Research Integrity - Concordat
The Concordat to Support Research Integrity
The Concordat to Support Research Integrity, developed by Universities UK in collaboration with the funding and research councils, the Wellcome Trust and various government departments, sets out five commitments that will provide assurances to government, the wider public and the international community that research in the UK continues to be underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.
The concordat is intended to:
- provide better coordination of existing approaches to research integrity
- enable more effective communication of efforts to ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity continue to underpin all our research
- encourage greater transparency and accountability at both institutional and sector levels
- stimulate reflection on current practices to identify where improvements can be made
Summary of Compliance with Concordat on Research Integrity
The University of Bedfordshire, like all signatories, is required to make five key commitments in order to be compliant with the Concordat.
These are addressed through the policies, procedures and structures of the University and are summarised here:
|Commitment required under the Concordat||University policies, procedures
To maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research
Staff and students are made aware of expectations. The University Research Ethics Committee oversees research across the university, and regularly reviews research institute and faculty ethics processes. The committee includes external members as well as experienced staff from across the faculties and management of the university.
To ensure that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
Ethics policies and processes are available to all researchers and training and advice is provided for taught and research students, and for staff. There are established processes for the scrutiny of staff and student research proposals and for the referral to higher committees where appropriate.
To support 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
All research institutes have an ethics coordinator. All faculties have an ethics board with a named chair. Ethical issues are embedded within UG and PGT courses and form part of PGR mandatory training. Staff development is provided for university staff with respect to their own research and the research of students they supervise.
To use transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise
Robust processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct are in place involving multi-stage processes with new investigators appointed at each stage. Conflicts of interest are avoided at all stages and potential outcomes are proportionate.
To work together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly
The University Research Ethics Committee; the Research Institutes; and the Research Graduate School and the Research and Enterprise Office through their committees (Research Development Committee and Research and Enterprise Committee) all report to the Academic Board ensuring university-wide oversight issues of research integrity and ethics.
Research Ethics: Expectations of Researchers
The University requires that all research undertaken by its staff and students is conducted in line with the generally accepted principles of ethical research in that:
- all participants give genuine informed consent being properly informed of the purpose of the nature of the research, take part without any actual or perceived coercion and are free to withdraw without giving a reason or threat of adverse effect
- the involvement of participants is proportionate to the likely benefits of the research
- any harm or distress will be avoided or at least mitigated through robust precautions and be proportionate to likely benefits
- the anonymity of participants must be preserved unless otherwise agreed and data properly protected
- researchers must conduct their research with integrity and transparency with regard to actual or potential conflicts of interest
All research projects conducted by staff and research students, all undergraduate and taught postgraduate projects and dissertations must receive the appropriate ethics committee scrutiny and where necessary approval (as set out in the Operating Procedures as approved by the University Research Ethics Committee).
Most research projects that require ethical approval will seek to gain that from an institute, faculty or university rec. Some research projects must gain ethical approval from external bodies (e.g. NRES for studies involving NHS patients). In such cases, evidence of external approval will scrutinised by the relevant REC and may be accepted in lieu of an application to that REC.
All researchers need to comply with the requirements of good research practice as defined by UK Research and Innovation and further elaborated by the individual research councils:
- Integrity - The research has been carried out in a rigorous and professional manner and due credit has been attributed to all parties involved.
- Plagiarism - Proper acknowledgement has been given to the authorship of data and ideas.
- Conflicts of Interest - All financial and professional conflicts of interest have been properly identified and declared.
- Data Handling - The research draws upon effective record keeping, proper storage of date in line with confidentiality, statute and University policy.
- Ethical Procedures - Proper consideration has been given to all ethical issues and appropriate approval sought and received from all relevant stakeholders. In addition the research should conform to professional codes of conduct where appropriate.
- Supervision - Effective management and supervision of staff and student for whom the researcher(s) is/are responsible
- Health and Safety - Proper training on health and safety issues has been received and completed by all involved parties. Health and safety issues have been identified and appropriate assessment and action have been undertaken.
First Point of Contact Regarding Research Integrity
In the event of any inquiries or concerns regarding issues of research integrity, contact the Chair of the University Research Ethics Committee, Dr Nicholas Lancaster at UREC@beds.ac.uk
Allegations of Research Misconduct
For further details on the investigation process for allegations of research misconduct by staff and postgraduate students in line with the recommendations of the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity, please view our Formal Investigations into Allegations of Research Misconduct, 2019-2020 [PDF] report.
Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing)
If application to the chair of UREC is inappropriate, concerns may be raised under the University Policy and Procedure on Whistleblowing [PDF] (Public Interest Disclosure), in relation to:
- academic or professional malpractice
- improper conduct or unethical behaviour
- attempts to conceal any of these
Concerns should be addressed to the University Secretary, who is the Clerk to the Governors, at the following address:
University of Bedfordshire