74. Managing research misconduct and serious research misconduct

Definitions

74.1. Research misconduct means significant behaviour that improperly appropriates the intellectual property or contributions of others, that intentionally impedes the progress of research, or that risks corrupting the research record or compromising the integrity of research practices, including such behaviours that are unethical and unacceptable in proposing, conducting or reporting research, or in reviewing the proposals or research reports of others.

74.2. Serious research misconduct means the recurrence or continuation of conduct, which has previously been found to be research misconduct on the part of the staff member; a failure to follow research protocols approved by research ethics committees or statutory licence conditions, where that failure has resulted in an unreasonable risk or actual harm to humans, animals or the environment or the University; deliberately publishing false research results that become part of the public record; conduct that is alleged to be research misconduct but where the consequences of the alleged breach result in serious harm to the University, or other staff, students or visitors, and the conduct is characterised by a reckless and wilful disregard for the consequences of the alleged conduct.

74.3. Disciplinary action for research misconduct and serious research misconduct means:

  1. formal counselling of a staff member by an appropriate supervisor;
  2. giving a staff member a written warning (including, where appropriate, a final warning);
  3. withholding an increment;
  4. demotion from an increment point within a grade;
  5. demotion of a staff member;
  6. termination of a staff member’s employment (in the case serious research misconduct).

74.4. Research Misconduct Assessor means a senior researcher appointed by the University to assess whether allegations may be research misconduct.

74.5. Designated Person means a nominated delegate appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to receive complaints and allegations of research misconduct and carry out other duties as specified in this clause (clause 74).

    Suspension

    74.6. Suspension with pay:  The University may suspend a staff member with pay at any time during a process for managing research misconduct or serious research misconduct.

    74.7. Suspension without pay: The University may suspend without pay a staff member who is the subject of managing serious research misconduct if the alleged misconduct is an imminent and/or serious risk to the health or safety of any person or a serious risk to the University.

    74.8. A staff member who is suspended without pay may use their accrued annual leave or long service leave entitlements.

    74.9. Salary withheld and other entitlements used during a period of suspension will be reimbursed if it is ultimately determined that the allegation is dismissed.

    74.10. A staff member who is suspended must not attend the grounds of the University without prior approval from the Chief People Officer.  The Chief People Officer may, on application by the staff member, permit the staff member to attend or have access to specific University property or systems for specified purposes. for approved purposes.

      Disciplinary procedures

      74.11. Notwithstanding clause 58.4 of the Agreement, a staff member and/or the supervisor may seek assistance from, or be represented by a union or staff representative of their choice.

      74.12. All decisions to discipline or terminate the employment of a staff member must be in accordance with this Agreement and before any decision is made to discipline a staff member for research misconduct or serious research misconduct the University must ensure that the steps in clauses below have been complied with.

      74.13. Procedural fairness and natural justice will apply. Those involved in any disciplinary action or grievance process have a duty that any decision not be affected by favouritism, bias or conflict of interest and they must act fairly and impartially.

      74.14. In relation to allegations of research misconduct or serious research misconduct, before action is taken under this Agreement, any allegation will be referred to the Designated Person. The Designated Person will refer the allegation to one of the Research Misconduct Assessors to determine:

      74.15. If both 74.14 (a) and (b) above are not satisfied the allegations are either dismissed or referred to another relevant process (for example - as misconduct or serious misconduct), the staff member who is the subject of the allegations will be informed accordingly.

      74.16. If 74.14 (a) and (b) are satisfied the Research Misconduct Assessor refers the allegations back to the Designated Person who will decide whether the allegations will be pursued according to the provisions of this Agreement as allegations of research misconduct or serious research misconduct.

      74.17. The University through the supervisor, and the staff member, must make every effort to resolve instances of possible research misconduct, through guidance, counselling and appropriate staff development, or appropriate work allocation before a possible report to the Chief People Officer.

      1. whether the conduct that it is central to the substance of the allegations, if proven, would amount to research misconduct; and
      2. whether a prima facie case of research misconduct exists.

      Research misconduct

      74.18. Where an allegation of research misconduct is made, the Designated Person will report the allegations to the Chief People Officer at the time the allegation is considered by the Research Misconduct Assessor pursuant to clause 74.1.

      74.19. If the Research Misconduct Assessor determines that a prima facie case of research misconduct is established, the Designated Person will refer the allegations to the staff member’s supervisor to be dealt with according to the procedures for handling allegations of misconduct.

      74.20. If the Research Misconduct Assessor determines that the allegations are not properly characterised as research misconduct, the Designated Person will refer the allegations back to the staff member’s supervisor for consideration as to whether the allegations could be misconduct, serious misconduct or under performance.

        Serious research misconduct

        74.21. Where an allegation of serious research misconduct is made, the Designated Person will report the allegations to the Vice-Chancellor (or delegate) at the time the allegation is considered by the Research Misconduct Assessor pursuant to clause 74.2.

        74.22. Following the report of the Research Misconduct Assessor, if there is sufficient information provided to substantiate the allegations without further investigation, charges of serious research misconduct will be formulated by the Designated Person and those charges will be referred to a Research Investigation Committee.

        74.23. If the Designated Person determines that further investigation is warranted the office holder will conduct enquiries (either personally or through an investigating officer) to gather relevant material. Once the Designated Person determines that sufficient investigations have been completed, or determines that reasonable efforts to gather information have been exhausted, the Designated Person either:

        1. dismisses the allegations;
        2. formulates charges of the alleged serious research misconduct; or
        3. where the conduct is considered more properly as potentially misconduct, research misconduct or serious misconduct refers the allegations and any material that has been gathered to the relevant officer for management under the relevant provisions of this Agreement.

        74.24. Subject to securing relevant evidence as above or where the safety of members of the University may be compromised, the staff member(s) who is the subject of the allegations of research misconduct will be informed that allegations have been made.

        74.25. Once the Designated Person determines that the allegations will be the subject of serious research misconduct charges, the staff member will be given an opportunity to respond. If the staff member admits the charges the matter will be referred to the Chief People Officer for appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with this Agreement. If the staff member disputes the charges, a Research Investigation Committee will be formed.

        74.26. The Vice-Chancellor (or delegate) shall appoint the Chair of the RIC having conferred with the NTEU and agreed on an acceptable chair. Normally the Chair of the Committee will not be an ANU staff member and will be experienced in conducting a research investigation, or in the conduct of tribunals of fact, and/or be a subject expert in relation to the matter under investigation. In the event that agreement on a Chair cannot be reached the matter may be referred to the Fair Work Commission for resolution under clause 77 (Dispute avoidance and settlement).

        74.27. The Committee shall include a suitably qualified nominee of the NTEU and a suitably qualified nominee of the Vice-Chancellor (or delegate). Prior to determining the specific composition of the Committee, the Vice-Chancellor (or delegate) shall confer with the NTEU to ensure that the Committee includes:

        1. at least one member with sufficient expertise and standing in a discipline relevant to the allegation of serious research misconduct (or in a cognate discipline) such that that member will be capable of understanding and assisting the other members of the Committee to understand any technical, research or scientific questions which may be in dispute; but who will be seen as clearly independent of any of the participants; and
        2. at least one member with expertise in investigating research conduct issues, either through their academic study or through the administration of research;
        3. no member who holds current employment or visitor appointments with the ANU; and
        4. no members who have any conflict of interest.

        74.28. In order to achieve the requirements of clause 74.27 (a) and (b) the Vice-Chancellor and the NTEU may agree that two additional members be added to the membership of the Committee (so there may be five members).

        74.29. The Committee will ensure that the rules of procedural fairness are followed, but otherwise will determine what additional procedures to follow in its inquiry and shall at all-times act in conformity with the procedures set out in clauses 75.14 and 75.15 (Review of decision). The Committee shall:

        1. allow union representation; and/or
        2. permit the staff member facing research misconduct charges to seek legal advice, however the staff member may not be represented by a legal practitioner;
        3. have power to gather evidence and have access, where required for the purposes of its inquiries to all areas of the University, including to staff and students;
        4. be provided with sufficient facilities and services; and
        5. have power to determine the allegations and decide if serious research misconduct has occurred.

        74.30. All processes and findings of a Committee are private unless:

        1. this Agreement or another law permits them to be public; or
        2. all persons involved in the inquiry have expressly or impliedly waived their right to privacy; and
        3. suitable legal protections (for example, against defamation proceedings) for persons involved in the Committee processes are obtained.

        74.31. The Committee may be assisted by one or more University officer (legally trained or otherwise) with the gathering of evidence, questioning of witnesses, obtaining of expert opinions and advice on procedural questions.

        74.32. Where a Committee has been established and is investigating charges of serious research misconduct, but determines that the conduct revealed by its investigations is more properly characterised as research misconduct, the Chair of the Committee will inform the Vice-Chancellor (or delegate) and cease further operations. The Vice-Chancellor will refer the matter to the staff member’s supervisor to take action as per clause 74.20.

        74.33. Notwithstanding these procedures, where the Vice-Chancellor and the NTEU agree that the allegations of research misconduct appear to involve action in concert between employees of more than one employer, the relevant CEOs of the employers and the NTEU may agree that a joint investigation and inquiry be held. The procedures for such a joint investigation and inquiry shall be agreed in writing, and where this occurs, those agreed procedures shall apply in substitution for the procedures otherwise set out in this Agreement.

        Disciplinary action: serious research misconduct

        74.34. Upon finding of serious research misconduct by the Research Investigation Committee, the Chief People Officer or the Vice-Chancellor’s nominee will then decide to:

        1. take no further action; or
        2. take proportionate disciplinary action, in which case the Chief People Officer or the Vice-Chancellor’s nominee shall set out the findings of the Research Investigation Committee in writing and/or provide to the staff member a statement as to what material has been considered; what acts or omissions or failings on the part of the staff member constitute serious research misconduct and any relevant conclusions upon which the findings are based.

        74.35. If a decision is made to terminate the staff member’s employment the staff member will be suspended without pay for ten working days in which time the staff member may make an application to have this decision reviewed in accordance with clause 75 (Review of decision).

        74.36. If the staff member fails to make an application for a review of this decision the employment will cease at close of business on the tenth day.

        74.37. If the staff member lodges an application to review this decision, the review process will proceed and the staff member will be suspended in accordance with clauses 75.9 to 75.10 until the review process is finalised.

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