Research Advantage

Overview


The University of Newcastle has an obligation to adhere to a number of codes relating to research.


In most cases these codes are developed by funding bodies, such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) in conjunction with other parties, including Universities Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

Compliance with these Codes is a prerequisite for receipt of funding from these and other bodies.

Codes

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) guides institutions and researchers in responsible research practices and promotes integrity in research.

Developed jointly by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council and Universities Australia, the Australian Code has broad relevance across all research disciplines.

It replaces the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice (1997).

The Australian Code is under review during 2017.

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) is designed to clarify the responsibilities of institutions and researchers for the ethical design, conduct and dissemination of results of human research.

The National Statement contains the following values, which must be reflected in the design, review and conduct of ethical research:

  • Research merit and integrity
  • Justice
  • Beneficence
  • Respect

The purpose of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition (2013) is to ensure the ethical and humane care and use of animals used for scientific purposes as defined in the Code.

The principles set out in the Code are for the guidance of investigators, teachers, institutions, Animal Ethics Committees and all people involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.


University Policies, Procedures and Guidelines relating to research

Key research related documents are listed below.

A full list of University policies, procedures and guidelines can be accessed through the University of Newcastle Policy Library.

The ARC describes Intellectual Property (IP) as intangible property that attracts rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields. Property protected includes:

  • Literary, artistic and scientific works
  • Performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts
  • Inventions in all fields of human endeavour
  • Scientific discoveries
  • Industrial designs
  • Trade marks, service marks and commercial names and designations
  • Protection against unfair competition.

The University of Newcastle has an Intellectual Property Policy and an Intellectual Property Procedure to provide guidance on its IP position.

Authorship of a research publication is an acknowledgement of a substantial contribution made by a researcher.

The attribution of authorship must be based on a substantial scholarly contribution in a combination of:

  • conception and design of the project;
  • analysis and interpretation of research data; and
  • drafting significant parts of the work or critically revising it so as to contribute to the interpretation.

The right to authorship is not tied to position or profession and it is not enough to have provided materials or routine technical support, or to have made the measurements on which the publication is based as substantial intellectual involvement is required.

Those who qualify must not be included as an author without their permission which should be in writing, and include a brief description of their contribution to the work. Those who qualify as an author must not be excluded without their permission.

The University of Newcastle’s Authorship of Research Guideline details the criteria for authorship and protocols for acknowledging other contributions to a research output. The Guideline also includes a Statement of Authorship & Location of Data Form to enable contributions to a publication to be described and the location of the data underpinning a publication to be recorded.

The dissemination of research findings occurs through the formal publication of results, usually through academic journals or books.

However this section of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) applies to all forms of dissemination including non-refereed publications such as web pages, and other media such as exhibitions or films, as well as professional and institutional repositories.

Dissemination of research findings is an important part of the research process, passing on the benefits to other researchers, professional practitioners and the wider community.

Research can be expensive and often cannot be undertaken without the support of commercial sponsors, who may seek to benefit through commercial exploitation of the research outcomes. In such cases, sponsors may benefit from delaying or otherwise restricting the release of research results.

Researchers have a responsibility to disseminate a full account of their research as broadly as possible.  The account should be accurate, complete, and properly reported including negative findings and results contrary to their hypotheses where applicable.

A publication must include information on all sources of financial and in-kind support for the research and any potential conflicts of interest. Researchers are required to acknowledge the host institution and funding sources of the research. The information provided must be in accordance with the requirements of funding bodies (e.g. the inclusion of an NHMRC Grant Identification Number).

Researchers must register clinical trials with a recognised register to promote access to information about all clinical trials.

The University of Newcastle’s Research Publication Responsibility Guideline encourages researchers to communicate their research findings in the public arena and provides specific advice in relation to publicly communicating research findings.

The responsible conduct of research includes the proper management and retention of research data and materials. Researchers must decide which data and materials should be retained, although in some cases this is determined by law, funding agencies, publishers or discipline convention. The central aim is that sufficient materials and data are retained to justify the outcomes of research and to defend them if they are challenged.

The minimum recommended period for the retention of research data is 5 years from the date of publication.

However, in any particular case, the period for which data should be retained should be determined by the specific type of research (e.g. 15 years for clinical trials, permanent retention for gene therapy). Access to, and sharing of, research data must be consistent with applicable ethical, privacy and confidentiality requirements.

The University of Newcastle's Research Data and Materials Management Guideline outlines minimum retention periods, storage, access, ownership and confidentiality requirements. The Guideline also nominates OwnCloud and Cre8it as the University’s preferred research data storage solutions.

The University is obliged to ensure that research data is stored for the minimum retention period, which is facilitated by researchers moving data underpinning a publication from OwnCloud to Cre8it to enable research data to be stored for the applicable period.

The University of Newcastle’s requirements in relation to the conduct of research are outlined in the Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, which is informed by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) .

In addressing allegations of deviations from the Code, it is important to distinguish between minor issues and more serious matters.  A minor deviation from the Code is typically described as a breach. Repeated or continuing breaches of the Code may also constitute research misconduct, especially where such matters have been the subject of previous counselling or specific direction.

Research misconduct describes more serious or deliberate deviations from the Code and 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.

The University's Investigation of Allegations of Research Misconduct Guidelines apply to academic, teaching and professional staff and those with an honorary academic title where a matter does not relate to their higher degree research candidature. The Guidelines outline a framework for the resolution of formal allegations. This includes a single entry point for allegations, a description of the preliminary assessment, and internal and external investigative processes.

Peer review is the impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field and should be encouraged.

Peer review:

  • provides expert scrutiny of a project,
  • helps to maintain high standards, and
  • encourages accurate, thorough and credible research reporting.

Peer review may also draw attention to deviations from the principles of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007), such as double publication, errors and misleading statements, and has been important in the detection of fabrication and fraud in research.

The University of Newcastle has a Peer Review of Research Proposals Submitted for Ethics Approval Procedure. This procedure outlines the practice of determining that the scientific merit of a proposal is sound prior to consideration by the University’s human ethics or animal ethics committee.

This process has been recognised externally as best practice and allows the ethics committees to focus on ethical considerations, as the methodology has been reviewed by an expert in the field.