RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES IN RESEARCH
Research and the pursuit of truth are vital University functions. The broad principles that guide research have long been established. Central to these are the maintenance of high ethical standards, and validity and accuracy in the collection and reporting of data. The responsibility of the research community to the public and to itself is acknowledged.
The processes of research protect the truth. Communication between collaborators; maintenance and reference to records; presentation and discussion of work at scholarly meetings; publication of results, including the important element of peer refereeing; and the possibility that investigations will be repeated or extended by other researchers all contribute to the intrinsically self-correcting nature of research.
Competition in research can have a strong and positive influence, enhancing the quality and immediacy of the work produced. However, competitive pressures can act to distort sound research practice, if they encourage, for example: too hasty preparation and submission of papers; the division of reports on substantial bodies of work into multiple small reports to enhance the 'publication count' of the author(s); and an undue emphasis on 'logical-next-step' research at the expense of more creative and more innovative lines of study.
Accordingly, the University has set out a code of conduct, which is to be seen as a framework for sound research procedures and for the protection of individual research workers from possible misunderstandings. This code appears as Section I of this document. Section II outlines the procedures, which should be used to deal with any allegations of misconduct in research against a staff member.
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE RESPONSIBLE PRACTICE OF RESEARCH
In this policy-
'Authorship' shall mean, participation in conceiving and/or interpreting at least that part of a research paper in a co-author’s field of expertise, sufficient for her/him to take public responsibility for it;
'Faculty' shall refer, to any research unit (Department, Centre, etc.) of the University;
'Research paper' shall mean, a product of research, that may be written, or recorded by some other means, and that may be published, delivered orally, or be in manuscript or other form.
2. General Ethical Considerations
a. It is basic assumption that the staff members of the University are committed to high standards of professional conduct. Assuming that all ethical standards are adhered to, research workers have a duty to bear in mind that their work reflects not only upon their good name but also upon the University and profession to which they belong.
b. Research workers should participate only in work which conforms to acceptable ethical standards and which they are competent to perform. When in doubt they should seek assistance with their research from their colleagues or peers. Debate on, and criticism of, research work are essential parts of the research process.
c. The University and research workers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all those associated with the research. It is also essential that the design of projections take into account of any relevant ethical guidelines.
d. If data of a confidential nature are obtained, for example from individual patient records or certain questionnaires, confidentiality must be observed and research workers must not use such information for their own personal advantage or that of a third party. In general, however, research results and methods should be open to scrutiny by colleagues within the University and, through appropriate publication, by the profession at large.
e. Secrecy may be necessary for a limited period in the case of contracted research.
f. In general conduct and in the conduct of research there should be no display of bias or prejudice towards other persons based upon their race, creed, gender, physical disabilities, or for any other reason. Members of the University shall afford staff, colleagues and students the same general courtesies that they would in everyday life.
3. Specific Matters
3.1 Retention of Data
a. Data shall be recorded in a durable and appropriately referenced form.
b. Sound research procedures entail the discussion of data and research methods with colleagues. Discussion may also occur well after the research is complete, often because of interest following publication. If at all possible, it is in the interests of all research workers to ensure that original data are safely held for periods of at least five years.
c. Wherever possible, a copy of the original data should be retained in the Faculty in which they were generated. Data obtained from limited access databases or in a contracted project may not be able to be deposited. In such cases, a written indication of the location of the original data or key information regarding the limited-access database from which it was extracted must be kept in the Faculty. Where relevant, this should be effected through completing the Statement of Authorship and Location of Data (see 3.2 (c), below).
d. Individual researchers should be able to hold copies of the data for their own use. Nevertheless, it should be understood that retention solely by the individual research worker provides little protection in the event of an allegation of falsification of data.
e. The Department shall retain the original data obtained by students, irrespective of their level, if at all possible. If these data result from an uncompleted thesis or graduate report so that a waiver does not cover them, then it is the responsibility of the Dean of the Faculty to oversee the safekeeping of such data. Others shall not use these data in publications for a period of three years without the permission of the student responsible for their collection.
3.2 Publication, Creative work and Authorship
a. The minimum requirements for authorship of a research paper are outlined in Clause 1. In addition, individual disciplines should draw up and strictly adhere to their own criteria for authorship.
b. Where there is more than one author of a research paper, one author (by prior agreement among the authors) should formally accept overall responsibility for the entire paper. (Such formal acceptance will be effected by the completion of a Statement of Authorship and Location of Data (see (c) below).
c. All authors of a research paper shall read the final paper and sign a Statement of Authorship and Location of Data, which indicates that each of them has met the minimum requirements for authorship, and who is the author taking overall responsibility for the paper. The Statement must include an indication that there are no other 'authors' of the paper, according to the definition. If, for any reason, one or more co-authors are unable to sign the statement, the Head of their Department may sign on their behalf, noting the reason for their unavailability. The Statement should accompany the work to the publishers and a copy should be retained in the Department of the author accepting overall responsibility.
d. 'Honorary authorship' is unacceptable.
'Honorary authorship' occurs when a person is listed as an author of a research paper when they have not participated in any substantial way in the conception, execution or interpretation of at least part of the work described in the publication.
e. Due recognition of all participants is a part of a proper research process. Authors shall ensure that the work of research students (including honours students and undergraduates involved in the research work), research assistants and technical officers is properly acknowledged.
f. Where possible, it would be wise for a paper submitted for publication to be read by a staff member outside the immediate group. This helps to ensure that the paper readily communicates its findings and major conclusions. It is, in any event, good practice to encourage discussion between members of different research groups.
g. Publication of multiple papers based on the same set(s) or sub-set(s) of data is improper unless there is full cross-referencing (for example, by reference to a preliminary publication at the time of publication of the complete work, which grew from it). Simultaneous submission to more than one journal or publisher of material based on the same set (s) or sub-set (s) of data should be disclosed at the time of submission. However, simultaneous submission should rarely be necessary.
3.3 The Role of Research Supervisors
a. Supervision of each research student/trainee (including honours, masters and doctoral students, and junior postdoctoral staff should be assigned to a specific, responsible and appropriately qualified senior research worker.
b. The ratio of trainees to supervisors should normally be small enough to ensure effective interaction as well as effective supervision of the research at all stages.
c. Research supervisors should advise each research student/trainee of applicable government and University guidelines for the conduct of research, including those covering ethical requirements for studies on human or animal subjects, and requirements for the use of potentially hazardous agents.
d. Research supervisors should be the primary source of guidance to research students/trainees in all matters of sound research practice.
e. As far as possible, research supervisors shall ensure that the work submitted by research students/trainees is their own and that, where there are data, they are valid.
f. Where possible, the Dean of the Faculty should be actively involved in some research supervision and observe the research activities of those for whom he or she is responsible. Professional relationships should be encouraged at all times. In particular, there should be wide discussion of the work of all individuals by their peers.
3.4 Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest
All university research workers shall adhere to this policy. In addition, however, they should recognise that disclosure of any potential conflict of interest is essential for the responsible conduct of research, and should therefore disclose, on a confidential basis-
- affiliations with,
- financial involvement in, or
- payments or other assistance in kind received from,
any person or organisation with a direct interest in any research subject matter other than that which would be consistent with the norms of such practices. Such an interest may involve benefits in kind such as the provision of materials or facilities for research, and support of individuals through provision of benefits (for example, travel and accommodation expenses to attend conferences).
Disclosures are intended to eliminate possible discredit of research workers. Any such disclosure should be made to: -
- the CENTRE FOR RESEARCH & POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMMES as represented by the PRESIDENT;
- the funding bodies who are sponsoring the research;
- the editors to whom any papers may be submitted.
3.5 Special Needs in Different Disciplines
In some disciplines there will be special areas, which require regulation, for example, animal and human experimentation and the handling of hazardous materials. The rules for these activities should form part of the general code of ethics for each discipline.
3.6 Responsibility for Implementation of Guidelines
It is the responsibility of the relevant Dean of the Faculty to ensure the implementation of these guidelines.
PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT IN RESEARCH
1. Misconduct and Serious Misconduct
The Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research aims to ensure a research environment that minimises the incidence of misconduct in research. However, it should be understood that a failure to adhere to responsible practices in research might amount to either misconduct or serious misconduct within the meaning of the SECTION 44 OF THE PERLEMBAGAAN UNIVERSITI TELEKOM, and shall be dealt with in accordance with its provisions as expressed in SECTION 46 (2).
Examples of either misconduct or serious misconduct in relation to research include-
a. The fabrication of data, claiming results where none has been obtained.
b. The falsification of data including changing records or preferentially rejecting results, for example because they do not support the research worker’s hypothesis.
c. Plagiarism, including the direct copying of textual material, the use of other people’s data without acknowledgement and the use of ideas from other people without adequate attribution.
d. Misleading ascription of authorship including the listing of authors without their permission and attributing work to others who have not in fact contributed to the research.
e. Infringements of the University’s published Code of Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research (Section I of this Document).
f. In relation to specific disciplines, for example in human and animal experimentation, departure from approved protocols.
2. Research Advisers
Each faculty should nominate one person, experienced in research, to the pool. To ensure an adequate balance of gender, expertise, levels of seniority and research orientations the President may nominate up to five additional persons to this group.
The Research Advisers are available to give advice to all researchers on what constitutes misconduct in research, the rights and responsibilities of any potential complainant and the procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct or serious misconduct within the University. Persons concerned with any potential complainant and the procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct or serious misconduct within the University. Persons concerned with any aspect of research conduct should seek advice from any such Research adviser prior to lodging any formal complaint. It is not envisaged that the Research Advisers will take any formal active part in any complaints investigation procedure.
The University ensures that the Research Advisers are indemnified against legal action whilst acting in that role.
The convenor of the Research Advisers is the President.