Clearing 2021
Governance and strategy

Research integrity

Scientist looking at a glass slide

Details of the University's most recent Research Integrity statement and report are outlined below.

University of Essex
Research Integrity Statement
November 2020

  1. The mission of the University is one of excellence in education and research, for the benefit of individuals and communities.  Our aim is to produce new knowledge from research that is open and conducted with integrity, carried out by researchers who are ambitious creative and collaborative.
  2. The University is committed to undertaking high quality research in an environment of high standards of research integrity, governance and good practice.  We seek to operate an open research environment, enabling access to, and sharing and replication of our research.
  3. The purpose of the University’s research governance is to ensure that all research, undertaken by staff, students or any others acting on behalf of or under the aegis of the University, is carried out to the highest standards and that all researchers uphold the principles set out in the 2019 Concordat to Support Research Integrity:
    • Upholding the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research.
    • Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
    • Supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers.
    • Using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise.
    • Working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly.
  4. As part of the University's commitment to this Concordat, the University produces an Annual Research Integrity Report to Senate and Council, which is also made public.
  5. Overall responsibility for maintaining the highest standards of research integrity at the University rests with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Chris Greer, chris.greer@essex.ac.uk.
  6. Our Code of Good Research Practice (.pdf) provides a framework for the highest standards of personal conduct in research. These minimum standards are applicable to all researchers and those who support research in addition to their professional or funding body requirements and legislation.  The Code also includes commitments that the University will:
    1. Maintain a research environment that develops good research practice and embeds a culture of research integrity, enabling researchers to act according to the expected standards, values and behaviours.
    2. Provide training on research ethics and research integrity with suitable learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers’ skills throughout their careers.
    3. Seek to ensure sustainability of its research, be that economic, environmental, academic, human, animal, physical or digital.
    4. Publish an annual statement on research integrity.
    5. Periodically review research practice and culture to ensure that practice remains fit for purpose.

 

University of Essex
Research Integrity Annual Report
November 2020

A. Actions and Activities Related to Research Integrity

  1. The University has updated the University’s Code of Good Research Practice and Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research to ensure these policies reflect current best practice and the requirements of The Concordat for Research Integrity.  This involved a University-wide consultation and feedback was incorporated.
  2. The format of the Research Integrity Annual Report has been revised to provide increased transparency in relation to research integrity.
  3. The University has subscribed to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) to access the support provided by the UKRIO and to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of integrity in research.
  4. The University has developed and implemented an online Ethics Review Application and Management System (ERAMS) which has improved transparency of the review process, reduced burden, improved efficiency and created an institutional archive of applications and approvals.
  5. During the last year research integrity and research ethics training was provided to doctoral students and ECRs as part of the NEWCOMERS programme of training events.  The University is currently trialling the use of online research ethics training which is available to all staff and students in addition to the support ordinarily provided.
  6. All staff are now required to undertake University essential training modules which include: equality and diversity essentials; financial regulation essentials; health and safety essentials; information security essentials; safeguarding essentials.  There are also essential training modules for specific roles and for reporting managers.  As an example, the information security essentials module focuses on the requirements of data protection legislation and what this means for employees in their job. It sets out specific roles and responsibilities for all individuals involved in the creation, supply and use of data and information.  The essential training modules will support staff in fulfilling their responsibilities in relation to the Concordat for Research Integrity.
  7. The University hosted a Wellcome Trust town hall event on research culture in February 2020.
  8. In the forthcoming training will be rolled-out as part of the University’s Researcher Development Framework which aims to engage researchers throughout their career, enhance research and improve the research environment.

B. Handling of Allegations of Research Misconduct

  1. The University has in place a Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research (.pdf).  The Procedure is based on the guidance produced by the UK Research Integrity Office.  The Procedure has been reviewed and updated during 2019/20.
  2. The Named Person for allegations of research misconduct is the Registrar and Secretary (misconduct@essex.ac.uk).  Advice in relation to research policies, integrity and research misconduct is available from the Research Governance and Planning Manager (sarahm@essex.ac.uk).
  3. The University commits to engage constructively with other relevant organisations in their investigation of an allegation of research misconduct, and to alert other relevant organisations to potential cases of research misconduct of which it becomes aware.

C. Formal Investigations of Allegations of Research Misconduct

  1. During the year, four allegations of research misconduct were received.  Their progress is shown in the table below.
    Status of allegation 19/20
    Currently under initial consideration 0
    Referred to a different policy / process after initial consideration 0
    Dismissed as not being research misconduct 0
    Currently under Preliminary Investigation 0
    Addressed through education and training after the Preliminary Investigation 1
    Referred to a different policy / process after the Preliminary Investigation 0
    Dismissed after the Preliminary Investigation 2
    Currently under Formal Investigation 1
    Completed the Formal Investigation 0
  2. No formal investigations were completed in 2019/20, with none upheld in full or in part.  The tables below provide data for this year and the preceding two years.

    Number of formal investigations completed

    Type 17/18 18/19 19/20
    Fabrication 0 0 0
    Falsification 0 0 0
    Plagiarism 2 1 0
    Misrepresentation 0 1 0
    Breach of duty of care 1 0 0
    Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct 0 0 0
    Other (specific below) 0 0 0
    Details of any allegations upheld in part 0 0 0
    Total 3 2 0

    Per academic year - 1 August to 31 July.

    Number of allegations upheld - in full or in part

    Type of investigation 17/18 18/19 19/20
    Fabrication 0 0 0
    Falsification 0 0 0
    Plagiarism 1 1 0
    Misrepresentation 0 1 0
    Breach of duty of care 1 0 0
    Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct 0 0 0
    Other (specific below) 0 0 0
    Details of any allegations upheld in part 0 0 0
    Total 2 2 0

    Per academic year - 1 August to 31 July.

D. Lessons from Formal Investigations of Allegations of Research Misconduct

  1. The University seeks to learn from any and all parts of the process for handling allegations of misconduct.  We also, where relevant, draw on public information of the experience of other institutions and on activities or events where research integrity is discussed, such as the World Congress on Research Integrity.
  2. Over the past year lessons learnt from formal investigations have resulted in improved tracking of final reports, reporting of adverse events and governance control of activities undertaken with Health Research Authority and NHS Research Ethics Committee approval. 
  3. The updated Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research will ensure appropriate communication between relevant parts of the University when allegations of research misconduct are received and investigated.

E. Environment to Support Good Research Practice and for Reporting of Allegations of Research Misconduct

  1. The research at the University takes place in the context of its academic structure of Faculties, Departments, Institutes and Centres.  The governance of the research uses this structure along with that of the formal committee structure, in particular the Research Committee and the Ethics Committee, reporting to Senate and Council.
  2. The Code of Good Research Practice provides a framework for the highest standards of personal conduct in research. These minimum standards are applicable to all researchers and those who support research in addition to their professional or funding body requirements and legislation.
  3. The University’s policies and guidance relevant to research, its governance and its integrity are available from the Research Governance web page.  University policies applicable to wider matters of institutional governance are available from the Governance web page.  The key policies and guidance, and the date of issue / adoption of the current version are:
  4. Staff and research students are made aware of these policies and relevant processes when they join the University as part of their induction, and updates are communicated through Faculty Deputy Deans for Research and Departmental Directors of Research, as well as through general communication mechanisms, where relevant.  Specific aspects of research governance, good practice or other requirements are highlighted on a project-by-project basis as needed, so that they can be actively addressed in the research design or delivery, as appropriate.
  5. As already noted, the University has a Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research, with a senior member of staff being responsible for the Procedure.  This serves to ensure institutional attention and that relevant actions can be taken.  The Procedure provides some flexibility in the way in which an allegation might initially be raised, in order to allow staff, researchers, students and others to feel comfortable in reporting potential instances of misconduct.  Whilst providing this flexibility, the Procedure requires a full written statement of the allegation to be received by the senior member of staff in order to ensure that the process is transparent, timely, robust and fair.
  6. The environment for research is created and sustained by the culture and behaviours of our researchers, those who support them, and the wider institution.  Whilst seeking excellence and applicability in what we do we are also conscious of the need to enable and encourage good practice in research, as embodied in the Code of Good Research Practice.  We seek to ensure that our research vision, strategy, operational plans, resource deployment and performance monitoring all take account of our commitment to research integrity and do not introduce inappropriate or perverse incentives.
Get in touch
Sarah Manning-Press Research Governance and Planning Manager
Research and Enterprise Office