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Responsible Conduct of Research Policy

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) Charles Darwin University (CDU) is committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and ethics in the conduct of research, and is committed to upholding the standards set out in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the Code).

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Policy provides CDU’s overarching research framework for adopting the Code and for complying with the relevant sections of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (Threshold Standards).

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Policy applies to:

  1. all research activities conducted under the auspices of the University; and
  2. all staff, including adjunct, visiting, emeritus and conjoint appointees and Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates who carry out research under the auspices of the University.

(4) This Policy does not apply to Honours students or students undertaking coursework units with a research component.

(5) This Policy does not generally apply to staff of the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) unless they are conducting research specifically under the auspices of CDU rather than Menzies. This Policy does apply to HDR students supervised by Menzies staff.

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Section 4 - Policy

(6) The conduct of research at CDU requires the University to identify and manage legal and regulatory obligations relating to research, and to ensure research is conducted in a manner that is consistent with the University’s values and policies.

(7) Research and its associated activities will be conducted in accordance with a research policy framework that complies with the Threshold Standards, through:

  1. ethical conduct of research and responsible research practice;
  2. clear ownership and management of intellectual property;
  3. successful management of research partnerships;
  4. clear requirements for publication and authorship; and
  5. resolution of allegations of misconduct in research.

(8) Research at CDU will be conducted, or overseen, by staff with qualifications, research experience and skills relevant to the type of research undertaken and their role. A system for accurate and up-to-date recording of the research outputs of staff and HDR candidates will be maintained.

(9) This Policy:

  1. ensures the University adopts the Code;
  2. establishes how the University and its researchers and staff will comply with the Code and the Threshold Standards;
  3. seeks to minimise risk and protect the interests of the University, researchers, staff and HDR candidates when engaging in research activities; and
  4. seeks to protect research participants, maintain animal welfare and protect the environment.

(10) In the event of any inconsistency between the Code and University’s Governance and other documents, the Code will prevail.

Principles

(11) The University adopts the principles of responsible conduct of research in the Code to ensure that University processes are consistent with those principles.

(12) The following principles apply to all research activities at the University:

  1. honesty, rigour and accountability in developing, undertaking and reporting research;
  2. transparency in declaring interests and reporting research methodology, data and findings;
  3. fairness in the treatment of others;
  4. respect for research participants, the wider community, animals and the environment;
  5. recognition of the right of First Nations peoples to be engaged in research that affects or is of particular significance to them; and
  6. promotion of responsible research practices.

(13) All staff, adjunct, visiting, emeritus and conjoint academic appointees and HDR candidates undertaking research at the University must consult the Code, be aware of the principles and their responsibilities in the Code and conduct their research in accordance with those principles.

Responsibilities of the Institution

(14) The University endorses the responsibilities of institutions as set out in the Code, namely, to:

  1. establish and maintain good governance and management practices for responsible research conduct;
  2. identify and comply with relevant laws, regulations, guidelines and policies relating to the conduct of research;
  3. develop and maintain a current and readily available suite of policies and procedures which ensure that institutional practices are consistent with the principles and responsibilities of the Code;
  4. provide ongoing training and education that promotes and supports responsible research conduct for all researchers and those in other relevant roles;
  5. ensure supervisors of research trainees have the appropriate skills, qualifications and resources;
  6. identify and train Research Integrity Advisors who assist in promoting and fostering responsible research conduct and provide advice to those with concerns about potential breaches of the Code;
  7. support the responsible dissemination of research findings and, where necessary, take action to correct the record in a timely manner;
  8. provide access to facilities for safely and securely storing and managing research data, records and primary materials and, where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference;
  9. facilitate the prevention and detection of potential breaches of the Code;
  10. provide mechanisms to receive concerns or complaints about potential breaches of the Code and to investigate and resolve these complaints;
  11. ensure that the process for managing and investigating concerns or complaints about potential breaches of the Code is timely, effective and in accord with procedural fairness;
  12. support the welfare of all parties involved in an investigation of a potential breach of the Code and
  13. base findings of investigations on the balance of probabilities and ensure any actions are commensurate with the seriousness of the breach.

Responsibilities of Researchers

(15) The University endorses the responsibilities of researchers as set out in the Code, namely, to:

  1. support a culture of responsible research conduct at their institution and in their field of practice;
  2. provide guidance and mentorship on responsible research conduct to other researchers or research trainees under their supervision and, where appropriate, monitor their conduct;
  3. undertake and promote education and training in responsible research conduct;
  4. comply with the relevant laws, regulations, disciplinary standards, ethics guidelines and institutional policies related to responsible research conduct;
  5. ensure that appropriate approvals are obtained prior to the commencement of research, and that conditions of any approvals are adhered to during the course of research;
  6. ensure that the ethics principles of research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect are applied to human research;
  7. engage with First Nations peoples and respect their local laws, customs and protocols;
  8. ensure that the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are considered at all stages of research involving animals and minimise the impacts on animals used in research and in so doing support the welfare and wellbeing of these animals;
  9. adopt methods appropriate to the aims of the research and ensure that conclusions are justified by the results;
  10. retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials, and where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these records by interested parties;
  11. disseminate research findings responsibly, accurately and broadly and, where necessary, take action to correct the record in a timely manner;
  12. disclose and manage actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest;
  13. ensure that authors of research outputs are all those, and only those, who have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution to the research and its output, and that they agree to be listed as an author;
  14. acknowledge those who have contributed to the research;
  15. cite and acknowledge other relevant work appropriately and accurately;
  16. participate in peer review in a way that is fair, rigorous and timely and maintains the confidentiality of the content; and
  17. report suspected breaches of the Code to the relevant institution and/or authority.

Menzies School of Health Research

(16) Under the terms of the agreement between CDU and Menzies, the Menzies School of Health Research is responsible for developing and enacting its own research and research ethics governance documents. In general, staff at Menzies do not fall under this policy or other CDU research governance documents.

(17) This Policy applies Menzies staff when they are carrying out research specifically under the auspices of CDU. This Policy and related policies and procedures also apply to HDR candidates enrolled at CDU who are supervised by Menzies staff.

(18) In circumstances where this Policy and related policies and procedures apply, the Director Menzies is considered the equivalent to the Dean of a college and is included in the collective definition of a “head of a college or institute.”

Allegations of Breaches of the Code

(19) Allegations of breaches of the Code will be dealt with in accordance with the Responsible Conduct of Research Procedures.

(20) Where an allegation of misconduct relates to a Higher Degree Researcher who is also a staff member, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Research and Innovation will determine which procedures apply with reference to the context in which the alleged breach occurred.

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Section 5 - Definitions

(21) Definitions of key terms can be found in the CDU Glossary.

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Section 6 - Non-compliance

(22) Non-compliance with Governance Documents is considered a breach of the Code of Conduct - Staff or Code of Conduct - Students, as applicable,and is treated seriously by the University. Reports of concerns about non-compliance will be managed in accordance with the applicable disciplinary procedures.

(23) All staff members have an individual responsibility to raise any suspicion, allegation or report of fraud or corruption in accordance with the Fraud and Corruption Control Governance Framework, Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and Whistleblower Reporting (Improper Conduct) Procedure.