Academic integrity in research: Code of practice and procedure
- Statement of principle
- Definition of misconduct
- Procedure in the event of suspected misconduct
Statement of principle
1. The University expects all members of the University including staff and students, and those who are not members of the University but who are conducting research on University premises or using University facilities, to observe the highest standards in the conduct of their research. In pursuance of such high standards, it is expected that they shall:
(a) take steps to acquaint themselves with available guidance as to `best practice' whether in relation to matters of research policy, finance or safety relevant to their area of research; for example, the statement `safeguarding good scientific practice' published by the Director General of the Research Councils and the Chief Executives of UK Research Councils in December 1998;
(b) observe such legal and ethical requirements as are laid down by the University or such other properly appointed bodies as are involved in their field of research;
(c) take steps to secure the safety of those associated with the research;
(d) report any conflict of interest, whether actual or prospective, to the appropriate authority;
(e) observe fairness and equity in the conduct of their research.
2. Failure to comply with the code may give rise to an allegation of misconduct. Misconduct in research may be ground for disciplinary action, and if serious, for dismissal or expulsion.
Definition of misconduct
3. Misconduct for the purpose of this code means the fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or deception in proposing, carrying out, or reporting results of research, and deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviations from accepted practice in carrying out research. It includes failure to follow an agreed protocol if this failure results in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, other vertebrates or the environment, and facilitating of misconduct in research by collusion in, or concealment of, such actions by others. It also includes any plan or conspiracy or attempt to do any of these things. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretation or judgement in evaluating research methods or results, or misconduct (including gross misconduct) unrelated to research processes.
4. All members of the University, and individuals permitted to work in University institutions, have responsibility to report any incident of misconduct, whether this has been witnessed, or is suspected. Suspicions reported in confidence and in good faith will not lead to disciplinary proceedings against the person making the complaint. In the event, however, of a malicious allegation, appropriate action will be taken.
5. All allegations will be investigated in the strictest confidence. All those who are involved in the procedures for investigating an allegation, including witnesses, representatives and persons providing information, evidence and/or advice, have a duty to maintain confidentiality. For an allegation to be investigated fully, and appropriate action taken, it may, however, be necessary to disclose the identity of the person making the complaint to the person who is the subject of the complaint. The person making the complaint will be advised before such disclosure is made.
6. In the case of concerns regarding a person or persons other than students, information and advice may be obtained from the head of department, or in the case of non departmentally organised faculties, the chairman of the faculty board, provided that if the concerns relate to the holder of that office, advice should be sought from the Proctors.
7. In the case of concerns regarding a student, information and advice may be obtained from the Clerk to the Proctors.
Procedure in the event of suspected misconduct
8. These procedures are without prejudice to the normal operation of the relevant disciplinary procedure of the University and in the event of any conflict between these procedures and the relevant disciplinary procedure of the University, the latter shall prevail. They have been set out by way of guidance only and may be varied to suit the circumstances of a particular case.
9. All members of the University, and individuals permitted to work in the University and institutions, have a responsibility to report to the Registrar or the Proctors, in the case of complaints relating to staff or students respectively, any incident of misconduct, whether this has been witnessed, or is suspected.
10. In the event that further investigation is required, the Registrar or a person duly authorised on his or her behalf, or the Proctors, as the case may be, shall set up a small panel to enquire into the allegations. This shall normally consist of two members namely a member of the department or faculty with relevant expertise and a member of the University or a college from outside the department or faculty, again, if possible, with relevant expertise. Where it is deemed appropriate by the Registrar, or the Proctors, as the case may be, one member of the panel may be a person external to the University, but with relevant expertise. Members of the panel must have no conflict of interest in the case and must be unbiased. The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to evaluate the facts of the allegations in order to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence amounting to a prima facie case of misconduct.
11. The Registrar or the person duly authorised on his or her behalf, or the Proctors as appropriate, shall require the production of such records as are necessary to enable the investigation to proceed and shall secure their safe keeping.
12. The respondent shall be informed of the decision to set up the enquiry panel and of the membership of the panel.
13. The panel may interview both the person making the allegation and the respondent, and any other persons who may be regarded as witnesses. Any person attending for interview may be accompanied by another person.
14. The panel shall prepare a report, setting out the evidence which has been evaluated, accounts of interviews, if any, and its conclusions. The respondent shall have an opportunity to comment.
15. In the event that the panel has found no evidence of misconduct, the complaint shall be dismissed. In the event that the panel concludes that prima facie evidence of misconduct exists, the report shall be referred to the appropriate person for action (whether informal or formal) under the University's relevant disciplinary procedure. In the event that the panel take the view that the allegations, if proved, would constitute good cause for dismissal, and the allegations relate to a person subject to the provisions of Statute XII of the University Statutes, the panel shall bring the report to the attention of the Registrar under the provisions of Statute XII, Clause 19(1), or if the allegations relate to a person subject to the provisions of the University disciplinary procedure for non-academic staff, the panel shall bring the report to the attention of the relevant head of department responsible for employing the person. In the event that allegations relate to a Student Member, the Proctors may take further action under the terms of Statute XI.
16. Subject to availability of personnel and to operational demands the investigation of the panel should normally be completed within 20 working days of first notification of the allegation to the Registrar or Proctors as appropriate.
17. In cases where the complaint concerns someone who is not subject to the University's disciplinary procedure, the panel shall invite the Registrar to bring the report to the attention of the appropriate disciplinary body.
18. Where the research is funded in whole or part by an outside grant, the University shall have regard to the guidance issued by the relevant funding body and shall ensure that such body is given appropriate and timely information as to the instigation and progress of an investigation.