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1. Purpose and Objectives

This procedure details the steps for managing complaints of research misconduct. This procedure enacts PPL 4.20.05a.

This procedure is designed to determine findings of fact and whether research misconduct has occurred or not. Any findings of fact relating to research misconduct reached through procedures described in PPL 4.20.05b Research Misconduct - Procedures may then be addressed through the University’s provisions for managing misconduct/serious misconduct.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

CEO - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) as the delegated officer of the Vice-Chancellor.

Complainant - The person who has made a complaint.

Designated Person (DP) - Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) or other nominee of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

EA - University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement.

Misconduct - conduct on the part of an employee that is unsatisfactory and inconsistent with the expectations of an employee, but which is not so serious as to justify the possibility of termination of employment.

Office of Research Integrity - Staff reporting to the DP with responsibility for management of research integrity and compliance.

Organisational Unit Head - Head of School, Institute Director or equivalent.

Plagiarism - the act of misrepresenting as one's own original work the ideas, interpretations, words or creative works of another. These include published and unpublished documents, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs, computer codes and ideas gained through working in a group. These ideas, interpretations, words or works may be found in print and/or electronic media.

Redundant or duplicate publication - a publication that overlaps substantially with another work already published.

Relevant Senior Executive - Senior officer of the University as defined in the EA.

Research Integrity Advisor (RIA) - persons with research experience, knowledge of the University’s policy and management structure, and familiarity with accepted practices in research who are appointed to provide advice on research integrity to researchers and students in accordance with the Code. The RIA’s role does not extend to investigation or assessment of the complaint.

Research Misconduct - Misconduct or Serious Misconduct conducted in connection with research as defined by the EA.

Researchers - Staff, Occupational Trainees, Academic Title Holders, Visiting Academics, Industry Fellows, Honorary and Adjunct Title Holders, Emeritus Professors of the University who conduct research at or on behalf of the University.

Respondent – the person/s subject to a complaint.

Serious Misconduct – misconduct of a serious and wilful nature, normally conduct of a type that would make it unreasonable to require the University to continue employment of the staff member concerned. Serious misconduct can be represented by a pattern of behaviour or a single occurrence.

The Code - Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) or any subsequent published revision thereof.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

This procedure applies to all researchers.

4. Procedures Statement

The University considers complaints of research misconduct as a serious matter. All complaints must be treated as confidential, with the procedures for investigating allegations of research misconduct outlined herein. The University may be required by legislation to report on matters of misconduct to the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

5. Reporting Concerns about Research Conduct

5.1 When an individual has concerns or queries about the conduct of research, including potential research misconduct, they may consult and seek advice from a RIA or Organisational Unit Head (see 5.4 below).

5.2 The RIA’s role does not extend to assessment or investigation of the complaint. Moreover, the RIA must not make contact with a person who is the subject of the concern, and must not be involved in any subsequent inquiry.

5.3 The RIA will explain the actions that a person who is considering making a formal complaint may decide to take. These options include:

(1) referring the matter directly to the person against whom the complaint would be made and not progressing the matter if such referral resolves the concerns;

(2) referring the concerns to a person in a supervisory capacity for resolution at an Organisational Unit level; or

(3) making a formal complaint in writing to the DP and the Organisational Unit Head of the person/s against whom the complaint is made. The formal complaint may be prepared and referred on behalf of the person bringing the complaint.

5.4 Alternatively, where an individual has concerns about conduct of research including potential research misconduct, they may report this to the Organisational Unit Head and/or the Office of Research Integrity in the first instance.

5.5 It is the responsibility of the recipient of a formal complaint to notify the Office of Research Integrity once a complaint has been raised about the conduct of research involving a University researcher.

If at any time during the operation of this policy or associated procedure, a researcher who is also a staff member and the subject of a concern or complaint resigns from the University, this does not remove the obligation to investigate concerns regarding the conduct of their research.

6. Procedure for Managing Complaints or Information about Potential Research Misconduct

6.1 The procedure for dealing with complaints of research misconduct as reported to the Office of Research Integrity is outlined in Flowchart 1. This flowchart is a guide and should be read in conjunction with this procedure.

Click on flowchart to expand view.

 

 

Nothing within this procedure precludes the DP or their delegate making reasonable efforts to resolve breaches of the Code provided these actions are consistent with the Code and this policy.

6.2 The DP and the supervisor of the person/s against whom the complaint is made should be informed without undue delay.

6.3 The complainant should provide all available information relevant to the complaint in their initial correspondence or at the later request of the persons conducting an enquiry or investigation.

6.4 Depending on the nature of the disclosure, the complainant may be offered protection under PPL 1.60.03a Public Interest Disclosure.

7. Preliminary Enquiry

7.1 Prior to commissioning or undertaking an investigation as directed by the DP or their delegate into a complaint of potential research misconduct, the DP or delegate will make discreet preliminary enquiries.

7.2 If it is found that there is no substance to the research misconduct complaint(s), no further action will be taken in relation to the researcher who is the subject of the complaint(s). Where no substance to the research misconduct complaint(s) is found, no records of any preliminary enquiry will be kept on the staff member’s Human Resource file. Where it is found there is substance to a research misconduct complaint, the matter will be referred by the DP for preliminary investigation.

7.3 If, in the assessment of the DP or their delegate, the matters may constitute a minor breach of the Code, appropriate corrective action should be taken.

7.4 A staff member who makes a complaint or complaints which are considered to be frivolous and/or vexatious concerning the actions or omissions of another staff member may be dealt with in accordance with the University’s provisions for managing misconduct or serious misconduct.

7.5 Nothing in this section prevents the Designated Person from proceeding directly to Preliminary Investigation.

8. Preliminary Investigation

8.1 Upon decision to refer a complaint of research misconduct for preliminary investigation, the DP in conjunction with the supervisor must inform the respondent and the Director, Human Resources that an investigation is to occur in accordance with the Code.

8.2 The DP or their delegate will conduct a preliminary investigation to establish whether a prima facie case of research misconduct exists. The preliminary investigation will include an interview with the person against whom the complaint is made. Following the preliminary investigation, the DP must recommend to the CEO or their delegated officer whether the complaints should be:

(i) dismissed;

(ii) referred back to the Organisational Unit with instructions as to how they are to be handled;

(iii) referred immediately to the Director, Human Resources to initiate misconduct or serious misconduct proceedings according to the University's provisions for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct; or

(iv) investigated further through the commissioning of a research misconduct inquiry. The CEO may then commission an inquiry panel to further investigate the complaints.

8.3 If, in the assessment of the DP or their delegate, the matters may constitute a minor breach of the Code, appropriate corrective action should be taken.

8.4 If, in the assessment of the DP or their delegate, there is a prima facie case of research misconduct, the DP must advise the CEO and Director, Human Resources. Where required, the Director of Research Strategy and Management must also be informed.

8.5 The DP may recommend the matter be investigated further through the establishment of an internal inquiry panel. In such a case, the DP should also advise how the inquiry panel should be constituted. After providing advice to the CEO or their delegated officer, the DP should not play any further role in the matter, except that he or she may be called to give evidence or expert opinion.

8.6 Every reasonable effort should be taken to restore the reputation of anyone alleged to have engaged in improper conduct of research when such complaints cannot be substantiated.

9. Inquiry Panel

9.1 Upon decision to refer a complaint of research misconduct to a research misconduct inquiry, the DP in consultation with the Organisational Unit Head must inform the respondent and the Director, Human Resources that an inquiry is to occur in accordance with the Code.

Composition of the Inquiry Panel

9.2 An inquiry panel will be established by appointing suitable members, including at least one member with knowledge and experience in an associated field of research and at least one member who is familiar with the responsible conduct of research and with the Code. At least one member should have experience on similar panels, or have related experience or expertise, and all members must, as far as possible, be free from bias and must declare any conflict of interest. To achieve this membership, the University may draw on its own staff or externally as required.

9.3 A person appearing before the research misconduct inquiry may be accompanied by a support person who may be another member of staff or a Union representative provided that the support person is not a currently practising solicitor or barrister.

9.4 The inquiry panel must abide by confidentiality requirements and must impress upon all persons involved in the inquiry their obligation to keep details of the investigation confidential.

Responsibility of the Inquiry Panel

9.5 The inquiry panel will provide a written report to the CEO. The CEO must consider the findings and, in consultation with the Director, Human Resources, determine if misconduct or serious misconduct proceedings should be initiated in accordance with the EA.

10. Subsequent Actions

10.1 If, at the conclusion of a misconduct or serious misconduct proceeding, it is determined that misconduct or serious misconduct has occurred then the CEO should be informed so that appropriate corrective steps may be taken as set out below.

10.2 If a matter concerns research misconduct by Academic Title Holders, Visiting Academics, Industry Fellows, Honorary and Adjunct Title Holders, or Emeritus Professors of the University, the matter will be referred to the Vice Chancellor for consideration.

10.3 Subject to the requirements of privacy legislation and the relevant provisions of the EA, the CEO or their delegated officer must inform all relevant parties of the findings from the research misconduct inquiry and, where appropriate, the actions taken by the University: relevant parties may include affected staff; research collaborators, including those at other institutions; all funding organisations; journal editors; and professional registration bodies. The public record, including publications, may need to be corrected if research misconduct has affected the research findings and their disseminations.

10.4 Subject to the requirements of privacy legislation, if a case for consideration of research misconduct is found to exist, advice of this must be given to the relevant officer of any funding agency directly supporting the person involved, in accordance with the notification rules of the agency.

10.5 Positive efforts should be taken to restore the reputation of anyone alleged to have engaged in improper conduct of research when such complaints cannot be substantiated.

Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch