The US Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has proposed changes to rules governing misconduct in federally sponsored research and the status of whistleblowers who allege scientific wrongdoing.

The proposed rules, which update and standardize the definition of misconduct and the process for investigating and adjudicating complaints, would also expand the scope of plagiarism to cover individuals conducting peer review for funding or journal publication as well as scientists performing research.

Representatives of professional research societies and US medical schools generally support the proposed changes, which replace regulations originally approved in 1989 and have been amended several times since. Among the changes are government-wide policies and procedures on research misconduct issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2000. The department is seeking public comment through June 15, 2004.

The new rules are designed to “help ensure public...

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