The University of Newcastle is committed to the responsible and ethical conduct of research.
Our research integrity team helps ensure researchers understand their responsibilities and carry out their work in line with best-practice codes, state and federal legislation, and University policies and guidelines.
Policies, procedures and codes
The University of Newcastle has an obligation to adhere to a number of codes relating to research.
Research codes are jointly developed by major funding bodies such as the 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 receiving funding from these and other entities.
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.
The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (updated 2018) 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
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.
Anyone involved in research at the University of Newcastle must be aware of and comply with a range of research-related policies, procedures and guidelines.
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.
Authorship of a research publication is an acknowledgement of a substantial contribution made by a researcher.
As detailed in Authorship: A guide supporting the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, authorship must be based on a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution that comprises as a minimum at least one and preferably a combination of two or more of the following:
- conception and design of the project or output;
- acquisition of research data where the acquisition has required significant intellectual judgement, planning, design, or input;
- contribution of knowledge, where justified, including Indigenous knowledge;
- analysis or interpretation of research data;
- drafting significant parts of the research output or critically revising it so as to contribute to its interpretation.
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 Research Authorship Procedure 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 (2018) 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 Procedure outlines minimum retention periods, storage, access, ownership and confidentiality requirements.
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 (2018) .
Deviations from the Australian Code are described as breaches, which occur on a spectrum from minor to major. The University's Research Breach Investigation Procedure applies to academic, teaching and professional staff and honorary appointees, where the matter does not relate to higher degree research candidature. The Procedure outlines a framework for the resolution of allegations, including preliminary assessment and investigative processes.
The managing concerns about research page has further information about research breaches.
Peer review is the impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field and should be encouraged.
- 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 (2018), such as double publication, errors and misleading statements, and has been important in the detection of fabrication and fraud in research.
The University's Research Peer Review Guideline for Ethics Applications outlines how scientific merit of a research proposal is determined 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.
The University of Newcastle undertakes a range of biomedical and biological research, some of which may involve animals.
We are firmly committed to the ethical treatment of animals in our care. We also have an obligation to ensure approved studies have merit and are conducted with integrity and scientific rigour.
The university’s Animal Research Policy reflects the requirement outlined in the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes 8th edition (2013) and other relevant state and federal legislation.
The University of Newcastle Code of Conduct applies to students, staff, conjoints, volunteers, University Council members and members of University committees – all of whom are to expect adhere to the values of the Code and comply with the Code in their studies, the performance of their duties and in their endeavours.
Partners, contractors and visitors are to acknowledge and observe the Code in their University dealings.