Skip to main content

HFSPO Policy on Research Misconduct and the Responsible Conduct of Research


HFSPO expects high standards

1.    The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) is dedicated to the highest international standards of good scientific practice in applications, scientific reviews and in the conduct of awards. It expects awardees to adhere to high ethical standards and conduct themselves responsibly in all aspects of their research.
2.    HFSPO requires researchers and institutions to be aware of and adhere to the laws and standards in the jurisdictions in which they conduct research. As well as policies on research misconduct, there may be laws and national or local guidelines and regulations regarding human and animal experimentation, regenerative medicine, genetics and genomic research, publications, laboratory hazards and others matters relevant to the conduct of HFSP-funded research.

Institutions to agree to this policy when accepting HFSP awards

3.    HFSPO requires institutions and researchers to agree to this HFSPO policy document when accepting an HFSP award offer. By signing the award agreement, both the “HFSP-funded researcher” and the “Institution” acknowledge that they are aware of the HFSPO policy and of the process whereby HFSPO will handle any complaints about the conduct of any research funded by HFSPO.

Responsibilities of researchers and institutions

4.    HFSPO expects that applicants will adhere to the most stringent international criteria of good scientific conduct in preparing and submitting applications for HFSPO funding. HFSPO reserves the right not to review applications from applicants when plagiarism is detected, or false claims are found to have been made.
HFSP-funded researchers and institutions
5.    HFSP-funded researchers must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, policies and guidelines in the jurisdiction where their work is conducted.
6.    Institutions must ensure that HFSP-funded researchers are made aware of these.
7.    HFSP-funded researchers must inform HFSPO if findings of research misconduct are made against them in regard to HFSPO-funded research.
8.    HFSPO requires Institutions to carry out investigations of research misconduct involving HFSP-funded researchers in accordance with national policies or guidelines within HFSPO Member countries. (A list of these is provided at
9.    For research performed in non-HFSPO Member countries and where national or institutional policies do not exist, HFSPO will refer to the OECD publication “Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct” (

HFSPO procedures

Initial responses
10.    Any researcher supported by an HFSP award and who is subject to a research misconduct complaint with regard to any matter related to the HFSP-funded research must inform HFSPO as soon as possible.
11.    If a third party makes a complaint against an HFSP-funded researcher, the HFSPO Secretariat will inform the Institution and the researcher and request a response. Only complaints in writing can be accepted and anonymous complaints will not be acted upon. In any case, if the Institution does not respond to an HFSPO’s referral of a complaint, HFSPO reserves the right to suspend payments until it has received a satisfactory response.
12.    HFSPO will normally inform an Institution if it is made aware of a complaint against an HFSPO-funded researcher.
13.    If an Institution informs HFSPO of a complaint regarding an HFSP-funded researcher, it will be requested to investigate in accord with the Institution’s policies.
17    In all instances, Institutions must undertake the necessary procedures according to their national or local policies or guidelines.
18    To the extent permitted by legislation and by regulations in the Institution's jurisdiction, Institutions must inform HFSPO with regards to any research misconduct matter directly affecting an HFSP award.
After investigation by the Institution
19.    The Institution must report to HFSPO on the investigation as soon as it is completed, to the extent that the findings involve an HFSP award.
20.    The Secretary-General and the Scientific Directors of HFSPO Secretariat will consider the report and work to clarify the situation with the Institution if necessary. If no further action is warranted, they will inform the Institution and researcher.
21.    If the Secretary-General and Scientific Directors conclude that an action should be undertaken with regard to the investigator or the Institution, it will forward a confidential recommendation to the HFSPO Board of Trustees for consideration and decision on actions to be undertaken.
22.    The Board of Trustees’ proposed actions will be sent to the Institution and the HFSP-funded researcher. They will be given an opportunity to respond to the actions. Depending on the reply, the Board may decide
a.    to terminate the award, unless extenuating circumstances apply and/or may decide that the researcher will be ineligible to apply to HFSPO for a specified period.
b.    to seek to recover the funding from the Institution.
23.    As a general principle, HFSPO will seek to ensure that other investigators (who are not part of the complaint) on multi-investigator research projects funded by HFSPO are as little disadvantaged as possible when such HFSPO action is taken (unless the complaint involves the HFSP award itself) and will work with the remaining investigators on how to complete the award successfully.
Annual Report to the Board
24.    Each year, the HFSPO Secretariat will provide an Annual Report of all activities under this policy.
Measures for exceptional circumstances
25.    HFSPO reserves the right to take immediate action in exceptional circumstances, taking into account the severity and urgency of the situation and its possible consequences and the potential financial, health, safety or other risks involved. These actions may include termination of the award.
Revision of this policy
26.    The Board will review this policy regularly to ensure that HFSPO’s policies and procedures accord with international best practice, taking into account the multinational aspect of its funding.

Contact information: The Director of Science, Policy and Communications (Click here to show mail address) is responsible for receiving complaints.