A note about ORI case closures

The data we presented in Table 1 of our article, The Essential Need for Research Misconduct Allegation Audits, actually show something that was not directly germane to the argument made by us, but that is still interesting.
When calculating the number of allegations which were seen by faculty, we only included those which were presented in ORI’s own data. However, we also showed ORI’s case closure numbers, since ORI also reported those.
ORI closure numbers were not, and should not have been, included in our estimate of the number of allegations seen by faculty. The reason is that they do not represent independent cases. Cases which were seen by faculty either as inquiries or investigations are subsequently processed by ORI and closed.
However, from the data we present in the table, it can be seen that the number of ORI closures is actually very small compared to the number processed by faculty, even over a period of more than a decade. (1)
Therefore, it appears that it can take many years for ORI to close cases. Why the flow-through of cases from faculty review to ORI closure is so low remains a point for consideration.


(1) Two lines of Table 1 were left blank because the ORI dataset did not provide relevant information for those two years (1998 and 1999). Some of the missing categorical information might be estimated by comparison of the Federal Register for announcements of misconduct findings during those years with the line totals provided by ORI. Doing so suggests that the number of case closures in 1998 and 1999 might have been high relative to other years. ORI is revising its dataset as of mid-2016.

Robert Bauchwitz

Robert Bauchwitz is a biomedical research scientist and certified fraud examiner. His research expertise is in behavioral neuroscience and molecular genetics. He was the relator (plaintiff acting on behalf of the government) in a U.S. federal False Claims Act qui tam case involving scientific research fraud. He has obtained additional fraud investigation training from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and operational audit training from the Institute of Internal Auditors. He also has certifications in litigation support from the Widener University Law School's Legal Education Institute and in network security from CompTIA.

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