Staff Research Misconduct Procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure was approved by Academic Board on 5 April 2016 and incorporates all amendments up to 28 April 2016.

(2) This Procedure is pursuant to the Research Conduct Policy.

Section 2 - Purpose

(3) The procedure documents the processes that apply to handling allegations and instances of research breach and research misconduct.

Section 3 - Scope

(4) This procedure applies to allegations of research breach or research misconduct by staff of the University. Allegations of research breach or research misconduct by student researchers will be dealt with under Statute 4.1 Student Misconduct. Where an allegation concerns a staff member who is also a student, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research will determine which procedure is the most appropriate in all the circumstances. This procedure does not limit a person's ability to lodge a protected disclosure where an allegation concerns dishonest conduct by a staff researcher, serious enough that if proven it could constitute a criminal offence or provide reasonable grounds for dismissal. Any protected disclosure should be made in accordance with the Protection of Persons from Detrimental Action Procedure.

Section 4 - Policy

(5) Refer to the Research Conduct Policy.

Section 5 - Procedure

(6) Anyone who believes a research breach or research misconduct has taken place must act in a timely manner and formally report the allegation/s to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee.

(7) Anyone considering making an allegation/s of research breach or research misconduct may obtain confidential advice on integrity in research from Advisers in Research Integrity appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research. Advisers will not attempt to make an assessment of an allegation/s nor investigate an allegation or contact the person(s) who is the subject of the allegation/s. Contact details for advisers may be obtained from the Office of Research Integrity website.

(8) In the event that the allegation/s is sufficiently serious to constitute a protected disclosure for the purposes of the Protected Disclosure Act and the person considering making an allegation/s decides not to proceed with the matter, the Adviser in Research Integrity will determine whether the allegation/s warrants further investigation. The Adviser may also choose to make a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosure Act. Should the Adviser choose to make a protected disclosure they must make all reasonable efforts to avoid identifying the source of the information.

(9) On receipt of an allegation/s, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee must consider whether there are likely significant risks to human, animal safety, the environment or national security. Where it is determined a significant risk has been identified, appropriate protective or precautionary action must be taken by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research.

(10) All reports of suspected research misconduct will be entered into an Incident/Breach Register held by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research. This register will include the following:

  1. Date and time the report was made
  2. How the report was made and who to
  3. Date and times or timeframe of the alleged incident
  4. Description of the alleged incident
  5. Name and position of those alleged to be involved
  6. Name and role of any other persons relevant to the incident
  7. Approximate financial value involved, if appropriate
  8. Action taken following discovery of the incident
  9. Outcome of investigation (to be included at the conclusion of the investigation).

Preliminary assessment

(11) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee will advise the staff member against whom the allegation/s have been made, in writing, that they are the subject of allegation/s of research breach or research misconduct, the nature of the allegation/s, and that a preliminary assessment of the allegation/s will be conducted.

(12) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee must appoint an Assessment Officer who will receive the written allegation/s and conduct a preliminary assessment. The Assessment Officer must meet the following criteria:

  1. be independent from the allegation/s
  2. have appropriate experience or expertise
  3. have no conflict of interest or bias.

(13) To make a preliminary assessment the Assessment Officer will review the allegation/s of research misconduct, seek a response to the allegation/s from relevant parties, and gather relevant documents, evidence, and any additional information to inform their decision.

(14) The Assessment Officer should prepare a preliminary assessment report within 10 working days and advise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee if there are reasonable grounds for the allegation/s of research misconduct and whether there is scope for further investigation.

Outcome of the preliminary assessment

(15) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee will consider the preliminary assessment report and within 10 working days of receiving the report should determine:

  1. there is no reasonable grounds for an allegation of research misconduct and recommend the matter be dismissed; or
  2. the allegation/s refers to research breach and refer the matter in writing to the Head of School, Director of Institute or the Executive Dean for action; or
  3. there are reasonable grounds for an allegation of research misconduct and the matter be pursued in accordance with clause 23 of the Enterprise Agreement (EA);
  4. the allegation/s refers to matters not dealt with in this procedure and recommend that the matter be pursued in accordance with other University policies or procedures.

Actions

(16) Both the complainant and staff member against whom the allegation is made shall be informed in writing of the outcome of the preliminary assessment.

(17) Where the matter is referred to the Head of School, Director of Institute or the Executive Dean for action, a report of the action taken by the School, Institute or Faculty must be provided to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee.

(18) Where it is determined there are reasonable grounds for research misconduct, the matter will be referred to the Vice-Chancellor to be managed in accordance with clause 23 of the Deakin Enterprise Agreement.

(19) Where the allegation also involves academic or general integrity, the Director, Internal Audit is to be notified and will make a decision on the appropriate action to be taken.

(20) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research will report annually to the Audit and Risk Committee on the occurrence and nature of allegations and any actions to address the underlying causes. The Research and Research Training Committee will monitor trends through the biannual report from the Deakin Research Integrity.

(21) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research will notify the Director, Academic Governance and Standards where an allegation/s of research misconduct has been substantiated. The Director, Academic Governance and Standards will ensure that the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is notified where required under the TEQSA Act.

Records

(22) Written documentation of the preliminary assessment, the outcome and reasons for it and reports on actions must be provided to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and included in the Incident/Breach Register.

Correction of the public record

(23) Where a research breach or research misconduct has resulted in incorrect information being placed upon the public record, action will be taken by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or nominee to correct the public record, including Deakin Research Online.

Section 6 - Definitions

(24) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Research breach: matters that are considered less serious and can appropriately be dealt with at the school, institute or faculty level. Research breaches are minor or technical deviations that are honest or accidental errors.
  2. Research misconduct
    1. a breach or deviation from the standards and provisions of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Australian Code), which includes fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research, and failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest. It includes avoidable failure to follow research proposals as approved by a research ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, animals or the environment. It also includes the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others. There are many ways in which researchers may deviate from the standards and provisions of the Australian Code, including but not limited to:
    2. Research misconduct may include more serious or deliberate research misconduct and involves:
      • intent and deliberation; or
      • recklessness or gross and persistent negligence; or
      • serious consequences, such as false information on the public record, or adverse effects on research participants, animals or the environment.
      • Repeated or continuing instances of research misconduct may also constitute serious research misconduct, and do so where these have been the subject of previous counselling or specific direction. Serious research misconduct does not include honest differences in judgment in management of the research project, and may not include honest errors that are minor or unintentional.