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Durham University Research Integrity Assurance Report 2021

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 (& 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 2020 report.


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 (5.0).
  • A Research Culture Committee (sub-committee of University Research Committee) was established in May 2021 to support a ‘fair, transparent and positive culture for all those involved in research’. It takes over the remit of the former Concordat Implementation Group, including development and support of an institutional response to the Research Integrity Concordat.
  • 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 behaviours

  • Research Integrity policy (4.0) 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:
  • Policies supported at institution level by the Research Integrity toolkit and the Ethics and Governance Toolkit, 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, Research & Innovation Services and locally at department level. Training is provided to researchers in different formats and tailored according to research discipline. (see 3.4b).
  • To coincide with the launch of Research Culture Committee, the University is holding a series of Research Culture Cafes, providing a forum for researchers to discuss related issues and concerns. Two sessions have been held to date, and further sessions are being planned for the autumn.

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.
  • 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.
  • Commitment to treat all people with respect outlined in Responsible University Policy1.3.
  • Broader issues of expectations upon researchers and institutional culture were explored by the Respect Commission which reported in July 2020. Work in this area is now being taken forward by the Respect Working Group and Respect Oversight Group and an action plan has been developed and is starting to be implemented

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 issued to faculties in 2019 and being implemented.
  • 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 the 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.
  • Own funded research (DU funding of DU staff)


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.

  • Allocation of internal funds to external partners e.g. FAPESB seedcorn
  • Allocation of external institutional awards to staff e.g. GCRF NTD

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.

  • The review of the Research Impact Fund and Grant Seedcorn in 2020/21 provided an opportunity to ensure expectations are clear and implemented, with changes to the form and associated guidance.


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.


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



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, 1 (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.
  • In 2020/21 we have developed an online system to hold information on biological samples to assist researchers in compliance with a) Human Tissue Act and b) Nagoya protocol. This will be launched early in the new academic year. 
  • 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 (reviewed 2020/21) and the Ethics policy 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 range of alternative solutions and development options have been reviewed, with a view to implementing a new system with enhanced functionality during 2021/22.
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, specific guidance was developed on research involving human participants to assist researchers and ethics committees in developing and reviewing applications for work with participants in the light of Covid-related considerations.


Employers of researchers must:

2.3 Have clear policies on ethical approval available to all researchers

  • Ethics Policy and toolkit and committee documentation available on University webpages.
  • Specific departmental policies and guidance available on the relevant departmental webpages and DUO sites. (Not linked as not all are universally available).

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.
  • Training offered to all ethics reviewers to ensure awareness of key policies, risks and responsibilities. Training also provided to PhD and Undergraduate supervisors 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 Support researchers to adopt 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 section 2, 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.
  • Discipline-specific training available to all staff and students via an online platform.
  • 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.
  • Training needs were identified 2019/20 in relation to compliance with export legislation; additional training was delivered by Legal Services and briefing provided to Faculty Research Committees. Work in 2021/22 will be undertaken to focus additional training at ‘at-risk’ areas.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.


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 collectively every two years.
  • 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.

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.
  • clear policies, practices and procedures to support researchers
  • training on research ethics and research integrity with suitable learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers’ skills throughout their careers
  • robust management systems to ensure that policies relating to research, research integrity and researcher behaviour are implemented
  • awareness among researchers of the standards and behaviours that are expected of them
  • systems within the research environment that identify potential concerns at an early stage
  • mechanisms for providing support to researchers in need of assistance
  • policies in place that ensure that there is no stigma attached to researchers who find that they need assistance from their employer
  • clear processes for any staff member to raise concerns about research integrity


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:


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 5.1 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


  • While this requirement is implicit within the Research Integrity Policy, and collaboration is encouraged within University, internal collaboration is not explicitly addressed in the policy. External collaboration is addressed in 7.2.

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)
  • RI will be embedded into emergent areas of the research environment including OA, metrics and data via the Task & Finish groups working on these areas which include relevant RI support staff and academic leadership. The Metrics working group delivered in 2020/21 and produced a detailed implementation plan which was approved, and is monitored by Research Management Committee. The outcomes of the Research Data Management group are being implemented in guidance and emergent proposals for support models.

Employers of researchers will:

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

  • clear policies, practices and procedures to support researchers
  • Policies and support referenced throughout, see especially 1.4
  • training on research ethics and research integrity with suitable learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers’ skills throughout their careers
    • Training and supervision for research students integrated into their programmes.
    • All taught students engaged in central training on plagiarism and copyright; many also engaging in integrity and ethics training within undergraduate modules.
    • New staff allocated a mentor prior to their appointment and mentoring available to existing staff seeking support for development. Mentors supported by training resources, virtual community on DUO and a mentoring network (with facilitation by an external coach).
    • HR Excellence in Research award for training programmes provided by the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework and on the principles of the 2019 Research Concordat to support the career development of Research Staff.
    • Research Integrity training for staff and PGR students delivered as a flipped classroom:
      • initial content delivered via discipline-specific online courses adapted from those developed by the provider Epigeum to include Durham specific content. 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, with participants exploring the ethical issues around key Research Integrity topics.
    • While this training is available to all staff, the course is targeted primarily at PGRs and ECRs.
    • Development of Research Integrity training for staff is now being overseen by the Research Culture Committee, and an outline curriculum has been developed for consultation.
    • 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’.
  • robust management systems to ensure that policies relating to research, research integrity and researcher behaviour are implemented
    • Governance for research activities provided by University Research Committee under the leadership of the Vice-Provost (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.
    • Annual Development Reviews for staff address expected behaviours and matters of conduct.
    • Poor conduct and misconduct managed through the relevant staff misconduct and student misconduct processes (general regulation IV).
    • Robust approval process for funded research including relevant checks as set out in the Work With Outside Bodies Policy
    • Adherence to University policy is a contractual obligation.
  • awareness among researchers of the standards and behaviours that are expected of them
    • Standards are clearly stated in the Research Integrity Policy & Code of Good Practice, disaggregated into roles: Head of Department, PIs and Researchers.
    • Departments generate discipline-specific supplementary guidance and the expected behaviours and relevant policies are disseminated at departmental forums such as board of studies.
  • systems within the research environment that identify potential concerns at an early stage
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The University research systems provide an overview of research management and activities; reports can be used to identify atypical behaviours and patterns.
  • mechanisms for providing support to researchers in need of assistance
    • mentoring and training as described above
    • departments have their own mechanisms, and Research Policy Team in RIS act as central point of contact for queries
  • policies in place that ensure that there is no stigma attached to researchers who find that they need assistance from their employer
    • Mentoring and training opportunities are promoted to all and development and refresh of skills is encouraged. Policies to be reviewed to consider explicit statement.
  • clear processes for any staff member to raise concerns about research integrity
    • 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.
    • Informal concerns can also be raised via Research Policy team in RIS
    • 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 will adopt the Russell Group Research Culture and Environment toolkit to improve and promote its research environment.


3.6 implement the concordat within their research environment

  • The 2012 concordat was fully implemented by the University and adopted into all relevant policies and guidance.
  • Thorough review is being undertaken to update policies and processes in the light of the new 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

  • The Concordat Implementation Group and Research Management Committee take a role in promoting training.
  • Opportunities are advertised through the University website and / or directly to relevant groups.
  • The Code of Practice outlines the institution’s requirements for training and development in 5.3


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

  • The launch of Research Culture Committee with appropriate academic representation from each of the faculties is an invaluable way to surface issues and share best practice, as well as to cascade information and test emergent initiatives. All members of the committee are active, but academic members particularly have a role to actively promote consideration of research integrity in their own faculties, departments and research institutes and research culture matters in the wider university.
  • Institutional activity in response to concordat now co-ordinated by Research Culture Committee. RCC has established a communications sub-group which will look at appropriate channels for promoting and furthering work in this area.

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 clearly outlines the processes, roles and expected behaviours of all those involved in an allegation of misconduct and subsequent 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.
  • It is expected practice that panels will make clear / deliverable recommendations for follow-up where needed, but not currently explicitly stated in the policy.
  • The Misconduct Policy has been reviewed against the new concordat and a number of amendments have been identified to clarify the requirements. An updated draft is currently under review.


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 (see points 6 and 35), and funders (see points 4 and 34).
  • Research Integrity Policy (section 11) outlines the obligations of researchers to report and notify the institution and / or supervisors of any potential misconduct.
  • Guidelines have been developed on the process identifying and reporting cases of bullying and harassment in line with the Wellcome Trust policy.

4.3 Declare and act accordingly to manage conflicts of interest

  • Conflicts of interest are 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. ACTION: There remains a need to streamline and consolidate these under a single policy.

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 VP-R. The complainant may seek advice from RIS if they are unsure of the action to take (see point 9).
  • The University has adopted the RG Statement of joint investigation into Research misconduct into collaborative research agreements. This outlines mechanisms for notification of partners.
  • The University also notifies funders of relevant misconduct outcomes (see 4.2)
  • This report serves as an annual mechanism for monitoring levels of misconduct in the institution.
  • This year the University has implemented a reference system to facilitate more systematic recording of research misconduct allegations.

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 Policy makes provision for external representation on panels but this is not currently a formal requirement (point 20); this is addressed in the revised draft.

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

  • 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 draft 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 (34), professional bodies (35), and journal editors (36).

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

  • Misconduct Policy point 37. Steps will be taken to safeguard the good reputation of the staff member involved

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

  • In 2021, the University was made aware of a case of alleged misconduct against a stakeholder in a research project. This has led to consideration of appropriate mechanisms for handling and investigating allegations of misconduct which involve individuals who are neither members of the University nor formal partners


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

  • Researchers can access support from Heads of Departments, Directors of Research, Mentors, and research colleagues as well as PSS staff in RIS and HR.
  • Support for provision of reports etc. is available from RIS where required.

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.

Funders of research will:


4.13 Publish clear expectations of what constitutes research misconduct

  • Research Integrity Policy includes a definition of research misconduct (appendix 2)

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)

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 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 added to this document for 2019/20 report.
  1. Included against each commitment of the concordat

b.       Included under commitment 4

c.       Included under commitment 4

d.       Included under commitment 4

  • 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 2020/21 - Progress

The following were highlighted in the 2019/20 report.


Areas of development

Related requirements


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.


 Action complete.



Areas for Development 2021/22

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.


Areas of development

Related requirements

Complete revision of Research Misconduct and Research Integrity policies

4.1, 4.5, 4.7, 4.2

 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

1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.4, 3.4

Approve training framework and begin implementation.


Develop lay members forum


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

All, especially 3.2, 3.4g, 4.2

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