1. Introduction

1.1 The University of Bath is a leading research university committed to maintaining the highest standards of research excellence and integrity. This Code sets out the standards of research conduct and responsibilities expected of all those engaged in research in connection with the University and applies to all staff, including Emeritus Professors, honorary and visiting staff, and to students engaged or involved in research and/or research-related activity. It should be read in conjunction with the research-specific procedures and guidelines published by the University (and available on the research integrity and ethics website; the Procedure for Inquiring into Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Scholarship, the relevant section of a member of staff’s Terms and Conditions of Employment, and the websites listed in the Appendix to this document.

1.2 All University staff with research management responsibilities must ensure that they themselves, their staff and research students are aware of the Code and that they have the necessary knowledge, resources and support to enable compliance with it. Academic supervisors are responsible for ensuring that undergraduate and postgraduate taught student projects are carried out in accordance with this Code. The Code should be disseminated as widely as possible: by Associate Deans for Research and Heads of Department, through the appropriate structures responsible for Doctoral provision, through staff and research student induction, and through mentoring and training activities. It should be a key reference for all work relating to strategic and operational planning for research as well as for project evaluation, departmental and centre review and staff appraisal.

1.3 The principles and guidelines which made up the Code have been developed taking into account all relevant guidance provided for the sector by RCUK and other research funders, UKRIO, UUK (in particular The concordat to support research integrity, 2012), European Science Foundation, and the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity (2010). The aim is to set standards that enhance research quality, integrity and compliance and that provide appropriate safeguards. Failure to comply with the Code may be deemed a disciplinary offence and have serious consequences for individuals and managers.

1.4 In addition to this Code and the procedures and policies directly referred to in it, all members of the University engaged in research have the responsibility to familiarise themselves with, and comply with, the Code, legislation and other guidance available on the University research integrity and ethics website and other websites listed in the Appendix to this document.

2. General principles of research conduct

Everyone involved in research at the University of Bath must adhere to the principles of research conduct outlined below:

2.1 Accountability and obligations: Researchers are accountable to the University, research funders, the public and themselves for the work that they conduct. They have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with and comply with all relevant laws, statutes, regulatory standards, and guidelines. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Requirements and guidelines produced by the relevant research funders including the detailed terms and conditions of funding as they relate to specific projects
  • Relevant UK, European and International legislation relating to research conduct and management. This includes but is not limited to the Human Rights Act 1998, the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Human Tissue Act 2004, the Department of Health Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care 2005, the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, and the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • Guidelines, standards and codes of conduct produced by the relevant professional and scholarly organisations
  • Ensuring internal and external reports and returns are made as required by the University and other organisations to promote the good management and monitoring of research.

2.2 Excellence, Ambition and Impact: Researchers must strive for excellence when conducting research and should seek to develop ambitious research that leads to the development of significant new knowledge. This may require researchers to take risks, whilst maintaining integrity. Researchers should also seek to disseminate their research and maximise the impact of their work with external audiences, (subject to considerations of confidentiality), in accordance with the principles of the Code.

2.3 Ethical practice: All research conducted in connection with the University must be conducted ethically. Researchers must actively seek to understand and apply all relevant guidelines including those arising from the broader contexts of collaborative research.

2.4 Honesty, integrity and openness: The University promotes a culture of research that fosters and supports honesty and integrity in research and the open exchange of ideas and research, subject to considerations of confidentiality and regulation covering security sensitive research. Researchers will be honest in respect of their own actions in research and in their responses to the actions of other researchers. Research methods and results should be made available on demand for internal scrutiny, and for external scrutiny subject to the conditions of funding and of confidentiality. Researchers should ensure that informed consent from research participants has been obtained in accordance with appropriate ethical and other guidelines. Researchers working with the NHS should ensure that their research complies with HRA and NHS requirements and with the Department of Health Research Governance Framework.

2.5 Leadership: It is the responsibility of senior staff including Department, School and Centre heads and research group leaders to ensure that researchers, including any students involved in research, are managed and supported to ensure awareness of and compliance with the Code. They should also ensure that a research environment conducive to mutual cooperation is created and sustained in which all members of the team are encouraged to develop their skills and in which the open exchange of ideas is fostered.

2.6 Cooperation: Whilst recognising the need for researchers to protect their own research interests and those of any funding body, the University encourages researchers to be as open as possible in discussing their work and exchanging ideas with other professionals and the public, provided that this is consistent with the Data Protection Act 1998, and any considerations of confidentiality.

2.7 Equality: The University promotes equality through all aspects of its activity. Individuals involved in research are expected to understand and apply all relevant policies and guidelines in the context of equality.

2.8 Staff development and skills: The University provides support for researchers and postgraduate research students to carry out research to the required standards and also provides development opportunities and training to achieve the necessary skills. Identification of training needs is a responsibility shared between the individual and the person who carries out their Staff Development and Performance Review (SDPR), or their supervisor in case of students.

2.9 Health, safety and wellbeing: Researchers must ensure the dignity, rights, safety and wellbeing of all involved in research and avoid unreasonable risk or harm to them and to all participants in and subjects of research, including humans, animals, the environment and cultural objects. Participants must not be under any compulsion to participate in research and must be free to withdraw at any time. All researchers must familiarise themselves with and adhere to the University’s Health and Safety policies.

3. Institutional responsibilities

3.1 Primary responsibility for achieving the highest standards of research conduct lies with the individual. However, the University has an important role in ensuring that systems are in place to support and reinforce this. These include:

  • Providing an environment which fosters and supports research of high ethical standards, nurtures a culture of research integrity, mutual cooperation, professionalism and the open and honest exchange of ideas, and where inappropriate conduct is identified and addressed.
  • Training and supporting staff and postgraduate research students to act according to the best practice and institutional policy on conduct of research, and defending them when they live up to these expectations in difficult circumstances.
  • Mentoring and other promotional roles for good research conduct by senior research and managerial staff.
  • Provision of clear requirements for management of primary data and other research materials.
  • Clear and robust managerial arrangements for responsibility over appropriate research conduct and reporting arrangements for allegations of misconduct.
  • Providing information to all staff and postgraduate research students on relevant organisational policies and procedures including but not limited to Intellectual Property, research ethics and integrity, research data management, health and safety, financial regulations, data protection, peer review, monitoring and audit of research.
  • Implementing The concordat to support research integrity within their research environment.
  • Monitoring the above measures for suitability and effectiveness and review through annual reports from the Faculty Research Committees to the University Research Committee and any other means deemed appropriate and effective.

3.2 Information and procedures are available on the University website and will be drawn to the attention of all new members of staff and postgraduate research students as part of the induction programme, and to existing staff by means of an online course on Research Integrity, and regular training events and updates.

4. Conflicts of interest

4.1 A conflict of interest can arise when a person’s judgement is influenced by a secondary interest. This might include some personal benefit or an interest that impairs their objectivity in conducting the research or reporting the findings. Researchers must declare any actual or potential conflicts of interest arising in relation to their work to their Head of Department and take action as applicable. They should also declare any conflicts of interest in their publications.

5. Research ethics and integrity

5.1 The University fully upholds the principles outlined in The concordat to support research integrity (Universities UK, July 2012). All individuals conducting research in connection with the University must incorporate appropriate consideration of ethical issues into the design and management of projects. The University’s definition of research integrity is available online.

5.2 Research involving interaction with human subjects or communities should be informed by context-specific ethical practice. Researchers must actively respect the human rights and dignities of all those involved in any project and must appropriately address questions of consent, capacity, power relations, deception, confidentiality and privacy. In particular, researchers must address a range of complex issues around developing and maintaining respectful and ethical relationships with research partners based on mutual respect for academic traditions and institutional and local circumstances without compromising research standards or legal obligations.

5.3 The University is committed to the three Rs – Refinement, Reduction and Replacement - of experiments involving animals.

5.4 Where complex ethical or integrity issues arise, researchers should actively initiate and engage in a wide debate among appropriate stakeholders. Researchers should seek advice from their Head of Department/School and/or their Departmental Research Ethics Officer on the most appropriate committee or channel for addressing specific queries.

6. Misconduct

6.1 The following definition will inform the Procedure for Inquiring into Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Scholarship. It should be read in conjunction with Commitment 4 of The concordat to support research integrity (“Dealing with allegations of research misconduct”, pp. 17-19). Members and staff of the University are expected to report misconduct and will suffer no detriment from doing so, provided that they are acting in good faith. Such reports shall be managed as prescribed in the University’s Procedure for Inquiring into Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Scholarship and the Public Interest Disclosure (whistleblowing) Procedure. The University takes seriously all allegations of research misconduct.

6.2 Misconduct in research and scholarship is defined as:

a. fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in preparing research proposals, applying for funding, carrying out research or reporting results;

b. deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviation from accepted practice in planning and carrying out research or in applying for funding or other forms of support or collaboration;

c. facilitating misconduct by others by colluding in, concealing or ignoring such actions;

d. unauthorised use of, or intentional misuse of or damage to, research-related equipment, materials, substances or resources of any sort;

e. intentional misuse or unauthorised disclosure or use of data or information generated through research.

6.3 The definition of misconduct does not include:

a. honest errors in designing or implementing research methods or interpreting or evaluating results;

b. the application or exploration of controversial or unpopular methods or ideas;

c. challenging received wisdom;

d. poor research, unless this encompasses the intention to deceive.

7. Publication and dissemination of research results

7.1 Any work put forward for publication must be the authors’ own. It is the responsibility of the authors to ensure that, except where properly acknowledged, claims to originality can be justified. All the authors should have made a significant intellectual contribution to the work reported and be able to identify their personal contributions to it. They must be able to provide underlying data upon reasonable request.

7.2 All funding sources and significant collaboration must be cited and all commercial, financial or other "interest" relating to the work should be declared unless anonymity has been agreed as a condition of participation in a particular study.

7.3 Researchers must deposit published outputs (subject to appropriate copyright) in the University's research repository via Pure. The University's Open Access Mandate provides further information on how and why to undertake this activity.

8. Research data management

8.1 Research data must be managed in accordance with the University's Research Data Policy.

8.2 Requests for access to research data under the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations should be forwarded immediately to the Freedom of Information Officer at freedom-of-information@bath.ac.uk.

8.3. Prior to departure staff leaving the University must discuss and agree an appropriate plan for retention of research data with their Head of Department.

Appendix: key reference websites

Document control

Owner: Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Version number: 2
Approval date: 7 June 2017
Date of last review: June 2017 (December 2014)
Approved by: Senate