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Responsible Conduct of Research Policy
1. Purpose:
  1. This document sets out the University of Canberra's policy on the responsible conduct of research, and on steps to be followed to deal with allegations regarding research misconduct.
The University of Canberra (hereafter the “University”) is required to establish procedures and guidelines on the responsible practice of research, and on steps to be followed to deal with allegations regarding research misconduct. This two part document, in conjunction with the Enterprise Agreement, and the related policies outlined herein, meets the requirement. The University is committed to this responsibility, and to making the policies and procedures widely available to its research community.
2. Scope:
  1. This policy applies to all members of the University community (staff and students) who are undertaking research.
3. Principles:
  1. The University commits to the ‘Responsibilities of Institutions’ as outlined in the National Code, namely to:
    • Promote the responsible conduct of research;
    • Establish good governance and management practices;
    • Train staff;
    • Promote mentoring;
    • Ensure a safe research environment.
  2. At the same time the University expects its researchers and research students to meet their obligations as outlined in the National Code’s ‘Responsibilities of Researchers’, namely to:
  3. Where research is of a kind requiring approval by a human or animal experimentation ethics committee, or by other safety or validly constituted regulatory committees, research must not proceed without approval. Such committees have an obligation to meet with sufficient regularity and to deal with applications expeditiously, so as not to place undue pressure on researchers to meet the obligations to their research.
  4. Where research is being undertaken with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, researchers should also consult Values and Ethics -  Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (NHRMC, 2003) as well as the  Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2002).
  5. Where research involves consumer or community participation, researchers should also consult the Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (NHRMC and Consumers' Health Forum of Australia Inc, 2002).
Management of Research Data and Primary Materials
  1. The University policy which covers ownership of research materials and data, storage, retention and appropriate access can be found in the Management of Research Data and Primary Research Materials Policy.
  2. Researchers must decide which data and materials should be retained, although in some cases such determinations are made by law, funding agencies, publishers, or by the conventions of particular disciplines. Proper management and retention of data is important, in order that outcomes of research can be justified, and as valuable material for further research (in particular where the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat).
Supervision of Research Students
  1. University policies related to research students are set out in the Higher Degrees by Research - Policy and Procedures (The Gold Book).
  2. All research students (including Honours, Masters by Research, PhD and Professional Doctorate students must receive training on research ethics, the National Code and the related policies of the University.  Completion of such training should be given high priority, and occur as early as possible during candidature, and preferably during inductions.
  3. Researchers and supervisors must ensure that the role model they provide to junior colleagues and research students is positive and conducive to a culture of research excellence, integrity, professionalism and mutual respect. Supervisors must be familiar with the University’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Student Supervision. In return research students must understand that in undertaking research they are joining an endeavour that requires dedication and accountability, and must be familiar with these University guidelines and the National Code.
  4. Research supervisors must provide written material to each research student on applicable government and institutional guidelines for the conduct of research, including those covering ethical requirements for studies on human or animal subjects, and requirements for the use of potentially hazardous agents. Research supervisors should be the primary source of guidance to research students in all matters of sound research practice.
Publication and Dissemination of Research Findings
  1. The University policy which covers publication and dissemination of research findings can be found in the Publication and Authorship of Research Policy.
  2. Dissemination of research findings is important, and passes on the benefits of the research to other researchers, professional practitioners and the wider community. Researchers have a responsibility to disseminate a full and accurate account of their research as broadly as possible, including negative findings and results contrary to hypotheses. Researchers must ensure that the use of the work of others is appropriately acknowledged and cited. The University is committed to promoting an environment of honesty, integrity, accuracy and responsibility in the dissemination of research findings.
  1. The University policy covering authorship can be found in the Publication and Authorship of Research Policy.
  2. It is essential that all parties responsible for conducting a piece of research are duly acknowledged for their contribution in any publications or reports that emanate from the research. It is particularly important for senior staff, who have a responsibility to foster a positive environment, to fairly share the credit for joint research achievement with junior research staff. Authorship of a research output is a matter that should be discussed between researchers at an early stage in a research project, and reviewed whenever there are changes in participation.
Peer Review
  1. The University recognises the importance of peer review processes, as reflected in the Peer Review of Research Policy.
  2. Impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field has a number of important roles in research and research management: in the assessment of grant applications; in selecting material for publication; in the review of performance of researchers and teams; and in the selection of staff. The University is committed to encouraging participation in peer review, as a means of obtaining expert scrutiny, maintaining high standards, and encouraging accurate, thorough and credible research reporting. Peer review also plays an important part in the detection of deviations from the principles contained herein and within the National Code.
Conflicts of Interest
  1. The University’s Charter of Conduct and Values is the policy document that governs the management of conflicts of interest.
  2. A conflict of interest exists where there is a divergence between the individual interests of a person and their professional responsibilities such that an independent observer might reasonably conclude that the professional actions of that person may be or be seen to be unduly influenced by their own interests. Conflicts of interest are common, and disclosure of any potential conflict of interest is essential for the responsible conduct of research.
  3. Conflicts of interest of all participants or proposed participants in research must be disclosed. Such disclosure should include a research worker's affiliation with, or financial involvement in, any organisation or entity with a direct interest in the subject matter of the research, or in the provision of materials for the research.  These disclosures must cover the full range of interests including benefits in kind such as the provision of materials or facilities for the research, and the support of individuals through the provision of benefits (for example, travel and accommodation expenses to attend conferences).  The disclosures should cover such interests relating to the persons responsible for institutional research management, to the editors of journals to which papers are submitted (some editors already require this) and to bodies from which funds are sought.
Collaborative Research Across Institutions 
  1. The University actively encourages a culture of collaboration. The current Academic Plan for Research and Research Training states that “External collaboration and engagement with academic, government, industry and community partners will be highly valued and supported”. In addition, government policy actively promotes increased collaboration through a variety of funding schemes. This raises specific issues, such as the sharing of intellectual property, managing research findings, conflicts of interest and commercialisation of research outcomes.
  2. While research practices between countries may differ, researchers supported by Australian public funding should make every effort to comply with the National Code.
  3. Policies which are relevant to researchers involved in joint projects across institutions include existing University policies such as the Intellectual Property Policy; Management of Research Data and Primary Research Materials Policy; Publication and Authorship of Research Policy; and the Charter of Conduct and Values.
Conforming to Ethical and Safety Requirements
  1. The University is committed to safe and ethical research practices. Researchers must comply with the requirements of ethics approval processes and health and safety requirements, as outlined in the University’s Human Ethics Manual, the Charter of Conduct and Values, Work Health and Safety Policy , as well as external documents and legislation as outlined below.
  2. All research and teaching conducted at the University must be in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans procedures outlined in Clauses G3 ‘Misconduct/Serious Misconduct’ and G4 ‘Research Misconduct’ of the UC Enterprise Agreement. The ACT Animal Welfare Act (1992) and the Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (2004)  stipulate that approval must be obtained from the institutional Animal Ethics Committee 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.
  3. When required, researchers must seek approval from either the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) or the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) prior to:
  4. commencing the research project; or
  5. undertaking activities requiring ethics clearance if the same forms only part of the project and /or occurs in the latter part of the project.
  6. If only some activities of the research project require ethics clearance as per 12.3 (b) then funds related to these activities will not be released until ethics approval has been granted.
  7. Research must comply with other related legislation such as the Commonwealth Gene Technology Act (2000) and related regulations, and the Commonwealth Privacy Act (1988).
Part II  Procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct in research

Part I of this document describes principles and practices for encouraging the responsible conduct of research. Part II outlines procedures for dealing with allegations that research has not been conducted responsibly, ensuring that prompt and effective responses occur in all instances.
These procedures for dealing with allegations of research misconduct apply to:
  • All staff employed by the University and its controlled entities;
  • All former staff of the University and its controlled entities;
  • All persons engaged in research under the auspices of the University where the research is conducted in conjunction with another entity (such as a university, research institute, or private research endeavour);
  • All research students enrolled at the University and its controlled entities. Students studying by coursework should refer to the Student Academic Integrity Policy.
Definition of Research Misconduct
The National Code distinguishes between minor issues (breaches) which are less serious deviations from the Code which can be remedied using an institutions normal internal procedures, and more serious deliberate deviations (research misconduct) where, for resolution, the involvement of people who are independent of the University is desirable.
Examples of research misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Fabrication of results
  • Falsification or misrepresentation of results
  • Plagiarism, including the direct copying of material, the use of other people’s data without acknowledgement, and the use of ideas from other people without adequate attribution
  • Misleading ascription of authorship
  • Failure to declare and manage serious conflicts of interest
  • Falsification or misrepresentation to obtain funding
  • Conducting research without ethics approval as required by national codes and institutional guidelines
  • Risking the safety of human participants, or the wellbeing of animals or the environment
  • Deviations from the National Code that occur through gross or persistent negligence
  • Wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.
The list above is not meant to be exhaustive.  For example, human or animal experimentation departing from approved protocols accepted by a specific discipline might constitute research misconduct.
Research misconduct does not include honest differences in judgment in management of a research project, and may not include honest errors that are minor or unintentional.

Procedures for dealing with research misconduct by University staff are currently covered in Clauses G3 ‘Misconduct/Serious Misconduct’ and G4 ‘Research Misconduct’ of the University of Canberra Academic, General and UCELI Staff Agreement 2009-2012.
The following procedures are drawn from the National Code to supplement the procedures outlined in the Enterprise Agreement.
Protection of interested parties
When an allegation of research misconduct is made, the protection of all interested parties is essential during the handling of the investigation.
Interested parties include:
  • The person bringing the allegation to the attention of the University.
  • The staff member against whom the allegation is made.
  • Research students and staff working with the staff member concerned.
  • Journals in which allegedly fraudulent papers have been or are about to be published.
  • Funding bodies which have contributed to the research.
  • In some cases the public - for example if a drug is involved. Adequate protection of the complainant and the accused demands absolute confidentiality and reasonable speed in the early stages of investigation.  On the other hand, the protection of other parties may involve some disclosure.  Such judgments should be made by the Vice-Chancellor.
Appointment of Advisers on integrity in research and designated complaints receiver
The National Code outlines the need for both a designated person to receive allegations of research misconduct and to conduct a preliminary investigation, as well as advisers on integrity in research who will give confidential advice about a research conduct issue to staff and students who may be considering making an allegation.
Advisers on Integrity in Research: The University will appoint up to 3 advisers, who are senior staff members with research experience, familiarity with the literature and guidelines, and the analytical skills that allow them to provide confidential advice to staff and students/trainees on research misconduct. Advisers will not provide advice where they have a conflict of interest, nor make contact with the person who is the subject of the allegation. Advisers will also neither investigate nor make an assessment of the allegation, as specified in the National Code. The names of the Advisers will be advertised on the Research Services Office internal website.
Designated Complaints Receiver: The University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research will act as the University’s Designated Complaints Receiver. The role of the Complaints Receiver is to advise the Vice-Chancellor immediately a complaint is received and throughout the process. Following the receipt of a written allegation, as outlined below, the Receiver will conduct a preliminary investigation and provide advice to the Vice-Chancellor as to whether the procedures outlined in Clauses G3 ‘Misconduct/Serious Misconduct’ and G4 ‘Research Misconduct’ of the UC Enterprise Agreement should be invoked.
Receipt and initial treatment of allegations of research misconduct
Allegations of misconduct in research may originate from inside the University, from other institutions, from learned journals or in the press.  Allegations from outside the University should be dealt with directly by the Designated Complaints Receiver. Inside the University, allegations may come from other members of staff or from research students. Persons intending to make an allegation should consider having a confidential meeting with an Adviser on Research Integrity to determine if lodging a complaint is the most appropriate way of dealing with the issue.
  1. Allegations are to be made in writing, to the Designated Complaints Receiver, who must consider the allegation and conduct a preliminary investigation.
  2. The Designated Complaints Receiver shall inform the Vice-Chancellor of the receipt of an allegation.
  3. Unless the Designated Complaints Receiver considers reasons such as those described below in point (4) apply, the subject of the allegation should be informed at any early stage of the allegation which has been made.
  4. Indicative reasons why the Designated Complaints Receiver may refrain from disclosing allegations to the subject of the allegation include that:
    • The allegations appear to be ill-founded or malicious
    • Disclosure of the allegations may cause significant damage to the associated area
    • There are grounds to believe the disclosure of the allegations may expose the complainant to an unreasonable risk (such as retaliation).
  5. The Designated Complaints Receiver shall conduct a preliminary investigation and provide advice to the Vice-Chancellor:
    1. that no prima-facie case exists:
      If no prima facie case is found to exist, the subject of the allegation should be informed that there will be no further action taken and the conclusion should be recorded on his or her file, as far as possible, in a form satisfactory to the subject of the allegation.
      If it is considered that the complainant has brought charges improperly, disciplinary proceedings should be instituted against the complainant.  If the charges were reasonably brought but incorrect, the case should cease.
      The Vice-Chancellor will need to exercise judgment at this point to determine whether there are individuals or organisations that need to be informed.  This will depend on the degree of confidentiality that has been maintained.
    2. that a prima facie breach of the National Code or serious research misconduct is seen to exist:
      If the Vice-Chancellor considers that the allegations warrant further investigation or action by the supervisor of the staff member, the Vice-Chancellor must refer the matter to the relevant supervisor under procedures outlined in Clauses G3 ‘Misconduct/Serious Misconduct’ and G4 ‘Research Misconduct’ of the UC Enterprise Agreement.
Australian Research Integrity Committee
The Australian Research Integrity Committee (ARIC) is jointly administered by the Australian Research Council and NHRMC, and became operational in February 2011. ARIC provides a review system of institutional processes to respond to allegations of research misconduct. ARIC is intended to ensure that institutions investigate such allegations in an appropriate manner and observe proper process in doing so.
In all matters ARIC considers whether the institution’s response to the allegation of research misconduct was consistent with the framework outlined in the National Code and with the institution’s policies and procedures for investigating allegations of research misconduct.
 A person, group or organisation may request that ARIC review the process undertaken by an institution in relation to research misconduct. Details are available at the Australian Research Council website (http://www.arc.gov.au/general/research_integrity.htm)  
These guidelines replace the University’s existing Guidelines for Responsible Practice in Research and Dealing with Problems of Research Misconduct, with changes effected to accord with revisions to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
The policy review has taken into account best practice frameworks provided by key national Stakeholders, as well as solicited responses from all Faculties and Centres (via the Associate Dean Research and Executive Officer/Business Manager) & Academic Policy and Review.
4. Legislation:
This policy is governed by the University of Canberra Act 1989 (ACT) and informed by the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research (the National Code).
The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (hereafter the “National Code”) constitutes the national guidelines for institutions and researchers in responsible research practices, was jointly developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Universities Australia, and provides the basis for this document.