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Statement on Research Integrity 2020/21

The University's annual statement sets out our actions and initiatives to sustain and enhance the integrity of our research for the 2020/21 academic year.


  1. The University of Bath is a leading research institution committed to maintaining the highest standards of research excellence and integrity. This is the sixth University statement setting out the actions and initiatives we have undertaken to sustain and further enhance integrity in our research.

  2. The University of Bath fully upholds the principles outlined in the updated version of The Concordat to Support Research Integrity (Universities UK, October 2019).

  3. 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.

  4. The current Research Strategy 2016-21 includes a key 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’.

  5. 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 such policies and procedures.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. The Department of Policy, Planning and Compliance monitor compliance with our policies and together with the Vice- Chancellor’s Office ensure that guidance is accessible and up to date.

  9. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research is the contact for any research integrity queries including research misconduct. The Director of Finance is the confidential liaison for whistle-blowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about research integrity.

  10. The Library supports open research and delivers a host 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.

  11. We have concluded a comprehensive, institution-wide research integrity review. A series of recommendations were produced, and we are currently overseeing the implementation of these recommendations. These include:

    • The establishment of a University Ethics Committee, as a Council Committee, to take responsibility for non-academic ethical issues. 
    • The renaming of the existing University Ethics Committee, Chaired by  Professor Christopher Eccleston,  Department for Health, as the Academic Ethics and Integrity Committee (AEIC) with a refocused terms of reference to give a platform for consideration of strategic matters. 
    • The strengthening of the membership of the AEIC to include experts in Research Integrity.
    • The approval of our proposal to take a risk-based approach to our management of research ethics and set up 4 new research ethics sub-Committees to operate University wide.
    • Commissioning of a new digital solution to expand our electronic environment, improve user and reviewer experience, facilitate administrative tasks and allow for a more robust auditing of compliance.
    • The development of a Concordat to Support Research Integrity gap analysis and the delivery of the associated action plan.
  12. We have reviewed our approach to monitoring compliance to include:

    • Obtaining data from HR to confirm the percentage of staff completing the mandatory Research Integrity training module on Moodle
    • Confirming with RIS which members of staff have internal or external funding and cross checking with our research ethics records to ensure that due process for ethical consideration has been followed
    • A more robust annual survey on our management of human tissue samples
    • The launching of the DREO survey to monitor issues, identify training needs and encourage discussions at Departmental level
  13. 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;
    • a review of our risk assessment template to broaden it out so that risks to physical as well as mental health are considered
    • the further development of the ‘Research Ethics and Research Integrity’ module of the ‘Bath Course in Enhancing Academic Practice’ which is mandatory for all probationary Lecturers;
    • the launching of a new ‘Managing Human Participant Research Data Course’ via Moodle (Bath log in required).
    • the publication of a guide for Doctoral Students on vicarious trauma which includes sections on how to identify early signs and support available at the University.
  14. In addition, in order to comply with the Export control legislation, we intend appointing an Export Control Manager and an Export Control Director to ensure compliance with our Export Control Policy (currently in draft). These roles, together with the policy and associated guidance and training will provide support to members of staff with advice regarding licence applications.

  15. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated pauses of research projects, review of protocols and research design, we developed a series of processes to help researchers consider what issues might affect the integrity of their research and encourage them to propose ways by which issues might be mitigated. Our processes followed guidance from UK Government, NIHR and UKRIO and included general guidance for the research community and specialised guidance for those working with human participants.

  16. We have regularly participated in the UKRIO seminars on Research Integrity and completed the VIRT2UE train the trainer program for upholding the principles and practices for research integrity.

  17. Research Misconduct:

    • Each year the University receives details of a range of concerns relating to research integrity. During this academic year the PVC(R) received 8 complaints regarding research integrity.
      • One related to an accusation of misrepresentation after a presentation at a conference. Our investigation found no wrongdoing.
      • Three related to a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal where, after our investigation, no evidence of non-compliance or misconduct was found.
      • One related to a Masters project being carried out without ethical approval. After investigation the allegation was upheld, and the publication of the data was embargoed.
      • Two related to two separate PhD projects being carried out without the necessary ethical approvals. Our investigations demonstrated that local processes had been followed and there was no evidence of misconduct.
      • One alleged inadequate use of references in publications in peer reviewed journals. This investigation is still ongoing.
    • In light of lessons learnt during our investigations a review of our Procedure For Inquiring Into Allegations Of Misconduct In Research And Scholarship was initiated to consider:
      • including 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
      • Implications for 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 not included in this report even though they are considered as an important component of our research environment.
  18. The University is a subscriber to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO).


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