The University of Bath is a leading research institution committed to maintaining the highest standards of research excellence and integrity. This is the 7th University statement setting out the actions and initiatives we have undertaken to sustain and further enhance the integrity of our research.
The University of Bath fully upholds the principles outlined in the updated version of The Concordat to Support Research Integrity (Universities UK, October 2019).
We have a long-standing commitment to high standards in research ethics and integrity, which is reflected in our University Strategies and Code of Ethics. As a part of our commitment we have drawn upon the Leiden Manifesto and the Metric Tide to develop our own set of principles outlining our approach to research assessment and management, including the responsible use of quantitative indicators.
The current University Strategy 2021-26 includes a key objective: ‘Aspiring to the highest standards of scientific, ethical and professional integrity, whilst supporting the freedom to challenge received wisdom’. Our Research Strategy also includes the objective ‘To maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research and to have appropriate policies, systems and procedures in place to ensure compliance with the Concordat to support research integrity.’
We are committed to providing an appropriate framework to support a research culture that is underpinned by research integrity. This involves, in part, providing clear guidance about policies, procedures and responsibilities, training and supporting researchers according to their responsibilities, and monitoring the implementation of relevant policies and procedures.
At our University, Research Integrity is supported by the following groups: the Academic Ethics and Integrity Committee, the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body, the Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee, the Psychology Ethics Committee and the Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health.
At a School/Department level the DREOs (Departmental Research Ethics Officers) and the Sponsorship Facilitators provide help and advice on specific projects. The Deans of each Faculty or School work with the Heads of Department/Division, and have the overall responsibility for the performance of academics and researchers in their respective Faculties/School.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research is the contact for any research integrity queries including research misconduct and dignity and respect issues relating to research. The Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for embedding principles of good research culture and enabling the growth of new and existing research governance activities. The Director of Finance is the primary confidential liaison for whistle-blowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about research integrity.
The Library supports open research and delivers a range of workshops and guidance, for staff and students, on research data management; preventing fraud; handling sensitive data; gaining consent for data sharing; citing data sources; responsible use of bibliometrics; and avoiding ‘predatory’ publishers.
The University is a subscriber to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO).
During this last academic year we have continued to develop and refine our approach to research integrity. Activities carried out this academic year include:
- appointing an Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) with particular responsibility for embedding principles of good research culture, research ethics and integrity.
- obtaining internal support to join the UK Reproducibility Network.
- the development of a Trusted Research work plan to ensure compliance with the National Security Investment Act and Export Control.
- revised our Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy to include:
- the appointment of a Senior Independent Director who can be contacted as an independent person;
- an online form to facilitate the raising of concerns relating to serious wrong doing;
- a new dedicated e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- joining the Higher Education Export Control Association.
We continued to monitoring compliance and have carried out the following annual audits:
- management of human tissue samples.
- DREO survey to monitor issues, identify training needs and encourage discussions at Departmental level.
We have continued to improve our research culture to support our staff and students by providing guidance and tools to ensure compliance and facilitate informed decisions. These included:
- direct communications via e-mail by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research);
- a continued refresh of our website to include better sign posting, and information;
- an Institution-wide training session on Research Ethics supported by UK Research Integrity Office.
- an invited talk by Maurice Chiodo from the University of Cambridge on ‘How do ethical issues arise in mathematical work?’
- a Doctoral Students’ lead session on research ethics and integrity for the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.
- the launching of a Supervisor training course by the Doctoral College together with some extra resources, guidance and information to assist Supervisors with supporting doctoral students.
- drafting research ethics case studies for reference by researchers (link to follow).
- continued working on the new ethics digital solution with particular focus on guidance to support researchers during the process and help consider all ethical implications potentially associated with their work – from human participation to environmental impact.
- continuing to deliver against the workplan which arose from the concordat gap analysis.
- ensuring ongoing consideration of ‘Open Research’ on the Academic Ethics and Integrity Committee.
We have continued to participate in the UKRIO seminars on Research Integrity.
- Each year the University receives details of a range of concerns relating to research integrity. During this academic year the PVC(R) received 3 complaints regarding research integrity.
- One related to accuracy of the facts displayed in a one of our research web pages. An error was identified and corrected. There was no evidence of deliberate wrongdoing.
- One alleged inadequate use of references in publications in peer reviewed journals. The associated investigations are ongoing.
- One alleged discrimination with respect to the use of information about the professional standing of researchers on a research group website. No evidence of wrongdoing was identified.
- In light of lessons learnt during our investigations our Procedure For Inquiring Into Allegations Of Misconduct In Research And Scholarship was reviewed to include:
- a triage step as recommended by UKRIO. This triage step will permit the resolving of situations that are not considered to be serious in nature by informal discussion and/or arbitration and/or dispute resolution without the requirement for a formal investigation.
- better aligning of our definition of research misconduct with that in the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.
- An improved process to support students and supervisors during investigations.
- support for the mental health and wellbeing of those being investigated and carrying out the investigations.
- There is an annual report to the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee in October on any allegations during the previous academic year.
Allegations considered under the ‘Dignity & Respect Policy’ are overseen by our Human Resources department. During this academic year to-date (Sept 21 to 10 May 22), we have received allegations under our Dignity & Respect Policy’ in relation to academic and research-only staff in eight separate cases. Of the eight cases the Reporting Party was as follows:
- 5 of the Reporting Parties were students.
- 2 of the Reporting Parties were staff.
- 1 of the Reporting Parties was an individual outside of the University community. Of these eight cases the processes have been completed in five cases. In the other three cases there are formal investigations which are currently being undertaken. Of the five cases that have completed, the actions taken have been as follows:
- 2 cases informal action was taken as agreed with the reporting parties. In both of these cases the Reporting Party was satisfied with the informal outcome.
- 3 cases a formal investigation was undertaken. Of the three cases where a formal investigation was undertaken and completed, the outcomes were as follows:
- In 2 cases, no case to answer was found. In one of these cases subsequent informal actions were carried out in agreement with the parties.
- In 1 case, a case to answer was found and the case was considered at a disciplinary hearing. At the disciplinary hearing, misconduct was found and a formal disciplinary warning was issued.
Approved by council 13 July 2022