Research

Good Practice in Research

Code of Good Practice in Research

The University expects all its researchers and students to adhere to the highest standards of integrity in research.

This statement addresses the issues involved in the proper conduct of research and provides guidance on the standards expected.

It applies to all Researchers (defined here as all staff, honorary staff, students and visiting workers undertaking research within or on behalf of the University). Student research misconduct will be dealt with via the student disciplinary procedures, and staff research misconduct via the Policy and Procedure for Investigating Allegations of Research Misconduct.

Within this over arching framework there may be specific discipline requirements in areas such as ethics, clinical governance, data protection, legal requirements, Home Office and other government requirements, in addition to health and safety and other good laboratory practice requirements. Some disciplines may also be subject to specific good practice requirements of external funding agencies or professional bodies.

The University has signed up to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers which governs working practices, roles and responsibilities of research staff. The University's named contact for Research Integrity is the PVC for Research Strategy & Resources.

1 Integrity and honesty

1.1 Researchers should be honest and ethical in respect of their own actions in research and their responses to the actions of other researchers. This applies to the whole range of research work, including experimental design, generating and analysing data, acting as a reviewer or referee on grant applications or research papers etc, applying for funding, publishing results, and acknowledging the direct and indirect contributions of colleagues, collaborators and others.

1.2 Plagiarism, deception or the fabrication or falsification of results, is regarded by the University as a serious disciplinary offence.

2 Research misconduct

2.1 The University takes seriously any allegation of research misconduct and has a written procedure for investigating and resolving such allegations.

2.2 Researchers are encouraged to report cases of research misconduct and to do so in a responsible and appropriate manner. (See University Policy and Procedure for Investigating Allegations of Research Misconduct). Staff and students should be aware that the University has a policy on Public Interest Disclosure (whistleblowing) which governs any instances of malpractice or impropriety.

3 Leadership and co-operation in research groups

3.1 The Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Deans of Research, Heads of Academic Units, Professorial and all other senior staff are responsible for creating a climate and capacity which ensures that research is conducted in accordance with good research practice.

3.2 Lead researchers have responsibility to ensure that a climate of mutual co-operation is created in which all members of the research team are encouraged to develop their skills and in which both the open exchange of ideas and supportive criticism are fostered.

3.3 Researchers should ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources (University Login required) to conduct their research and to access relevant training as appropriate or contact the University Research Office or Organisational Development for signposting to appropriate courses). Staff supervising other staff or students must ensure that appropriate direction of research and supervision is provided, as well as training and opportunities for development and the necessary resources to enable them to conduct their research to the required standards.

4 Openness

4.1 While recognising the need for researchers to protect their own and the University's research interests in the process of planning their research, obtaining and publishing the results, and seeking to develop the outcome of their research into application (where relevant), the University encourages researchers to be as open as possible in discussing their work with other researchers, and with the public. Research may be undertaken under conditions of confidentiality; however, these conditions should be as narrowly defined as appropriate to the research activity.

4.2 Once results have been published the University expects researchers to make available relevant data and materials to other researchers on request, provided that this is consistent with any ethics approval and consents which cover the data and materials and any intellectual property rights in them and wherever possible disseminated via Open Access Forums.

4.3 Researchers must adhere to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act

5 Guidance from professional bodies

5.1 Researchers are expected to observe the standards of research practice set out in guidelines published by funding bodies, scientific and learned societies and other relevant professional bodies.

5.2 All researchers should be aware of, and comply with, the legal requirements which regulate their work.

5.3 Researchers should be aware of the expectations of the University as a publicly funded institution, and should act accordingly. They should ensure that any research undertaken complies with any agreements, terms and conditions relating to the project, and allows for proper governance and transparency.

6 Ethical Approval

6.1 All research conducted in the University must be carried out in accordance with the University’s Policy and Procedure for Ethical Review (which includes reference to the NHS requirements). Preliminary Ethical Assessment Forms must be completed for every project and where required Full Ethical Review must be conducted as per the Procedure for Ethical Review.

6.2 If material differences are made to the research protocol, ie to research methodology, then further ethical approval should be sought where appropriate. 

7 Documenting results and storing primary data

7.1 The University requires every member of staff to uphold high personal standards with regard to safety and to communicate these standards to all those involved in research, including but not limited to researchers, research subjects, patients, participants or others, in line with the University Safety Policy.

8 Publishing results

8.1 Researchers should ensure consideration is given to the retention of data and samples before any work commences. There should be clarity at the outset of the research programme as to the ownership of, where relevant:

  • data and samples used or created in the course of the research; and
  • the results of the research

8.2 Researchers should keep clear and accurate records of the procedure followed and the approvals granted during the research process, including records of the interim results obtained as well as the final research outcomes. This is necessary not only as a means of demonstrating proper research practice, but also in case questions are subsequently asked about either the conduct of the research or the results obtained. These records should be dated and signed. Research involving patients should adhere to the Trust SOP on Data Archiving and all other relevant guidelines.

8.3 Research records should be retained and managed in order to:

  • Demonstrate compliance with relevant legislation (eg Data Protection Act)
  • Demonstrate effective and auditable process, ensuring compliance with requirements of external funders, professional bodies and auditors
  • Demonstrate information is accurate, authentic and verifiable
  • Protect members of the University from allegations of misconduct

8.4 Research records cover the research data and samples used or created in the course of the research, the research process including applications for regulatory approval, research outcomes such as reports and publications, and project management contracts, budgetary details etc. This data may be stored in multiple different systems managed by different people.

8.5 The Principal Investigator is ultimately responsible for managing research records - their accuracy, completeness and security. However research students, staff researchers and supervisors, support and administrative staff must also assume responsibility for their parts of and support for the process.

8.6 Research records should be retained for only as long as required. The duration should take into account legislative and regulatory requirements as well as subject specific, administrative and operational needs. For example this may be constrained to relatively short time periods for personal information subject to the Data Protection Act, ranging perhaps up to decades for long term longitudinal studies. For further advice contact the Information Security Team in ISS on rec-man@ncl.ac.uk

8.7 Information generated during the course of research should be kept securely, for the duration above; this includes ensuring that information is not lost, corrupted, or disclosed inappropriately, it may also need to ensure verifiable destruction of information at some point in time. The means and process for managing the information: storage environment, backup, access control etc must be appropriate to needs – NUIT offer a range of storage and administrative services, also, see the Information Security Policy.

9 Media

9.1 Researchers should publish at the earliest possible time, taking into account the appropriate medium for the highest publication impact. Consideration should be given to the provisions of open access for research publications where appropriate. All outputs should be referenced in MyImpact, the University’s Institutional Repository and therefore linked to the e-prints open access repository.

9.2 Researchers should have regard for the many different routes for dissemination, implementation and commercialisation potential of their work and take appropriate steps to advise the University of any inventions and, where appropriate, take steps to protect any intellectual property prior to publication.

9.3 Whilst the publication of the results of research may need to be delayed for a reasonable period pending protection of intellectual property arising from research, such periods of delay in publication should be kept to a minimum.

9.4 Anyone listed as an author on a paper should accept responsibility for ensuring that he/she is familiar with the contents of the paper and can identify his/her contribution to it and must refer to being part of Newcastle University. The practice of honorary authorship is unacceptable.

10 Use of results

Whilst the University encourages the communication of research to the wider public, normally statements to the media should be made only after consultation with the University Press Office.

Any disclosure to the popular media should endeavour to place the research in its appropriate context and care should be taken not to exaggerate the impact of any findings. Appropriate training and guidance should be sought concerning dealings with the press and broadcasting media.

11 Acknowledging the role of collaborators and other participants

11.1 Researchers are expected to maximise the prospects of research being taken into practice through commercial and other exploitation routes by protecting intellectual property (IPR).

11.2 Researchers should ensure that all contracts and agreements are sent through the University’s Research and Enterprise Services to ensure that any contracts or agreements relating to their research contain a provision for IP ownership.

11.3 Where a commercial route is not appropriate then it is expected that researchers will take appropriate steps to ensure that research findings are transferred to relevant user communities.

12 Managing research projects

12.1 The contributions of formal collaborators and all others who directly assist or indirectly support the work should be properly acknowledged.

12.2 Researchers should be satisfied that standards and procedures at the organisations with which they are collaborating are suitable for the conduct of the research. Checks should be made with the Director of Research and Enterprise Services. 

13 Managing Research Projects

13.1 Research Directors/Centre Directors/Research Group Leaders are responsible for ensuring the promulgation of the Code of Good Practice to individuals in their Units. The PI is the lead researcher with regard to the project and is responsible for ensuring compliance with this Code by all those working on projects that they are PI.

13.2 Researchers have a responsibility to ensure that they, and all those who involved in the project, are fully aware of the terms and conditions of grants and contracts and the implication of these in relation to their research projects.

14 Conflict of Interest

14.1 Researchers should declare and manage any real or potential conflicts of interest both financial and professional. These might include:

  • where the researchers have an existing or potential interest in the outcome of the research;
  • where there is a private, or private practice, benefit significantly dependent upon the outcome of the research;
  • where the researcher's professional or personal gain arising from the research may be more than might be usual for research.

Approved by Senate 28th February 2012

This code of practice is consistent with, and is drawn from Codes of Good Research practice published by RCUK, the Wellcome Trust, the Guidelines from the Association of Medical Research Charities and the UKRIO’s Code of Practice for Research.

Who to contact

RES Policy Team, Research and Enterprise Services

Updated 21st September 2011