How concerns are addressed
Find out how the University addresses concerns about research integrity
Concerns about research integrity are addressed by the University according to the framework provided by the 2007 Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (‘the Australian Code’). Concerns about research integrity will be addressed by the University according to the new 2018 version of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research from 1 July 2019. These matters can be complicated and the response they require will vary depending on the nature of the issue raised.
The following principles are followed to ensure that the process of addressing concerns about research integrity are fair. Concerns raised to the University of Melbourne are addressed in a manner consistent with these principles:
- Procedural fairness (also referred to as ‘natural justice’) applies to this process, requiring that:
- All parties know the allegations made and be allowed adequate opportunity to present their case;
- Decision-makers be as free from bias and conflicts of interest as possible;
- The decision be based on logically probative evidence
- Complainants should be protected from retaliatory actions
- Only one investigation should be conducted
- Transparent and timely procedures are followed when addressing concerns
- The determination from this process is an academic, not legal, judgement
- Step 1
Receipt of concern, complaint or allegation
Concerns, complaints or allegations may be made through various sources, including members of the public, funding bodies, and individuals including those who have sought advice from a Research Integrity Advisor (RIA). While concerns, complaints or allegations may be received in various forms, they should in all cases be directed to the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity (OREI).
On receipt of a concern, complaint or allegation, OREI will establish whether the University has jurisdiction or authority to act upon the issue. OREI will also coordinate any urgent action that is required. Urgent action may, for example, be required in order to preserve evidence or to protect human participants or animal welfare.
This process is expected to take 14 days from the receipt of a complaint.
- Step 2
Preparing for a preliminary assessment
Where the University has jurisdiction and authority to act, OREI will arrange for a preliminary assessment of the matter by the Designated Person nominated in accordance with the Australian Code. Essentially, OREI will prepare and gather material that will enable the Designated Person to conduct a Preliminary Assessment of the matter.
- Step 3
The Preliminary Assessment is conducted by the Designated Person in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).
This stage of the process essentially asks whether the concern, complaint or allegation, if proven to be true, would amount to research misconduct or a breach of relevant policy or standards for conducting research.
The Preliminary Assessment process is expected to be completed in 60 days from the receipt of a concern, complaint, or allegation.
- Step 4
Research misconduct investigation
One possible outcome from Preliminary Assessment may be to initiate a research misconduct investigation. Research misconduct investigations are expected to be completed in 7 months from the date of the decision to begin the investigation.
Research misconduct investigations are typically managed by the Director of OREI and conducted by an Investigation Panel who will be appointed to make an academic judgement on whether or not research misconduct has occurred. This judgement is made ‘on the balance of probabilities’ as the relevant standard of proof and in light of evidence available to them. Typically an Investigation Panel will be made up of at least one experienced academic from a relevant field.
- Step 5
The Investigation Panel will prepare a report for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) outlining whether in their academic opinion, research misconduct has occurred and advising of any corrective actions that may be required.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may choose to accept and action these findings and recommendations. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may also choose to reject these findings and recommendations.
Pending any appeal, a final determination is then made. Relevant parties will be notified of this and action pursued (for example, to correct the public record).