Policy

Responsible Conduct of Research - Policy

Printer-friendly version
Body

1.0 Purpose and Scope

The University of Queensland (UQ) expects research to be conducted responsibly, ethically and with integrity. This policy outlines UQ’s commitment to: 

  • The responsible conduct of research, and
  • The responsible conduct of researchers.

This policy aligns with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018 (the Code) and should be read in parallel.

Staff and students at the University are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Code and the standards set out in the relevant UQ code or charter:

(a) Staff: UQ Code of Conduct;

(b) Students: Student Charter; and

(c) Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students: Higher Degree by Research Candidate Charter.

This policy applies to all staff and students who conduct, or assist with the conduct of, research at, or on behalf of, UQ.

2.0 Principles and Key Requirements

2.1 Principles of responsible research conduct

The University espouses the Code's principles of responsible research conduct. Research at UQ must be conducted in accordance with these principles:

  1. Honesty in the development, undertaking and reporting of research.
  2. Rigour in the development, undertaking and reporting of research.
  3. Transparency in declaring interests and reporting research methodology, data and findings.
  4. Fairness in the treatment of others.
  5. Respect for research participants, the wider community, animals and the environment.
  6. Recognition of the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be engaged in research that affects or is of particular significance to them.
  7. Accountability for the development, undertaking and reporting of research.
  8. Promotion of responsible research practices.

2.2 Responsibilities of the University

UQ will, in accordance with the Code, foster a culture of responsible research conduct within the University. To achieve this, UQ will:

  1. Establish and maintain good governance and management practices for responsible research conduct.
  2. Identify and comply with relevant laws, regulations, guidelines and policies related to the conduct of research.
  3. Develop and maintain a suite of policies and procedures which ensure that institutional practices are consistent with the principles and responsibilities of the Code.
  4. Provide ongoing training and education that promotes and supports responsible research conduct for all researchers and those in other relevant roles.
  5. Ensure supervisors of research trainees have the appropriate skills, qualifications and resources.
  6. Identify and train Research Integrity Advisors who assist in the promotion and fostering of responsible research conduct and provide advice to those with concerns about potential breaches.
  7. Support the responsible dissemination of research findings. Where necessary, take action to correct the record in a timely manner.
  8. Provide access to facilities for the safe and secure storage and management of research data, records and primary materials and, where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference.
  9. Facilitate the prevention and detection of potential breaches.
  10. Provide mechanisms to receive concerns or complaints about potential breaches. Investigate and resolve potential breaches.
  11. Ensure that the process for managing and investigating concerns or complaints about potential breaches is timely, effective and in accord with procedural fairness.
  12. Support the welfare of all parties involved in an investigation of a potential breach.
  13. Base findings of investigations on the balance of probabilities and ensure any actions are commensurate with the seriousness of the breach.

2.3 Responsibilities of researchers

In the conduct of research, researchers will be aware of and abide by the Code, this policy, related UQ policies and procedures, all applicable laws, legislation, guidelines, codes of conduct and project agreements.

Researchers at UQ will, in accordance with this policy and the Code:

  1. Support a culture of responsible research conduct at the University and in their field of practice.
  2. Provide guidance and mentorship on responsible research conduct to other researchers or research trainees under their supervision and, where appropriate, monitor their conduct.
  3. Undertake and promote education and training in responsible research conduct.
  4. Comply with the relevant laws, regulations, disciplinary standards, ethics guidelines and University policies and procedures related to responsible research conduct. Ensure that appropriate approvals are obtained prior to the commencement of research, and that conditions of any approvals are adhered to during the course of research.
  5. Ensure that the ethics principles of research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect are applied to human research.
  6. Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and respect their legal rights and local laws, customs and protocols.
  7. Ensure that the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are considered at all stages of research involving animals and minimise the impacts on animals used in research and in so doing support the welfare and wellbeing of these animals.
  8. Adopt methods appropriate to the aims of the research and ensure that conclusions are justified by the results.
  9. Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials. Where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these by interested parties.
  10. Disseminate research findings responsibly, accurately and broadly. Where necessary, take action to correct the record in a timely manner.
  11. Disclose and manage actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest.
  12. Ensure that authors of research outputs are all those, and only those, who have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution to the research and its output, and that they agree to be listed as an author.
  13. Acknowledge those who have contributed to the research.
  14. Cite and acknowledge other relevant work appropriately and accurately.
  15. Participate in peer review in a way that is fair, rigorous and timely and maintains the confidentiality of the content.
  16. Report suspected breaches of University policies and the Code.

2.4 Complaints and Breaches

A breach of this policy or the Code may arise where a researcher fails to meet the principles and responsibilities set out in the Code and/or this policy. A breach may occur on a spectrum from minor breaches to those that are more serious.

A serious breach of this policy and/or the Code that is also intentional or reckless or negligent may be considered research misconduct.

Complaints about the conduct of research, including potential breaches, will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures associated with this policy, Research misconduct – Higher Degree by Research Students and/or Student Integrity and Misconduct, as applicable.

Self-disclosure of potential breaches is strongly encouraged.

3.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

3.1    The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for:

  • The promulgation, implementation and review of this policy; and
  • Fostering responsible research conduct in accordance with clause 2.2.

3.2    Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) supports the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and is responsible for:

  • The function of the Office of Research Integrity.
  • The appointment of Research Integrity Advisors.

3.3    Heads of Organisational Units

Heads of Organisational Units are responsible for:

  • Creating a culture that supports the principles of this policy and enables researchers to carry out their responsibilities under this policy through the provision of appropriate training, support, resources and facilities; and
  • Modelling the core behaviours that characterise the responsible conduct of research.

3.4    Office of Research Integrity

The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for:

  • The provision of education, advice and support for the responsible conduct of research at UQ, including training and supporting Research Integrity Advisors; and
  • Receiving, assessing and managing complaints about the conduct of research in accordance with the procedures associated with this policy.

3.5    Research Integrity Advisors

Research Integrity Advisors, as appointed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), are responsible for providing advice on issues relating to research conduct and potential breaches, in accordance with the procedures associated with this policy.

3.6    Researchers

Researchers who conduct, or assist with the conduct of, research at, or on behalf of, UQ are responsible for:

  • Meeting the responsibilities under this policy and the Code through core behaviours that characterise the responsible conduct of research; and
  • Their own awareness and compliance with the applicable legislation, codes and guidelines.

4.0 Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for continuously monitoring the effectiveness and application of this policy or whenever there is a change in the Code and/or its accompanying guides.

5.0 Recording and Reporting

All University records shall be retained and disposed of in accordance with the University’s Records Management policy.

6.0 Appendix

6.1 Definitions

3Rs - The 3Rs are three principles that underpin a systematic framework to achieve the goal of humane experimental techniques. The principles are: Replacement of animals with other methods; Reduction in the number of animals used; and Refinement of techniques used to minimise the adverse impact on animals.

Research - The concept of research is broad and includes the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies, inventions and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.

Researchers – Any University staff member or student who conducts, or assists with the conduct of, research at, or on behalf of, the University. University staff member means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for or at the University.

Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch

Procedures

Managing Complaints about the Conduct of Research - Procedures

Printer-friendly version
Body

1.0 Purpose and Scope

1.1 Purpose 

This procedure supports The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Responsible Conduct of Research policy by describing the processes for: 

1.2 Context

A breach is a failure to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct. In the context of responsible conduct of research, a breach exists when there has been a failure to meet the principles and responsibilities of the Code and/or provisions in the Responsible Conduct of Research policy.

Research misconduct denotes a serious breach of the Code and/or the provisions in the Responsible Conduct of Research policy that is also intentional or reckless or negligent.

1.3 Scope

This procedure applies to all staff who conduct or assist with the conduct of, research at, or on behalf of, UQ.

Complaints about the conduct of research involving Higher Degree by Research Candidates will be handled in accordance with Research Misconduct – Higher Degree by Research Students.

Complaints about the conduct of research involving non-Higher Degree by Research Candidates will be handled in accordance with Student Integrity and Misconduct.

2.0 Process and Key Controls

  1. Researchers are encouraged to self-disclose potential breaches of the policy or the Code in accordance with these procedures.
  2. Making a complaint about the responsible conduct of research is detailed in Clause 3.4. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the protections under the Public Interest Disclosure Policy and Procedure may apply.
  3. Complaints made under this procedure will be investigated and managed consistent with this procedure and:
  4. Findings of a breach may be progressed in accordance with the UQ Enterprise Agreement, a staff member’s individual contract of employment and relevant UQ PPL documentation.
  5. Complaints will be managed in a manner that is fair and consistent with the principles of procedural fairness.

3.0 Key requirements

3.1 Advice on research conduct

Individuals with a concern about the conduct of research are encouraged to discuss their concern with a Research Integrity Advisor. Research Integrity Advisors can provide advice on accepted research practices, the Code, the Guide, UQ policy and procedures and other applicable codes of conduct that apply to research. A Research Integrity Advisor can help in considering:

  • Whether the concern may be related to a potential breach;
  • What other internal processes may be accessed if the concern is not related to a potential breach; and
  • How to make a formal complaint about a potential breach in accordance with this procedure.

The Research Integrity Advisor’s role does not extend to the assessment or investigation of a complaint. The Research Integrity Advisor will not make contact with the person who is the subject of concern.

Alternatively, where an individual has concerns about research conduct they may seek advice from their supervisor, Head of Organisational Unit or the Office of Research Integrity.

3.2 Confidentiality

Information relating to a complaint or proceedings will be kept confidential where possible and will not be disclosed outside the University, or to parties not involved in the proceedings, except in limited circumstances.

These limited circumstances include:

  • When the University is required to disclose the information;
  • Where disclosure is in accordance with clause 3.7;
  • When disclosure is required to progress a related process.

3.3 Precautionary actions

The University may take any reasonable temporary precautionary action to manage risks. Precautionary action may be taken in relation to:

  • The researcher concerned;
  • Any activity that could harm humans, animals or the environment;
  • Funds from external providers; and
  • Material that may be required for the assessment or investigation.

Any precautionary action taken by the University will be consistent with the principles contained in the Guide.

3.4 Making a complaint about the conduct of research

Formal complaints about the conduct of research may be submitted:

  • Verbally or in writing to the Office of Research Integrity;
  • Verbally or in writing to the Head of an Organisational Unit, with the Head referring the complaint to the Office of Research Integrity; or
  • Online through the University’s Complaints Management webpage.

Complaints will be acknowledged in writing (where possible). Anonymous complaints will be considered in the same way as other complaints based on the information provided, however, the assessment of the complaint may be limited if further information relevant to the complaint is required but cannot be obtained.

Where a complainant chooses not to proceed with a complaint or a respondent ceases to be a researcher at the University after a complaint has been submitted, the University is not prevented from progressing the complaint under these procedures. A complaint may be dismissed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) if it:

  • Has already been considered by the University;
  • Does not represent a potential breach of the Code or the Responsible Conduct of Research policy; or
  • Is frivolous or vexatious.

Dismissal of a frivolous or vexatious complaint may occur at any point in a preliminary assessment or investigation, and action to address this with the complainant may be taken.

A complaint may be referred elsewhere if it is not within the scope of this procedure.

3.5 Preliminary Assessment

A preliminary assessment includes the collection, recording and assessment of information relating to a complaint to determine whether the complaint if proven, would constitute a breach. Preliminary assessments are generally conducted by the Office of Research Integrity.

Where it is necessary to discuss the matter with the respondent they will be notified of the complaint and be provided with:

  • Sufficient detail to understand the nature of the complaint; and
  • An opportunity to respond in writing. This may include an invitation to meet with the option to bring a support person.

At conclusion, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) will be provided with preliminary assessment advice from the Office of Research Integrity. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) may determine that the complaint be:

  • Dismissed;
  • Referred back to the Office of Research Integrity for further assessment;
  • Referred elsewhere internally;
  • Dealt with as a minor breach and corrective instructions issued (in which case the respondent will have been provided with an opportunity to respond to the evidence); or
  • Referred for investigation.

Depending on the outcome, the nature of the complaint, and the level of involvement and impact on either the complainant or respondent, a summary of the decision made by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) may be provided to the complainant and the respondent.

3.6 Investigation

The purpose of an investigation is to make findings of fact to allow the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to assess whether a breach has occurred, the extent of any breach and the recommended actions. When the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) refers a matter for investigation they will:

  1. Set the terms of reference for the investigation, which establishes its objectives and scope;
  2. Provide the respondent with written notification that outlines the process, the nature of the complaint and the terms of reference for the investigation; and
  3. Appoint a person or persons (investigation panel) in accordance with the Guide to conduct the investigation.

The investigation should be conducted within a reasonable timeframe, fairly, impartially and free from bias.

Where the respondent or complainant elects to have a support person, their role is to provide personal support, within reasonable limits, during an interview.

The respondent will be provided with an opportunity to respond in person and in writing to the complaint and the evidence (which may be de-identified) relevant to the terms of reference. This may occur at different points during an investigation.

The investigation process may include the investigation panel:

  • Reviewing the initial complaint and records associated with the preliminary assessment;
  • Obtaining evidence from relevant witnesses, including experts; and
  • Collecting and examining relevant documentary evidence.

The investigation panel will prepare a written report that addresses the terms of reference. A draft of the written report or a summary of the relevant information will be provided to the respondent with a reasonable opportunity to comment before the report is finalised and provided to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). If the respondent does not participate in the process the investigation will continue in their absence, including finalisation of the report.

Following consideration of the investigation report and recommendations of the panel, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) will provide the investigation report to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) with recommendations. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may accept or reject all or some of the conclusions and recommendations and may decide:

  • To refer the matter back to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) or the panel for further investigation;
  • That there has been no breach, in which case the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may:
    • Dismiss the matter;
    • Refer the matter elsewhere internally;
    • Issue corrective instructions.
  • That there has been a breach, in which case, taking into account the extent of the breach, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may:
    • Refer the matter elsewhere internally;
    • Issue corrective instructions;
    • Determine that the breach constitutes research misconduct;
    • Refer the matter for appropriate action under the misconduct/serious misconduct provisions of the UQ Enterprise Agreement or a staff member’s individual contract of employment.

The respondent will be provided with a summary of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)’s decision and the complainant will be notified of the conclusion of the investigation. Depending on the nature of the complaint and the level of involvement and impact on the complainant, a summary of the decision may be provided to the complainant.

3.7 Further Actions

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) or Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may disclose the results of an assessment or investigation and any action taken by the University to relevant third parties. This may include other research institutions, external funding bodies, affected staff and students, research collaborators, professional registration bodies, journal editors and the general public. If the respondent ceases to be a researcher at the University, the University may refer the results of an assessment or investigation and any action taken by the University to any new institution that employs the respondent.

The public record, including publications, may need to be corrected if it is established as a result of an assessment or investigation that research findings and their dissemination have been affected.

4.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or other nominee of the Vice-Chancellor and President fulfils the role of Responsible Executive Officer in the Guide. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) has final responsibility for receiving reports of the outcomes of an investigation and deciding on the course of actions to be taken.

4.2 Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) or other nominee of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) fulfils the role of Designated Officer in the Guide. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for:

  • Overseeing the preliminary assessment of a complaint and deciding on the course of actions to be taken;
  • The appointment of an investigation panel;
  • Determining the terms of reference for the panel and investigation;
  • Consideration of the investigation report and recommendations from the investigation panel; and
  • Providing the final investigation report and their recommendations to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

4.4 Office of Research Integrity

The Office of Research Integrity staff or other nominee of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) fulfils the role of the Assessment Officer in the Guide.

The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for receiving and managing complaints about the conduct of research and supporting the conduct of preliminary assessments and investigations.

4.5 Research Integrity Advisor

Research Integrity Advisors are responsible for the provision of advice to individuals with a concern about the conduct of research.

4.6 Head of Organisational Unit

The Head of Organisational Unit is responsible for notifying the Office of Research Integrity if a complaint about research conduct has been received.

5.0 Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for continuously monitoring the effectiveness and application of this procedure or whenever there is a change in the Code and/or the Guide.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for the management of the application and function of the Office of Research Integrity as it relates to this procedure. The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for receiving and managing complaints about the conduct of research at UQ.

6.0 Recording and Reporting

6.1 Records

The Offices of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Research Integrity will retain records and materials related to matters assessed and investigated in accordance with this procedure. These records shall be retained and disposed of in accordance with the University’s Records Management policy.

Where a complaint is dismissed, no records of any preliminary assessment or investigation will be kept on a staff member’s Human Resource file.

6.2 Reports

When required, reports containing aggregate data on complaints assessed and investigated in accordance with this procedure must be provided to the relevant senior executive or committee.

7.0 Appendix

7.1 Definitions

Complainant – a person or persons who has made a complaint about the conduct of research.

Researchers – any University staff member who conducts, or assists with the conduct of, research at, or on behalf of, the University. University staff member means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for or at the University.

Respondent – a person or persons subject to a complaint or allegation about a potential breach of the Code and/or the provisions in the Responsible Conduct of Research policy.

Support person – a person who accompanies a party to an interview. The support person must not be legally qualified. 

Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch

Forms

Printer-friendly version

Conflict of Interest (Research) Disclosure - Form

Conflict of Interest (Research) Disclosure - Form

Printer-friendly version
Body
Description: 

Conflict of Interest (Research) Disclosure form.

Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch
Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch
Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch