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2012 saw the publication of The Concordat to Support Research Integrity. Devised by the UK Government, Universities UK, Research Councils UK, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and other key stakeholders, it sets out five commitments that those engaged in research should make to help ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity are maintained. These key commitments apply to researchers, their employers and funding bodies alike.
The Concordat was developed with the assistance of UKRIO and it recognises us as a key part of the architecture for the future. We have long championed many of its commitments and are pleased to be part of the powerful consensus that it documents. The Concordat is an important step in the journey towards improving research integrity and enhancing the UK’s world-class reputation for conducting exceptional and innovative research.
Copies of the Concordat can be downloaded or ordered here: The Concordat to Support Research Integrity
A circular letter from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) setting out its view of compliance with the Concordat can be found here: HEFCE Circular letter 21/2013: Compliance with the Concordat to support research integrity
The assurance questions which Research Councils UK use to assess compliance with the Concordat can be found here: Research Councils UK: Assurance on Research Integrity & Ethics . We understand the assurance questions are under ongoing review and may be subject to (some) alteration. Any questions regarding this should be addressed to Research Councils UK.
Our Self-Assessment Tool has been developed to help institutions identify practices, systems and issues that may need revision in order to comply with the Concordat. It also goes further than helping with compliance, allowing institutions to consider how they might carry out a broad implementation of the Concordat, building on their existing activities.
It poses self-assessment questions for institutions, each mapped onto one or more commitments of the Concordat, and introduces practical ways in which they might be met . An annex discusses what might be included in an annual institutional statement on research integrity, a key recommendation of the Concordat.
Guidance is given on every aspect of the Concordat but particular attention has been paid to areas where UKRIO has most often been approached for guidance. Use of the self-assessment questions will not only help with the implementation of the Concordat, but also enhance an institution’s overall approach to research integrity and help ensure that important issues have not been overlooked.
Our aim is not to suggest a ‘one size fits all’ approach or impose inflexible solutions. Rather, we hope that this self-assessment tool will help institutions consider how the Concordat can best be implemented in their particular settings, and how it might be used to promote and sustain research integrity.
Further information on the Self-Assessment Tool, including how to get a copy, is available here.
UKRIO welcomes the report by Universities UK into the implementation and impact of The Concordat to Support Research Integrity. It highlights the vital work being carried out by the UK research community to safeguard research integrity, essential to maintain high standards in research and enhance the UK’s international reputation.
The progress report recognises UKRIO as a key part of the architecture for research integrity. The essential work of our charity was noted by many of the organisations who contributed to the study:
‘…the most oft-cited resources that institutional leads on research integrity drew on were those provided by the UK Research Integrity Office, with both the ‘hard’ guidance available through UKRIO (such as model policies and processes) and the ‘soft’ support (such as informal advice and the annual conference) being highly valued.’
It is clear that the Concordat approach is effective and proportionate. But there is no room for complacency. Greater clarity from stakeholders of expectations relating to compliance is essential, though they should not mandate how the Concordat should be implemented. Research organisations need to be supported to be more open. All should consider how they can continue to support good professional practice and encourage research of the highest quality and ethical standards.
UKRIO is helping to maintain the current momentum by supporting and enhancing the implementation of the Consensus Statement and the Concordat. The introduction of new policies and guidance can lead to a ‘tick box’ mentality unless provided with comprehensive and long-term support. UKRIO has considerable experience in helping organisations put into operation the principles and standards of new research guidance. Please contact us for futher details.
The Concordat stakeholders are developing processes to assess whether institutions in receipt of their grants are in compliance with the Concordat. UKRIO is working with them to inform the development of these processes, using our unique experience, expertise and data.
This article was produced by James Parry, Chief Executive of UKRIO, for Funding Insight in November 2013. It gives some broad suggestions on how to implement the Concordat and discuses what we see as its underlying themes. Reproduced with kind permission of Research Professional.