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Research Integrity Annual Statement 2017-2018

Background

The Universities UK Concordat for Research Integrity (2012) requires of each signatory a short annual report to their governing body, demonstrating how the principles and ethos of integrity are embedded within the governance framework; and compliance with the Concordat is achieved.

This is UCLan’s Annual Statement of Integrity for 2017/18 which will cover i) Policies and Procedures; ii) Training and Development; iii) Research Malpractice/Complaints; and iv) Ongoing Review and Oversight.

Any queries in relation to this report should, in the first instance, be addressed to the author, and first point of contact for Research Integrity, the University Officer for Ethics at the following email address: officerforethics@uclan.ac.uk.

Policies and Procedures

The University has a Code of Conduct for Research, and an Ethical Principles document, both of which are reviewed annually by the Ethics and Integrity team within Research Services. Approval for any amendments is via the University Ethics Committee and final sign off is gained via Academic Board. In relation to research malpractice, it has a Code of Practice for the Investigation of Allegations of Research Malpractice.

In addition to these Research Service owned policy documents, the University has the following, all of which, as above, are hyperlinked for immediate access:

  1. Data Protection Policy
  2. Safeguarding Guidelines – available via Staff Intranet and to externals on legitimate authorisation
  3. Information Security Policy
  4. Anti Corruption and Bribery Policy
  5. Public Interest Disclosure Procedure (Whistleblowing) (pg 46 and Appendix J)

A review of Academic Governance focussing on Academic Board and its sub-committees took place during 2017-18. The purpose of the review was to ensure that governance was fit for purpose. From September 2018 Ethics Review Panels will operate with delegated authority from Academic Board. Governance has been strengthened with the introduction of Faculty Ethics Committees and the University Ethics Committee has been reconstituted as the Committee for Ethics and Integrity. The governance structure as at September 2018 is represented in section 4 below.

The University currently has a centrally based digital e-Ethics Sharepoint system for post-graduate research students and academic staff. The Ethics and Integrity Unit within Research Services is responsible for the digital platform[i]. Ethics reviews are processed digitally through one of three Ethics Review Panels[ii], each of which is constituted from academics of those subject groups, in addition to independent lay members recruited from the independent community. The Ethics and Integrity 2Unit on behalf of the Committee for Ethics and Integrity convenes a panel of academic peers to conduct audits of undergraduate and taught postgraduate systems biennially. Reports on each Ethics Panel’s review outcome and totals, in addition to matters of national or local significance, are provided to the Committee for Ethics and Integrity. The Committee for Ethics and Integrity, Faculty Ethics Committees (5) and Ethics Review Panels(3) meet three times per annum as a minimum, with the Ethics Review Panels (3) coming together at least once annually to share views and perspectives in a broader inter-disciplinary context. Faculties also have , in addition to their own formally constituted Faculty Ethics Committees, Faculty Research and Innovation Committees, which consider research related business at the local level, reporting through the University Research and Innovation Committee and thence to Academic Board.

Training and Development

The University recognises that the ultimate responsibility for personal and professional development of researchers lies with the individuals themselves, and provides a supportive and training-rich environment with opportunities for engagement. Committees with responsibility for ethics, at Faculty and University level, also engage in reflective practice via case conferencing on previous applications in order to cascade shared learning. The University benefits from membership of Vitae, UKCGE(United Kingdom Council for Graduate Education), and ARMA (Association of Research Managers and Administrators) – the latter of which has recently absorbed AfRE (Association for Research Ethics) –benchmarking all development opportunities against the RDF (Researcher Development Framework)and other sector standards, where appropriate.

The training programme, supported by the Researcher Development Unit (Research Services), HR and Legal – includes training in areas supporting research integrity such as:

  • Data Protection
  • Intellectual Property
  • Information Security
  • Safeguarding
  • Anti-corruption and Bribery
  • Ethics and research integrity
  • Procedures for ethics application – staff and student
  • Lay reviewer training – Ethics committee members
  • Chair and reviewer training – Ethics committee members
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Anti-Fraud
  • Prevent

Training is available in blended format, utilising a combination of face-to-face workshops and online learning. In addition to the UCLan designed on-line provision, the University has also licensed a number of modules from Epigeum[iii], covering many of the aspects noted above. Highlighted areas are mandatory for all staff, and many others mandatory depending on level of responsibility/subject discipline. All mandatory training compliance is monitored by HR- reported to line managers; and any anomalies or failed completions addressed through the annual appraisal process.

Research Malpractice / Complaints

The University has a Code of Practice for the Investigation of Allegations of Research Malpractice. This is reviewed biennially. Any suspected incidences of malpractice are required to be notified to the University Officer for Ethics, as detailed in the document. All reported instances are investigated according to the procedure within the Code, and findings recorded. Where research misconduct as opposed research malpractice is identified, there is the potential to invoke the HR Disciplinary Procedure.

Number of Reported Allegations of Research Misconduct 2017-2018 (Sep 17 – Aug 18)

During the period September 2017 to August 2018, there was one complaint received and after investigation found to be an issue with another University when the employee worked there. As such the investigation panel deemed it not to be a reported case for UCLan and thus not be reported in our Annual report. The appropriate office of the other University was contacted, and it was found that their own processes had been observed, and there was no case of malpractice in relation to this on file.

Ongoing Review and Oversight

The University will maintain oversight of the conduct of researchers through the governance framework as referenced above and illustrated below, supported by the ongoing provision of a comprehensive and current professional development programme.

Research Governance Structure Chart, 2017-2018

i Nominated for a THE award in Innovation in Information Communication Technology after its launch in 2012.

ii Business, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (BAHSS); Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine/Health (STEMH); Psychology and Social Work (PSYSOC).

iii Epigeum – Epigeum is the leading provider of exceptional online courses designed to help universities and colleges transform their core activities – in teaching and development, research, studying, and support and wellbeing. Courses are developed through global collaboration of experts and partner universities and shared by subscription. They are produced by an in-house team of editorial and online professionals and used by leading institutions across the world.