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Responsible Conduct of Research Policy

Abstract

This Policy adopts for UTS the principles outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research to ensure that people carrying out research under the auspices of the University are committed to high standards of conduct and practice and to the maintenance of their own reputation and that of the University.

The Responsible Conduct of Research Policy is also available as a PDF document.

Dates Policy approved 19/02/2014
Policy takes effect 20/03/2014
Policy is due for review (up to five years) 06/2019
Policy amendment approved 09/03/2015
Policy amendment takes effect 19/08/2016
Approved by Council
Meeting 14/1, 19 February 2014
Resolution COU/14-1/16.4
Latest amendment: Director, Governance Support Unit (see change history for details)
Implementation Officers Director, Research and Innovation Office
Dean, Graduate Research School
Relevant to Researchers at UTS, including staff and students
Related documents
Legislation
File number UR10/620
Superseded documents
  • HREC Policy for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students
  • HREC Guidelines for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students
  • Ethical Conduct of Research — Academic and Support Staff Policy

Contents

1. Purpose

This Policy adopts for UTS the principles outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code), to ensure that people carrying out research under the auspices of the University are committed to high standards of conduct and practice and to the maintenance of their own reputation and that of the University. This Policy formalises University's requirement for the application of these principles to research conducted at or on behalf of UTS.

2. Scope

This Policy applies to any person conducting research under the auspices of UTS, whether that person is a staff member, student or non-staff member. Research in this context is understood broadly to encompass funded and unfunded research.

3. Definitions

The following definitions define terms specific to this Policy. These are in addition to terms defined in Schedule 1, Student Rules.

Research, for the purposes of this Policy, has the same meaning as used by both the Code and the National Statement which define research as 'original investigation undertaken to gain knowledge, insight and understanding'.

The Department of Education and Training in its Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) specifications (2014), define research as the 'creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings'.

This encompasses:

  • pure and strategic basic research
  • applied research, and
  • experimental development.

Activities that support the conduct of research at UTS include:

  1. professional, technical or administrative support staff directly engaged in activities essential to the conduct of research
  2. management of staff who are either directly engaged in the conduct of research or are providing professional, technical, administrative support or assistance to those staff
  3. the activities and training of Higher Degree Research (HDR) students enrolled at the University
  4. the development of HDR training and courses
  5. the supervision of students enrolled at the University and undertaking HDR training and courses
  6. research and experimental development into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems.

Researcher(s) means all staff (including visiting, honorary, adjunct and short-term contract appointments), students and non-staff conducting research at UTS, or under the auspices of UTS.

UTS also recognises and defines different types of research — human research and animal research:

Human research, according to the National Statement, is that which is conducted 'with or about people, or their data or tissue'. The National Statement considers human participation in research to include the involvement of human beings through:

  1. taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups
  2. undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment
  3. being observed by researchers
  4. researchers having access to their personal documents or other materials, including information stored on the Internet
  5. the collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (for example, skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath
  6. access to their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source, database or Internet.

Animal research, under the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW), is defined as any 'procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in connection with which an animal is used and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in the course of which:

  1. an animal is subjected to:
    1. surgical, medical, psychological, biological, chemical or physical treatment
    2. abnormal conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, confinement, noise, isolation or overcrowding
    3. abnormal dietary conditions, or
    4. electric shock or radiation treatment, or
  2. any material or substance is extracted or derived from the body of an animal;

but does not include any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study which is carried out in the course of:

  1. the administration of veterinary treatment to an animal for the purpose of protecting the welfare of the animal, or
  2. the conduct of normal animal husbandry operations.'

The Animal Research Act extends to protecting animals used in: teaching, field trials, product testing, diagnosis, the production of biological products and environmental studies.

The Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes defines an 'animal' as any non-human vertebrates (that is, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, encompassing domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock, wildlife) and higher-order invertebrates (cephalopods: for example, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish). This may also include animals at early stages in their development, which is in their embryonic, foetal and larval forms.

4. Policy principles

The University endorses the following general principles of responsible research set out in part A, section 1 of the Code, and adopts them as a requirement for good research practice at UTS:

  1. honesty and integrity
  2. respect for human research participants, animals and the environment
  3. good stewardship of public resources used to conduct research
  4. appropriate acknowledgement of the role of others in research
  5. responsible communication of research results
  6. sharing of research data, where appropriate, with the wider research community and with the public
  7. transparent costing and sustainability of research.

Note: For research conducted outside of NSW, researchers must comply with the governing principles of this policy, provided that such compliance does not breach relevant local legislation.

5. Policy statements

5.1 Ethical conduct of research

The University requires the highest ethical standard in the conduct of research by its staff (including visiting, honorary, adjunct or short-term contract appointees), students and non-staff members involved in the conduct of research at UTS, or under the auspices of UTS.

Research should not be conducted in other countries as a mechanism of avoiding compliance with this policy and local legislation.

5.1.1 Human research

Where research at UTS involves humans as subjects, the researcher must consult the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Human Participants Vice-Chancellor's Directive to determine if the study falls within the scope of the University's human research ethics arrangements and follow the relevant procedures.

Ethics approval must be sought from the UTS Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) (Staff Connect) or Expedited Review Committee (ERC) prior to commencement of the research.

Retrospective approval from HREC cannot be granted, and in the event that research has commenced without prior approval, this action is considered a breach of this Policy and the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Human Participants Vice-Chancellor's Directive. In cases where research involving humans as subjects is conducted by UTS staff or students and it has been approved by an external HREC, the research must be submitted to the UTS HREC for ratification purposes.

When UTS staff or students wish to use human data collected before the commencement of their research degree or employment at UTS, the data should be anonymous (non-identifiable), on public record or have ethics approval and evidence of informed consent for future use of data from participants. See the Research Data Management Vice-Chancellor's Directive for further information and guidance.

According to the National Statement, the relationship between researchers and research participants is 'the ground on which human research is conducted'. This research should be conducted in accordance with the National Statement and organised on the basis the following ethical values and principles:

  • research merit and integrity
  • beneficence
  • respect for human beings
  • justice.

Researchers should be aware that vulnerable populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and groups or children can be involved in or affected by research to which this Policy applies. This Policy should be read in conjunction with Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (2003) and Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) — Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (GERAIS) (2012).

Research conducted in NSW government schools, including pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools and central schools must also comply with the NSW Department of Education and Communities State Education Research Approval Process (SERAP) (PDF 132kb). UTS staff who supervise or teach students, provide services or research within child-related workplaces such as hospitals and schools may be required by those organisations to undergo the Working with Children Check. Refer to the University's guidance on child protection (Staff Connect) and to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW).

Researchers should encourage and facilitate appropriate consumer involvement in research. The shared responsibility of consumers and researchers is to ensure the ethics and value of the research. This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (2002).

5.1.2 Animal research

Where research at UTS involves the use of live animals, the researcher must consult the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Animals Vice-Chancellor's Directive and submit an animal ethics application to the Ethics Secretariat (Staff Connect) for consideration by the UTS Animal Care and Ethics Committee (ACEC) (Staff Connect). Approval must be sought prior to the research commencing. Retrospective approval from ACEC cannot be granted, and in the event that research has commenced without prior approval, this action is considered a breach of the Code, this Policy and the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Animals Vice-Chancellor's Directive.

If the research involves the use of dead animals or tissue collection, ACEC must be notified of the nature and intent of the research prior to commencement. If animal tissue is to be used from an already approved protocol or external animal ethics committee, this approval must be submitted to ACEC for ratification purposes prior to the commencement of the research.

Similarly, research on live animals by UTS staff or students approved by an external animal ethics committee must be submitted to ACEC for ratification purposes in advance of any research taking place on the UTS campus.

5.1.3 Biosafety

The University is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for students, staff and visitors, and adopting a socially responsible approach towards protecting and sustaining the environment. It aims to be at the forefront of environment, health and safety practice in higher education.

As with both human and animal ethics applications, approval of biosafety applications must be sought prior to the research commencing. This is further outlined in the Biosafety in Research Vice-Chancellor's Directive. Approval from the University's Biosafety Committee (Staff Connect) is required for research involving: genetically modified organisms, pathogens, ionising radiation and cytotoxic substances.

General guidance on health and safety practices at UTS is found in the Health and Safety Policy and the Health and Safety Responsibilities Vice-Chancellor's Directive.

5.2 Management of research data and primary materials

The researcher must decide which data and materials should be retained, although in some cases this is determined by law, funding agency requirements or influenced by publisher's needs or by convention in the discipline.

The purposes of managing and retaining research data are mainly to support the published or reported outcomes of research and to justify them if challenged, but also in some circumstances to add to national and international repositories of data where the research may be difficult or impossible to repeat.

Section 2 of the Code requires that data be kept for a minimum of five years after publication of research and UTS has adopted this general retention requirement. However, under NSW legislation and consequently at UTS, longer retention periods are required for research in a number of areas, including research on human participants with potential long-term effects, research with long-term environmental effects or research considered of national or international significance, importance or controversy. If the data from a research project falls into one of these categories, contact University Records for advice on long-term data retention.

Further guidance on developing a data management plan, access, storage and retention of research data can be found in the Research Data Management Vice-Chancellor's Directive.

The ownership of research data is governed by the University's Intellectual Property Policy, the Research Generated Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Vice-Chancellor's Directive and the Open Access Policy.

Guidance on privacy issues in managing research data and primary materials in research involving humans is also found in the Research Data Management Vice-Chancellor's Directive and the Privacy Vice-Chancellor's Directive.

5.3 Ensuring competence of researchers

All researchers must receive training on research ethics, the Code, the National Statement and all relevant UTS research policies and guidelines. In addition to this, the researchers must be trained in any other relevant legislation and guidelines specific to their area of research.

Researchers and supervisors must ensure that they are good role models to junior colleagues, which is conducive to a research culture of excellence, integrity, professionalism and mutual respect.

Early career researchers must understand that in undertaking research, they are joining an endeavour that requires dedication, accountability and involves responsibilities.

Section 3 of the Code clearly sets the responsibilities of the institutions, the supervisors and researchers in ensuring provision of necessary competences of researchers.

5.4 Authorship, publication and dissemination of research findings and peer review

Disseminating research findings is an integral part of the research process. The outcomes of research must be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community and to derive maximum benefit from these outputs (refer to Open Access Policy). Being named author is recognition of the contribution to the research work and carries with it the responsibility for that contribution.

UTS researchers and students undertaking research funded by the NHMRC or the Australian Research Council (ARC) should comply with their policies. The Policy on the Dissemination of Research Findings and the ARC Open Access Policy (PDF 382kb) require publication of metadata (for example, journal name, title, author list, volume, issue, page numbers, etc.) to be submitted to an institutional repository as soon as possible after a paper is accepted for publication.

Practices in fields of scholarship vary and the attribution of authorship and co-authorship must take account of existing conventions. However, in all cases, authorship must be based on substantial scholarly contribution. The University does not permit the practice of honorary authorship.

Authorship also carries with it the responsibility to acknowledge assistance and support to the research endeavour. The support of sponsors of a research investigation must be noted in any publication or dissemination of research findings.

The University's Authorship Vice-Chancellor's Directive must be adhered to. The University supports and assists researchers in communicating their research findings, particularly through the media. The University supports the practices of peer review as an integral element of the responsible conduct of research. Supervisors should mentor research students in the processes of peer review. Researchers receiving public funding have a responsibility to take part in peer review processes.

5.5 Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest are common in research. In accordance with the UTS Code of Conduct (and referred to in the Research Generated Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Vice-Chancellor's Directive), conflicts of interest must be disclosed and dealt with properly as they can put the research endeavour at risk.

Conflicts of interest in research may include financial conflicts, but may also include personal and professional conflicts as well as matters of institutional advantage.

Researchers carrying out research investigations under the auspices of the University are governed by the Intellectual Property Policy, the University Consulting Vice-Chancellor's Directive and the Outside Work Vice-Chancellor's Directive.

5.6 Collaborative research across institutions

Research collaborations may be informal or formalised through a contract, agreement or other instrument. Researchers carrying out investigations under the auspices of the University and those collaborating with UTS must make every effort to comply with the principles and practices of the Code and the rules and policies of the University.

6. Roles and responsibilities

Accountable Officer Implementation Officer Researchers, supervisors Research students
6.1 Ethical conduct of research
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Deans, Associate Deans (Research) of faculties and Centre Directors are responsible for:

  • promoting the awareness of policies, procedures and guidelines related to the ethical conduct of research
  • training researchers and students in responsible and ethical research practice.

Director, Research and Innovation Office (RIO) is responsible for:

  • managing the processes through which a researcher gains approval to be conducted, including the approvals from HREC, ACEC and Biosafety Committees
  • ensuring that the Human Research Ethics committee, the Animal Care and Ethics Committee and the Biosafety Committee are appropriately constituted
  • facilitating access to information about the ethical conduct of research and the procedures for seeking approval and reporting on the completion of research.

All researchers are responsible for ensuring that their conduct of research complies with the statements in this Policy as well as with state and federal legislation.

Research supervisors are responsible for ensuring that research students are aware of the requirements of the research they will be conducting and have complied with the requirements of the particular committee.

Research students are responsible for ensuring that their conduct of research complies with the statements in this Policy as well as with state and federal legislation.

Research students should be aware of the requirements of the research they will be conducting and comply with the requirements of the particular committee.

6.2 Management of research data and primary materials
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Deans, Associate Deans (Research) of faculties and Centre Directors are responsible for:

  • ensuring that there are procedures within the Faculty for recording the location of retained research data and primary materials associated with published research outputs.

All researchers are responsible for keeping clear and accurate records of the research process, including methodologies and data sources and any approvals granted.

If designated team leader or executive author, a researcher is responsible for:

  • ensuring that research data and primary materials are kept in safe and secure storage
  • keeping primary research records such as laboratory notebooks with the same level of care and protection as the analysed data
  • handling research data and primary materials in accordance with relevant legislation, University policy, legal agreements, funding agency policy, research ethics protocols, privacy protection and confidentiality compliance
  • seeking advice from the Research and Innovation Office if a conflict arises among the various constraining policies.

Research students are responsible for:

  • ensuring that research data and primary materials are kept in safe and secure storage
  • keeping primary research records such as laboratory notebooks with the same level of care and protection as the analysed data
  • handling research data and primary materials in accordance with relevant legislation, University policy, legal agreements, funding agency policy, research ethics protocols, privacy protection and confidentiality compliance
  • seeking advice from the Research and Innovation Office if a conflict arises among the various constraining policies.
6.3 Ensuring competence of researchers
Deans of faculties and Centre Directors

Dean, Graduate Research School is responsible for:

  • ensuring that an appropriate program of training is available for research students and supervisors
  • ensuring that research supervisors are made aware of relevant policies, directives and procedures.

Deans, Associate Deans (Research) of faculties and Centre Directors are responsible for:

  • ensuring competence of researchers within their faculties and centres.

All supervisors, whether supervisors of research students or research staff, are responsible for:

  • ensuring their familiarity with University policies and procedures and other requirements related to research
  • closely monitor research students until deemed competent
  • taking up the opportunities offered for research supervisor development
  • additional responsibilities of supervisors of research students are described in the Code of Practice for Supervisors, Advisors and Research Degree Candidates
  • additional responsibilities for supervisors of staff new to research are described in the relevant staff agreement.

Principal supervisors of research students are responsible for:

  • identifying and providing appropriate training for research students, for example, through using the opportunities provided through the Graduate Research School.

Supervisors of research staff new to UTS, whether academic or support, are responsible for:

  • identifying and providing appropriate training, for example through the University's Induction Program.

Research staff are responsible for:

  • ensuring that they engage in training in responsible conduct of research, as soon as possible after their appointment and before beginning any research which may require ethics approval or involve other areas of risk.

Research students are responsible for:

  • actively engaging with the research training opportunities offered
  • seeking guidance from their supervisor on the conduct of their research
  • ensuring that the design and conduct of their research complies with the University's policies on ethical and responsible conduct of research.
6.4 Authorship, publication and dissemination of research findings and peer review
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Director, RIO is responsible for:

  • ensuring that, in sponsored or collaborative research arrangements, sponsors understand the importance of publication in research and do not delay publication beyond the time needed to protect intellectual property and other relevant interests
  • ensuring that, in sponsored or collaborative research arrangements, researchers are aware of contractual arrangements that restrict, delay or limit publication
  • assisting researchers in effective communication through the mass media by the provision of advice, guidance, information resources and training opportunities
  • supporting the communication of research findings to the widest public by various methods.

Deans of faculties are responsible for:

  • supporting researchers in communicating their research findings
  • supporting the practices of peer review
  • ensuring that published research outputs are submitted to the University's annual research publications and outputs data collection process.

University Library is responsible for:

  • providing opportunities for e-scholarship.

Marketing and Communication Unit is responsible for:

  • supporting researchers in the wider dissemination of research findings through the media.

Researchers are responsible for:

  • ensuring that they take seriously the responsibilities of research, including authorship and the dissemination of research outputs in a context of peer review
  • providing, to research students and staff new to research, support, assistance and mentoring in matters of authorship and the dissemination of research outputs as appropriate.

Research students are responsible for:

  • ensuring that they take seriously the responsibilities of research, including authorship and the dissemination of research outputs in a context of peer review
  • seeking support, assistance and mentoring in matters of authorship and the dissemination of research outputs from their supervisors as appropriate.
6.5 Conflicts of interest
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Director, RIO is responsible for:

  • developing guidelines to assist researchers in identifying potential conflicts of interest
  • developing procedures to assist researchers and University managers in disclosing, evaluating and managing conflicts of interest
  • promoting awareness of the policies, procedures and guidelines relating to conflicts of interest in research and making them available to researchers
  • ensuring that negotiations for contract or sponsored research include matters of conflicts of interest, their disclosure and management.

Researchers are responsible for:

  • being alert to the possibility of conflicts of interest
  • making full disclosure of a conflict of interest or of a circumstance that might give rise to a perceived or potential conflict of interest to affected parties and when submitting research output for publication and dissemination.

Research students are responsible for:

  • being alert to the possibility of conflicts of interest
  • making full disclosure of a conflict of interest or of a circumstance that might give rise to a perceived or potential conflict of interest to affected parties and when submitting research output for publication and dissemination.
6.6 Collaborative research across institutions
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Director, RIO is responsible for:

  • ensuring that formal University agreements with other parties follow the general principles of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the UTS Responsible Conduct of Research Policy
  • providing guidance to researchers in informal collaborations in protecting their interests and those of the University.

Researchers involved in collaborative research with a formal University agreement are responsible for:

  • informing themselves of the relevant University policies and agreements
  • informing researchers who join the project of the relevant University policies and agreements
  • complying with University policies and agreements affecting the project.

Researchers involved in collaborative research without a formal University agreement are responsible for:

  • complying with the general principles of the Code and with the UTS Responsible Conduct of Research Policy.

Research students involved in collaborative research with a formal University agreement are responsible for:

  • informing themselves of the relevant University policies and agreements
  • complying with University policies and agreements affecting the project.

Research students involved in collaborative research without a formal University agreement are responsible for:

  • complying with the general principles of the Code and the UTS Responsible Conduct of Research Policy.

7. Acknowledgements

Australian Government

National Health and Medical Research Council

Australian Research Council

8. Version control and change history

Effective date Version Approved by,
resolution no. (date)
Amendment
01/07/2010 1 Council,
COU/10-4/50 (16/06/2010)
Note: The 2010 UTS 'Responsible Conduct of Research Policy' does not replace the 1999 UTS 'Ethical Conduct of Research Policy', which refers to matters covered by the UTS Human Research Ethics Committee. This needs to remain in place during consultation processes regarding subordinate policy framework documents addressing those issues in the context of the Australian Code. Council will be requested to rescind the UTS Ethical Conduct of Research Policy, to take effect at the time as those subordinate documents are endorsed or approved by Academic Board.
01/01/2013 1.1 Council,
COU/12-2/30.1 (18/04/2012)
Changed the following references:
  • University Graduate School to Graduate Research School
in accordance with approved nomenclature changes.
20/03/2014 2 Council,
COU/14-1/16.4 (19/02/2014)
Policy amended to comply with current federal and state legislative and policy requirements. The amended Policy, also comprehensively clarifies how UTS will manage and ensure the ethical conduct of research at institutional level.
19/08/2016 2.1 Council, COU/14-5/106 (15/10/2014) Consequential changes to align with changes to the Student Rules.
Director, Governance Support Unit (GSU) (09/03/2015) Changes (approved under Delegation 3.17) to update references to the UTS General Rules (G4).