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.
This policy is relevant to all University employees, students, and others undertaking activities in the University’s name, involved in:
a) any research activities, whether funded or unfunded.
b) other activities in scope of the Work with Outside Bodies Policy, including consultancy, services for outside bodies, research commercialisation, and other impact, collaboration, exchange and engagement activities.
The policy applies irrespective of the subject, entry route or any other consideration.
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.
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.
This document should be read alongside relevant University policies, the UUK Concordat to Support Research Integrity and any other related external documents.
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:
Culture, Leadership & MentoringResearch DesignGovernance, Ethics & SafetyManaging Research & OutputsReview & AuditPublication & AuthorshipReporting Issues
Each subsection contains a short overall summary and expectations and responsibilities split by role.
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.
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.
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.
All researchers should:
a) act in accordance with high ethical standards, values of mutual co-operation, openness, professionalism and the open and honest exchange of ideas.
b) comply with all University, legal and ethical requirements and other guidelines that apply to their research.
Principal Investigators should:
a) adhere to the behavioural standards expected of all researchers.
b) take overall responsibility for project activity, ensuring that the project is conducted in line with applicable standards and requirements.
Heads of Department should:
a) check and support compliance with the requirements to be met by PIs and researchers.
b) ensure that researchers have sufficient training, resources and support to meet the University’s expectations and the requirements of their role.
Overall responsibility for ensuring operational support and institutional leadership for good practice in research lies with the PVC (Research). All University leadership, but particularly the Faculty PVCs, PVC (Research) and PVC (Education), are responsible for developing a culture which is supportive of research integrity and of researchers.
All researchers should:
a) ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake their work in line with the University’s standards, or where they do not, raising any needs with their PI or manager.
b) undertake training in order to carry out their duties and to develop their knowledge and skills throughout their career and ensure that skills are kept up-to-date.
c) be willing to engage actively with peer review and / or research mentoring processes, both as reviewer and reviewee, as part of good practice in ensuring high quality research.
d) engage with the broader University to highlight issues and suggest improvements.
e) highlight areas of poor conduct and escalate where appropriate.
Principal Investigators should also:
a) create and maintain a research climate within their research group where good conduct in research is promoted and inappropriate conduct is identified and addressed.
b) direct and supervise projects in an exemplary manner, specifying lines of accountability within their research group for the organisation and management of the activity.
c) ensure that the project team is aware of and capable of discharging their responsibilities.
d) promote the University’s policies and procedures, training, resources and support.
e) support their research group in meeting any University, legal or ethical requirements.
f) provide sufficient support, training and direction to their dependent staff and students.
g) encourage the career development of their researchers, providing training and mentoring in line with departmental processes.
Heads of Department should:
a) create a culture which fosters and supports the behaviours required of researchers and encourages researchers to embed good research practice as a routine part of their work.
b) ensure that good research practice is integral to the local research strategy or policy.
c) ensure provision of support, career development opportunities, departmental training and mentoring processes to facilitate the career development of researchers. These should provide training and mentoring of new researchers in line with the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. Particular attention should be given to research assistants and student researchers, ensuring that they are aware of their responsibilities and supported to fulfil the expectations placed upon them.
d) where appropriate, establish clear departmental guidelines, policies and procedures that support compliance with the discipline-specific professional standards.
e) ensure that local guidance is fully compatible with other University policies, such as those for health and safety, raising concerns at work, management of finances or of intellectual property, and equality and diversity.
f) ensure that researchers are aware of relevant policies and procedures and that all relevant activities are undertaken in compliance with them, arranging provision of departmental training where appropriate.
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
a) ensure that activities are designed in compliance with all University, legal, ethical and professional standards that apply to their activity. This includes but is not limited to those for ethics, health and safety, raising concerns at work, management of finances or of intellectual property, staff recruitment, redundancy, and equality and diversity.
b) ensure projects are well designed to address pertinent questions and, in the case of research projects, either add to existing knowledge about the subject in question or develop methods for research into it.
c) identify risks, both potential and actual, at the outset of the project and strategies for their effective management.
a) ensure that all relevant University, legal, ethical or other requirements have been considered in the design of the project.
b) set out in detail the design and conduct of the project, including how data will be gathered, analysed and managed.
c) ensure the project team have the required skills and experience to carry out the project and arrange for / facilitate training as required.
d) ensure that all relevant risks have been considered, and put in place plans to effectively manage potential sources of bias and risk.
e) consult with all relevant services at the planning stage.
f) ensure sufficient human and financial resources are available to carry out the proposed project to the relevant standards, including the costs of any licensing requirements and of disposal of materials and equipment at the end of the project.
g) attempt to resolve any issues prior to the start of the project.
h) ensure the project design has been understood and agreed by all key potential stakeholders involved within the research prior to beginning.
i) ensure peer review has taken place where applicable.
a) check that the human, physical and financial resources identified by the PI are available to carry out the proposed project, and facilitate access to the agreed resources (subject to securing appropriate funding where applicable).
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.
a) ensure that activities are undertaken in strict accordance with University expectations.
b) where activity is to be carried out outside the UK, ensure compliance with the ethical and legal requirements existing in the UK, as well as those existing in the countries where the research is carried out (whichever is more robust). Similarly, where activity carried out in the UK involves organisations or researchers based abroad, they should comply with the legal and ethical requirements existing in the UK as well as those in their country of residence.
c) highlight any deviation from required standards as soon as it is identified.
d) ensure that ethical risks are identified and addressed, including those relating to human participants, human material or data relating to individuals (living or dead); animals; source of funding, potential use of outputs, risk to the environment, use of data covered by contract or convention (e.g. OSA) or content (e.g. violent extremism).
e) consider and put in place procedures to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of the project team, participants and any others involved.
f) be mindful of ethical considerations throughout the life of the project and ensure that any additional risks are identified as they arise. This includes identifying any risks that the proposed project or its results may be misused for purposes that are illegal or harmful.
g) where they are a member of a regulated profession, ensure that the project complies with any standards set by their regulating body.
a) ensure that all relevant ethical and legal requirements are appropriately identified and addressed, providing guidance and support to other members of the project team.
b) ensure that all activities have ethical approval before work starts, and that the project has been reviewed and approved by all appropriate University or external ethical, regulatory or peer review bodies, and has secured all statutory permissions. This includes:
ensuring that all projects involving human participants, human material or data have been through the appropriate ethical approval and review process.ensuring that any projects involving the NHS adhere to all relevant guidelines, e.g. Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care and the National Research Ethics Service’s Guidance for Applicants.ensuring that any projects involving research with animals are reviewed by the ‘Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board’, and where appropriate are licensed by the Home Office.ensuring that any projects which may be considered high risk for any other reason are highlighted to the relevant committees for review and approval.
c) ensure that any significant project amendments are flagged to the relevant committee, and that the University is notified of any new risks identified after ethical approval.
d) ensure that the project has sufficient arrangements for insurance and indemnity.
a) provide clear and accessible processes within the department to ensure that risks are appropriately assessed, that conflicts of interest are addressed, and that ethical and peer review is carried out to the standards required by the University.
b) ensure that robust systems are in place within the department to ensure the confidentiality and security of personal data and human material involved in projects.
c) establish departmental systems to ensure that projects within their department undergo all forms of appropriate review in accordance with the University’s policies on health and safety and ethics. See H&S Service.
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.
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.
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.
All Researchers should:
a) consider and address any additional legal and ethical requirements and other guidelines that may apply to collaborative projects, including those involving community partners, other organisations, or which take place overseas.
b) be aware of relevant standards and procedures followed by any organisations involved in collaborative projects, and any contractual requirements involving partner organisations, ensuring these are appropriate for the conduct of the work, and that any requirements different to the standards set by Durham are addressed.
c) agree responsibility for any shared responsibilities or costs e.g. insurance for samples.
a) ensure that agreements with collaborators are in place before work begins and that they detail the expectations, responsibilities and obligations of all parties, the ownership of IP (potential & background), publication strategy, attribution of authorship and mechanisms for dispute resolution.
b) anticipate any issues that might arise as a result of working collaboratively, and agree jointly in advance how they might be addressed, communicating decisions to all members of the research team.
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.
a) ensure that any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest (i.e. personal or institutional considerations, including but not limited to financial matters) are identified, declared and addressed in line with University and departmental policies, at the earliest possible juncture.
b) abide by any direction given by the University in relation to managing a conflict.
a) where a conflict of interest can be adequately addressed through declarations and/or special safeguards relating to the conduct and reporting of the project, ensure that this is reflected in the design and delivery of the work. If it cannot be addressed in this way, and is of a type and severity that poses a risk of compromising the validity or integrity of the work, then advice should be sought about continuing with the work.
a) identify and address any project risks and requirements relating to health and safety.
b) comply with any review instituted in accordance with the University’s policy on health and safety and abide by the outcome of such review. See H&S Service at Durham.
a) ensure that the project fulfils all requirements of health and safety and environmental legislation and is in accordance with the University Health & Safety Policy and the standards set out in the University H&S Manual and local H&S arrangements.
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.
a) conduct their activities to a high standard.
b) raise any concerns regarding research management and output quality immediately.
c) keep accurate and secure records throughout the research process. This should include research results and details of experimental methodology. This is to ensure that final results are authentic and verifiable, protect researchers from misconduct allegations, and demonstrate compliance with legal and funder requirements.
a) be as open as possible with collaborators, funders, academic community and public regarding their research. Where there are reasons for restriction such as confidentiality requirements or the need to secure first use of research results then these should be discrete in their scope and application.
b) proactively respond to allegations / concerns about research management and output quality, ensuring all concerns are investigated, escalated in a timely manner and responded to professionally.
a) notify the University of any intellectual property created in the course of their activity, in line with the University’s Intellectual Property Policy.
b) maintain confidentiality in line with any commitments to third parties, funder and University requirements (including requirements set out in the Intellectual Property policy), and obtain appropriate approval before disclosing confidential information, especially relating to current research and development work.
c) ensure there is no prior disclosure of the project or findings when this might invalidate any intellectual property rights that could result.
d) comply with any additional conditions relating to intellectual property required by funders.
e) acknowledge underpinning research work and all substantial help and advice received.
f) obtain the copyright holder’s written permission for inclusion of copyright material.
a) ensure that interactions with sensitive content are covered by an appropriate agreement.
b) prior to publication, consider whether the project contains intellectual property that may have commercial value to the university and in such cases, consult Research & Innovation Services before public disclosure or submission of work for publication.
c) aim to keep any delay in publication and dissemination of results pending protection of intellectual property to a minimum.
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.
a) monitor finances relating to the project.
a) ensure that University procedures for the monitoring and audit of finances relating to research projects are adhered to within their department.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a) monitor and review peer review and audit measures for suitability and effectiveness.
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.
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.
i) take overall responsibility for the project’s publication strategy.
j) 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.
Any unacceptable or improper behaviour or incidences of poor research practice, whether intentional or not, must be addressed at the earliest possible juncture.
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 Appendix Two, and include:
FabricationFalsificationPlagiarismMisrepresentationMismanagement or inadequate preservation of data and / or primary materialsBreach of duty of care.
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.
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 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.
a) report any concerns regarding misconduct or poor practice to either the PI or other appropriate representative under the Research Misconduct Procedure.
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.