Annual statement on Research Integrity

 

2017 - 2018

Introduction

 

The University is committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and integrity in its research, and places ethics and integrity at the heart of its decision making.[1]

 

The Chair of the University Research Governance Committee oversees the research integrity of the University on behalf of the University Senior Management team. In this capacity as the ‘Named Person’ for research integrity at the University, the Chair provides a first point of contact for anyone wanting more information on matters of research integrity.

 

Any person wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research being conducted under the auspices of the University can do so through the Named Person (integrity@liverpool.ac.uk) as part of the University’s ‘Policy on Misconduct in Research

 

This statement forms part of the University’s commitment to outline the work undertaken to further strengthen the integrity of the University’s research.

 

Statement

 

Policies and procedures

The University has policies and procedures in place to ensure that research is conducted to the highest levels of ethics and integrity. The University recognises the importance of clear policies and guidelines in embedding a culture of integrity and ethics within research practices. Such documents support researchers in understanding and acting according to expected standards, values and behaviours.

 

The University’s Policy on Misconduct in Research outlines the procedure to be followed when there is an allegation of misconduct in research. This procedure has appropriate principles and mechanisms to ensure that investigations are thorough and fair, carried out in a transparent and timely manner, and protected by appropriate confidentiality. Details of recent research misconduct investigations is provided in the Appendix below.

 

The University’ Policy on Research Integrity outlines a framework to ensure that all research is conducted in accordance with good research practice; while the University Policy on Research Ethics provides a framework to ensure that all research is conducted in accordance with fundamental ethical principles.

 

These policies are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they meet the requirements of an evolving global research portfolio, and can be found on the University’s Research Integrity webpages.

 

Policies are made available to staff through the University webpages, and are referenced in staff and student handbooks. Further to this, communications on research ethics and integrity processes are made through the University's announcements system. Ethics and integrity is also a standing item on the University's Faculty Research Committees and Faculty Regulatory Affairs Committees.

 

Information about University research-related policies and procedures is generally disseminated at induction via departmental and course programme handbooks. Induction for research students will norrmally include guidance about avoiding plagiarism and a requirement to undertake the University’s related online training in ethics and integrity.

 

Policies relating to research integrity are usually reviewed annually, and during the last year the University has reviewed and updated the Policy on Misconduct in Research and has introduced a new Policy on Research Integrity. These policies provide further guidance to the University’s academic community and play an important role in supporting researchers in understanding the University’s expected values and behaviours.

 

Research integrity activities

The University seeks to ensure that all researchers are aware of and understand the policies and principles relating to ethics and integrity. It is recognised that multiple initiatives must be adopted to strengthen the understanding and engagement with ethics and integrity issues.

 

The University has purchased training packages on research integrity and ethics, which form a mandatory part of the University's induction training for all research and teaching related staff; and a mandatory part of submissions for applications for research ethics review. Appropriate training is essential to embedding integrity and ethics within the research environment. This training is supported by ad-hoc presentations, workshops, and occasional guest speakers.

 

The University is a member and regular attendee of the Russell Group Research Integrity forum, which meets to discuss methods to embed a culture of integrity within higher education institutions. This forum provides important learning experiences and examples of activities which can support and strengthen the understanding of research integrity issues across institutions.

 

Research Ethics

The University's research ethics process provides rigorous safeguards and reduces harm wherever possible for all those involved in the research process by ensuring that the research is subject to active consideration of the ethical issues that may arise. The ethics framework provides a mechanism for researchers to demonstrate engagement with ethical issues, and the process supports researchers in designing research to a high ethical standard.

 

The University’s Research Ethics Committees are constituted and operate in accordance with the ESRC framework and include lay representation, as well as a broad range of discipline expertise.

 

The University regularly reviews its research ethics framework against the standards set out in Economic and Social Research Council Framework for Research Ethics, the Association for Research Ethics Framework for Research Ethics Committees and the Department of Health Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees.

 

The University’s Committee on Research Ethics continues to undertake a program of process improvement, aimed at a further optimisation and strengthening of the research ethics process. During the previous year, this has included the rollout of an online system for the management of research ethics applications, the formation of an additional research ethics committee to manage the increasing volume of applications, and the implementation of initiatives aimed at embedding awareness and expertise in research ethics across the institution.

 

Conclusion

During the last year, the University has undertaken various activities to embed a culture of research integrity. A strengthened policy framework complements the introduction of an online system to optimise the research ethics process, and is supported by mandatory training in research ethics.

 

The University looks forward to building on these efforts through the continuation of training in research integrity, ongoing initiatives to raise aware of research integrity and through a review of current initiatives in light of the requirements of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and good practice within the Higher Education sector. It is hoped that these steps provide an important contribution in promoting a positive culture of research integrity across the institution.

 

Appendix

Details of research misconduct investigations: 

 

Number of formal investigations completed

Number of allegations upheld    (in whole or in part)

 

Oct 2014 - Sept 2015

Oct 2015 - Sept 2016

Oct 2016 - Sept 2017

Oct 2014  - Sept 2015

Oct 2015 - Sept 2016

Oct 2016 - Sept 2017

Fabrication

0

0

0

0

0

0

Falsification

0

0

0

0

0

0

Plagiarism

0

0

0

0

0

0

Misrepresentation

0

0

0

0

0

0

Breach of duty of  care

1*

0

0

1*

0

0

Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct

0

0

0

0

0

0

Other

(authorship dispute)

0

1**

0

0

1**

0

Details of any allegations upheld in part

*Please see below

**Please see below

0

*Please see below

**Please see below

0

 

*The University launched an investigation into possible research misconduct concerning a potential failure to follow protocols contained in ethical consent that had been given for the research. The findings of a preliminary investigation supported further investigation. Working from the preliminary report, the scope of the full investigation addressed the possible breach of a duty of care. This investigation concluded that the complaint of research misconduct was upheld in part due to the failure to duly inform research participants and the failure to notify the University of a Serious Adverse Event.

** The University launched an investigation into possible research misconduct following concerns raised over the accuracy and authorship practices of a research paper related to health. The investigation addressed the possible failure to give appropriate recognition to others involved in research activity. This investigation concluded that research misconduct had occurred as the authorship practices deviated unacceptably from current accepted practice in carrying out research.