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:
This report follows the same format and updates the information provided in the 2020 report.
Researchers are responsible for:
1.1 Understanding the expected standards of rigour and integrity relevant to their research
1.2 Maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in their work at all times
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
1.4 Supporting researchers to understand and act according to expected standards, values and behaviours
1.5 Defending researchers when they live up to the expectations of this concordat in difficult circumstances
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
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
The key instances where the University can be considered to be the funder are:
Employees are bound by contract to adhere to the institutional policies including the research integrity code of good practice.
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
1.9 Encourage adoption of the concordat by associating it with their funding conditions
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
2.2 Ensure that all their research is subject to active and appropriate consideration of ethical issues
Employers of researchers must:
2.3 Have clear policies on ethical approval available to all researchers
2.4 Make sure that all researchers are aware of, and understand policies and processes relating to ethical approval
2.5 Support researchers to adopt best practice in relation to ethical, legal and professional requirements
A review is being carried out of the use of online platforms for recruiting individuals as research participants, or for crowdsourcing other forms of contribution to research, with a view to developing best practice guidance and recommendations on appropriate platforms.
2.6 Have appropriate arrangements in place through which researchers can access advice and guidance on ethical, legal and professional obligations and standards
To support researchers and employers of researchers, funders of research will:
2.7 through engagement with the signatories and other stakeholders, explore ways of streamlining their requirements to reduce duplication, inconsistency and/or conflict
2.8 ensure that their requirements are, through regular review, proportionate, relevant and consistent with the expectations of the concordat
2.9 incorporate proportionate checks, where appropriate, in the application and award processes related to legal and ethical requirements
2.10 only provide funding to organisations that can demonstrate that appropriate structures are in place to ensure research integrity in their research activities
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
A research environment that helps to develop good research practice and embeds a culture of research integrity must, as a minimum, have:
3.1 take responsibility for keeping their knowledge up to date on the frameworks, standards and obligations that apply to their work
3.2 collaborate to maintain a research environment that encourages research integrity
3.3 design, conduct and report research in ways that embed integrity and ethical practice throughout
Employers of researchers will:
3.4 embed these features in their own systems, processes and practices
3.5 reflect recognised best practice in their own systems, processes and practices
3.6 implement the concordat within their research environment
3.7 participate in an annual monitoring exercise to demonstrate that the institution has met the commitments of the concordat
3.8 promote training and development opportunities to research staff and students, and encourage their uptake
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
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
Funders of research will
3.11 promote adoption of the concordat within the research community
3.12 support the implementation of the concordat through shared guidance, policies and plans
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
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
3.14 consider whether their policies and processes create disincentives for the creation and embedding of a positive research culture
3.15 work in partnership with employers and researchers to embed a culture of integrity within the research community
3.16 encourage adoption of the concordat by associating it with their funding conditions
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
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
4.3 Declare and act accordingly to manage conflicts of interest
Employers of researchers should:
4.4 Have clear, well-articulated and confidential mechanisms for reporting allegations of research misconduct
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)
4.6 Ensure that all researchers and other members of staff are made aware of the relevant contacts and procedures for making allegations
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
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.
4.9 take reasonable steps to safeguard the reputation of individuals who are exonerated
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.
4.11 Support their researchers in providing appropriate information when they are required to make reports to professional and/or statutory bodies
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.
4.13 Publish clear expectations of what constitutes research misconduct
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
4.15 work with employers of researchers to manage funding appropriately, including any staff supported by an affected project
4.16 treat all allegations with confidentiality and abide by data protection laws with respect to data management
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
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)
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:
b. Included under commitment 4
c. Included under commitment 4
d. Included under commitment 4
5.4 Periodically review their processes to ensure that these remain ‘fit for purpose’
See 1.8 and 2.8
periodically review their policies and grant conditions to ensure that they support good practice in research integrity
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
The following were highlighted in the 2019/20 report.
Areas of development
Review terms and guidance relating to allocation of internal funding and institutional awards
Complete – rolled out 2020/21
Review Research Integrity Policy to ensure that concordat expectations are explicitly reflected
All, especially 3.2, 3.4g, 4.2
Partially complete A revised draft has been produced, including revisions for clarification.
Review Research Misconduct Policy to ensure that concordat expectations are explicitly reflected
4.1, 4.5, 4.7, 4.2
Partially complete. A revised draft has been produced.
Streamline and consolidate conflicts of interest processes/registers under a single conflicts of interest policy
Incomplete, moved to 2021/22
Add additional role-specific guidance to the Research Integrity toolkit
Partially complete. Review RI toolkit as part of web migration)
Add a standing item on research integrity to appropriate committees and / or encourage departments to consider wider research integrity matters alongside ethics at Boards of Studies
Complete. A broader Research Culture Committee item has been added to 2021/22
Review RI training especially in relation to staff training needs not currently addressed; develop training framework and potentially new/refreshed resources.
Partially complete.. A framework for RI training has been drafted; further work is being taken forward under the auspices of Research Culture Committee.
The metrics, open access and research data task and finish groups operating under Research Committee / Research Management Committee will finish in 2020/21. Research integrity matters are considered within their core deliverables.
The following areas have been highlighted as being areas in which University practice, or in some cases recording, could be improved. Progress against these monitored by Research Culture Committee and will be reported in the 2021/22 Assurance report.
Complete revision of Research Misconduct and Research Integrity policies
Streamline and consolidate conflicts of interest processes/registers under a single conflicts of interest policy
Review RI and ethics toolkits as part of the web migration
Develop Research Governance dashboard to provide a one-stop overview of relevant risk areas.
1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.4, 3.4
Upgrade/replace ethics system
Approve training framework and begin implementation.
Develop lay members forum
Approval of Research Integrity Policy to ensure that concordat expectations are explicitly reflected
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