Research integrity complaint process

The University takes concerns about research integrity very seriously. When a researcher does not act with research integrity, they are considered to have breached the principles of the Code. Breaches of the Code occur on a spectrum, from minor (less serious) to major (more serious, including intentional or reckless or negligent behaviour):

Minor breaches of the Code may often be resolved through discussion, additional training or mentorship, and/or management by a person in a supervisory capacity for resolution in the local level. For example, an issue involving authorship could be managed by the Authorship Dispute Procedure, or a potential breach related to Ethics could be managed in partnership with the ANU Ethics Team.

More severe or repeated breaches by an ANU researcher should be addressed and managed in line with the Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and the Research Misconduct and Serious Research Misconduct Procedure by completed the Research Misconduct Complaint form and submit to the Designated Person for receiving research integrity complaints, Professor Ann Evans.

At the ANU significant or repeated breaches of the Code are defined as research misconduct or serious research misconduct. Honest errors or honest differences in interpretation or judgements of data are not considered to be misconduct.

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.

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.

Concerns regarding breaches by an ANU research student (including HDR candidates) should be directed to Academic integrity, as they should be addressed and managed in line with the ANU Academic Integrity Rule 2021.

If you are unsure of the severity of a potential breach, or the most appropriate action to take, you may wish to:

  • seek impartial and confidential advice from a Research Integrity Advisor
  • seek impartial and confidential advice from the Research Integrity team or the ANU Ethics team
  • if you feel comfortable doing so, refer the matter directly to the person against whom the complaint would be made. Discussion may resolve the concerns.

Making a formal complaint

​The ANU is only able to investigate matters where an ANU researcher is alleged to have breached the Code (i.e. the respondent). It is unable to investigate matters that occurred when the respondent held a position at another institution. 

In order to ensure due diligence and procedural fairness, research integrity reviews and investigations may take some time. To assist in a timely outcome, please provide a clear complaint supported by evidence. The research integrity office will provide regular progress updates. You may make an anonymous complaint, but be aware that this may limit the options available to the University in fully investigating the matter.

Complaints and investigation are confidential. It is critical to the integrity of the investigation that matters relating to an active investigation remain confidential, as failure to do so may hinder the investigation and cause significant distress to participants. This does not include discussing the matter with a support person or any professional person who is bound to maintain confidentiality.

Formal complaints against an ANU research student (including HDR candidates:

Submit to Academic integrity, to be managed in line with the ANU Academic Integrity Rule 2021.

Formal complaints against ANU research staff (including Visiting or Honorary Researchers):

Submit a research misconduct complaint form to the Designated Person, to be managed under the ANU Research Misconduct and Serious Research Misconduct Procedure. Further guidance information on making a research misconduct complaint is available here.

Research integrity complaints can be stressful for all parties involved. While an investigation is underway you may wish to confidentially discuss the matter with a mentor, and/or seek support from ANU Wellbeing (Staff) or the Dean of Students/ANU Counselling (HDR researchers).

The research integrity office is here to assist staff with this process.  Please contact us with any questions.

Research Integrity investigation process

Each complaint received goes through the following stages:

Stage 1: A confidential initial review of the matter is conducted to establish the nature and the severity of the alleged breaches of the Code, and whether these are severe enough to be considered research misconduct under the ANU Procedure. The review may include:

  • a review of the complaint by a Subject Matter Expert, in order to establish whether the conduct that is the subject of the complaint diverges significantly from established disciplinary practice;
  • further evidence from the complainant;
  • a response from the respondent;
  • input from other experts as required.

Stage 2: The Designated Person (DP) will consider all the evidence available to determine whether the complaint should progress to a Research Misconduct Assessor (RMA) for consideration of research misconduct, or if the matter would be more appropriately addressed under other University policies (for example, Authorship disputes should be addressed under the Authorship Procedure in the first instance, and minor ethics issues may be addressed by the relevant Research Ethics Committee).

Stage 3: Referral to a Research Misconduct Assessor Where the DP determines that the complaint should progress to a Research Misconduct Assessor (RMA), the RMA considers if, on the material available:

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

Stage 4: The DP will consider the evidence available, the advice of the Subject Matter Expert, the respondent's reply to the allegations and the RMA's report to either make a finding of research misconduct or serious research misconduct, or to dismiss the allegation of research misconduct.

Stage 5: Research Integrity Committee Most research integrity issues are resolved during Stages 1-4. If the research misconduct is particularly egregious or repeated it may be considered to be serious research misconduct. In such cases the matter may be referred to a Research Integrity Committee.

A high-level process chart of the research misconduct investigation process is available here.

 

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