etc.) to which the Subject contributes for
            submission to NSF (directly or through his institUtion),
                o the Subject submit a certification to the AlGI that the document does not
                    contain plagiarism, falsification, or fabrication; and
                o the Subject submit assurances from a responsible official of his employer to
                    the AlGI that the document does not contain plagiarism, falsification, or
                    fabrication.
        •   bar the Subject from participating as a peer reviewer, advisor, or consultant for NSF.



                                                                                                  2
SENSITIVE                                                                                              SENSITIVE



                                                 OIG's Inquiry

        We assessed an allegation that the Subject's 1 funded NSF CAREER proposae contained
copied text. Our review revealed that approximately 76 unique lines oftext, and data in several
figures, were apparently copied from 8 different sources. We wrote the Subject to invite his
explanation. 3

        The Subject responded that he took "full responsibility for these mistakes,"4 but was
shocked by the amount of"identical and/or substantially similar text." 5 He admitted that the
"contents were copied identically without any proper citation." 6 He stated that he had a postdoc
"prepare a significant portion of the proposal." 7 The Subject admitted that Figures 3, 4, and 5
were copied from the indicated sources, and that the source of these figures was not cited. 8 The
Subject pointed to other cited sources for Figures in his proposal as evidence that the lack of
citation for Figures 3, 4, and 5 was unintentional, and asserted that preliminary data is not
required for CAREER proposals. Finally, the Subject noted that an NSF proposal "is not a
publication" but "merely a material that a limited number of reviewers could access. " 9

       The Subject's response did not address copied text in portions of the proposal presumably
composed by the PI, such as plans for student mentoring. The Subject's explanation for the
copied data was unconvincing because NSF instructions do allow appropriate inclusion of
                     °
preliminary data. 1 Finally, the NSF proposal preparation guide is clear that proposals should be
prepared according to the highest standards of scholarship. Because the Subject's response did
not dispel the allegation, we referred an investigation to the university. 11

                                            University Investigation

        The Dean ofthe Subject's School convened an investigation committee (IC) consisting of
three faculty members. 12 We received a copy of the IC report and associated documents. 13 The
IC imaged the computers of the Subject and his postdoctoral research associate, and sequestered
email correspondence. The IC interviewed the Subject and his postdoc, 14 and provided
1
2


3
    Our inquiry letter to the Subject, with the annotated proposal, is at Tab 1. His response is at Tab 2.
4
    Response letter, page 2 (Tab 2).
5
    Response letter, page 1 (Tab 2).
6
    Response letter, page 1 (Tab 2).
7
    Response letter, page 1 (Tab 2).
8
    Response letter, page 1 (Tab 2).
9
    Response letter, page 2 (Tab 2).
10
     Proposal preparation instructions state that "The Project Description should be developed in consultation with the
department head or equivalent organizational official and should include: a description of the proposed research
project, including preliminary supporting data where appropriate, specific objectives, methods and procedures to be
used, and expected significance of the results."
11
     The referral of investigation letter is at Tab 3.
12
     University policy is included at Tab 4.
13
     The IC report, the Dean's cover letter, and associated documents are included at Tab 5.
 14
                             .

                                                                                                                      3
SENSITIVE                                                                                            SENSITIVE


transcripts of the interviews. The IC report stated that since the "grant (sic) did not contain
original data and there was no allegation of falsification or fabrication of experimental results ...
. . we did not sequester any laboratory notebooks. " 15 The IC completed "an exhaustive search of
all computer files and email correspondence." 16

        The IC interviewed the Subject's postdoc 17 who admitted that he provided material on
chemical synthesis and characterization for the NSF proposal. 18 The postdoc confirmed that
Figure 3 on page 4 of the proposal, and Figure 4 on page 5 of the proposal, were taken from the
work of others published in the literature. 19 Additionally, the postdoc stated that other sections
of text he provided were taken from a report about which he could remember no specific
information. 20 The postdoc stated that his contribution to the proposal did not include sections
dealing with approach, rationale, or preliminary data? 1 Although the postdoc revealed to the IC
that he worked with the Subject in the preparation of other grant proposals,22 the IC did not
examine any other proposals for potential plagiarism.

        The IC report stated: " ... the Committee concluded on the basis of testimonies in a formal
setting that [the postdoc] is naive and lacking in education about scientific integrity, but that we
determined that he was forthcoming and honest, within the limits of his language challenges.
The Committee concluded that [the postdoc's] involvement in the preparation of the [NSF
proposal] did not indicate any scientific misconduct on his part and that allegations of plagiarism
should not be brought to bear on him.... However, the Committee will ask that [the postdoc]
and his laboratory colleagues be required to undergo training in the responsible conduct of
research.'m The IC did not establish whether the postdoc had already participated in the
responsible conduct of research training mandated as part of university policy. 24

        During his interview with the IC, the Subject asserted that he was rushed to submit the
proposal to NSF, did not have time to edit the material that he admittedly copied from some of
the indicated sources? 5 He stated that he viewed the NSF CAREER proposal as a document
with limited access, and he therefore "didn't pay attention on the citation that much." 26 He
pointed out that in his later publications. " ... we cited those old people, and we gave a credit to
those people who I missed to cite in the proposal."27 When asked by the IC about differentiating
his own words from those of others, the Subject responded: "Most of the copied part is
introduction and method, didn't really contribute any of the critical idea part."28 He stated that

15
   IC report, page 3 (Tab 5).
16
   IC report, page 3 (Tab 5).
17
   The postdoc interview began with a statement by the IC that he is a witness in the investigation.
18
   Transcript, page 4, lines 10-11 (Attachment E, Tab 5).
19
   Transcript, page 4, lines 13-22 (Attachment E, Tab 5). As noted, this statement by the postdoc contrasts with the
conclusions of the IC that these figures merely resembled the data in the sources.
20
   Transcript, page 7, lines 19-25 (Attachment E, Tab 5).              .
21
   Transcript, page 8, lines 4-8 (Attachment E, Tab 5).
22
   Transcript, page 21, lines 12-25 (Attachment E, Tab 5).
23
   IC report, pages 5-6, Tab 5).
24
   University policy on this matter is attached at Tab 6.
25
   Transcript, page 4, lines 13-17 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
26
   Transcript, page 5, lines 22-23 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
27
   Transcript, page 4, line 25, and page 5, lines 1-2 (Tab 5).
28
   Transcript, page 30, lines 9-12 (Attachment D, Tab 5).

                                                                                                                   4
SENSITIVE                                                                                              SENSITIVE


his practice in proposal composition was to " sometimes ... just copy from what other people
wrote, not a manuscript or publications, an existing document from my postdoctoral or graduate
students, and I edit." 29 The Subject stated that he was trained to memorize sentences from
                                                                              30
scientific papers, and that he trains his students and postdocs the same way. The Subject stated
"So I have been reading a lot of NIH proposals as a- you know, study section and NSF
proposals. Many of them missed the citation, and they just copied some figure from Google.
                                                                                               31
Should I do the same thing? I'm not sure it's their picture or they copied it from somewhere."

         The Subject admitted that he asked his postdoc to provide certain sections of the
proposal. 32 He also stated that he copied from a report that an undergraduate student prepared
for a class taught by the Subject. 33 The Subject admitted that he took material related to his
educational activities from other researchers34 who had received an NSF CAREER award. 35
Specifically with respect to Figure 5 on page 6 ofthe proposal, the Subject stated that the
                                                                                              36
descriptions and the data could be found in multiple papers talking about the same method.
However, he also stated that "for the                        picture, you can type in Google, and
you can fmd a similar thing, 100 different similar kind of versions of the same thing. What I was
- written description, yeah I admit that: those are copied without being significantly edited. That
was my fault." 37 Asked about other specific data38 that appears in his proposal, the Subject
stated "they think I copied it from somewhere, but I had the data. So that means I have n = 2
data." 39 The Subject stated to the IC that text copied into his NSF proposal reappeared in later
proposals submitted to other funding agencies 40 The Subject specifically described his
subsequent                                   proposals in his interview with the IC: "Honestly,
there was a full copy ofthe proposal, recycle of the proposal. So, it's not really a copy; it was a
recycle ofthe whole proposal."41

       The IC examined the annotated NSF CAREER proposal and alleged sources and
concluded that "the evidence shows unequivocally that materials ... [in the Subject's grant


29
     Transcript, page 4 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
30
     Transcript, page 10 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
  31
     Transcript, page 29 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
  32
     Transcript, page 8, lines 12-25 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
  33
     Transcript, page 11, lines 16-18 (Attachment D, Tab 5). The IC did not follow up on this issue.
  34
     The Subject did not identify these individuals.
  35
     Transcript, page 37, lines 11-16 and page 38, lines 17-23 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
  36
     Transcript, page 32, lines 17-24 and lines 1-12, and page 34, lines 8-13(Attachment D, Tab 5). The Subject did
  not provide examples to the IC, nor did the IC ask for any.
  37
·     Transcript, page 34, lines 8-13(Attachment D, Tab 5).
  38
      Figure 4 in the NSF CAREER proposal (Transcript, page 34, line 25, (Attachment D, Tab 5)).
  39
      The IC did not follow up on this issue.
  40
      Our inquiry letter to the Subject (Tab 2) asked "Is there any additional text in your proposal (this or your other
  proposals) that was copied from another source but is not properly distinguished and attributed?" The Subject
  responded to the inquiry letter: "Considering the nature of CAREER proposals, this proposal was only one I had to
  rush to submit without being fully prepared with structured preliminary results. I have looked through all the
  proposals that I wrote and involved since 2008 but I have not found any part that is identically copied without proper
  citation. Actually, I need more time to finish this job and feel like it takes forever." (Response letter, page 3 (Tab
  3)).
  41
       Transcript, page 40, lines 24-25, and 1-2 (Attachment D, Tab 5). The Subject is referring to the fact that copied
  text and figures which appear in his NSF CAREER proposal also appear in the                proposals.

                                                                                                                      5
SENSITIVE                                                                                           SENSITIVE


(sic)] ... were copied from eight sources without appropriate attribution. " 42 The IC examined the
computer files and emails for "evidence of possible collusion;"43 the IC found "no explanation
for the duplicated passages or reason to believe that simple error was the cause."44 The IC stated
that it used Google to searchfor additional instances of plagiarism in the NSF proposal. 45

         The IC concluded that the Subject's plagiarism constituted research misconduct and that
this act was a departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community46 and that
the plagiarism was committed intentionally. 47 The IC concluded that Figures 3, 4, and 5 in the
proposal were not copied from the indicated sources, and were not intended to be attributed to
the Subject's research. The IC reached this conclusion despite the specific admission of the
Subject in his response to our inquiry letter, and in his interview with the IC, 48 that these figures
were copied from these sources. Although the IC noted that parts of the NSF progosal
reappeared in a proposal submitted to the                            by the Subject, 9 the IC did not
consider whether a pattern of behavior by the Subject was evident. Finally, the IC concluded
that "there was no original data" in the proposal and to the IC's knowledge "no publications have
emerged that have anything to do with the questionable materials." 50 The IC concluded that
there was no significant impact on the research record or the public welfare. 51 The IC did not,
however, examine any of the Subject's publications or research reports.

        The IC recommended that the Subject receive a letter of reprimand, be placed on
probation for two years, complete training in the responsible conduct of research, and be placed
under the supervision of a senior faculty member to ensure that the Subject's "future submissions
are free of violations of accepted standards of scientific conduct." 52 The Dean required that
members of the Subject's research team complete training in the responsible conduct of
research. 53 The Dean imposed the following sanctions on the Subject: 1) a letter of reprimand
and two years of probation; 2) requirement for training in the responsible conduct of research; 3)
assistance and counsel of a senior faculty member to ensure that future grant applications and
scientific publications are consistent with accepted standards of scientific conduct; 4) a series of
meetings with the senior faculty member to document progress in understanding and
implementing the standards of scientific conduct; 5) a twice-yearly report to the Dean of
submitted proposals or research manuscripts, with a certification that accepted standards of
scientific conduct have been followed, and; 6) a review at the end of the probationary period to
determine if it should be continued. 54



42
     IC report, page 4 (Tab 5).
43
     IC report, page 4 (Tab 5).
44
     IC report, page 4 (Tab 5).
45
     IC report, page 4 (Tab 5).
46
     IC report, page 6 (Tab 5).
47
     IC report, page 7 (Tab 5).
48
     Transcript, lines 11-12, page 32 (Attachment D, Tab 5).
49
     IC report, page 5 (Tab 5).
50
     IC report, page 7 (Tab 5).
51
     IC report, page 7 (Tab 5).
52
     IC report, page 8 (Tab 5).
53
      Cover letter from                            dated August 27, 2013 (Tab 5). No other information was provided.
54
      Cover letter from               , pages 2-3 (Tab 5).

                                                                                                                  6
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                                        OIG's Investigation


         Pursuant to the NSF research misconduct regulation, we assessed whether the
 university's investigation report was fundamentally accurate and complete, and whether the
 university followed reasonable procedures. The IC noted that some of the same text copied into
·the NSF CAREER proposal appeared in the proposals subsequently submitted to the
              but did not assess that recurrence in light of a potential pattern of plagiarism by the
 Subject, or as part of an evaluation ofthe explanation provided by the Subject for the copied text
 in the NSF CAREER proposal. Therefore, we resumed our investigation.

        We contacted the Subject to invite his comments on the university report and actions.
The Subject responded that he had no comments. We contacted the university to acquire a copy
of the two                                 proposals that the IC report indicated contained copied
material overlapping with the NSF proposal. The three proposals of interest are listed in the table
below.

Proposal to          Title                    Submitted date      Awarded date         Amount
                                              July 21, 2010                                      with
                                                                                       award letter of

                                                                                       and email notices
                                                                                       in December 2010
                                              December 10,        Declined
                                              2010


                                               December 21,        Declined
                                               2011



          Both of the       proposals contain text and data in common with the NSF proposal, but
 the overlap is far more extensive in the longer            proposal. 55 The Subject's explanation
 in response to our inquiry letter, and his subsequent explanation to the university IC, was that he
 did not have to time to edit text and data in his NSF CAREER proposal, with the result that
 citations were incomplete or missing. However, the same copied text and data appears in the
             proposal, submitted 17 months after the NSF proposal was submitted, undermining
 the credibility of the explanation. Additionally, examination of the              proposal shows
 that it seeks funds for research already funded by NSF. The second specific objective in both
 proposals is the creation of a library of                         . The composition of the
            and the proposed experiments are exactly the same in both proposals, despite a claim in
 the text of the            proposal that the research proposed is distinct from that supported by
 the NSF CAREER award. The                    proposal was declined for funding.

 55
    The cross-annotated NSF CAREER and the         proposals are included at Tab 7, along with the
 proposal.                                                                            .

                                                                                                         7
SENSITIVE                                                                                          SENSITIVE



        The NSF ejacket indicates that the NSF Program Officer contacted the Subject on
December 10, 2010 for an updated list of current and pending support before the NSF CAREER
award was made. The Subject provided a list on December 20, 2010 that did not contain an
entry for the                      proposal, submitted earlier that month. 56 Conversely, the
                      proposal does not mention the pending NSF CAREER proposal submitted
four months earlier, although it lists several other pending awards. The             proposal
contains a list of the Subject's current and pending support, and the funded NSF CAREER award
is included in that list.

        In addition to the copied text considered by the IC, we carefully examined the
provenance of Figure 4 and Figure 5 in the Subject's NSF CAREER proposal, both of which are
identified as experimental data relevant to the research proposed. Figure 4 in the proposal
appears to be redrawn from data in Source 8 (appearing as Figure 5 there). This figure in the
NSF CAREER proposal reappears exactly in the                           proposal, but no reference
list was included with the copy of the proposal provided to us by the university. We conclude
that Figure 4 in the NSF CAREER proposal is redrawn from data reported by others (as in
Source 8), and appears in the Subject's NSF proposal without appropriate credit, and was also
copied into the           proposal.

        Figure 5 in the NSF CAREER proposal appears to be redrawn from data in Source 1
(appearing as Figure 4 there). Accompanying descriptive text is also copied. Figure 5 is
                                                                                   57
specifically linked in the NSF CAREER proposal to the "PI's previous study." A citation to
Source 1 does not appear in the NSF-CAREER proposal's reference list. Figure 5 reappears in
the                        and the           proposal. In both instances, the figure is linked
explicitly in the text to the PI's previous study. A citation for Source 1 as a reference does not
appear in the reference list for the            proposal. We conclude that Figure 5 in the NSF
CAREER proposal is redrawn from data reported by others, appears in the Subject's NSF
proposal without appropriate credit, and was also copied into the             and        proposals.

                                               OIG Assessment


         The Subject admitted to OIG and to the IC that unattributed text and multiple figures
were copied into his NSF CAREER proposal. We note that some of the text and all the figures
were copied into the Research Plan section of the proposal. As noted above, the same copied
text appears in two other proposals submitted to            and        The reoccurrence ofthis
copied text undermines the Subject's assertion that he did not have time to edit the text for the
NSF CAREER proposal. Figures 3 and 4 are copied from the identified sources and in the case
of Figure 4, the sentence describing the figure contains a reference to the source although the
figure itself contains no reference. Figure 5, however, contains no reference nor does the text

56
   Emails and attachments are collected at Tab 8. The record in ejacket shows that the NSF Program Officer made
the initial request for updated current and pending support, and other documents, on December 10, 2010. The
Subject first replied on December 20, 2010. The Program Officer asked for revisions in an email sent to the Subject
on January 14,2011, and the Subject replied with amended documents that same day.
57
   NSF CAREER Proposal, page 5 (Tab 1).

                                                                                                                  8
SENSITIVE                                                                               SENSITIVE


describing the figure contain any reference. The textual description of that figure is written in a
manner that leads the reader to interpret that the figure represents the PI's preliminary or
previous research. Misrepresentation of the data's provenance is falsification because it does not
accurately represent the research record. In this specific case, the subject presented the data as
his preliminary results when in actuality the data was compiled by other researchers.

        Finally, the IC concluded that the Subject's research misconduct had no significant
impact on the scientific record, failing to consider that the NSF proposal in which plagiarism
occurred was funded by NSF, that the Subject repeated his misconduct in           proposals, and
that the Subject sought duplicate funding for research already supported by the NSF CAREER
award.

        In his adjudication, the Dean put in place a requirement that the Subject receive the
"assistance and counsel of a senior faculty member." 58 We note that the supplementary
documents submitted with the Subject's NSF-CAREER proposal state that a mentoring
committee composed of three faculty had been assigned to ensure [the Subject's] career
development.

       Regarding the actions of the postdoc, we do not concur with the IC's conclusion that the
postdoc' s lack of education in scientific integrity is a mitigating factor in determining whether he
committed plagiarism. However, given the totality of circumstances, we cannot conclude by a
preponderance of the evidence that the postdoc committed research misconduct.

       A finding of research misconduct by NSF requires that 1) there be a significant departure
from accepted practices of the relevant research community, that 2) the research misconduct be
committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly, and that 3) the allegation be proved by a
preponderance ofthe evidence. 59



        The Subject copied approximately 76lines oftext, and two figures, from eight sources
into his NSF proposal. None of the copied text was differentiated with the use of quotation
marks, and citations and references were often missing. The Subject presented data from others
in his NSF proposal as if it were the Subject's work. We concur with the university's conclusion
that by failing to provide attribution to words written by others, the Subject committed
plagiarism, and that his actions were a significant departure from accepted standards of the
research community. In presenting one figure developed by others, as if it were his own, the
Subject committed an act of falsification.



        The IC characterized the Subject's actions as intentional. 60 This level of intent is
sufficient for a fmding of research misconduct. Similarly, we conclude that the Subject's actions

58
      Cover letter from           , pages 2-3 (Tab 5).
59
     45 C.F.R. §689.2(c).
60
     IC report, page 7 (Tab 5).

                                                                                                      9
SENSITIVE                                                                             SENSITIVE


leading to the plagiarism and falsification in the NSF proposal and       proposals were
intentional.
                                          Standard o[Proof

        We concur with the IC' s conclusion that the preponderance of the evidence proves that
the ~ubject committed plagiarism. Because these actions represent a significant departure from
accepted practices, we conclude that the Subject's plagiarism and falsification constitute research
misconduct.

                               OIG's Recommended Disposition


       When deciding what appropriate action to take upon a finding of misconduct, NSF must
consider: (1) how serious the misconduct was; (2) the degree to which the misconduct was
knowing, intentional, or reckless; (3) whether it was an isolated event or part of a pattern;
(4) whether it had a significant impact on the research record, research subjects, other
researchers, institutions or the public welfare; and (5) other relevant circumstances. 61

                                           Seriousness

        The Subject plagiarized into a funded NSF CAREER proposal. His plagiarism was not
limited to the background sections, as he suggested. Instead, it appeared in the supporting ideas
for the proposed research; in what appeared to the reviewers and program officer to be
experimental results, in the methods section, and in the description of his individual educational
plans characteristic to CAREER proposals. However, the fact that the proposal was funded
elevates the seriousness of the Subject's misconduct.


                                              Pattern

        The Subject plagiarized text and falsified data in his NSF CAREER proposal. Although
he claimed that this occurrence was due to his lack of time to properly edit the proposal, the
plagiarism and falsification recurred by his own admission in at least two other proposals
submitted to federal funding agencies, establishing a pattern of behavior. While the Subject was
evasive in his response to our inquiry letter about plagiarism in other proposals, he admitted to
the IC that he reused material in multiple proposals.

                                  Impact on the Research Record

       The Subject's plagiarism is evident in proposals submitted to two different federal
agencies.




61
     45 C.F.R. § 689.3(b).

                                                                                                 10
SENSITIVE                                                                              SENSITIVE


                                        Other Relevant Circumstances

       The Subject's actions also raise questions about his perspective on the solicitation of
research funding. He admits to recycling parts of the funded NSF CAREER proposal to solicit
additional research funding. In addition, the Subject's inaccurate current and pending support
information was part of a pattern that extends to each of the three proposals we examined, and is
evident in his communication with the NSF Program Officer.


      We provided a draft copy of this report to the Subject. The Subject responded that he had
no comments on the report.

                                               Recommendations

        We recommend that NSF:

        •    send the Subject a letter of reprimand notifying him that NSF has made a finding of
             research misconduct. 62
        •    require the Subject to certify to the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
             (AlGI) his completion of a responsible conduct of research training program and
             provide documentation of the program's content within 1 year ofNSF's finding. 63
             The instruction should be in an interactive format (e.g., an instructor-led course).

For a period of 3 years as of the date of NSF's fmding:

         •   require for each document (proposal, report, etc.) to which the Subject contributes for
             submission to NSF (directly or through her institution),
                 o the Subject submit a certification to the AlGI that the document does not
                     contain plagiarism, falsification; or fabrication; 64 and
                 o the Subject submit assurances from a responsible official of her employer to
                     the AlGI that the document does not contain plagiarism, falsification, or
                     fabrication. 65
         •   bar the Subject from participating as a peer reviewer, advisor, or consultant for
             NSF. 66




62
   A Group I action 45 C.F.R. 689.3(a)(l)(i).
63
   This action is similar to Group I actions 45 C.F.R. 689.3(a)(l).
64
   This action is similar to 45 C.F.R. 689.3(a)(l)(iii).
65
   A Group I action 45 C.F.R. 689.3(a)(l)(iii):
66
   A Group III action45 C.F.R. 689.3(a)(3)(ii).

                                                                                                    11