What is Research Misconduct?
Research misconduct occurs where an individual deliberately, dangerously or negligently deviates from accepted practices that the University expects to be followed (i.e. unacceptable practices). This specifically encompasses (but is not restricted to) unacceptable practices as listed within Annex 2 of the Good Research & Innovations Practice (GRIP) policy.
Research misconduct does not include:
- Honest errors (unless deemed negligent) and differences in for example the design, execution, interpretation or judgment in evaluating research methods or results.
- Misconduct unrelated to the research.
- For the avoidance of doubt, research misconduct includes acts of omission as well as acts of commission. In addition, the standards by which allegations of misconduct in research should be judged should be those prevailing at the date that the behaviour under investigation took place.
The University has adopted the following, non-exhaustive, definition which is based on guidance issued by the Wellcome Trust:
"The fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting results of research or deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviations from accepted practices in carrying out research. It includes failure to follow established protocols or adhere to established ethical principles if this failure results in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, other living organisms or the environment and facilitating of misconduct in research by collusion in, or concealment of, such actions by others. It includes intentional, unauthorised use, disclosure or removal of, or damage to, research-related property of another, including apparatus, materials, writings, data, hardware or software or any other substances or devices used in or produced by the conduct of research. It also includes any plan or conspiracy or attempt to do any of the above."
- Staff undertaking research are able to exercise their right to academic freedom under the University Statutes, but must also take responsibility of ensuring that the integrity of research is upheld, and of being aware of the legal requirements that regulate their work.
- To enable all stakeholders (including funders, sponsors, regulators, staff, scientific publishers, students, research participants and patients) to have confidence that high standards of research integrity are upheld by the University at all times and that allegations of research misconduct are treated seriously and investigated as confidentially as is reasonably practicable.
- All staff/workers and students are obliged (and any individuals authorised to work in the University, its facilities or otherwise undertaking research on behalf of the University have a responsibility to report) to the University any concerns about potential research misconduct, whether witnessed or where they reasonably believe that this is, has or is likely to occur.
- Those staff, workers, and students who raise such concerns in line with this policy will not be penalised or suffer detriment by the University for doing so, provided that they do so in confidence and reasonably believe that potential research misconduct is, has or is likely to occur.
- Where appropriate, issues may be resolved through informal discussions, advice, guidance, or agreed mediation, without the requirement for a formal investigation.
- The basis for reaching a conclusion that an individual is responsible for misconduct in research relies on a judgment that there was an intention to commit the misconduct and/or negligence in the conduct of any aspect of research undertaken and that the burden of proof required is that of ‘on the balance of probabilities’.
- To protect the reputation of those suspected of, or alleged to have engaged in, misconduct, when the allegations or suspicions are not confirmed.
- Depending upon the outcome of an investigation, other relevant formal procedures may be initiated including for example the University’s disciplinary or capability procedures. In such cases the information/findings of an investigation may be used in whole or in part to form the investigation element of such procedures.