3.16 Misconduct in research

3.16.1 Organisations should define what they consider to be misconduct in research and make it known to researchers. UKRIO defines misconduct in research as including, but not limited to:

a) Fabrication;

b) Falsification;

c) Misrepresentation of data and/or interests and/or involvement;

d) Plagiarism; and

e) Failures to follow accepted procedures or to exercise due care in carrying out responsibilities for:

i) avoiding unreasonable risk or harm to:

  • humans;
  • animals used in research; and
  • the environment; and

ii) the proper handling of privileged or private information on individuals collected during the research.

3.16.2 Organisations should establish and publicise a procedure to investigate allegations of misconduct in research (as in section 3.1.4) and ensure that any such allegations are investigated thoroughly and fairly and in a timely manner. The UKRIO Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research outlines a standard process for investigating alleged misconduct that is thorough and fair to all parties.

3.16.3 Organisations should identify and make known one or more members of staff who have responsibility for investigating allegations of misconduct in research and whom researchers and external organisations, such as journals, can contact with any concerns about the conduct of research. They should make sure that staff who investigate allegations have the necessary training, resources and support to fulfil the requirements of the role.

3.16.4 Organisations should make it clear to researchers that any misconduct in research is unacceptable and should be reported; that researchers who are found to have committed misconduct in research will be subject to disciplinary proceedings; and that where researchers are members of a regulated profession, cases of serious misconduct in research will be referred to the body regulating their profession. They should also make it clear that researchers who are found not to have committed misconduct will be supported and appropriate steps taken to restore their reputation and that of any relevant research project(s).

3.16.5 Organisations should support those who raise concerns about the conduct of research in good faith and not penalise them. This support should be in accordance with the organisation’s policy on raising concerns or “whistle blowing”.

3.16.6 Researchers should know what constitutes misconduct in research and report any suspected misconduct through the relevant procedure of the organisation as soon as they become aware of it. They should recognise that good practice in research includes reporting concerns about the conduct of research and should cooperate with any investigation of misconduct in research when requested. Researchers should work with their institution to support those who raise concerns in good faith about the conduct of research and those who have been exonerated of suspected misconduct.