RCR Framework Interpretations: Opportunity to be Heard

Section 4.3.4.b of the RCR Framework notes that Institutional policies must include: "An investigation process for determining the validity of an allegation that provides the complainant and respondent with an opportunity to be heard as part of an investigation, and that allows for the respondent to appeal if a breach of policy is confirmed."

1.What does “opportunity to be heard” mean?

For the purposes of the RCR Framework “opportunity to be heard” means an opportunity to provide information or comments relevant to the allegation.

2. What are the Institution’s obligations with respect to providing this opportunity?

Individuals who are the subject of an allegation (i.e., Respondents) must have an opportunity to fully respond to the evidence and allegations that have been made against them. The Institution has the discretion to determine when and how the opportunity should be provided based on the particular circumstances of the allegation and institutional policies.

While verbal interviews (e.g., in-person, by telephone, or by skype) are often the most appropriate means of providing this opportunity to the Respondent, communication in writing is also acceptable.

3. Does the “opportunity to be heard” extend to the Complainant?

An interview with the Complainant, be it verbal or in writing, is often, but not always needed. For example, for allegations of plagiarism, a comparison of documents may be sufficient for determining whether or not a breach occurred. Similarly, the information included in the allegation may be self-explanatory and therefore complete. In these cases, once the Complainant has made the allegation and provided any needed documentation, further interaction between the Institution and the Complainant might not be necessary.

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