Scientific Integrity at NSF

The U.S. National Science Foundation's scientific integrity policy establishes the expectations and procedures required to maintain and enhance scientific integrity at the agency and across the research community.

The policy aims to ensure the integrity of all aspects of scientific activities, including: 

  • Proposing research.
  • Reviewing proposals.
  • Conducting, managing and sharing research.
  • Communicating about science.
  • Using, applying or analyzing scientific results.
  • Scientific assessment and decision-making, such as merit review processes and award decisions and oversight.
A professor explaining a procedure to a student

What is scientific integrity?

NSF has adopted the definition of scientific integrity provided by the National Science and Technology Council:

Scientific integrity is the adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of and communicating about science and scientific activities. Inclusivity, transparency and protection from inappropriate influence are hallmarks of scientific integrity.

NSF's scientific integrity policy

Requirements for the NSF workforce

NSF's scientific integrity policy, updated in February 2024, details expectations, requirements and procedures governing the NSF workforce. This includes:

  • Civil service employees. 
  • Visiting scientists, engineers and educators.
  • Fellows, interns and contractors.
  • "Intergovernmental Personnel Act" assignees. 
  • Senate-confirmed presidential appointees. 
  • Special government employees such as proposal review panelists.

An executive summary of NSF's scientific integrity policy is coming soon. Interim guidance on scientific integrity procedures will be published by March 1, 2024.

Requirements for NSF proposers and awardees

NSF proposers and awardees are also expected to uphold the highest standards for scientific integrity. For more information, refer to NSF's Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

How to report concerns to NSF

Scientific integrity

Questions, concerns or a request for consultation, advice or assistance related to scientific integrity can be directed to:

Eduardo Misawa
NSF Scientific Integrity Official
sio@nsf.gov

Scientific integrity allegations involving the NSF workforce should be reported by email to SIComplaint@nsf.gov or sent by mail to:

Scientific Integrity 
U.S. National Science Foundation 
2415 Eisenhower Ave.
Suite 19000 
Alexandria, VA 22314

Generally, it is expected that allegations should be submitted within 90 calendar days of the alleged violation of scientific integrity. Scientific integrity allegations submitted via email or mail should include: 

  • Information about the person submitting the complaint (anonymous submissions are accepted*).
  • Information about the person(s) or unit(s) alleged to have committed the scientific integrity violation.
  • Description of the allegation.
  • A statement explaining why it is a violation of scientific integrity.
  • Supporting materials.
  • Information about any known conflicts of interest.
  • Information on whether the allegation was submitted to other offices.

*Please note that while anonymous complaints will be accepted, NSF will be unable to follow up or request additional information in these cases.

Research misconduct

The NSF Research Misconduct Regulation (45 C.F.R. part 689) defines research misconduct as fabrication, falsification and plagiarism in proposing or performing research funded by NSF, reviewing research proposals submitted to NSF, or in reporting research results funded by NSF.

Allegations of research misconduct involving NSF, its applicants or awardees, should be reported to the NSF Office of Inspector General (OIG) through the OIG website hotline.

All allegations of research misconduct submitted to NSF's scientific integrity official will be forwarded to the OIG.

Harassment or discrimination

NSF's Stopping Harassment and Assault webpage outlines the agency's policies regarding harassment and assault. 

Allegations of harassment and discrimination involving NSF or its awardees should be reported to NSF's Office of Equity and Civil Rights (OECR).

Allegations of discrimination and harassment submitted to NSF's scientific integrity official will be forwarded to the OECR.

Whistleblower protection

An allegation of whistleblower retaliation can be reported through the OIG's Whistleblower Retaliation webpage or sent to the Office of Special Counsel.

Additional resources

NSF provides several resources that are interconnected with scientific integrity. These resources include:

Contact us

Questions or concerns about scientific integrity? Please contact: 

Eduardo Misawa
Scientific Integrity Official
U.S. National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave., W-19132
Alexandria, VA 22314
sio@nsf.gov
Phone: (703) 292-5353 (desk), (703) 314-2706 (mobile)

Comments regarding NSF's scientific integrity policy and procedures may be directed to scientificintegrity@nsf.gov.