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Handling of alleged misconduct cases

The RGC attaches great importance to research integrity. Researchers are expected to observe the highest standard of integrity in the conduct of their researches funded under the funding schemes administered by the RGC. Any research improprieties found will be dealt with seriously. To this end, the RGC has set up three Disciplinary Committees (DCs) to handle alleged research improprieties, namely DC (Investigation) , DC (Penalty) and DC (Appeal) . The DC (Investigation) oversees the conduct of investigations of cases arising from allegations; the DC (Penalty) determines the level of penalty for substantiated cases; and the DC (Appeal) handles appeal cases if they arise. Each of the DCs comprises five overseas members, including three non-RGC / Panel / Committee members and two non-local RGC and / or lay members.

For each alleged impropriety case, the DC (Investigation) will appoint an Investigation Working Group (IWG), which normally comprises three RGC / Panel / Committee members who are distinguished scholars, experts in the subject area and who are familiar with the RGC assessment procedures. The IWG will impartially examine the written representations of the respondent and related parties, the research proposals and the institutional investigation report, which usually includes expert evidence, interview records and other relevant documents. The IWG will carefully consider the evidence to come to a view. After considering the findings and views of the IWG, the DC (Investigation) will make its recommendations to the RGC for decision. Cases found substantiated by the RGC will be forwarded to the DC (Penalty) for consideration on the level of penalty. The DC (Penalty) will take into consideration a number of factors pertinent to the case, including the nature and gravity of the impropriety, level of penalty of precedent cases and any other mitigating factors, etc. and make a recommendation to the RGC on the penalty level. The levels of penalty range from warning letter, disqualification of the related funding application, to debarment from all RGC research funding schemes for one to five years.

If the researcher of a substantiated impropriety case is not satisfied with the RGC's decision, he / she may appeal within 14 calendar days from the date of receipt of the RGC's notification. For every appeal case, the DC (Appeal) will appoint an Appeal Board comprising three or more RGC / Panel / Committee members with membership different from that of the IWG to examine the case. After considering the report submitted by the Appeal Board, the DC (Appeal) will make its recommendation to the RCG on whether the previous decision should be upheld, overturned or modified. The decision of the RGC will be final.

According to the RGC guidelines, if any DC member has perceived conflict of interests with the researchers being investigated, the DC member concerned should be excused from the relevant meeting and should not participate in the discussion. If any IWG / Appeal Board member has perceived conflict of interests, the DC (Investigation) / DC (Appeal) will appoint another member as replacement.