Letter and Report of Ad Hoc Committee on Research Misconduct Allegation

May 19, 2006

To Members of the MIT Faculty and Lincoln Laboratory staff:

I am writing to update you on our ongoing efforts regarding an allegation of research misconduct concerning members of the technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. You may recall that we have been pursuing two approaches: (1) redoubling our efforts to resolve an impasse over the conduct of the investigation, and (2) establishing a process to examine the factors that have delayed resolution of this matter, to help avoid a recurrence.

Regarding item (1), in March I informed you that the Department of Defense had launched an investigation to address questions left open by MIT's inquiry into the allegation. That investigation is now fully underway.

The second approach involved the appointment in October 2005 of an ad hoc panel charged to (i) identify the factors that have complicated and delayed the satisfactory resolution of this particular allegation of research misconduct, (ii) determine their implications, if any, for how the Institute should conduct itself in the future, and (iii) recommend any changes in policy and/or practice that would help avoid a recurrence. (The panel was not to address the specific allegation of research misconduct). The members of the panel were Professor Claude Canizares, Associate Provost (chair); Institute Professor Mildred Dresselhaus; Professor David Litster, former Vice President for Research; and Dr. Gerald Dinneen. Dr. Dinneen was Director of Lincoln Laboratory (1970-77) and MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering (1971-1981), and has held senior positions in industry, the Department of Defense, and the National Academy of Engineering.

The panel has just submitted its report to me. I am making the report available to the community via this link: Report of Ad Hoc Committee on Research Misconduct Allegation (PDF format). The report identifies sixteen factors that complicated the resolution of this allegation, and then presents findings and recommendations. Although the panel finds that "MIT's research misconduct policies are fundamentally sound," they do identify several improvements in policy and/or practice that might facilitate the resolution of any future cases of unusual complexity. I will consider these carefully, working closely with our faculty and administration leaders on any possible implementation.

On behalf of MIT, I thank the committee for their careful and thoughtful work on this very difficult but important matter.

Sincerely yours,
L. Rafael Reif