Washington Update

HHS Seeks to Update PHS Policies on Research Misconduct

By: Kamille Rasche
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
On October 6, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding revisions to the 2005 Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct. Overall, the proposed revisions aim to remove unnecessary burdens in the handling of research misconduct allegations and proceedings, largely by refining definitions and reducing redundancy when carrying out full investigations. Importantly, they have included a clearer separation of the definition of “plagiarism,” in which they specify self-plagiarism and credit disputes are not within the Office of Research Integrity’s (ORI) jurisdiction.

The NPRM includes explicit rules for addressing ongoing investigations and comprehensive guidelines for recording allegations, revisions designed to streamline the process across institutions. These changes will also allow institutional discretion in convening expert committees during the inquiry stage and ultimately help determine the necessity of a full investigation. It is noted that these changes may inflict financial burdens on smaller institutions as rules are adapted and processed by administrators, to which they present specific guidance for qualified institutions.

The deadline for public comments is December 5, and the HHS anticipates releasing the final rule in the summer of 2024. Implementation will begin approximately four months after the release.