Staff Research Misconduct Procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) The new Deakin University Enterprise Agreement 2013 came into effect on 25 November 2013 and this Procedure is currently under review. Affected policies and procedures will be updated as soon as possible to reflect any new changes.

(2) This Procedure was approved by Academic Board on 22 March 2011 and incorporates all amendments to 11 July 2014.

(3) This Procedure is pursuant to the Code of Conduct and Statute 4.1 - Student Misconduct.

Section 2 - Purpose

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

Section 3 - Scope

(5) 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.

(6) Contact details for the Protected Disclosure Coordinator, Protected Disclosure Officers and the Victorian Ombudsman are set out in Schedule A: Responsibilities of the Protected Disclosure Coordinator and Welfare Manager of the Protection of Persons from Detrimental Action Procedure.

Roles and responsibilities

Advisers in Research Integrity (ARI)

(7) ARI are academic staff members of the University appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (DVCR) whose role is to provide advice to persons considering making an allegation of research breach or research misconduct against a staff member. An ARI will not attempt to make an assessment of an allegation nor investigate an allegation.

(8) In the event that the allegation is sufficiently serious to constitute a protected disclosure for the purposes of the Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) and the person considering making an allegation decides not to proceed with the matter, the ARI must determine whether the allegation warrants further investigation. The ARI may also choose to make a protected disclosure under the AWA. Should the ARI choose to make a protected disclosure they must make all reasonable efforts to avoid identifying the source of the information.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (DVCR)

(9) The DVCR or nominee shall be considered the 'Designated Person' as defined in the Australian Code. The DVCR or nominee has responsibility to receive on behalf of the University all complaints relating to research misconduct.

Section 4 - Policy

(10) Refer to the Code of Conduct.

Section 5 - Procedure

(11) A staff member or student considering making an allegation of research breach or research misconduct may obtain confidential advice on integrity in research and possible misconduct procedures from Advisers in Research Integrity (ARI) appointed by the DVCR. Contact details for advisers may be obtained from the Office of Research Integrity website.

(12) A staff member, student or other interested party who has concerns over the conduct of research may approach the DVCR directly at any stage.

Informal process

(13) Where a staff member has concerns in relation to the conduct of research the staff member is encouraged, in the first instance, to discuss their concerns with their immediate supervisor, the Head of School or another senior member of staff within the Faculty.

(14) Where a concern is raised by a staff member, the person receiving the concern must assess whether the matter is not serious and can be resolved informally, or whether the matter may be serious, or requires further inquiry.

(15) The DVCR must be advised if any informal action is taken to resolve the matter at a local level.

(16) Where the matter may be serious and requires further inquiry, the matter must be referred to the DVCR, in writing, and the matter will be pursued in accordance with this Procedure.

Dealing with allegations of research misconduct

(17) Allegations of research misconduct must be made in writing to the DVCR. The DVCR may appoint a nominee to act on their behalf in the matter.

(18) The DVCR will advise the staff member against whom the allegations have been made, in writing, that they are the subject of allegations of research misconduct, the nature of the allegations and, where the DVCR deems appropriate, the identity of the person who made the allegations.

(19) The DVCR may determine that the subject or subjects of the complaint shall cease work on the research program immediately.

(20) The DVCR or nominee must make a prima facie assessment of the allegations. To make this assessment the DVCR or nominee will review the complaint, will provide the person against whom the allegations are made the opportunity to make a response to the allegations and may seek any additional information to inform their decision.

The DVCR may determine, prima facie:

  1. there is no case for the staff member(s) to answer and recommend that the matter be dismissed; or
  2. the allegations refer to a research breach and refer the matter to the school, institute or faculty; or
  3. the allegations refer to research misconduct and recommend that the matter be pursued in accordance with clause 20 of the EA; or
  4. the allegations refer to matters not dealt with in this Procedure and recommend that the matter be pursued in accordance with other University policies or procedures.

    The DVCR shall advise the Vice-Chancellor in writing of their assessment and their recommendations.

    The DVCR will notify the Director, Academic Governance and Standards of outcomes of the assessment and recommendations of research misconduct. The Director will ensure that the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is notified where required under the TEQSA Act.

(21) Where it is determined that there is no case to answer, both the staff member against whom the allegation is made and the complainant shall be informed in writing of the outcome.

(22) Where it is determined that the case may be appropriately dealt with by the school or faculty, the matter will be referred in writing to the Head of School, Director of Institute or the Pro Vice-Chancellor for action. A report of the action taken must be provided as set out in clause 23 below.


(23) In all cases including those dealt with within the school, institute or faculty, written documentation of the allegation and its outcome must be provided to the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Correction of the public record

(24) Where research misconduct or a research breach has resulted in incorrect information placed upon the public record, action shall be taken by the DVCR or nominee to correct the public record. Details of the correction should also be forwarded to Deakin Research Online.

Section 6 - Definitions

(25) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Misconduct in relation to research is defined variously within the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic), the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (Australian Code) and the Deakin University Enterprise Agreement 2013 (EA).
  2. For the purposes of this Procedure there are two levels of research non-compliance:
    1. research breach which means matters that are considered less serious and can appropriately be dealt with at the school, institute or faculty level; and
    2. research misconduct which includes both 'misconduct' and 'serious misconduct' as defined in the EA (in relation to research), 'research misconduct' as defined by the Australian Code, and 'corrupt conduct' or 'improper conduct' as defined in the AWA if they are engaged in by a staff member in relation to research. Research misconduct does not include honest errors or honest differences in interpretation or judgement.
  3. This Procedure supports the University's commitments relating to research misconduct under the Australian Code, the AWA and the EA.