Research Misconduct Allegations and Investigation - Procedures

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Research Misconduct Allegations and Investigation - Procedures

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Responsible officer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Designated officer
Director, Office of Research
First approved
22 October 2013
Last amended
5 January 2016
Effective start date
7 November 2013
Review date
7 November 2018
Status
Active
Related documents
Compliance Management Framework - Governing Policy
Research - Academic Policy
Research Misconduct - Governing Policy
Student Conduct and Discipline - Governing Policy
Related legislation / standards
Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007)

1. Making allegations of suspected Research Misconduct

Staff, students and researchers can approach a University Research Integrity Advisor, in confidence, for advice on the options available for making allegations of research misconduct, including:

referring the matter directly to the person against whom the allegation is made;

referring the matter directly to a person in a supervisory relationship with the person against whom the allegation of research misconduct is made for resolution at the faculty or departmental level;

making a formal written allegation of research misconduct to the designated person;

not proceeding with or withdrawing an allegation of research misconduct in the light of the circumstances and advice tendered.

1.1 Examples of research misconduct

Examples of research misconduct include but are not limited to:

a. Misappropriation including plagiarism, which means the presentation of the documented words or ideas of another as your own, without attribution appropriate for the medium of presentation; or the use of any information in breach of any duty of confidentiality associated with the review of any manuscript or grant application; or omitting reference to the relevant published work of others for the purpose of inferring personal discovery of new information.

b. Interference including without authorisation taking or sequestering or materially damaging any research- related property of another, including without limitation the apparatus, reagents, biological materials, writings, data, hardware, software, or any other substance or device used or produced in the conduct of research.

c. Misrepresentation including stating or presenting a material or significant falsehood or omitting a fact so that what is stated or presented as a whole states or presents a material or significant falsehood.

d. Intentional and deliberate, reckless or gross and persistent negligence in any aspect of research.

1.2 Examples of serious research misconduct

Serious research misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following examples of conduct that:

a. is not honest, is unauthorised in a material respect, is grossly and persistently negligent, reckless or is otherwise scientifically seriously inappropriate;

b. seriously deviates from the standards accepted within the scientific or scholarly community for proposing, conducting, reporting, publicising or publishing research;

c. involves fabrication, falsification or a failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest;

d. involves any misleading ascription of authorship in a significant respect including the listing of authors without their permission, attributing work to those who have not in fact materially contributed to the research or a lack of appropriate acknowledgment of work primarily produced by a student, trainee or associate;

e. constitutes plagiarism that is significant, which for the purposes of this procedure includes the presentation of documentation, words or ideas of another person as those of the person presenting them and doing so without attribution that is appropriate for the circumstances and medium of presentation;

f. constitutes a breach of copyright;

g. involves the use of information in serious breach of any duty of confidentiality associated with the review of any manuscript or grant application;

h. takes or sequesters or materially damages any research related property of another, without authorisation; for example, in relation to the apparatus, reagents, biological materials, writings, data, hardware, software or other substance or device used or produced in the conduct of research;

i. involves omitting to obtain any requisite clearance from a relevant research ethics committee before the research, or a significant step in the research, is undertaken;

j. fails to follow in a significant respect research proposals as approved by a research ethics committee;

k. involves stating or presenting a falsehood or omission of a fact that is significant so that what is stated or presented is false as a whole or in any material respect;

l. involves the deliberate or persistent concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others;

m. involves conduct that otherwise amounts to research misconduct but which is repeated or continued;

n. otherwise constitutes a serious breach of the Australian Code.

1.3 Proceeding with a formal allegation

An allegation must be in writing addressed to the University’s Designated Person, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation). The document must:

clearly identify each allegation, indicating the place or places and date or dates on which the conduct in question is alleged to have occurred;

state the identity of the person alleged to have engaged in the relevant misconduct, the relevant policy, procedure or practice, the subject of the allegation; and

identify and attach (in as much detail as possible) any supporting evidence.

On receipt of a formal allegation of research misconduct, the Designated Person will conduct a preliminary investigation and determine whether a prima facie case exists and report to and advise the Delegate of the Vice- Chancellor and President of the outcome of the preliminary investigation.

1.4 Initial Assessment of a formal allegation

The Designated Person will determine if:

the complaint involves any allegation of Research Misconduct, Serious Research Misconduct or a Breach of the Research – Academic Policy which are required to be dealt with in accordance with this procedure and

if so, whether the initial assessment should be conducted at faculty level. Any initial assessment undertaken

at faculty level will be determined by the Designated Person, at their absolute discretion, and should preferably be conducted by the Executive Dean (or equivalent) or other relevant Cost Centre Manager.

The Designated Person will also determine whether the complaint relates to ethics misconduct, in which case it will be referred to the relevant University Ethics Committee.

Where the initial assessment is conducted centrally, the Designated Person will, at their absolute discretion, conduct any preliminary inquiries which they consider appropriate, including securing any relevant evidence as necessary (which may include experimental material, ITS records, other documents, and names of witnesses). As part of such inquiries, the Designated Person will provide the respondent(s) to the complaint with written details of the allegations and will determine whether the allegations in the complaint are denied or admitted by respondent(s).

Where the initial assessment is conducted at faculty level, the relevant Executive Dean or delegate will make an initial assessment of the complaint and report their assessment of whether the complaint can be resolved at the faculty level or whether it requires further investigation by the Designated Person.

If the Executive Dean or delegate determines that the complaint cannot be resolved at the faculty level or requires further investigation, the Executive Dean or delegate will report that determination to the Designated Person and the Designated Person will make a further assessment of the complaint and determine what action is to be taken.

If the Executive Dean or delegate determines that the complaint either:

does not involve a Breach of the Code, Research Misconduct or Serious Misconduct or

the complaint is resolved at the faculty level by taking any action which the Executive Dean (or equivalent) determines is appropriate at their absolute discretion (such as training and advice to the researcher) no further action is required to be taken in relation to the complaint.

Following the initial assessment, the Designated Person will advise the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President of the results of the initial assessment of any unresolved complaint and the Delegate of Vice-Chancellor and President can proceed with the complaint/allegation(s) in one of the following ways as the Designated Person considers appropriate at their absolute discretion:

Dismiss the complaint or any part of it in which case no further action will be taken regarding the complaint or the part(s) of the complaints that are dismissed

Determine that the complaint or part of it is justified and a prima facie case exists for a Breach of the Code,

but not an instance of Research Misconduct

Determine that the complaint or any part of it is justified and a prima facie case exists for Research Misconduct or Serious Research Misconduct to be dealt with in accordance with these procedures. After receiving the Designated Person’s advice, the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will decide, at their absolute discretion, whether to accept the advice and how to proceed. The Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President must inform the complainant(s), the person who is the subject of the complaint and the Designated Person of how they intend to proceed with the complaint. If the allegations in the complaint are admitted, the complaint may be resolved, as determined by the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President. If the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President determines that no further action is required, the complainant, the person(s) against whom the complaint is made and the Designated Person will be informed of the determination.

2. Panel review of complaints of research misconduct

If the allegations are contested, and if the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President determines at their absolute discretion, that the allegations in the complaint could, where proven, constitute:

Research Misconduct then Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will appoint an internal University investigation panel

Serious Research Misconduct then Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will appoint an external investigation panel.

The Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will advise the complainant(s), the person(s) who are the subject of the complaint, the Designated Person and any other relevant parties required under any agreement with the University, of the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President’s decision to proceed to a panel inquiry.

2.1 Independent internal panel

The internal investigation panel will comprise a small number of senior researchers, as determined by the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President at their absolute discretion and can include external members. The Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President can also seek expert advice from outside the University if they determine it is appropriate. Parties are not permitted to be legally represented in any internal investigation panel inquiry. If the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President makes a decision to appoint an internal investigation panel and later discovers the complaint or any part of it may amount to Serious Research Misconduct, the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President can disband the internal investigation panel inquiry and make new arrangements for an independent external panel inquiry to investigate the complaint. If an internal investigation panel determines that Serious Research Misconduct has occurred, the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will refer the allegations to an external investigation panel as constituted in accordance with the Code.

2.2 Independent external panel

Where the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President decides a complaint could constitute Serious Research Misconduct and where any of the allegations in the complaint are contested by the person against whom the allegations are made, the complaint must be investigated by an Independent External Panel. The panel will not comprise members employed by the University, nor having either current or recent dealings with the University and will be constituted in accordance with the Australian Code.

The investigation panel, whether internal or external, will conduct inquiries in accordance with the terms of reference determined by the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President. The panel will inform the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President in writing of its findings of fact, whether it considers that Research Misconduct or Serious Research Misconduct has occurred and the reasons for its findings.

Based on the findings of the panel, the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President will determine:

For staff members: whether the complaint should be dealt with as allegations of Misconduct/Serious Misconduct in accordance with the University’s enterprise agreement.

For research students: whether the complaint should be referred for action in accordance with the University’s Student Conduct and Discipline – Governing Policy.

For other parties: whether the complaint should be referred to the employing institution and/or funding body.

If the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President determines that the complaint should be dismissed, the person who is the subject of the complaint will be informed in writing. If the complaint is dismissed the findings of the investigation will be documented on a staff member’s file.

If the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President determines that the complainant has improperly made a complaint, the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President can refer the matter to the complainant’s supervisor to determine whether any further action should be taken, including dealing with the matter as allegations of Misconduct or Serious Misconduct in accordance with the University’s enterprise agreement.

3. Allegations of research misconduct/serious misconduct – staff

If a finding is made that Research Misconduct/Serious Research Misconduct has occurred and the Delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President decides to proceed with the Misconduct/Serious Misconduct provisions of the University’s Enterprise Agreement, the findings of any panel constituted under this procedure can be used as the basis for formulating allegations of misconduct or serious misconduct that are considered by the Vice-Chancellor and President and any associated Review Committee.

The Vice-Chancellor and President must advise, in confidence, the funding agency supporting the research of the alleged staff member that a formal investigation of the complaint will be undertaken under the University’s Enterprise Agreement and request that the agency does not terminate its support until the outcome of a formal investigation is known.

END

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