- 1 Policy Statement
- 2 Principles
- 3 Procedures
- 4 APPENDIX A
- 5 Definitions
- 6 Other Policy Information
Scope and Application:
The University’s Policy on Research and Scholarship is underpinned by The Mission Statement, The Values Statement and The Vision Statement.
This policy on research and scholarship is based on the belief that effective, relevant and stimulating teaching derives from the efforts of staff to be up-to-date in their various disciplines. Research and scholarship are essential to these efforts.
Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland shall conform to the attached Guidelines for Responsible Practice in Research and Dealing with Problems of Research Misconduct (Appendix A).
Research is taken to mean systematic and rigorous investigation aimed at the discovery of previously unknown phenomena, the development of explanatory theory and its application to new situations or problems, and the construction of original works of significant intellectual merit.
Scholarship refers to the analysis and interpretation of existing knowledge aimed at improving, through publications, teaching or by other means of communication, the depth of human understanding.
Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland shall conform to the attached Guidelines for Responsible Practice in Research and Dealing with Problems of Research Misconduct (Appendix A).
One of the major responsibilities of a University is to train postgraduate students to be the researchers and academic faculty of the future. The University is committed to offering an effective and substantial postgraduate program.
Each Faculty shall establish a Faculty Research Committee (FRC) as a sub-committee of the Faculty Board, whose primary purpose shall be the creation of an environment within each Faculty such that members of the Faculty staff wishing to undertake research are encouraged to do so and are guided towards productive outcomes.
The Chairperson of the FRC shall normally be the Dean or a senior staff member experienced in research and nominated by the Dean, and shall normally be a member of the Faculty Board. Membership of the FRC shall be determined by the Dean in consultation with staff active in research and will normally include representation from research centres and the Faculty professoriate.
It is appropriate for the FRC to establish, implement and periodically review procedures which encourage staff of the Faculty to: explore research interests;
enter into dialogue with colleagues regarding those interests;
seek funding where appropriate from internal and/or external sources by making submissions of suitable content and quality;
conduct experimental and/or theoretical research appropriate to their discipline and within the constraints of their total functions as academic staff members;
proceed to regular publication, with peer group review where appropriate, of their research findings;
develop research seminar programs within the Faculty.
In establishing these procedures, the FRC shall give due regard to the following:
The need to identify research topics which are consistent with the skills of particular staff members, the resources of the Faculty and the perceived, and changing, practices of the community and potential funding bodies.
The need to recognise that younger and/or new staff and those undertaking research or the first time, will require advice. This advice will be necessary when initiating research projects, seeking funding, establishing methodology and, especially, when bringing research to fruitful conclusion "on time and within budget".
Funding allocations to Faculties will include funding for research and scholarship.
Faculties will determine the use of funds for research and scholarship within their province. Such use will be consistent with the Faculties' published goals for research, scholarship and staff development.
The Research Committee is a sub-committee of Academic Board, and through that Board, advises Council on all matters relating to policies and practices in research and scholarship in the University.
The Research Committee is responsible for the review of all research and scholarship activity in accordance with Academic Board policy and the University's policy on ethical conduct.
The Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (Scholarship), is responsible for the following:
co-ordinating research and scholarship activities in the University;
providing training in research (as determined by the Academic Board;
assisting researchers and scholars in the University in their application for grants and in the execution of their research and scholarship;
identifying sources for funding for research and scholarship from both government and private agencies;
promoting the University's research and scholarship activities outside the University;
receiving from Faculties and processes applications for all external research grants;
monitoring expenditure of internal grants and any external grants received through the Office of Research and Higher Degrees;
promoting and co-ordinating the research higher degrees (MPhil and PhD).
Deans of Faculties are responsible for promoting and supporting research and scholarship activities within the disciplines under their management.
Subject to any prevailing budgetary constraints, the University shall make available funds for the provision of research infrastructure and the support of teams and individual researchers, including early career researchers.
These funds will also be used to support a postgraduate research scholarship program.
The total available funds shall be determined annually as part of the University’s budgetary process and shall not be less than the sum of the Commonwealth Government allocation under the Institutional Grant Scheme, the University of Southern Queensland's Research Infrastructure Block Grant and the allocation made to research from the Academic Division budget prior to distribution of that budget to the Faculties. The total available funds shall be in addition to any allocations for research made by individual Faculties or the Distance Education Centre and in addition to any resources made available by the University for other special purposes.
Guidelines for internal research funding programs will be reviewed by the Research Committee annually. The program guidelines will detail:
objectives of the program
timetable for the program
eligibility of applicants
membership of the review panel
selection criteria and procedures.
This document has been developed with the expectation that all staff and students of the University of Southern Queensland will comply with these guidelines. They should be read in conjunction with other University policies as applicable, particularly the University Policy on Intellectual Property.
The broad principles that guide research have been long established. Central to these are the maintenance of high ethical standards, and validity and accuracy in the collection and reporting of data. For these, the responsibility of the research community to the public and to itself is acknowledged. This responsibility is particularly important where professional practice or public policy may be defined or modified in the light of research findings.
Thus the processes of research try to protect the truth. Communication between collaborators; maintenance and reference to research records; presentation and discussion or work at meetings of experts; publication of results, including the important element of peer review; and the possibility that investigations will be repeated or extended by other researchers, all contribute to the intrinsically self-correcting and ethical nature of research.
Competition in this kind of research can have a strong and positive influence, enhancing the quality and immediacy of the work produced. However, competitive pressures can act to distort sound research practice, if they encourage too-hasty preparation and submission of papers, the division of reports on substantial bodies of work into multiple small reports to enhance the ‘publication count’ of the author(s), or an undue emphasis on safe but mundane research at the expense of more creative and more innovative lines of study. Accordingly each institution should give due emphasis to quality and originality of research, as well as to quantity of research output, and set up codes of conduct which are seen as a framework for sound research procedures and for the protection of individual researchers from possible misunderstandings. These guidelines set up that code of conduct for USQ.
Codes of practice like these guidelines need to strike a balance between legislating unnecessarily against a problem that does not yet exist in an institution, and safeguarding the institution against possible problems by establishing firm and understandable guidelines. Such a code also needs to strike a balance between bringing action against a staff member where it is warranted, and protecting staff from unsubstantiated accusation.
Consequently, these guidelines aim to ensure a research environment that minimises the incidence of misconduct in research, by clearly outlining the responsibilities of researchers to maintain the highest ethical standards. Adoption of fair and equitable procedures for dealing with complaints of misconduct in research that ensure fair dealing with both accused and complainant, is necessary to minimise the risk of the institution being involved in legal proceedings.
This document is in two parts. Part I sets out a Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research, consistent with the minimum standards outlined in the Revision of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.. Part II outlines the procedures which should be used to deal with any allegations of misconduct in research. Other USQ material that supports these guidelines is noted in Part I section 5 sub-section 5.3.
The Office of Research home page referred to below can be accessed through the ‘Research’ part of the USQ home page, that is, through the address http://www.usq.edu.au/
The Chair of the University Research Committee has overall responsibility for monitoring the observance of this guidelines document.
It is a basic assumption of institutions conducting research that their staff members are committed to high standards of professional conduct. Research workers have a duty to ensure that their work enhances the good name of the institution and the profession to which they belong.
Thus research workers should only participate in work which conforms to accepted ethical standards and which they are competent to perform. Thus it is essential that the design of projects takes account of relevant ethical guidelines noted below. When in doubt researchers should seek assistance with their research from their colleagues or peers. Debate on, and criticism of, research work are essential parts of the research process. As well, institutions and research workers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all those associated with the research
If data of a confidential nature are obtained, for example from individual patient records or certain questionnaires, confidentiality must be observed and research workers must not use such information for their own personal advantage or that of a third party. However, in general, research results and methods should be open to scrutiny by colleagues within the institution and, through appropriate publication, by the profession at large. Nevertheless, confidentiality may be necessary for a limited period in the case of contracted research.
All researchers in recognising the importance of confidentiality will want to record the data in a durable and appropriately referenced manner. There are a number of relevant privacy protocols that are attached to this code. Researchers should be aware of each of the protocols and be able to manage appropriately the data they have collected in accordance with those.
Each department or research unit must establish procedures for the retention of data and for the keeping of records of data held, following the principles laid down in these guidelines. If a department does not have its own procedures, the procedures in these guidelines will be assumed to apply.
Data must be held for sufficient time to allow reference. For data that is published this may be for as long as interest and discussion persists following publication. It is recommended that the minimum period for retention is at least 5 years from the date of publication but for specific types of research, such as clinical research, 15 years may be more appropriate.
Wherever possible, original data must be retained in the department or research unit in which they were generated. Individual researchers should be able to hold copies of the data for their own use. Retention solely by the individual researcher provides little protection to the researcher or the institution in the event of an allegation of falsification of data.
Confidentiality. Data related to publications must be available for discussion with other researchers. Where confidentiality provisions apply (for example, where the researchers or institution have given undertakings to third parties, such as the subjects of the research), it is desirable for data to be kept in a way that reference to them by third parties can occur without breaching such confidentiality.
Confidentiality agreements to protect intellectual property rights may be agreed between USQ, the researcher and a sponsor of the research. Arrangements for all confidentiality agreements should be made known at an early stage to the Vice-Chancellor through the University Legal Officer, who will coordinate their signing.
Where such agreements limit free publication and discussion, limitations and restrictions must be explicitly agreed. It is the obligation of the research worker to enquire whether confidentiality provisions apply and of the head of the department or research unit and the research project leader to inform research workers of their obligations with respect to these provisions.
Databases. The procedures formulated by departments or research units must include guidelines on the establishment and ownership of and access to databases containing confidential information, and any limits on this. Where a department or research unit does not establish them, the following guidelines will be assumed to apply.
When the data are obtained from limited access data-bases, or via a contractual arrangement, written indication of the location of the original data, or key information regarding the database from which it was collected, must be retained by the researcher or research unit.
Researchers must be responsible for ensuring appropriate security for any confidential material, including that held in computing systems. Where computing systems are accessible through networks, particular attention to security of confidential data is required, including the use of secure passwords. Security and confidentiality must be assured in a way that copes with multiple researchers and the departure of individual researchers.
USQ has established procedures for the ethics clearance of all research involving animals or human subjects. All researchers must apply for ethics clearance for such research in accordance with the guidelines on the USQ Office of Research home page under ‘Animal Ethics’ and ‘Human Ethics’.
This section should be read in conjunction with the USQ Intellectual Property Policy.
It is essential that all parties responsible for bringing about a piece of research are duly acknowledged for their contribution in any publications or reports to emanate from the research. This is particularly important for senior staff, who have a responsibility to foster a positive environment for junior research staff by sharing the credit for joint research achievement. This section and the next address this responsibility.
At USQ, the minimum requirement for authorship should accord with the 'Vancouver Protocol'. Authorship is substantial participation, where all the following conditions are met:
conception and design,
analysis and interpretation of data;
drafting significant parts of the work or critically revising it so as to contribute to the interpretation.
Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship, and general supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusion must be the responsibility of at least one author. An author's role in a research output must be sufficient for that person to take public responsibility for at least that part of the output in that person's area of expertise. No person who is an author, consistent with this definition, must be excluded as an author without their permission in writing.
Authorship of a research output is a matter that should be discussed between researchers at an early stage in a research project, and reviewed whenever there are changes in participation. When there is more than one co-author of a research output, one co-author (by agreement amongst the authors) should be nominated as executive author for the whole research output, to record authorship and to manage communication about the work with the publisher.
Where the research is published, including electronically, all co-authors of a publication must acknowledge their authorship in writing in terms of, at least, the minimum acceptable definition at 3.1, above. This signed statement of authorship must specify that the signatories are the only authors according to this definition. It must state that the signatories have seen the version of the paper submitted for publication. The written acknowledgment of authorship must be placed on file by the executive author at the time of submission of the research output for publication, and must remain in safe keeping in the executive author’s department. If, for any reason, one or more co-authors are unavailable or otherwise unable to sign the statement of authorship, the head of department or unit may sign on their behalf, noting the reason for their unavailability.
The authors must ensure that others who have contributed to the work are recognised in the research output. Courtesy demands that individuals and organisations providing facilities should also be acknowledged. Sources of financial support must also be acknowledged below.
Disputes about authorship should be directed to the Head of the Department or research unit who will then investigate the issue using these guidelines, or delegate that investigation to another senior researcher who is not involved in the dispute. The Dean (or equivalent) will arbitrate after the investigation. If the Dean is involved in the dispute, the Dean's supervisor will fulfill his or her dispute responsibilities.
An author who submits substantially similar work to more than one publisher must disclose this to the publishers at the time of submission.
As a general principle research findings should not be reported in the public media before they have been reported to a research audience of experts in the field of research preferably by publication in a peer-reviewed journal, except where there is a contractual arrangement. It is acknowledged that where issues of public policy and concern make prior disclosure desirable, such advice must be tendered first to the public or professional authorities responsible, and the unreported status of any findings must be advised at the same time. Only where responsible authorities fail to act can prior reporting to the media be justified, and again the unpublished status of the findings must be reported at the same time.
Where there is private reporting of research that has not yet been exposed to open peer review scrutiny, especially when it is reported to prospective financial supporters, researchers have an obligation to explain fully the status of the work and the peer-review mechanisms to which it will be subjected.
Publications must include information on the sources of financial support for the research, as noted in section 6 below. Financial sponsorship that carries an embargo on such naming of a sponsor should be avoided.
Deliberate inclusion of inaccurate or misleading information relating to research activity in curriculum vitae, grant applications, job applications or public statements, or the failure to provide relevant information, is a form of misconduct in research. Accuracy is essential in describing the state of publication (in preparation, submitted, accepted), research funding (applied for, granted, funding period), and awards conferred, and where any of these relate to more than one researcher.
All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that published reports, statistics and public statements about research activities and performance are complete, accurate and unambiguous. Misleading information may lead to breach of contract, breach of the Trade Practices Act, breach of the Fair Trading Act, breach of Commonwealth funding legislation, breach of fiduciary duties and a breach of this code of conduct.
Supervision of each research student/trainee (including honours, masters and doctoral students, and junior postdoctoral staff) should be assigned to a specific, responsible and appropriately qualified senior research worker. The responsibility for implementing this assignment for PhD and MPhil candidates resides with the Higher Degrees Review and Admissions Committee. For faculty-administered degrees, the Dean of the Faculty is responsible for this assignment. If a Faculty does not have established criteria for this assignment, the University’s PhD criteria will apply except that the supervisor’s ‘PhD’ degree qualification is replaced by a master’s or honours degree as appropriate.
The ratio of research students/trainees to supervisors should be small enough to ensure effective interaction, as well as effective supervision of the research at all stages. Normally, at USQ this ratio is three full-time students or six part-time students. This limit is based on USQ’s PhD policies and is assumed to apply to students in other research degrees at USQ unless the appropriate Faculty Dean establishes otherwise.
Each research student/trainee can access these guidelines and other written material on applicable government and institutional guidelines for the conduct of research on the USQ Office of Research and Higher Degrees website. Other documents include ethical requirements for studies on human or animal subjects, requirements for confidentiality and grievance procedures. Of particular relevance to these guidelines, are the following:
membership of the University Research Committee
membership and functions of the Animal Research Ethics Committee and the material under the ‘ Ethics and Biosafety’ heading of the Office of Research and Higher Degrees home page;
membership and functions of the Human Research Ethics Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects and the material under the ‘Ethics and Biosafety’ heading of the Office of Research and Higher Degrees home page;
USQ Anti-Discrimination and Freedom from Harassment Student Grievance Resolution Policy
USQ intellectual property policy and the related project participation deed.
Each research student/trainees should also be advised of the existence of occupational health and safety requirements affecting his or her research. They are available from the USQ Safe office.
Supervisors are obliged to provide guidance to students in all matters of good research practice such as notifying them of the material above. The supervisor must ensure, as far as possible, the validity of research data obtained by a student under his or her supervision.
Disclosure of any potential conflict of interest is essential for the responsible conduct of research. Conflicts of interest of all participants or proposed participants in research must be disclosed at the time of seeking permission from the University to apply for research funding. Such disclosure should include a research worker’s affiliation with, or financial involvement in, any organisation or entity with a direct interest in the subject matter of the research, or in the provision of materials for the research. These disclosures must cover the full range of interests including benefits in kind such as the provision of materials or facilities for the research, and the support of individuals through the provision of benefits (for example, travel and accommodation expenses to attend conferences). They should cover such interests to the persons responsible for institutional research management, to the editors of journals to which papers are submitted (some editors already require this) and to bodies from which funds are sought.
This Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice in Research aims to ensure a research environment that minimizes the incidence of misconduct in research. It is inevitable, however, that there will be some allegations of misconduct in research.
These procedures cover allegations against USQ staff members. Allegations against research students/trainees are covered by other University disciplinary procedures such as the grievance procedures noted above.
Misconduct in research does not include honest errors or honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data. Examples of misconduct in research are given below. Misconduct in research includes:
The fabrication of results.
The falsification or misrepresentation of results of data including changing records.
Plagiarism, including the direct copying of textual material, the use of other people’s data without acknowledgment and the use of ideas from other people without adequate attribution.
Misleading ascription of authorship including the listing of authors without their permission, attributing work to others who have not in fact contributed to the research, and the lack of appropriate acknowledgment of work primarily produced by a research student/trainee or associate.
Failure to declare and manage serious conflicts of interest
Falsification or misrepresentation to obtain funding
Conducting research without ethics approval as required by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans and the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.
Risking the safety of human participants and well being of animals or the environment
Wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.
Other practices that seriously deviate from those commonly accepted within the research community for proposing, conducting or reporting research.
Intentional infringements of the USQ Guidelines for the Responsible Practice of Research above.
Examples of misconduct in research include but are not limited to the following:
Misappropriation. A researcher or reviewer shall not intentionally or recklessly:
plagiarise, which shall be understood to mean the presentation of the documented words or ideas of another as his or her own, without attribution appropriate for the medium of presentation;
make use of any information in breach of any duty of confidentiality associated with the review of any manuscript or grant application;
intentionally omit reference to the relevant published work of others for the purpose of inferring personal discovery of new information.
Interference. A researcher or reviewer shall not intentionally and without authorisation take or sequester or materially damage 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.
Misrepresentation. A researcher or reviewer shall not with intent to deceive, or in reckless disregard for the truth:
state or present a material or significant falsehood; or
omit a fact so that what is stated or presented as a whole states or presents a material or significant falsehood.
Allegations of misconduct in research require very careful handling. When an allegation is made, the protection of all interested parties is essential. Interested parties may include:
• the person bringing the allegation;
the staff member against whom a complaint is made;
research students/trainees and staff working with the staff member concerned;
the University of Southern Queensland;
journals in which allegedly fraudulent papers have been or are about to be published;
funding bodies which have contributed to the research; and/or
in some cases the public – for example, if a drug is involved.
Adequate protection of the complainant and the accused demands absolute confidentiality and reasonable speed in the early stages of investigation. On the other hand, the protection of other parties may involve some disclosure. Such judgments should be made by the Vice-Chancellor.
Allegations of misconduct in research may originate inside the institution, from other institutions, in learned journals or in the press. Allegations from outside the institution should be dealt with directly by the Vice-Chancellor.
Inside the institution, allegations may come from other members of staff or from research students/trainees. The latter may feel themselves to be in a difficult situation because their degree and their future career can depend on interaction with a supervisor.
The Revision of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) states that institution must nominate one or more senior staff members who have research experience, wisdom, analytical skills, empathy, knowledge of USQ policy and management structure and are familiar with accepted practices in research.. Their task is to give confidential advice to staff and students/trainees about what constitutes misconduct in research, the rights and responsibilities of a potential complainant, and the procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct in research within the institution. At USQ, these advisers can be contacted through the Director, Office of Research and Higher Degrees.
At USQ, these people are the Chair of the USQ Research Committee, the Deans of Faculties and the Director of the Office of Research and Higher Degrees. It is important that the Vice-Chancellor should be informed immediately if a complaint is received and be kept informed as the case progresses, as noted in the relevant section of the current USQ Certified Agreement. An investigation should not proceed unless there is a complainant, though their identity may remain confidential. The University itself can be the complainant. Those charged with the responsibility for, or having a role in initiating or conducting, an investigation of misconduct in research may not lodge a complaint leading to a preliminary investigation.
When undertaking a preliminary assessment of the allegations, the designated person should take into account the requirements of The Revision of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) and relevant USQ guidelines and policy.
Once a complaint is made is made to one of the people above, that person must inform the Chair of the University Research Committee and he or she will then deal with the matter or form a sub-committee to deal with the complaint, unless the provisions of the current USQ Certified Agreement require otherwise. The sub-committee should consist of at least three members, at least one of whom must be member of University Research Committee.
The Chair of the University Research Committee, or the sub-committee if one is appointed, is required to consider the material provided by the complainant and to decide whether the allegation should be dismissed or investigated further. If a further, preliminary investigation is decided on, it must be authorised by the Vice-Chancellor.
If there is the possibility of a charge of misconduct in research following the procedures in section 3.2 above, the Vice-Chancellor must authorise a preliminary investigation and take action in accordance with the provisions of the relevant sections of the current USQ Certified Agreement.
These guidelines follow closely The Revision of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007). Part II is also based on the University of Canberra’s Guidelines for Responsible Practice in Research and Dealing with Problems of Research Misconduct (10 November 1997).
Definition (with examples if required)
Is taken to mean systematic and rigorous investigation aimed at the discovery of previously unknown phenomena, the development of explanatory theory and its application to new situations or problems, and the construction of original works of significant intellectual merit.
Refers to the analysis and interpretation of existing knowledge aimed at improving, through publications, teaching or by other means of communication, the depth of human understanding.
Peak Approval Authority:
Related Legislation / guidelines:
Strategic Plan/Goal & Objectives:
Supporting documents, forms:
Associated USQ policies:
Next Review Date*:
Expiry Date of Policy: