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Durham University Research Integrity Assurance Report 2022

The University is required to confirm compliance with the Concordat to support research integrity, as a condition of receipt of funding. This requirement was introduced under HEFCE in 2013/14, as set out in the Circular Letter 21/2013 (Annex I - issued 24th July 2013).

‘The institution is required to comply with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity published by Universities UK in July 2012. Institutions in receipt of research grant from the Council are also required to provide assurance of their compliance with the Concordat through the annual assurance return to the Council and following any guidance that the Council may provide. For 2013-14 only, in recognition that compliance by some institutions may require a period of time to achieve, institutions in receipt of research grant from the Council may provide assurance either of their compliance, or that they are working towards compliance, with the Concordat.’

The primary purposes of this report are to provide the necessary assurance to University Council and for use as part of the Annual Assurance Return to the Office for Students. Secondary purposes include to:

  • Assure funding bodies, collaborators and the public (the document will be made public on approval) that the University supports a world class research integrity 
    framework and environment.
  • Provide an opportunity for the University to assess its practices against the concordat (and other institutions), to highlight potential areas for improvement and to 
    hold the various stakeholders to account for their delivery on an annual cycle.

This report follows the same format and updates the information provided in the 2021 report.

(Links marked with * are currently internal only)

Concordat to Support Research Integrity – University Compliance and Alignment

Commitment 1: We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research.


Concordat Requirement  University Compliance
Researchers are 
responsible for: 
1.1 Understanding the expected standards of rigour and integrity relevant to their research 
  • Expected standards of behaviour made clear within University policy and procedures (see 1.4). 
  • Links to professional standards provided within Research Integrity and related toolkits.
1.2 Maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in their work at all times
  • This is an expectation of the Research Integrity Policy, which applies to all research (whether staff or student, funded or unfunded).
Employers of 
researchers are
responsible for: 
1.3 Maintaining a research environment that develops good research practice and embeds a 
culture of research integrity, as described in commitments 2 to 5.
  • Research Integrity Policy defines institutional responsibility for developing a culture of research integrity (5.1).
  • A Research Culture Committee (sub-committee of University Research Committee) has been in place since 2021 to support a ‘fair, transparent and positive culture for all those involved in research’. Supported by the INORMS Research Evaluation Group, the University ran workshops with staff involved with research at all levels to identify key values associated with a good research culture, and further consultation will take place on an institutional vision and priority areas for action in early 2022/23.
  • Work with national organisations/forums such as the UK Research Integrity Office, the Association of Research Ethics Committees, and the Russell Group Integrity Forum (amongst others) to share sector best practice and resources and develop common approaches where appropriate.
  1.4 Supporting researchers to understand and act according to expected standards, values and 
  • Research Integrity policy (4.4) states that the institution will ensure that researchers have sufficient training, resources and support to meet the University’s expectations and the requirements of their role.
  • Clear policies in place setting out responsibilities and support for research integrity:
    • Responsible University Statement (updated in 2019) sets out the expected behaviours and the policy framework which supports the University’s commitment to social responsibility.
    • Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice.
    • Ethics Policy.
    • Responsible Use of Metrics, Open Access, IP and Research Data Management policies.
    • All institutional polies collated in single policy hub.
  • Policies supported at institution level by the Research Integrity toolkit, Ethics and Governance Toolkit*, guidance on responsible metrics and open research, with more specific support embedded within local documents e.g. within departmental handbooks. We intend to enhance the toolkits with additional role-specific guidance.
  • Significant training and support network for PGR students and academic staff is provided by the Durham Centre for Academic Development, Library and Research and Innovation Services* and locally at department level. Training is provided to researchers in different formats and tailored according to research discipline. (see 3.4b).
  • All staff must complete training on Information Security and Data Protection, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, refreshing every 3 years.
  • The University has continued to hold Research Culture Cafes, providing a forum for researchers to discuss related issues and concerns. 5 sessions were held in 2021/22, with subjects including induction, the impact of post-pandemic working arrangements, experiences of PDRAs, and managing time for research.
  • Open Scholarship working group established with the aim of reviewing the University’s position and relevant policy.
  •  Compliance with expected values and behaviours clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions of Employment. 
  1.5 Defending researchers when they live up to the expectations of this concordat in difficult circumstances
  • The University takes very seriously its obligations and duty of care to its employees, and procedures are designed to support and protect researchers who are carrying out research in areas that may raise challenging issues. It will always assume that proper conduct and policies have been followed until evidence is provided to the contrary. Support offered to employees includes referrals to occupation health, the Employee Assistance Programme and the Health and Wellbeing Hub.
  • Dedicated support for research staff at Department and University level, including advice and guidance available through the Research Policy team, wider Research & Innovation Services support and Legal Services.
  • The revised Research Integrity policy includes a statement that “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.” (3.5)
  1.6 Demonstrating that they have procedures in place to ensure that research is conducted in accordance with standards of best practice; systems to promote research integrity; and transparent, robust and fair processes to investigate alleged research misconduct
  • This document provides an assessment against the requirements of the Concordat of the University’s framework and processes to support research integrity and investigate research misconduct.
  • Robust ethical review processes in place
  • Governance processes in place to ensure that research design and proposed delivery is approved before work begins.
  • Internal peer review offered for staff projects (where external arrangements not already in place)
  • Systems for ongoing monitoring of projects in place (particularly where identified as high risk). Recommendations for ethics monitoring and audit embedded in revised Ethics Policy.
  • For collaborative work, agreements put in place where possible clearly outlining University and funder expectations, including processes for whistleblowing and investigation.
Funders of 
research will: 
1.7 Publish clear statements of their 
expectations of researchers and employers of researchers with respect to standards of 
professionalism and integrity
  • Projects funded by University are subject to the same level of assurance, policies and processes as externally funded projects.
  • Relevant policies and statements are published on the University website.
  • The key instances where the University can be considered to be the funder are:
    • Own funded research (DU funding of DU staff)
      Employees are bound by contract to adhere to the institutional policies including the research integrity code of good practice.
    • Allocation of internal funds to external partners e.g. FAPESB seedcorn.
    • Allocation of external institutional awards to staff e.g. Global Challenges Research Fund and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
      Where it is an allocation bound by terms and conditions the University is bound by those, 
      and staff conduct must remain in line with policies including research integrity.
  1.8 Take research integrity into account in the 
development of policies and processes
  • Research-related policies and processes reviewed collectively every two years, including Research Integrity.
  • Policies used to direct and inform further activities and system developments.
  • Gaps in policy or process may be highlighted out with the review process and remedial action taken where required.
  1.9 Encourage adoption of the concordat by associating it with their funding conditions
  • In 2020/21 we reviewed terms and guidance relating to allocation of internal funding and institutional awards. Successful applicants are reminded about relevant obligations as part of their award notification.


Commitment 2: We are committed to ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.


Concordat Requirement

University Compliance

Researchers must:

2.1 Comply with ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards as required by statutory and regulatory authorities, and by employers, funders and other relevant stakeholders

  • Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice, 6.2 (a), 7.1, and 7.2 require compliance with expectations and standards of relevant bodies, and establish principles for situations where there are competing standards.
  • Information on relevant funder and professional bodies’ codes of practice* included in ethics toolkit.
  • An online system to hold information on biological samples to assist researchers in compliance with a) Human Tissue Act and b) Nagoya protocol has been launched, and is in use for all human tissue collections. Further work to integrate with processes for projects involving material subject to the Nagoya protocol is planned for 2022/23.
  • The University was audited by the Human Tissue Authority in 2022, which confirmed that good governance is in place in this area.
  • A review of AWERB is planned for 2022/23, in the light of changes to Home Office procedures relating to their oversight of animal work.
  • A new Export Control Manager has been appointed and began work in July 2022 to further develop guidance and processes to support researchers with compliance with export control requirements.
  • Responsible Use of Metrics statement, based on the Leiden Manifesto, and associated policy aligned with DORA principles and with implementation supported by Metrics working group.
  • Ongoing work to ensure compliance with funder standards, and in response to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, HR Research in Excellence Award and associated action plan. 
2.2 Ensure that all their research is subject to active and appropriate consideration of ethical issues
  • Ethics Committee is the senior University committee responsible for ethics. Its terms of reference and the Ethics policy (revised 2021/22) set out the ethics framework for the University, and the University’s expectations regarding ethical review and approval.
  • Practical review of applications for (non-animal / non-NHS) projects devolved to departments. Departments provide assurance to the relevant faculty ethics committee (which also functions as a forum for sharing good practice and enforcing University policy) which in turn provide assurance to Ethics Committee.
  • University AWERB reviews all animal research (licensed and unlicensed) and reports to Ethics Committee on a termly basis.
  • NHS projects go through the relevant HRA process; the University retains a registry of all projects and approvals, and has an approval process for all projects where it is the sponsor.
  • Online ethics system in use by all departments. It is designed so that all researchers can complete an initial ethics checklist in order to determine whether their project requires further review. Significant work was undertaken to improve system resilience in 2020/21 while a longer-term solution is sought. A tender process has taken place and implementation of a new system with enhanced functionality is now anticipated in 2022/23.

Employers of researchers must:

2.3 Having clear policies on ethical approval available to all researchers

  • Ethics Policy and toolkit and committee documentation available on internal webpages.
  • Specific departmental policies and guidance available on the relevant departmental webpages and DUO sites.

2.4 Make sure that all researchers are aware of, and understand policies and processes relating to ethical approval

  • Training available to researchers on the ethical approval processes, delivered by departments and/or centrally (normally by Research & Innovation Services (RIS) or the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD)). See 2.5 and 3.4b.
  • Termly sessions offered for ethics reviewers in 2021/22 to ensure awareness of key policies, risks and responsibilities. Bespoke training also provided to departments where requested.
  • Ethics and Governance Toolkit includes specific pages on the relevant processes.
  • Online ethics system helps to guide researchers through the review process, aligns with policy and contains links out to relevant guidance in the toolkit.
  • Academic staff informed of policy developments and reminded of their responsibilities with regard to ethics review at department Board of Studies meetings.
  • Ethics checks built into governance processes for all funded activities. Work with Outside Bodies policy* includes formal requirement for ethics consideration and explicitly includes ethics in PI and Head of Department sign-off processes.
  • Ethical approval for student projects is a condition of (variously) ability to progress, credit bearing and a requirement before a project will be considered for marking.

2.5 Supporting researchers to reflect best practice in relation to ethical, legal and professional requirements

  • Ethics and Governance toolkit* provides guidance on the high-risk ethical areas and acts as a central hub for support and information, directing researchers to best practice guidance and resources. 
  • Supervisors have responsibility for student research and for the development of their students’ ethical awareness. In the Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice 2.3, it is explicit that “In the case of student research, the principal investigator is always the supervisor.”
  • Staff encouraged and supported to join appropriate professional associations and to adhere to their professional standards and disciplinary norms.
  • Most PG programmes include ‘Independent Researcher Development Modules’ including consideration of ethics.
  • Bespoke sessions for staff e.g. on research involving sensitive data can be organised via RIS. In 2021/22 the University organised a series of sessions on ethics and data for the N8 Centre for Computationally Intensive Research, utilising both internal and external speakers.
  • Training on export legislation delivered for key ‘at risk’ areas in 2021/22.
  • Guidance developed on the use of online platforms for recruiting individuals as research participants, or for crowdsourcing other forms of contribution to research. A new policy on Engaging the Public with research has been developed, to clarify the expectations of researchers and those engaged in research, and providing guidance on financial compensation for participation.

2.6 Have appropriate arrangements in place through which researchers can access advice and guidance on ethical, legal and professional obligations and standards

  • Section 5 of the Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice (Culture Leadership and Mentoring) details responsibilities for supporting good practice.
  • Ethics support embedded within departments through their ethics committee chair and members. Additional support and guidance available via the Research Policy team in RIS. 
  • Support for students is available via their supervisors.
  • Researchers can access specialised support through the Library for Research Data Management and Metrics, Information Governance Unit for data protection, and Legal Services for other legal and contractual issues.
  • Revised metrics policy introduces a route for researchers to raise concerns regarding inappropriate use of metrics.
  • Currently, routes to access the most appropriate support for governance issues is not always clear, and work is planned to create a ‘one stop shop’ for researchers to check governance requirements for their project and to signpost to relevant processes and support.

Funders of research will expect researchers and employers of researchers:

2.7 through engagement with the signatories and other stakeholders, explore ways of streamlining their requirements to reduce duplication, inconsistency and/or conflict

  • Policies are developed with reference to best practice in the sector and external requirements.
  • The University participates in sector-level initiatives to develop common standards and respond to external developments (e.g. through Russell Group Research Integrity Forum).
  • To minimise duplication of effort, there are mechanisms to recognise external standards and ethics approvals.
  • Durham’s policy framework operates on a principle of subsidiarity i.e. that although the University (and other funders) set out a common set of principles and minimum standards, decisions should be taken at the most appropriate level closest to the researcher.


Funders of research will:

2.8 ensure that their requirements are, through regular review, proportionate, relevant and consistent with the expectations of the concordat

  • Compliance with the concordat is reviewed annually.
  • Research-related policies and processes reviewed in 2021/22.
  • Issues with policy or process or changes required in response external environment may be highlighted out with the biannual review process and action taken where required.

2.9 incorporate proportionate checks, where appropriate, in the application and award processes related to legal and ethical requirements

  • Checks are built into University approval processes for funded work, including for allocation of internal funding.
  • The University is reviewing its process for due diligence checks on funders and collaborators to ensure that they are appropriate partners for the work.


2.10 only provide funding to organisations that can demonstrate that appropriate structures are in place to ensure research integrity in their research activities

  • Research integrity checks are included in due diligence processes.


2.11 clearly identify and indicate any specific codes of practice and other policies that researchers and employers of researchers are expected to comply with, beyond those that might be generally expected


  • Projects funded by University are subject to the same policies as externally funded projects.
  • As part of the project development, researchers are expected to identify any external policies or codes that need to be accounted for. Where compliance with external and internal are not mutually exclusive then adherence with external is a condition of approval to progress. Where the internal and external conflict, the conflict must be resolved or mitigation agreed prior to work beginning.


Commitment #3: We are committed to supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers.

A research environment that helps to develop good research practice and embeds a culture of research integrity must, as a minimum, have:

a. clear policies, practices and procedures to support researchers

b. training on research ethics and research integrity with suitable learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers’ skills throughout their careers

c. robust management systems to ensure that policies relating to research, research integrity and researcher behaviour are implemented

d. awareness among researchers of the standards and behaviours that are expected of them

e. systems within the research environment that identify potential concerns at an early stage

f. mechanisms for providing support to researchers in need of assistance

g. policies in place that ensure that there is no stigma attached to researchers who find that they need assistance from their employer

h. clear processes for any staff member to raise concerns about research integrity


Concordat Requirement

University Compliance

Researchers will:

3.1 take responsibility for keeping their knowledge up to date on the frameworks, standards and obligations that apply to their work

  • Research Integrity Policy 5.2 sets out researchers responsibilities for keeping their skills and knowledge up-to-date.

3.2 collaborate to maintain a research environment that encourages research integrity


  • The revised Research Integrity policy now explicitly addresses internal collaboration in 5.2d

3.3 design, conduct and report research in ways that embed integrity and ethical practice throughout

  • Addressed in Research Integrity Policy especially section 6 (Design), section 8 (Managing Research and Outputs) and section 9 (Review and Audit)
  • Research Culture Committee retains oversight of RI and research culture, but progress may be driven forward by discrete working groups; this includes long established groups such as the responsible use of metrics working group.  An Open Scholarship Working Group is in the process of being established.

Employers of researchers will:

3.4 embed these features in their own systems, processes and practices

a)     clear policies, practices and procedures to support researchers

o   Policies and support referenced throughout, see especially 1.4

b)     training on research ethics and research integrity with suitable learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers’ skills throughout their careers

o   Training and supervision for research students integrated into their programmes.

o   All taught students engaged in central training on plagiarism and copyright; many also engaging in integrity and ethics training within undergraduate modules.

o   New staff allocated a mentor prior to their appointment and mentoring available to existing staff seeking support for development. Mentors supported by training resources, and a mentoring network (with facilitation by an external coach).

o   HR Excellence in Research award based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework and on the principles of the 2019 Research Concordat to support the career development of Research Staff.

o   Research Integrity training for staff and PGR students is available for self-study:

  •  initial content delivered via 13 online modules from provider Epigeum (latest versions made available by the University in 2022).  Students and staff utilise these courses, either in isolation or as pre-study prior to additional face to face training in Research Integrity.
  • Face to face workshops discuss case study examples from relevant disciplines which have a conflict involving ethics and integrity. These are sourced from the online repository and UKRIO, with participants exploring the ethical issues around key Research Integrity topics.

o   While this training is available to all staff, the courses are targeted primarily at PGRs and ECRs. 

o   Bespoke courses on Research Integrity for staff and students run by both DCAD and RIS, including one-off workshops and longer programmes such as ‘Leading Research’. In 2021/22 RIS ran a workshop on Ethics, Integrity and Responsible Research and Innovation for staff and students.  Sessions focussed RRI are planned for the summer / early 2022/23 involving an external provider.

o   Training provided by the library includes data management, IPR and copyright, metrics and open access.

c)      Under the oversight of Research Culture Committee, work is in progress to develop a research training framework, identifying training needs and current provision, with a view to streamlining provision while providing appropriate opportunities for researchers at all stages of their career. To put in place robust management systems to ensure that policies relating to research, research integrity and researcher behaviour are implemented

o   Governance for research activities provided by University Research Committee under the leadership of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).   Policy dissemination and review of practice carried out within Research Committee structures, including  Faculty Research Committees (sub-committees of Research Committee) and department committees.

o   Annual Development Reviews for staff address expected behaviours and matters of conduct.

o   Poor conduct and misconduct managed through the relevant staff misconduct and student misconduct processes (general regulation IV).

o   Robust approval process for funded research including relevant checks as set out in the Work

o   with Outside Bodies Policy

o   Adherence to University policy is a contractual obligation.

d)  awareness among researchers of the standards and behaviours that are expected of them

o   Standards are clearly stated in the Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice, disaggregated into roles: Head of Department, PIs and Researchers.

o   Departments generate discipline-specific supplementary guidance and the expected behaviours and relevant policies are disseminated at departmental forums such as board of studies.

o   Durham University Staff code of Conduct which is applicable to all employees

e)  systems within the research environment that identify potential concerns at an early stage

o   Primary informal means to raise concerns is via mentoring and interaction within the research team. The University is supportive of a transparent and questioning research environment as reflected in its adoption of the Nolan principles of public life.

o   Support staff provide early warning of any issues which may be indicative of other problems. These are reported to departmental management or via the PSS services (including a network for research support staff) and escalated as required. 

o   The University research systems provide an overview of research management and activities; reports can be used to identify atypical behaviours and patterns.

f)  mechanisms for providing support to researchers in need of assistance

o   mentoring and training as described above

o   departments have their own mechanisms, and Research Policy Team in RIS act as central point of contact for queries

o   the University has introduced a ‘staff concerns’ hub, signposting individuals to resources for support

g)  policies in place that ensure that there is no stigma attached to researchers who find that they need assistance from their employer

o   Mentoring and training opportunities are promoted to all and development and refresh of skills is encouraged.  Policies to be reviewed to consider explicit statement.

h) clear processes for any staff member to raise concerns about research integrity

o   Issues not resolved within a research group can be raised with the departmental Director of Research or with the Head of Department. These individuals are also responsible for ensuring that support and remedial measures for any issues are made available.

o   Informal concerns can also be raised via Research Policy team in RIS

o   Formal and confidential routes for issues to be identified are set out in

  • Research Misconduct Policy
  • Public Interest Disclosure Policy ‘Whistle Blowing’


3.5 reflect recognised best practice in their own systems, processes and practices

  • Policies and processes are regularly reviewed (see 1.8)
  • Development of the online ethics system and ethics toolkit has drawn on best practice existing within departments as well as external sources.
  • The University is a full member of UKRIO, the Russell Group integrity forum and a founding member of the North East England Research Integrity Group. These forums act variously as a community of support, information conduits and advocacy groups, sharing best practice and developing solutions and approaches to emergent areas and issues.
  • The University has  adopted the principles of the Russell Group Research Culture and Environment toolkit, and these will be integrated into the toolkits over the coming year.


3.6 implement the concordat within their research environment

  • Policies and process have been updated in the light of the revised concordat.



3.7 participate in an annual monitoring exercise to demonstrate that the institution has met the commitments of the concordat

  • Progress against the concordat is reviewed annually, a statement produced and areas for development identified to track progress.


3.8 promote training and development opportunities to research staff and students, and encourage their uptake

  • Training and development opportunities are promoted through individual services such as DCAD and the Library, and Research Culture Committee also takes a role in promoting training; this will be further supported by development of an integrated training framework.
  • Opportunities are advertised through the University website and / or directly to relevant groups, via Dialogue signposts and Research Cafes.  The University now uses the Oracle Learning platform to enable staff and students to find and book relevant training.
  • The Research Integrity Policy outlines the institution’s requirements for training and development in 5.4


3.9 identify a named senior member of staff to oversee research integrity and ensure that this information is kept up to date and publicly available on the institution’s website

  • Responsibility for research integrity lies with the Vice Provost (Research), Colin Bain. This information is given on the website at


3.10 identify a named member of staff who will act as a first point of contact for anyone wanting more information on matters of research integrity, and ensure that contact details for this person are kept up to date and are publicly available on the institution’s website

The first point of contact is the Research Policy Team (Catherine Brewer).  The contact is given on the website here

Funders of research will

3.11 promote adoption of the concordat within the research community

  • Institutional activity in response to concordat co-ordinated by Research Culture Committee. An internal site has been set up to provide information on work in the Research Culture space and signposting to relevant institutional and external resources.  A Research Culture Manager has been appointed (started July 2022), with a particular brief for communication.

3.12 support the implementation of the concordat through shared guidance, policies and plans

  • Policies and guidance issued by the University apply to University-funded as well as externally funded research.


3.12 identify within their organisation a senior member of staff responsible for oversight of research integrity and ensure that this information is publicly available on the organisation’s website

 See 3.9

3.13 identify within their organisation a named lead contact for research integrity, and ensure that contact details for this person are kept up to date and are publicly available on the organisation’s website

See 3.10

3.14 consider whether their policies and processes create disincentives for the creation and embedding of a positive research culture

  •  Addressed as part of the regular policy review.

3.15 work in partnership with employers and researchers to embed a culture of integrity within the research community

  • Work with the Russell Group Research Integrity Forum as well as other funders and stakeholders to ensure that processes and guidance reflect the requirements of the concordat.

3.16 encourage adoption of the concordat by associating it with their funding conditions

See 1.9


Commitment #4: We are committed to using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise.


Concordat Requirement

University Compliance

Researchers will:

4.1 Act in good faith with regard to allegations of research misconduct, whether in making allegations or in being required to participate in an investigation, and take reasonable steps, working with employers as appropriate, to ensure the recommendations made by formal research misconduct investigation panels are implemented

  • University Research Misconduct policy has been updated in 2021/22 to more clearly outline the processes, roles and expected behaviours of all those involved in an allegation of misconduct and subsequent investigation.   The revised policy also more clearly states the possible outcomes from each state of the investigation.
  • Where a misconduct investigation makes recommendations regarding future conduct or remedial action, adherence with these will be considered to be a condition for the continuation of research and non-adherence will be considered to be a disciplinary action.

4.2 Handle potential instances of research misconduct in an appropriate manner; this includes reporting misconduct to employers, funders and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies as circumstances require

  • Misconduct Policy sets out the processes and requirements for handling, and reflects potential requirements for the University to notify professional and regulatory bodies (4.1.7 and 4.7.1), and funders (4.1.4 and 4.4.1). 
  • Research Integrity Policy (section 11) outlines the obligations of researchers to report and notify the institution and / or supervisors of any potential misconduct.

4.3 Declare and act accordingly to manage conflicts of interest

  • Conflicts of interest may be identified as part of the ethical review process and suitable mitigations / management strategies are put in place to manage these.
  • There are several channels within the University through which conflicts of interest can be declared and different registers are maintained for different purposes. The development of a governance dashboard will provide a mechanism to support the recognition of potential conflicts of interest in relation to specific programmes work and means of signposting.

Employers of researchers should:

4.4 Have clear, well-articulated and confidential mechanisms for reporting allegations of research misconduct

  • Under the Research Misconduct policy complaints are made in writing and in confidence to the PVC-Research.  The complainant may seek advice from RIS if they are unsure of the action to take (4.3.1).
  • The University has adopted the RG Statement of joint investigation into Research misconduct into collaborative research agreements. This outlines mechanisms for notification of partners, and is referenced in the revised Research Misconduct policy at 4.1.8.
  • The University also notifies funders of relevant misconduct outcomes (see 4.2 above)
  • This report serves as an annual mechanism for monitoring levels of misconduct in the institution.  

4.5 Have robust, transparent and fair processes for dealing with allegations of misconduct that reflect best practice. This includes the use of independent external members of formal investigation panels, and clear routes for appeal (see the references section)

  • Research Misconduct Policy was developed with reference to UKRIO guidance.
  • Adopted the Russell Group statement on joint investigations.
  • The revised research misconduct policy requires external representation on formal panels (4.6.1).

4.6 Ensure that all researchers and other members of staff are made aware of the relevant contacts and procedures for making allegations

  • Covered within induction materials.
  • Supporting information within the Research integrity Toolkit: Reporting Issues Section.
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment
  • HR polices and procedures are available to all staff on the website

4.7 Act with no detriment to whistleblowers making allegations of misconduct in good faith, or in the public interest, including taking reasonable steps to safeguard their reputation. This should include avoiding the inappropriate use of legal instruments, such as non-disclosure agreements

  • Anyone making allegations in good faith under the Research Misconduct Policy, Public Interest Disclosure Policy ‘Whistle Blowing’ or complaints procedure will explicitly not be penalised. The whistle blower policy is explicit in the protections available, and the revised Misconduct Policy aligns with this.
  • Non-disclosure agreements or other restrictive instruments are not used with those making allegations.

4.8 take reasonable steps to resolve any issues found during the investigation. This can include imposing sanctions, requesting a correction of the research record and reporting any action to regulatory and statutory bodies, research participants, funders or other professional bodies as circumstances, contractual obligations and statutory requirements dictate.

  • All investigations produce a final report, which where appropriate will include recommendations and remediation. (See 4.1).
  • Where the recommendations impact upon an external body then the University will liaise directly with that body (where permitted under law) to notify them of the outcomes and any recommendations.  This includes liaison with funders , professional bodies, and journal editors.

4.9 take reasonable steps to safeguard the reputation of individuals who are exonerated

  • Misconduct Policy 4.7.3. Consideration will be given to any steps required to preserve the good reputation of the respondent

4.10 Provide information on investigations of research misconduct to funders of research and to professional and/or statutory bodies as required by their conditions of grant and other legal, professional and statutory obligations.

See 4.2

  • A case involving a dispute regarding authorship is currently under investigation.


4.11 Support their researchers in providing appropriate information when they are required to make reports to professional and/or statutory bodies

  • Support is available from RIS, HR and other PS services to individual academics and academic leadership in compiling and return relevant information.

4.12 Provide a named point of contact or recognise an appropriate third party to act as confidential liaison for whistle-blowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research being conducted under their auspices. This need not be the same person as the member of staff identified to act as first point of contact on research integrity matters, as recommended under commitment 3.

  • The named contact under the Research Misconduct policy is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Colin Bain.
  • The named contact under the Public interest Disclosure Policy is the University Secretary

Funders of research will:


4.13 Publish clear expectations of what constitutes research misconduct

  • Research Misconduct Policy includes a definition of research misconduct (appendix 2). This has been updated to more closely align with the definition in the concordat.

4.14 Ensure that recipients of funding are aware of requirements regarding the investigation and reporting of research misconduct, and that these are openly stated

  • Misconduct policy and processes apply equally to University-funded and externally funded research.


4.15 work with employers of researchers to manage funding appropriately, including any staff supported by an affected project

  • The University has clear conditions of funding for internal funding pots that align to its processes and policies. Where the University provides funding to external partners this is covered by contract.

4.16 treat all allegations with confidentiality and abide by data protection laws with respect to data management

  • University data protection policies reflect GDPR requirements.

4.17 take appropriate action when research misconduct is reported to them. In the most serious case, this could include funding sanctions or mandatory improvements

  • Allegations from any source will be handled according to the Research Misconduct policy.


Commitment #5: We are committed to working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly.


Concordat Requirement

University Compliance

Employers of research will

5.1 take steps to ensure that their environment promotes and embeds a commitment to research integrity, and that suitable processes are in place to deal with misconduct 

  • See 1.3, 3.11 (environment) and 4.4 (misconduct)
  • The University is exploring possibilities for building institutional connections with UKRN

5.2 produce a short annual statement, which must be presented to their own governing body, and subsequently be made publicly available, ordinarily through the institution’s website. This annual statement must include:


a)      A summary of actions and activities that have been undertaken to support and strengthen understanding and application of research integrity issues (for example postgraduate and researcher training, or process reviews)

b)     A statement to provide assurance that the processes they have in place for dealing with allegations of misconduct are transparent, timely, robust and fair, and that they continue to be appropriate to the needs of the organisation

c)      A high-level statement on any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken, which will include data on the number of investigations. If no formal investigation has been undertaken, this should also be noted

d)     a statement on what the institution has learned from any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken, including what lessons have been learned to prevent the same type of incident re-occurring

e)     a statement on how the institution creates and embeds a research environment in which all staff, researchers and students feel comfortable to report instances of misconduct

  • Narrative statement is produced alongside this detailed report. 

a.      Included against each commitment of the concordat

b.      Included under commitment 4

c.      Included under commitment 4

d.      Included under commitment 4

e.      Included under commitment 4




5.4 Periodically review their processes to ensure that these remain ‘fit for purpose’

See 1.8 and 2.8

Funders of research will:

periodically review their policies and grant conditions to ensure that they support good practice in research integrity

See 1.8 and 2.8

periodically review their processes and practices to ensure that these are not providing inappropriate incentives

This is addressed as part of the regular policy review


Areas for Development 2021/22 - Progress

The following were highlighted in the 2021 report.


Areas for development


Complete revision of Research Misconduct and Research Integrity policies

Complete, revised policies due for approval.

 Streamline and consolidate conflicts of interest processes/registers under a single conflicts of interest policy

Not progressed due to lack of time.

Review RI and ethics toolkits as part of the web migration

In progress – review of current pages complete and areas for update identified.  Development of revised toolkits will be supported by an intern in 2022/23

Develop Research Governance dashboard to provide a one-stop overview of relevant risk areas.

In progress – further definition of approach and question set; decision taken to develop this separately to the ethics system.

Upgrade/replace ethics system

In progress – awaiting confirmation of chosen supplier following tender process

Approve training framework and begin implementation.

Expanded scope of this work to all research training – review of current provision and gap analysis in progress and will be supported by an intern in 2022/23.  In the interim, the latest Epigeum Research Integrity modules have been purchased and made available to staff and students.

Develop lay members forum

Not progressed due to lack of time.

Approval of Research Integrity Policy to ensure that concordat expectations are explicitly reflected

Due for final approval in October 2022.

Embed and utilise Research Culture Committee in other institution structures, facilitating a greater understanding of RI challenges, supporting the development and delivery of an action plan

In progress – a wide-ranging consultation process is taking place to develop the institutional vision and priorities for Research Culture.  Research Culture Committee has been engaged in commenting on draft policies and developments including developments to the Promotion and Progression process.


 Areas for Development 2022/23

The following areas have been highlighted as being areas in which University practice, or in some cases recording, could be improved. Progress against these will be reported in the 2021 Assurance report.

Areas of development

Related requirements

Responsible Area

Streamline and consolidate conflicts of interest processes/registers under a single conflicts of interest policy



Put in place updated ethics and RI toolkits

1.4, 2.1, 2.5


Develop Research Governance dashboard to provide a one-stop overview of relevant risk areas.

1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.4, 3.4


Implement new online ethics system

1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.4, 3.4


Develop research training framework



Develop lay members forum

1.6, 3.4


Develop university vision for open scholarship


RCC – Open Scholarship Group

Develop programme of awareness raising for ethics and governance requirements

2.2, 2.4, 3.4