University policy addresses climate research allegations

During the past two weeks, allegations have been made of research misconduct by several scientists engaged in global climate research - including a Penn State faculty member. These allegations have been discussed widely in the media and web-based outlets. Due to the controversial nature of the topic, University officials fully expect that these allegations will be discussed for many months to come and in a variety of venues.

Scientific research is a fundamental component of Penn State's mission and we hold faculty and students who are engaged in research to the highest expectations of ethical behavior and conduct. From time to time, however, claims of research misconduct do occur. Penn State's definition of research misconduct includes "…fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other practices that seriously deviate from accepted practices within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities" (see

When allegations of research misconduct arise, they are always taken seriously, and are addressed according to long-standing policies and well-established procedures (see Penn State policy, RA-10, at Policy RA-10 delineates an investigatory process, and addresses issues related to due process, confidentiality, and the reporting of findings.

Pursuant to recent reports of alleged misconduct by this Penn State faculty member, Penn State Policy RA-10 was invoked last week. The faculty member has indicated his concurrence with the decision to launch an inquiry.

With thousands of faculty members and students conducting more than $760 million in annual research activity, Penn State considers this to be a serious matter. Thus the institution has acted quickly and decisively to begin the review process articulated in our research misconduct policy. The review will be conducted in a fair, impartial and deliberative manner.

Last Updated December 07, 2009