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Research Integrity

Stephen Streiffer
Stephen Streiffer, Laboratory Director

From the Director

We enjoy an excellent scientific reputation at ORNL, thanks to a solid record of ethical conduct in every aspect of research, and it is essential to our future that we maintain and nurture this reputation. We also have a responsibility to mentor the next generation of researchers to ensure that they also understand and adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

ORNL’s Research Code of Conduct was developed by a committee of scientists and engineers from across the laboratory. This committee studied codes of conduct from various professional societies and research institutions, as well as federal policies on research misconduct. Staff across ORNL further reviewed and revised the Code.

Our Research Code of Conduct summarizes the standards that we have set for ourselves as a scientific community. The additional resources listed below offer further information and guidance. We hope these materials will serve you in upholding our record of excellence.

Stephen Streiffer
Laboratory Director

ORNL Research Code of Conduct

Research and development shall be conducted and communicated in accordance with the highest scientific, professional, and ethical standards and in a manner that fosters mutual respect and enhances the reputation of the individual researcher, his/her colleagues, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in its mission to address the Department of Energy's and the nation's scientific and technical challenges.

As a member of the ORNL scientific community, I subscribe to the following principles:

When performing research activities, I shall:

  • Conduct, manage, judge, and report scientific research objectively, honestly, and thoroughly.
  • Be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data and understand the limitations of my knowledge.
  • Use appropriate diligence in preserving and maintaining documentation, such as original data records, so that others may reproduce results.
  • Acknowledge all conflicts of interest and not knowingly engage in activities where a conflict of interest impedes my ability to act in an objective, honest, and ethical manner.
  • Recognize past and present contributors to my research and not accept or assume credit for another's accomplishments.
  • Properly reference and acknowledge past work and accomplishments of my colleagues and others in the scientific community.
  • Take responsibility for safety and the impacts of my research on the environment and human and animal subjects.

When communicating and proposing research, I shall:

  • Claim authorship in a work only if I have made a significant intellectual contribution as part of conception, design, data collection, data analysis, or interpretation and made significant contributions to the scientific communication's preparation.
  • Claim authorship only if I am willing to be held responsible for the validity and interpretation of data from my contributions and for the conclusions as presented.
  • Ensure that co-authors on publications and proposals have the opportunity to review and comment on the scientific communications prior to their release.
  • Clearly define expectations for proposals and projects for which I am the principal investigator, including research roles and support for co-investigators.
  • Use technical review to achieve the high-quality research product essential to maintaining both my reputation and that of the scientific community at ORNL.
  • Ensure that my research products represent substantive new contributions to the field.
  • Accurately describe research methodology and data processing in all research products, including clear traceability of all figures and images to original data.

When dealing with others, I shall:

  • Be honest and professional in my interactions with students, colleagues, staff, supervisors, sponsors, reviewers, editors, and the public.
  • Welcome constructive criticism of my personal scientific research and offer the same to my colleagues in a manner that fosters mutual respect and objective scientific debate.
  • Mentor new colleagues, students, and guests on the ORNL Research Code of Conduct, leading them by example on how to conduct and report their research in an ethical manner.

Research Misconduct

ORNL follows DOE's policy on research misconduct under DOE Acquisition Regulation 952.235-71. According to this policy:

Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results, but does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

  • Fabrication means making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification means manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results so that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism means appropriating another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Finding of research misconduct means a determination, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that research misconduct has occurred. Such a finding requires a conclusion that there has been a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community and that it was knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly committed.

Other agencies have their own policies, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services (includes National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), and the National Science Foundation.

Non-ORNL employees may report concerns through the following channels: