1.1 Durham University recognises that research excellence is an endeavour based upon trust and the maintenance of the highest standards of behaviour. It acknowledges that its good reputation and the good repute of its research is dependent on its integrity. This policy sets out the key behaviours and responsibilities expected by the University for any research or innovation work it sponsors, which is undertaken in its name or by its staff and student body.
2.1 This policy is relevant to all University employees, students, and others undertaking activities in the University’s name. It is particularly relevant to those involved in:
The policy applies irrespective of the subject, entry route or any other consideration.
2.2 Throughout the document, the term ‘researcher’ is used to mean any individual carrying out research or other activity in the scope of this policy. This includes but is not limited to: Principal and Co-Investigators, other academic staff, PDRAs, technical and other support staff, students and supervisors. For the purpose of brevity, the term ‘researchers’ and ‘research’ will be used to refer to all activities and those involved in them.
2.3 The title Principal Investigator is used to refer to any person leading or with overall responsibility for a research project or group. In the case of student research, the principal investigator is always the supervisor.
2.4 This document should be read alongside relevant University policies, the UUK Concordat to Support Research Integrity and any other related external documents.
3.1 The University recognises its role in sustaining and developing an environment that fosters research integrity. It will do this by ensuring that it has a supportive governance framework, by providing appropriate training and guidance, and by fully embedding its research integrity expectations. It has set out some key behavioural principles (Appendix One) and this policy translates these into applied behaviours and responsibilities across the set of thematic areas listed below:
Each subsection contains a short overall summary and expectations and responsibilities split by role.
3.2 Everyone involved in research must familiarise themselves and act in accordance with both University policy and processes and with external requirements pertaining to the conduct of their work. They should observe the highest standards of research integrity and embed good practice in all aspects of their work.
3.3 Researchers should ensure that Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are embedded throughout the research process. Research design and governance should ensure equitable selection of researchers and subjects, and provide equal access to training and supervision. Leadership and supervision of research should monitor all research output so that it meets with Durham’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion values and provides equitable support and opportunities for all researchers.
3.4 Research integrity is a complex area, encompassing statutory and legal requirements, and with drivers and expectations coming from funders, professional bodies, and 3rd sector groups as well as the University. The University considers the expectations in this document to be minimum requirements: in areas where another body has more stringent, relevant or robust requirements the University expects that these should be followed.
3.5 The University recognises that applying the principles of research integrity is not always straightforward, and researchers may confront situations in which the correct course of action is not clear, or where, with the benefit of hindsight, they would have acted differently (for example when making decisions in the field). The University stands by researchers who act in good faith and in accordance with the principles of this policy, encouraging them to seek advice and support as needed.
4.1 The purpose of the policy is to clarify the roles and responsibilities for the various areas, however the University is clear that these groups must be supported in order for them to discharge their responsibilities effectively. Researchers are supported by the Principal Investigator, who in turn is supported by the Head of Department. Support for all groups is provided by the University Professional Support Services, specifically (but not exclusively); Research & Innovation Services, Academic Registry & Student Services, Human Resources, Library, Computing & Information Services and the Centre for Academic, Researcher & Organisation Development.
4.2 All researchers should:
4.3 Principal Investigators should:
4.4 Heads of Department should:
5.1 Overall responsibility for ensuring operational support and institutional leadership for good practice in research lies with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). All University leadership, but particularly the Executive Deans, PVC (Research) and PVC (Education), are responsible for developing a culture which is supportive of research integrity and of researchers.
5.2 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
All researchers should:
5.3 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
Principal Investigators should also:
5.4 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of Department
Heads of Department should:
6.1 All projects should have a clear aim, and should be designed to address that aim in a way which is rigorous, transparent, efficient, effective and fair. Timescales, resources and methodologies should be justifiable and proportionate to the project. The University supports peer review as an effective means of ensuring that this is the case.
6.2 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
6.3 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
6.4 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of Department
7.1 General requirements
7.1.1 The safety and wellbeing of those involved, including participants and the project team, is the paramount consideration in any activity. Work must always be undertaken within the law and University policy. This includes ensuring that appropriate insurances and statutory obligations e.g. data protection are considered, managed and implemented.
7.1.2 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
7.1.3 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
7.1.4 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of Department
7.2 Collaborative Working
7.2.1 To ensure collaborations run smoothly, standards and processes at the collaborating organisations should be suitable for the conduct of the activity, equivalent / acceptable to the University, and there should be a clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities.
7.2.2 Researchers should be able to robustly justify their research practices, and should not undertake activities which they are not comfortable with. If there is a significant difference of understanding concerning what constitutes acceptable practice which could affect the project’s integrity, collaborators should reasonably and dispassionately attempt, as professionals, to seek a mutually acceptable solution.
7.2.3 If support in finding a mutually acceptable solution is required, then in the first instance the academic department’s designated ethics contact should be contacted and the best methods of resolving it explored. In the case of funded activity advice may also be sought from Research and Innovation Services.
7.2.4 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
All Researchers should:
7.2.5 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
7.3 Conflicts of Interest
7.3.1 An undeclared or unmanaged conflict of interest can adversely affect the delivery and impartiality (or perceived impartiality) of the activity and of its outcomes. It is important to note that a conflict of interest will not necessarily preclude any work from taking place provided that it has been recognised and managed appropriately.
7.3.2 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
7.3.3 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
7.3.4 Role & Responsibilities of Head of Department
7.4 Health and Safety
7.4.1 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
7.4.2 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
7.4.3 Role & Responsibilities of Head of Department
8.1 Management of projects should be carried out responsibly, in line with best practice and with an appropriate degree of transparency. This includes ensuring that projects are subject to sound financial management and recruitment practices.
8.2 General requirements
8.2.1 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
8.2.2 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
8.3 Intellectual Property
8.3.1 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
8.3.2 Role & Responsibilities of Principal Investigators
8.4.1 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
All researchers should:a) adhere to the terms and conditions of any grant or contract related to the project.b) comply with the University’s guidelines regarding the purchasing or procurement of materials, equipment or other resources and the hiring of staff, details of which may be found on the HR and Procurement websites. c) co-operate with any legitimate external or internal monitoring or audit of finances relating to the project.
8.4.2 Role & Responsibilities of Principal InvestigatorsPrincipal Investigators should also:a) monitor finances relating to the project.
8.4.3 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of DepartmentHeads of Department should:a) ensure that University procedures for the monitoring and audit of finances relating to research projects are adhered to within their department
8.5.1 Role & Responsibilities of ResearchersAll researchers should: a) comply with the University’s Research Data Management Policy, and any other legal, ethical, funding body and organisational requirements for the collection, use and storage of data, paying particular attention to data protection requirements for personal data and sensitive personal data. b) consider how data will be gathered, analysed and managed, and how and in what form relevant data will be made available to others.c) ensure that research data relating to publications is available for discussion with other researchers, subject to any existing agreements on confidentiality.d) ensure that data is retained in line with the agreed retention period, and is subsequently deleted or destroyed in line with all legal, ethical, funder and organisational requirements and with particular concern for confidentiality and security.
8.5.2 Role & Responsibilities of Principal InvestigatorsPrincipal Investigators should also:a) ensure that data management requirements are considered at an early stage of the design of the project, normally through preparation of a data management plan.b) ensure that data retention periods are in line with the University’s Research Data Policy and any applicable legal or contractual requirements. 8.5.3 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of DepartmentHeads of Department should:a) put in place procedures, resources and administrative support to assist researchers in the accurate and efficient collection of data and its storage in a secure and accessible form.
9. Review and Audit
9.1 All activities can profit from regular review and audit. Peer review is encouraged and supported at all stages of the project; from design through to the peer review of outputs for publications. The University expects that all substantive proposals receive at least internal peer review but supports external peer review for complex applications. Normal procedure is for all outputs published in its name to receive external peer review.
9.2 Projects may also be reviewed by the University, funders and or other relevant bodies either as part of their ordinary quality control processes or in response to an allegation of misconduct or an issue.
9.3 Role & Responsibilities of ResearchersAll researchers should:a) comply with any monitoring and audit requirements by applicable bodies, e.g. funder. b) adopt peer review as an important part of good practice in the publication and dissemination of research and research findings, the assessment of applications for research grants, and in the ethics review of research projects.c) follow guidelines of any organisation for which they carry out peer review, recognising the obligations of peer reviewers to be thorough and objective in their work and to maintain confidentiality.d) report any pressure, direct or indirect, to breach these obligations.e) not retain or copy any material under review without express written permission from the organisation which requested the review.f) not make use of research design or findings from a paper under review without express permission of the author, and not allow others to do so. g) ensure that all records and project documentation are kept in formats and structure which facilitate University / funder audit and review.
9.4 Role & Responsibilities of Principal InvestigatorsPrincipal Investigators should also:a) ensure any requirements for monitoring and audit are reflected in the design of a project.b) where appropriate ensure that proposals / applications receive at least internal peer review at the design / submission stage. c) be prepared to act as peer reviewers for meetings, journals and other publications, grant applications and ethics review of research proposals, and support others who do so.d) ensure that they and the project team fully engage with any audit and review process.
9.5 Role & Responsibilities of Heads of DepartmentHeads of Department should:a) monitor and review peer review and audit measures for suitability and effectiveness.
10. Publication and Authorship
10.1 The University respects the researcher’s academic freedom and their right to select the most appropriate route and method for dissemination of results. The University expects that researchers will select the most appropriate publication strategy.
10.2 Role & Responsibilities of ResearchersAll researchers should: a) publish and disseminate the outcomes of the project in an appropriate form and in a manner that reports the findings accurately and without selection that could be misleading. Where appropriate this can include providing access to underpinning data.b) be willing to accept and present alternative points of view; not discourage or suppress appropriate publication or dissemination, nor attempt to influence the presentation or interpretation of findings inappropriately.c) select reputable outlets which maximise the exposure and impact of the work, both to the academic community and society more broadly, in line with its Open Access Policy.d) undertake training where appropriate in the publication and dissemination of projects that involve: confidential or proprietary information; issues relating to patents or intellectual property; findings with serious implications for public health; contractual or other legal obligations; and/or interest from the media or the general public.e) appropriately acknowledge anyone who has directly or indirectly assisted their work. This includes collaborators, funders and participants. Sources should be cited appropriately.f) adhere to any conditions set by funding or other bodies regarding the publication of data or findings, including the timing and manner of publication (e.g. open access). g) ensure that reports are not submitted to more than one potential publisher at any given time (i.e. duplicate submission) or publish findings in more than one publication without disclosure and appropriate acknowledgement of any previous publications.h) if subjected to attempts to influence the presentation or interpretation of findings inappropriately, or discouraged from publication or dissemination of findings, discuss this with their department’s Director of Research, Head of Department or the PVC (Research) so that the matter can be resolved.
10.3 Role & Responsibilities of Principal InvestigatorsPrincipal Investigators should also:a) take overall responsibility for the project’s publication strategy.b) in the case of academic publications, ensure contributors are included as corresponding authors where appropriate. The University recommends the use of the ICMJ definitions; whilst these are widely used, there might be additional discipline specific standards or practice which this recommendation does not exclude or diminish.
11. Misconduct in Research
11.1 Any unacceptable or improper behaviour or incidences of poor research practice, whether intentional or not, must be addressed at the earliest possible juncture. All individuals have a responsibility to act in good faith with regards to allegations of research misconduct, and to report any instances of suspected misconduct, either informally via the PI (for minor or early stage issues) or via the appropriate misconduct procedure indicated below.
11.2 The spectrum of inappropriate behaviour ranges from minor misdemeanours which may happen occasionally and inadvertently, to significant acts of misappropriation or fabrication. Examples of unacceptable conduct are set out in the Research Misconduct Policy, and include:• Fabrication• Falsification• Plagiarism• Misrepresentation• Mismanagement or inadequate preservation of data and / or primary materials• Breach of duty of care.
11.3 Poor practices, such as weak procedures or inadequate record-keeping which may jeopardise the integrity of the research but might only require further training or development, do not normally require formal disciplinary action. Honest errors, creativity in Arts and honest differences of interpretation or judgement of data do not constitute misconduct. It is expected that minor / early stage issues can be reported to and resolved by the principal investigator.
11.4 If this is not appropriate, the allegations are not taken seriously, or if the allegations are serious (defined here as any potential case where the law may be being broken or where there is a potential danger to the life, wellbeing or material reputation of any of those involved in the activity) then any concerns should be raised immediately through the appropriate procedures:
• Any allegations of misconduct in research made against the University’s students will normally be treated under the procedures detailed in the General Regulations of the University, Section IV.
• Any allegations of misconduct in research made against the University’s staff will treated under the Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research against Staff of University of Durham.
The University's Public Interest Disclosure Policy ‘Whistle Blowing’ should be referenced when members of staff of the University believe that other malpractice may be taking place, whether financial or procedural, or that the requirements of good governance are not being followed.
11.5 Role & Responsibilities of Researchers
All researchers should:a) report any concerns regarding poor practice or perceived misconduct to the PI (for minor or early stage issues where appropriate) or to the PVC Research (in accordance with the Research Misconduct Procedure). Where researchers are unclear on what action to take, they should seek advice from Research and Innovation Services.b) proactively monitor the research and research team to identify potential issues. c) seek advice from Research and Innovation Services if they are uncertain whether work they are involved in could breach the standards set out in this policy.d) take any allegations of poor practice / misconduct seriously, responding to them in a timely and professional manner and escalating as appropriate.
• Equality and Diversity Policy• General Regulation IV• Health and Safety Policy• Intellectual Property Policy• Open Access Policy• Principal Investigator / Project Lead Eligibility Policy• Public Interest Disclosure Policy ‘Whistle Blowing’• Research Data Management Policy• Research Misconduct Procedure• Disciplinary Regulations• Responsible University Policy• Work with Outside Bodies Policy
Approval date: 11 October 2022Approved by: SenateContact for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers should adhere to the principles of good research practice outlined below. They clarify what it means to engage critically with the practical, ethical and intellectual challenges that are inherent in the conduct of high quality research.
Honesty: Researchers should be honest in relation to their own research and that of others. This applies in all aspects of research, including in the presentation of research goals, intentions and findings; in reporting on research methods and procedures; in gathering data; in using and acknowledging the work of other researchers; and in conveying valid interpretations and making justifiable claims based on research findings.
Rigour: Researchers should aim to produce and disseminate work of the highest quality, applying rigour, in line with prevailing disciplinary norms and standards in performing research and using appropriate methods; in adhering to an agreed protocol where appropriate; in drawing interpretations and conclusions from the research; and in communicating the results.
Transparency and open communication: Researchers should promote the open exchange of ideas, research methods, data and results and their discussion, scrutiny and debate, subject to any considerations of confidentiality. They should demonstrate openness in declaring potential competing interests; in the reporting of research data collection methods; in the analysis and interpretation of data; in making research findings widely available, which includes publishing or otherwise sharing negative or null results to recognise their value as part of the research process; and in presenting the work to other researchers and to the public
Care and respect: Researchers should show care and respect for all participants in research, and for the subjects, users and beneficiaries of research, including humans, animals, the environment and cultural objects. They should report and address any concerns relating to the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of those involved in research to their supervisor, their PI or head of department. Research should be initiated and continued only if the risks to those who might be affected by the research have been subjected to suitable and appropriate risk assessment and appropriate risk controls put in place. Those engaged with research must also show care and respect for the integrity of the research record.
Accountability: Researchers, with Heads of Department, other areas of the University and funders of research, are collectively accountable for creating a research environment in which individuals and organisations are empowered and enabled to own the research process. Researchers should take responsibility for their own conduct, and do their part to ensure individuals are held to account when behaviour falls short of expected standards. Researchers should recognise that in and through their work they are immediately accountable to their supervisor, their PI and Head of Department and should act accordingly. They should ensure that any research undertaken complies with any agreements, terms and conditions relating to the project, and allows for proper governance and transparency. Researchers should follow the requirements and guidance of any professional bodies in their field of research. Researchers who are members of a regulated profession must follow the requirements and guidance of the body regulating their profession.