Research Ethics and Integrity
These pages provide information and resources for the University of Canberra research community regarding obligations associated with the responsible conduct of research. This includes general matters relating to research integrity, as well as specific requirements for the conduct of research that involves animal experimentation, human participants, radiation, gene technology, and export controls.
The University of Canberra is committed to promoting and ensuring the responsible conduct of research. This includes fostering an environment characterised by the following principles:
- Intellectual honesty in undertaking and reporting research;
- Respect for all participants in and subjects of research, including humans, animals and the environment;
- Accuracy in representing contributions to research;
- Collegiality and fairness in interactions, including communications and sharing of resources with other researchers; and
- Transparency in declaring conflicts of interest.
To that end, it is important that researchers and research students meet their obligations in maintaining high standards of responsible research and adhere to regulations and policies relating to the conduct of research.
Responsible Conduct of Research
The UC Responsible Conduct of Research Policy sets out the University of Canberra's guidelines on the responsible practice of research, and steps to be followed to deal with allegations regarding research misconduct. The policy applies to all members of the University community who are undertaking research. The policy is underpinned by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research which provides guidance around:
- Management of research data and primary materials;
- Supervision of research trainees;
- Publication and dissemination of research findings;
- Peer review;
- Conflict of interest; and
- Collaborative research across institutions
Supporting Research Integrity
As part of its commitment to supporting high standards of research integrity, all members of the UC community are able to access discipline specific training modules that provide guidance on principles of robust research practices and advice on solving complex ethical and integrity issues that they may encounter. In addition, they are designed to ensure researchers fully understand their professional responsibilities.
Completion of the discipline-specific training modules is mandatory for all Higher Degree by Research students prior to confirmation of candidature as well as new, incoming academic staff.
The Research Integrity Modules are now available online to staff and students. Following the online or face-to-face training, participants must complete the short online test (available in the Research Integrity Modules) and achieve a score of 80% or more to be deemed to have successfully completed the course.
Research Integrity Advisers
The University has appointed Advisers on Integrity in Research to guide UC staff and students/trainees who may have concerns about research conduct issues. This could include providing assistance in the interpretation of misconduct in research as detailed in the UC Responsible Conduct of Research Policy as well as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, providing confidential advice in instances where staff or students/trainees are considering reporting research misconduct, and explaining options available in the event that an allegation of misconduct is to be pursued. The Advisers are not faculty or research institute specific, and staff and students are free to consult any of the Advisers.
Research Integrity Advisers:
- Professor Ross Thompson
- Professor Deborah Davis
All projects undertaken at the University of Canberra that involve the use of animals either for research, teaching or other experimental study in which animals are used must be approved by the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).
An animal is defined as any vertebrate (other than a human being) and includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Adult decapod crustaceans and cephalopods also fall under the definition of animal for the intents and purposes of the legislation and code that protects the welfare of animals used for research.
The ACT Animal Welfare Act (1992) and the Code of Practice for the Care and use of Animals for Scientific Purposes stipulate that approval must be obtained from the institutional AEC before animals are used for research or teaching. This legislation was introduced to protect the welfare of animals, by ensuring that their use in research and teaching is always humane, considerate, responsible and justified.
All complaints in relation to projects using animals should be sent in writing to the Secretariat. For further information please see the Complaints Procedure.
Students and staff at the University of Canberra who intend to conduct research with human participants must apply to the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for approval before commencing their projects. This could include research that involves conducting questionnaires, surveys and physically invasive procedures. Ethics approval ensures that research complies with established guidelines, notably the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
The Human Research Ethics Manual provides guidance on the framework in which the HREC operates, principles for responsible practice in research, the process for seeking ethics clearance, and the evaluation process.
Human Research Ethics Committee
The HREC is constituted in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. The HREC's primary responsibility is to ensure that the welfare and rights of participants in research are protected. The Committee Working Procedures provide details on meeting procedures, decision-making processes and handling of ethics applications.
The Institutional Biosafety and Radiation Committee (IBRC) for the University of Canberra was established to fulfil the role as required by the Gene Technology Regulations Act 2001 and to ensure ionising and non-ionising radiation safety across the University in accordance with the Radiation Protection Act 2006 and the Radiation Protection Regulation 2007.
Before commencing any research project involving GMOs and/or ionising and non-ionising radiation, staff and students at the University are required to submit an application to the UC Biosafety and Radiation Committee and obtain written approval to ensure that all statutory requirements are met. For more information regarding the Committee, please refer to the Institutional Biosafety and Radiation Committee Terms of Reference.
The Defence Trade Control Act
The Defence Trade Control Act 2012 (DTCA) has put in place new control measures to regulate the export from Australia to overseas locations of certain defence and strategic goods and technology listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).
In 2016, heavy criminal penalties were put in place for the 'intangible' (non-physical) transfer or supply (including emails) and publication of goods and technologies listed on the DSGL. Criminal liability applies not only to military goods, but also to 'dual use' technologies designed for a specific purpose, but with potential application to military use.
The DSGL and Permit Requirements
The DSGL specifies goods, software or technology that is regulated when exported, supplied, brokered or published. It comprises two parts: Part 1 covers defence and related goods/technologies that are specifically designed and adapted for use by armed forces; and Part 2 covers goods that have a dual use i.e. have been designed for particular commercial needs but could be adapted for the military usage.
Goods listed in the DSGL may not be exported from Australia unless a permit has been granted by the Minister of Defence through the Defence Export Control (DEC) officer. For the purposes of the DTCA, export includes and is defined as follows:
- Supply Export Controlled Technology
- Publication of Export Controlled Technology
- Brokering of Export Controlled Goods and Technologies
Controls on intangible transfer do not apply to technology that is:
- 'in the public domain' - if the technology is already available to the public, for example, in publications, product brochures and public blogs, websites, podcasts or databases, then it is not controlled. This exemption applies to all software and technology in the DSGL;
- 'basic scientific research' - any technology which extends only to the "fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts", and is "primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective", falls within the definition of basic scientific research, and would therefore not be controlled. This exemption applies to all technology listed on the DSGL.
How do I Know when Export Controls Apply and a Permit is Required?
DECO provides a number of other resources to assist you to comply with export control laws:
- face-to-face and online export control training;
- tailored outreach to assist individual exporters with specific issues;
- Export Controls FAQs; and
- information on DEC's website.
Export Controls at the University of Canberra
Researchers are responsible for complying with the requirements of the DTC. However, Research Services provides support for researchers, through the provision of periodic training/workshops and one-on-one sessions with individual researchers and research groups whose activity may require a permit. Research Services can also facilitate meetings with the Defence Export Controls teams as needed.