95-23Posted on Sep 12, 1995 in Formal Opinions
Opinion Letter No. 95-23
September 12, 1995
Disclosure of Allegations of Research Misconduct
A University faculty member sent a written statement to the University’s research ethics committee (“Committee”) that accused a researcher of scientific misconduct. The Committee conducted an informal inquiry and then closed the matter without any further action. The researcher then requested a copy of the written statement of allegations. As this written statement referred to the researcher’s name, conduct, and actions, it constituted his “personal record” under section 92F-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
However, because the University had adopted a policy to keep informant statements confidential during the initial stages of an investigation to encourage informants to come forward, the OIP opined that the University had made an “express or implied promise of confidentiality” under section 92F-22(2), Hawaii Revised Statutes. Therefore, the University was not required to disclose information which would reveal the informant’s identity.