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Code of good practice in research integrity

Principles and standards that you must adhere to if you are involved in research at the University of Bath.


Code Of Practice


Owner
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Version
2
Approval date
07 Jun 2017
Approved by
Senate
Date of last review
19 Apr 2023
Date of next review
30 Apr 2024

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, 2019), 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.

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

2.1. 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.

2.2. Researchers are accountable to the University, research funders, the public and themselves for the work they undertake. Researchers have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with and comply with all relevant laws, statutes, regulatory standards, and guidelines. These include but is not limited to:

  • 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 2018, 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.

2.3 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 reasonable scientific risks, whilst maintaining integrity.

2.4. Researchers should attempt to reduce research waste that arises from unnecessary, methodologically flawed, or inaccessible research.

2.5. Researchers should also seek to disseminate their research and maximise the impact of their work with external audiences, (subject to considerations of confidentiality as may be necessitated by commercialisation, contractual requirements or other appropriate causes), in accordance with the principles of the Code.

2.6. Researchers will seek to meet the requirements of open science in promoting accuracy, transparency and accountability for research conduct, including communication.

2.7. It is the responsibility of senior staff including Department, School, and heads of research Institutes, Centres and groups to ensure that researchers, including any students involved in research, are managed and supported to ensure awareness of and compliance with the Code.

2.8. 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 2018, and any considerations of confidentiality.

2.9. 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.

2.10. The University provides support for researchers and postgraduate research students to carry out research to the required standards. 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.

2.11. 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. The University has an important role in ensuring that systems are in place to support and reinforce this. These include:

  • Providing an environment (culture, structures, systems, and resource) that fosters and supports research of 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.
  • The University reports annually on its progress in developing systems and cultures to support research integrity (see (https://www.bath.ac.uk/corporate-information/statement-on-research-integrity-2020-21/)
  • 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 when the conduct or reporting of research are compromised for personal/institutional gain (e.g., reputational, monetary, material). 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 2019). 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 participants 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 all 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.

5.5. The University does not knowingly collaborate with, or accept monies from, any illegal body (under UK law). The University recognises funder guidance on funding associated with the tobacco industry, including: Cancer Research UK Code of Practice on Tobacco Industry Funding to University, and The Wellcome Foundation.

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. 1712-195). 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:

  • fabrication: making up results, other outputs (for example, artefacts) or aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent, and presenting and/or recording them as if they were real
  • falsification: inappropriately manipulating and/or selecting research processes, materials, equipment, data, imagery and/or consents
  • plagiarism: using other people’s ideas, intellectual property or work (written or otherwise) without acknowledgement or permission
  • failure to meet: legal, ethical and professional obligations, for example:

    • not observing legal, ethical and other requirements for human research participants, animal subjects, or human organs or tissue used in research, or for the protection of the environment
    • breach of duty of care for humans involved in research whether deliberately, recklessly or by gross negligence, including failure to obtain appropriate informed consent
    • misuse of personal data, including inappropriate disclosures of the identity of research participants and other breaches of confidentiality
    • improper conduct in peer review of research proposals, results or manuscripts submitted for publication. This includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for the purposes of peer review
  • misrepresentation of:

    • data, including suppression of relevant results/data or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence presenting a flawed interpretation of data
    • involvement, including inappropriate claims to authorship or attribution of work and denial of authorship/attribution to persons who have made an appropriate contribution
    • interests, including failure to declare competing interests of researchers or funders of a study
    • qualifications, experience and/or credentials
    • publication history, through undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication
  • improper dealing with allegations of misconduct: failing to address possible infringements, such as attempts to cover up misconduct and reprisals against whistle-blowers or failing to adhere appropriately to agreed procedures in the investigation of alleged research misconduct accepted as a condition of funding. Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct includes the inappropriate censoring of parties through the use of legal instruments, such as non-disclosure agreements”

  • Honest errors and differences in, for example, research methodology or interpretations do not constitute research misconduct.

  • In addition, at this Institution the definition of misconduct does not include the application or exploration of controversial or unpopular methods or idea

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.

7.3. All data should be identifiable, retrievable and stored in a University Repository. Researchers 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

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