Policy Directory

RESEARCH MISCONDUCT POLICY

Date approved:

12 October 2007

Date Policy will take effect:

12 October 2007

Date of Next Review:

May 2016

Approved by:

University Council

Custodian title & e-mail address:

Director, Research Student Centre (RSC)
research_student_centre@uow.edu.au

Author:

Director, Research Student Centre

Responsible Faculty/

Division & Unit:

Research Student Centre, Research and Innovation Division (RAID)

Supporting documents, procedures & forms of this policy:

 

References & Legislation:

Code of Practice – Research
Code of Practice – Supervision

Academic Grievance Policy (Higher Degree Research Students)

Appeals Against a Higher Degree Research Thesis Examination Processes and Outcomes Policy
Student Conduct Rules

University of Wollongong (Academic Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2011

University of Wollongong (General Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2010

Unsatisfactory Performance Guidelines for General Staff

Public Interest Disclosures Act, 1994 (NSW)

Public Interest Disclosure Policy

NHMRC Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (7th Edition 2004)

NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans 1999

NHMRC Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (7th Edition 2004)

Gene Technology Act, 2000

Gene Technology Regulations, 2001 (Commonwealth)

Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research – December 2007

Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (NHMRC 2003)

Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 2002)

Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (NHMRC and Consumer’s Health Forum of Australian Inc., 2002

Audience:

Public – accessible to anyone

Expiry Date of Policy:

Not applicable

Contents

1 Purpose of Policy

  • 1. This Policy provides a clear and transparent process for dealing with alleged research misconduct and establishing inquiries to determine whether research misconduct has occurred.
  • 2. This Policy adheres to the guidelines provided by Universities Australia and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

2 Definitions

  • 1. Key terms used in this Policy are defined as follows:

    Word/Term

    Definition

    Breach

    Is as defined under section 6.2.

    Coursework

    All work undertaken as part of a non-research award course or non-award course, as well as any non-research components of a Higher Degree Research course. Coursework also includes research subjects undertaken by undergraduate honours and postgraduate coursework students.

    DoR

    Dean of Research of the University.

    DVC(R)

    Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University.

    Exclusion

    A penalty whereby a Student’s enrolment is terminated for a defined period. The Student must apply directly to the University for re-admission at the conclusion of the period of exclusion, should re-admission be sought.

    Expulsion

    A penalty whereby a Student’s enrolment is terminated permanently. An expelled Student shall not be re-admitted except by permission of the University Council.

    Natural Justice

    Principles that ensure that decision-making is fair and reasonable. These involve decision-makers informing people of the case against them, giving them a right to be heard, not having a personal interest in the outcome, and acting only on the basis of logically probative evidence.

    Officer

    A person appointed to a particular position of responsibility or authority at the University.

    Prima Facie Case

    A case that appears to be self-evident from the facts.

    Reprimand

    A formal, written rebuke by an Officer.

    Research

    Means:

          • creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications [1]
          • any activity classified as research which is characterised by originality; it should have investigation as a primary objective and should have the potential to produce results that are sufficiently general for humanity's stock of knowledge (theoretical and/or practical) to be recognisably increased. Most higher education research work would qualify as research
          • pure basic research, strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development.

          • ([1] from http://www.canberra.edu.au/research/dest-definition)

    Research Misconduct

    Is as defined in section 6.3.

    Research Student

    A HDR Student who undertakes or has undertaken Research at the University.

    Researcher

    A Staff Member, Research Student and/or Visitor who undertake or have undertaken Research at the University.

    Research Student Centre

    The University administrative division responsible for management of HDR Student functions including policy and governance relating to HDR Students.

    Rescission

    The act of invalidating the conferral of a degree, performed by the University Council.

    Student Conduct Committee

    A committee constituted under the Student Conduct Rules, the Procedure for Managing Alleged Academic Misconduct by a Student Undertaking Coursework and the Procedure for Managing Alleged General Misconduct by a Student

    Staff Member

    An employee of the University, whether full time, part time, fixed term or casual.

    Student

    A person registered for a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program of study at the University, namely a Masters-by-Research degree or a Doctoral degree.

    Visitors

    Persons who are conducting Research at the University or have previously conducted Research at the University but are not Students or Staff Members, including persons who are, or were at the time of conducting Research:

          • a. Visiting fellows;
          • b. Visiting students;
          • c. Visiting academics, honorary academics and/or honorary clinical academics (as defined under the Appointment of Visiting and Honorary Academics Policy); or
          • d. Volunteers.

    VC

    Vice-Chancellor of the University.

3 Application & Scope

  • 1. This Policy applies to all Researchers. This Policy should be read in conjunction with other related policies as listed under the References and Legislation section of this policy.
  • 2. Where a Research Student or Visitor is also a Staff Member or vice versa, this Policy will apply to the role most relevant to any alleged misconduct.
  • 3. This Policy does not apply to:
        • a. Alleged academic misconduct by a Student within a Coursework subject, which is to be dealt with in accordance with the Procedures for Managing Alleged Academic Misconduct by a Student Undertaking Coursework.
        • b. Alleged misconduct by a HDR Student enrolled in a Coursework subject as a requirement of a Postgraduate research degree, which is to be dealt with in accordance with the Procedures for Managing Alleged Academic Misconduct by a Student Undertaking Coursework.
        • c. Alleged misconduct by a Researcher that is wholly or substantially unconnected with the conduct of Research, which will be dealt with under the relevant University policies and/or processes for managing such misconduct.

4 Roles & Responsibilities

  • 1. The University has a responsibility to ensure that:
        • a. This Policy is accessible and communicated to all Researchers;
        • b. This Policy is implemented and applied consistently across all University faculties, units and campuses;
        • c. the University promotes best practice in managing research misconduct; and
        • d. the process for managing research misconduct allows for:
          • i. timeliness of response;
          • ii. fairness of consideration;
          • iii. respect for privacy; and
          • iv. keeping all parties informed of their rights and responsibilities in relation to alleged research misconduct.
  • 2. The University has an obligation to investigate allegations of research misconduct under the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and has the authority to do so under this Policy.
  • 3. Researchers have a responsibility to:
        • a. promote and observe responsible research practice, in support of a strong research culture at the University of Wollongong, and of the conduct of research that serves the interests of the community;
        • b. assist the University to maintain public confidence in research endeavours by conducting themselves in accordance with this Policy, the Code of Practice – Research, and all other relevant University rules, codes, policies, and procedures; and
        • c. identify and report suspected research misconduct.
  • 4. Specific roles and responsibilities of Officers involved in investigating alleged research misconduct are as detailed throughout this Policy.

5 Principles of Natural Justice

  • 1. Investigations of alleged Breach or Research Misconduct shall observe the principles of Natural Justice, including:
        • a. informing the Researcher of the processes being followed and providing that Researcher with copies of relevant rules, codes, policies, and procedures;
        • b. informing the Researcher of the nature of the allegation against him or her in writing, and allowing time for a response in accordance with the timeframes stipulated in this Policy;
        • c. providing the Researcher with the opportunity to state his or her case, provide an explanation and/or put forward a defence;
        • d. conducting a factual investigation of the allegation, interviewing relevant parties and considering all relevant information;
        • e. acting fairly, impartially and without bias by considering all relevant information and any mitigating factors;
        • f. providing findings in writing; and
        • g. providing a right of appeal.

6 Differences Between Breach and Research Misconduct

  • 1. Whether conduct is a Breach or Research Misconduct will depend on the conduct and consequences.
  • 2. A Breach is where:
        • a. there is a breach of:
          • i. the Code of Practice – Research; or
          • ii. Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and
        • b. the breach is
          • i. intentional or deliberate; or
          • ii. reckless, or
          • iii. involves negligence, or
          • iv. involves repeated mistakes (either by act or omission) over a period of time that, when taken together, are an unacceptable level of error for Research; and
        • c. the person allegedly breaching has no previous finding against them of Breach or Research Misconduct; and
        • d. the consequences arising from the breach are not sufficiently serious to meet the definition of Research Misconduct.
  • 3. Research Misconduct is where:
        • a. there is a Breach: and
        • b. there are serious consequences arising from the Breach, such as false information on the public record, or adverse effects on research participants, animals or the environment, or
        • c. there are Repeated or continuous Breaches; or
        • d. there is a further Breach by a person who has had a previous finding of Breach or Research Misconduct against them.
  • 4. Examples of conduct that may constitute Breach and/or Research Misconduct include but are not limited to:
        • a. Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, conducting or reporting Research, including but not limited to:
          • i. claiming results where none have been obtained;
          • ii. falsification of material, including changing records, falsifying data, or falsely claiming inventorship;
          • iii. direct copying of textual material, the use of other people’s data and/or ideas without acknowledgment;
          • iv. misleading ascription of authorship including the listing of authors without their permission, attributing work to anyone who has not contributed to the Research, and the lack of appropriate acknowledgment of work produced by others;
        • b. Avoidable failure to follow Research protocols;
        • c. Failure to conduct Research:
          • i. as approved by the University’s ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result in unreasonable risk to humans, animals or the environment; and/or
          • ii. to standards commonly accepted within the research community for proposing, conducting or reporting Research.
        • d. Conducting Research without required ethics approval;
        • e. Failure to declare or manage a conflict of interest;
        • f. The wilful concealment or facilitation of Research Misconduct by others.
  • 5. Breach and/or Research Misconduct under this Policy do not include genuine errors that are minor and/or unintentional, or differences in judgement in the management of Research.

7 Investigations of Allegations of Breach or Research Misconduct

  • 1. Investigations of alleged Breach or Research Misconduct shall be carried out under this Policy and in compliance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
  • 2. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and the Dean of Research (DoR) are the Vice-Chancellor’s delegates nominated to preside over research misconduct matters.
  • 3. Where allegations concern more than one person, these allegations will be considered separately for each person under the appropriate Policy or process.
  • 4. Where an allegation of Breach or Research Misconduct has been made against or involving a Research Student, any attempt to withdraw from University studies by that Research Student will not be valid until the conclusion of any investigation into that allegation.
  • 5. Where a Researcher is no longer at the University at the time an allegation of Breach or Research Misconduct is made against that Researcher, such as where:
        • a. the Research Student has graduated,
        • b. the Visitor has concluded his or her study, or
        • c. the Staff Member has left the University’s employment,

        the DoR may:

        • d. conduct a preliminary investigation to establish the facts, as remedial action may be required in relation to the research record or in respect of other persons affected by the Research, and
        • e. submit a report of that preliminary investigation to the DVC(R) on the status of the research which makes recommendations on any remedial action required, including recommendations on notification of:
          • i. external funding bodies,
          • ii. collaborators,
          • iii. journals,
          • iv. researchers,
          • v. registration bodies, or
          • vi. other relevant parties regarding the Research.

        The DVC(R) shall consider the report and may implement or cause to be implemented the recommendations in the report in whole or in part.

  • 6. The commencement of external legal proceedings regarding the same subject matter are not automatically grounds for suspending or cancelling an investigation under this Policy.
  • 7. Where the allegations involve conduct by persons at the University and at other institutions or research bodies under multi-institutional collaborations, the University may seek to conduct a joint investigation with relevant third parties, including other institutions or non institutional research organisations.
  • 8. Where legally possible, the University will cooperate with third parties where those third parties are investigating allegations of research misconduct arising from multi-institutional research collaborations across institutions and research organisations that involve the University.

8 Allegations of Breach or Research Misconduct

Advisors in Research Integrity (ARI)

  • 1. UOW has appointed the following Staff Members as Advisers in Research Integrity (ARIs):
        • a. Heads of Units,
        • b. Directors of Research Strengths; and
        • c. Chairs of the University Ethics Committees
  • 2. In the case of Breach or Research Misconduct alleged by a thesis examiner, the Chair of the Thesis Examination Committee (TEC) may act as the ARI.
  • 3. The DVC(R) may at his or her discretion appoint another person as an ARI from time to time.
  • 4. Each ARI should be familiar with the relevant codes and procedures relating to research integrity, and with issues surrounding research misconduct, including procedural fairness.
  • 5. ARIs are available to offer confidential advice to Researchers on matters related to the Code of Conduct-Research or this Policy, and shall guide Researchers in relation to the proper conduct of Research, what constitutes Breach or Research Misconduct, and the process for making of an allegation pursuant to this Policy if such an allegation is formally made.
  • 6. The ARI's role does not extend to investigation or assessment of an allegation. The ARI must not make contact with a person who is the subject of the allegation, and must not be involved in any subsequent inquiry.
  • 7. The role of the ARI is limited to providing confidential advice regarding a potential Breach or potential Research Misconduct and identifying the options available to the person considering or making an allegation.
  • 8. An ARI should not be involved in a matter if he or she has a conflict of interest.
  • 9. As far as the law will allow, all discussions between an ARI and others regarding suspected Breach or Research Misconduct must be treated confidentially.

Types of Activities that may be the Subject of an Allegation

  • 10. Allegations may involve a Breach or Research Misconduct.

Making an Allegation

  • 11. All Staff Members, Students and Visitors have a positive obligation to report research misconduct in a timely manner. If a Staff Member, Student or Visitor becomes aware of possible research misconduct, that Staff Member, Student or Visitor should discuss the issues with an ARI and/or make a formal allegation. Reporting of research misconduct may be a protected disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Policy.
  • 12. A person is expected to raise an allegation in good faith. If a person makes an allegation that is frivolous, vexatious or in bad faith, the University may initiate the appropriate disciplinary process against them.
  • 13. Examples of frivolous, vexatious or bad faith allegations include, but are not limited to:
        • a. Fabricating a complaint;
        • b. Making trivial or petty complaints;
        • c. Making repeated unsubstantiated complaints; or
        • d. Seeking to re-visit issues that have already been raised and determined.
  • 14. A person considering reporting suspected research misconduct may, where appropriate, contact an ARI to confidentially discuss the issues of concern.
  • 15. If the person wishes to make a formal allegation of Breach or Research Misconduct, that person must send their allegation in writing to the Dean of Research pursuant to section 9.1 below.

9 Preliminary Investigation

  • 1. If, after discussions with an ARI, a person believes a case of Breach or Research Misconduct may exist, and that person wishes to make a formal allegation, that person must in the first instance refer the allegation in writing, to the Dean of Research (DoR).
  • 2. The DoR will consider:
        • a. the allegation,
        • b. whether the allegation appears to be justified, and
        • c. whether a Prima Facie Case exists.
  • 3. Arising from that consideration, the DoR may determine that:
        • a. there is no Prima Facie Case of Breach or Research Misconduct and:
          • i. the allegations should be dismissed; or
          • ii. the allegation relates to misconduct unrelated to Research and should be dealt with under other misconduct provisions; or
        • b. there is a Prima Facie Case of Breach, and the DoR will deal with the matter as provided in section 12; or
        • c. there is a Prima Facie Case of Research Misconduct and the matter should be dealt with as provided in section 13.
  • 4. The DoR will make his or her determination and notify the complainant, relevant Dean or equivalent, and Researcher who is the subject of the allegation, of his or her determination in writing.

10 Urgency Provisions

  • 1. In cases where urgency is required the DoR may recommend that a Researcher be suspended or subject to particular restrictions if the alleged Breach or Research Misconduct involves:
        • a. serious risk to the health or safety or welfare of a person including but not limited to harassment or vilification;
        • b. serious risk to the security, reputation, viability or profitability of the University’s business;
        • c. the possibility of interference with evidence that might relate to the allegations; or
        • d. circumstances considered to be serious enough to warrant immediate action,

        and the DoR will provide his or her recommendation in writing to the VC.

  • 2. In considering a recommendation from the DoR under section 10.1 above, the VC has the discretion to accept the recommendations in whole or in part, and where appropriate to impose restrictions on a Researcher that the VC identifies as necessary, and to implement such urgency measures upon the Researcher.

11 Formal Investigation

Notice of Allegations and Response

  • 1. The University has different processes for dealing with Breach and Research Misconduct.
  • 2. The boundary between Breach and Research Misconduct may not be immediately apparent, and the DoR should consider any relevant factors, including but not limited to:
        • a. The outcomes that might apply if an allegation is proven;
        • b. The possible effect of the allegation might have on the relevant parties, including in the case of a Research Student, the viability of that Research Student’s candidature;
        • c. The steps needed to ensure procedural fairness to all concerned;
        • d. The extent to which there are consequences outside the University; and
        • e. The effect of the Breach or Research Misconduct on public records, the integrity of research standards, and the integrity of the University and its research.
  • 3. For all allegations for which the DoR determines there is a Prima Facie Case of Breach or Research Misconduct, the DoR will in a timely manner notify the Researcher in writing of the allegations with sufficient detail to enable the Researcher to understand and properly consider the precise nature of the allegation, and seek the Researcher’s response within 10 working days.
  • 4. The Researcher must respond to the DoR’s notice in writing within 10 working days. If the Researcher requires more than 10 working days in which to provide a response, the Researcher must within 5 working days of the DoR’s notice, request an extension and the basis for that extension. The DoR will make a determination on the request for an extension as soon as possible and notify the Researcher of the date for any response to the DoR’s notice.

12 Breaches

Prima Facie Case of Breach by Research Student or Visitor - Admitted

  • 1. Where the DoR has formed a view that a Prima Facie Case exists of a Breach, and that Breach is admitted by the Research Student or Visitor, the DoR may in a timely manner determine that:
        • a. the matter warrants referral to the relevant Dean for resolution pursuant to section 12.2;
        • b. a warning be given;
        • c. a Reprimand be given;
        • d. a penalty be imposed;
        • e. the Research Student or Visitor undertakes remedial action, and/or
        • f. the matter be referred to the DVC(R) or the Research Misconduct Investigation Committee for consideration and recommendation of the penalty to be imposed,

        and the DoR will notify the Research Student or Visitor of the action taken within 10 working days of the decision being made.

  • 2. The DoR may determine under section 12.1(a) that an admitted Breach warrants referral to the relevant Dean for resolution, provided that:
        • a. the alleged Breach does not constitute Research Misconduct;
        • b. the consequences of the Breach can be remedied; and
        • c. appropriate steps are taken to prevent a recurrence of the Breach.
  • 3. The Dean will notify the complainant and the DoR in writing in a timely manner once the outcome has been implemented and the Breach has been rectified.

Prima Facie Case of Breach by Research Student or Visitor – Not Admitted

  • 4. Where the Research Student or Visitor denies or challenges the allegations or fails to respond to the notice, and the DoR has determined that there is a Prima Facie Case of:
        • a. Breach, the DoR will follow sections 12.5 to 12.9 below;
        • b. Research Misconduct, the DoR will refer the matter to the DVC(R) per section 13.1 below.
  • 5. Where:
        • a. the DoR has determined that a Prima Facie Case exists of a Breach, and that Breach is not admitted by the Research Student or Visitor, or
        • b. the circumstances under section 12.2 (a), (b) and (c) are not present, and section 12.2 therefore does not apply,

        the DoR will review the material provided to the DoR, and may:

        • c. Make appropriate enquiries into the matter; and
        • d. Determine whether the conduct constitutes a Breach or Research Misconduct; and
          • i. If satisfied the conduct does not constitute a Breach or Research Misconduct, dismiss the matter and/or refer it for handling under other relevant Policies, Codes or procedures of the University; or
          • ii. If satisfied the conduct constitutes a Breach, determine the Remedial Action to be taken and refer the matter to the relevant Dean for implementation of that action; or
          • iii. If satisfied the conduct constitutes Research Misconduct, refer the matter to the DVC(R) for investigation by the relevant Committee.
  • 6. The DoR will make his or her determination within 10 working days of receipt of the Research Student or Visitor’s response, or, in the case of a failure to respond, the date that the response was due. If the Research Student or Visitor requires more than 10 working days in which to provide a response, the Research Student or Visitor must within 5 working days of the DoR’s notice, request an extension and the basis for that extension. The DoR will make a determination on the request for an extension as soon as possible and notify the Research Student or Visitor of the date for any response to the DoR’s notice.
  • 7. The DoR will notify the Research Student or Visitor, complainant and other relevant parties of the DoR’s determination.
  • 8. Where the matter has been referred to a Dean, the Dean will advise the complainant and DoR in writing once the outcome has been implemented and the Breach has been rectified.
  • 9. The Research Student or Visitor may appeal the decision of the DoR in accordance with the process outlined in section 16.

Prima Facie Case of Breach by Staff Member – Admitted or Not Admitted

  • 10. Where the DoR has determined that a Prima Facie Case exists of a Breach by a Staff Member, the DoR may
        • a. Make appropriate enquiries into the matter; and
        • b. Determine whether the conduct may constitute a Breach or Research Misconduct; and
          • i. If satisfied the conduct does not constitute a Breach or Research Misconduct, dismiss the matter and/or refer it for handling under other relevant Policies, Codes or procedures of the University; or
          • ii. If satisfied the conduct may constitute a Breach, determine that:

              ii(a) the Staff Member undertakes remedial action, and refer the matter to the relevant Dean or supervisor for implementation of that action; or

              ii(b) the matter may warrant disciplinary action, and refer the matter to the DVC(R) for management under the relevant enterprise agreement,

        • c. If satisfied the conduct may constitute Research Misconduct, manage the matter pursuant to section 13 below.
  • 11. The DoR will make his or her determination within 10 working days of receipt of the Staff Member’s response, or, in the case of a failure to respond, the date that the response was due.
  • 12. The DoR will notify the Staff Member, complainant and other relevant parties of the DoR’s determination.
  • 13. Where the matter has been referred to a relevant Dean or supervisor, that Dean or supervisor will advise the complainant and DoR in writing once the outcome has been implemented and the Breach has been rectified.
  • 14. The Staff Member may appeal the decision of the DoR in accordance with the process outlined in section 16.

13 Research Misconduct

Research Misconduct by Research Student or Visitor – Initial Determination

  • 1. Where the DoR has determined that a Prima Facie Case exists of Research Misconduct by a Research Student or Visitor, the DoR will refer the matter to the DVC(R).
  • 2. The DVC(R) may refer the matter to his or her nominee, who shall be a senior officer of the University.
  • 3. The DVC(R) or nominee will review the material provided by the DoR, and may determine that:
        • a. The conduct is not a Breach or Research Misconduct, and dismiss the allegation;
        • b. The conduct is misconduct unrelated to Research, and refer the matter to another pursuant to the relevant University policy, Code or procedure;
        • c. The conduct constitutes a Prima Facie Case of Breach, and refer the matter back to the DoR to be dealt with under section 12; or
        • d. The conduct constitutes a Prima Facie Case of Research Misconduct, and requires further investigation by a relevant Committee under this Policy.
  • 4. The DVC(R) or nominee will make his or her initial determination under section 13.3 within 10 working days of receipt of the matter from the DoR, and will notify in writing the VC, DoR, the Research Student or Visitor, and the complainant of the initial determination.

Research Misconduct by Staff Member

  • 5. Where the DoR has determined that a Prima Facie Case exists of Research Misconduct by a Staff Member, the DoR will refer the matter to the DVC(R).
  • 6. The DVC(R) may refer the matter to his or her nominee, who shall be a senior officer of the University.
  • 7. The DVC(R) or nominee will review the material provided by the DoR, and may determine that:
        • a. The conduct is not a Breach or Research Misconduct, and dismiss the allegation;
        • b. The conduct may constitute misconduct unrelated to Research, and refer the matter to the Director of the Human Resources Division for action pursuant to the relevant Enterprise Agreement;
        • c. The conduct constitutes a Prima Facie Case of Breach, and refer the matter back to the DoR to be dealt with under section 12; or
        • d. The conduct constitutes a Prima Facie Case of Research Misconduct, and requires further investigation by a relevant Committee under this Policy.
  • 8. The DVC(R) or nominee will make his or her initial determination under section 13.7 within 10 working days of receipt of the matter from the DoR, and will notify in writing the VC, DoR, the Staff Member, and the complainant of the initial determination.

14 Misconduct Committees

  • 1. If the DVC(R) or nominee determines that further investigation is required by a relevant Committee under sections 13.3(d) or 13.7(d), he or she shall refer the conduct to the relevant Committee in a timely manner.

Processes for all Committee Investigations under this Policy

  • 2. The word “Committee” shall apply in this Policy to the Student Conduct Committee and/or the Research Misconduct Investigation Committee as the context permits.
  • 3. The DVC(R) or nominee shall convene the relevant Committee pursuant to this Policy and any other relevant policies or procedures or other instruments of the University.
  • 4. The DVC(R) or nominee will be responsible for notifying the Researcher of the hearing date, time and place, at least 10 working days before the hearing date. That hearing notice must include a clear outline of the allegations, and copies of all relevant documentation that will be provided to the Committee.
  • 5. A Researcher:
        • a. must, within 5 days of the notified hearing date, in writing to the DVC(R) or nominee:
          • i. confirm whether or not they will attend the hearing; and
          • ii. advise of their intention to call witnesses, and demonstrate their relevance to the hearing.
        • b. may provide a written submission for consideration by the Committee.
  • 6. The Committee may conduct the hearing in the absence of the Researcher.
  • 7. The Committee has the right to call witnesses, and must advise the Researcher of this intention prior to the hearing.
  • 8. The role of the Committee is to investigate the allegation through written and/or oral evidence from any complainant, the Researcher, and relevant witnesses, to determine whether the allegation is justified on the basis of the evidence, make a finding of facts relating to the alleged Research Misconduct, consider whether any mitigating factors are present.
  • 9. The Committee is not bound by the rules of evidence, but must conduct itself consistent with the principles of Natural Justice.
  • 10. Evidence brought before the Committee should be directly related to the allegations. The Chair has the discretion to make a determination of the relevance of any evidence brought before the Committee.
  • 11. The DVC(R) or nominee will be responsible for the collation of evidence on which the allegation of Research Misconduct is based, and consulting with those involved including witnesses to be called.
  • 12. The Committee may seek additional evidence at its discretion.
  • 13. The Committee will have the power to seek advice where it believes expertise is required to investigate the allegations or ensure the issues surrounding Research Misconduct is properly understood.
  • 14. The Committee may be assisted by a legally qualified person acting as counsel assisting, whose role is to prepare the material to be put to the Committee and to examine or question witnesses on behalf of the Committee. This person is not a member of the Committee, but may provide the Committee with legal advice during the investigation.
  • 15. A Researcher at a hearing may be assisted by a fellow researcher, member of staff, friend or family member, or an employee of a University student association. The person assisting the Researcher may provide the candidate with advice, but may not act as an advocate and directly address the Committee, unless there are circumstances to warrant otherwise, and the Chair has consented to the person assisting acting otherwise.
  • 16. At the hearing, the Chair of the Committee may:
        • a. Ask the DVC(R) or nominee to present the details of the allegations;
        • b. Ask the Researcher if they wish to admit the allegation;
        • c. Invite the Researcher to respond to the allegation and/or consider the Researcher’s written submission;
        • d. Invite witnesses to recount relevant facts and information;
        • e. Allow the Researcher to make a final statement prior to concluding the hearing.
  • 17. All documents produced in respect of the Committee investigation and hearing process are considered confidential, and any unlawful breach of this confidentiality may result in disciplinary action. However, all obligations of confidentiality are subject to any legal requirement regarding disclosure, and any disclosure necessary for the Committee to fully investigate the alleged conduct.
  • 18. The parties involved will see information supplied to the Committee and may become aware of its source. In some cases, the identity of the person providing information may need to remain confidential, and it is the Chair’s responsibility to determine this matter. Those involved should note that the hearing and associated processes under this Policy are not protected from formal external legal proceedings and such material may be subpoenaed from the University.
  • 19. Whether a hearing will be public or private is a matter for the Committee to determine on the basis of public interest, provided the Committee has heard the views of all relevant parties on this issue before such a decision is made.
  • 20. The University has an obligation to report certain conduct to authorities outside the University, such as apparent or suspected criminal conduct by a Researcher, and corrupt conduct. The Committee should report any conduct that may require mandatory reporting to the DVC(R), who shall consider whether reporting is required.
  • 21. In making any findings, the Committee should consider whether there are any mitigating circumstances.
  • 22. The Committee must prepare a written report of its findings of fact and whether Research Misconduct has occurred.
  • 23. Within 10 days of the conclusion of the Committee, the Chair must provide a report of the findings of fact to the DVC(R), who may recommend the University imposes a Remedial Action. In the case of Rescission, approval is required from University Council. In the case of disciplinary action against a Staff Member, all such actions must be managed pursuant to the relevant Enterprise Agreement.
  • 24. The DVC(R) or nominee will write to the Researcher via certified post advising him or her of the findings of the Committee and any recommended Remedial Actions, and of his or her right of appeal.
  • 25. The DVC(R) may notify other relevant parties of the findings of the Committee so far as the outcomes are relevant to those parties, including the Academic Registrar, the relevant Dean or equivalent, and the complainant.

Student Conduct Committee

  • 26. The DVC(R) may refer matters regarding Research Students to the Student Conduct Committee.
  • 27. Any Student Conduct Committee convened for the purpose of hearing an allegation of Research Misconduct shall consist of:
        • a. DVC(R)’s nominee as chair;
        • b. One senior academic in a relevant field of study; and
        • c. One student representative.

        The DVC(R) should endeavour to ensure that both genders are represented on this Committee.

  • 28. The Student Conduct Committee will conduct an investigation of the allegations pursuant to this Policy.
  • 29. Where any provision of this Policy in respect of the role and operations of the Student Conduct Committee is inconsistent with the provisions of the Student Conduct Rules, the Procedure for Managing Alleged Academic Misconduct by a Student Undertaking Coursework or the Procedure for Managing Alleged General Misconduct by a Student, this Policy shall prevail to the extent of that inconsistency

Research Misconduct Investigation Committee

  • 30. The DVC(R) may at his or her discretion refer matters regarding Researchers to the Research Misconduct Investigation Committee.
  • 31. The DVC(R) may determine at his or her discretion whether the Research Misconduct Investigation Committee is composed of internal or external members. The findings of a Research Misconduct Investigation Committee composed of external members are expected to be available to the public.
  • 32. An external member must not:
        • a. be a present employee of the University;
        • b. have current or recent dealings with the University (this does not include dealings regarding potential or actual membership of a Research Misconduct Investigation Committee); or
        • c. be subject to a reasonable perception of bias.
  • 33. Any Research Misconduct Investigation Committee convened of internal members shall consist of:
        • a. at least one member with knowledge and experience in the relevant field of Research;
        • b. at least one member who is familiar with the responsible conduct of Research; and
        • c. one member with experience on similar committees or other relevant experience or expertise.
  • 34. Any Research Misconduct Investigation Committee convened of external members shall consist of:
        • a. at least one external member with legal knowledge or extensive tribunal experience;
        • b. at least one external member with knowledge or research expertise in a relevant field of Research, but not directly in the area of the allegation; and
        • c. one external member with other relevant experience or expertise.

15 Disciplinary Processes for Adverse Findings

Findings Against Research Student or Visitor

  • 1. Where a finding of Breach or Research Misconduct has been made by a Committee under this Policy against a Research Student or Visitor, the DVC(R) may recommend Remedial Actions.

Findings Against Staff Members

  • 2. Where a finding of Research Misconduct has been made by a Committee under this Policy against a Staff Member, and:
        • a. the matter warrants disciplinary action, the Committee will refer the matter to the DVC(R) for management pursuant to the relevant Enterprise Agreement; or
        • b. the matter does not warrant disciplinary action, the DVC(R) may recommend that Remedial Actions are required.

Remedial Actions

  • 3. Remedial Actions for Breach include:
        • a. counselling of the Researcher;
        • b. provision of advice to the Researcher;
        • c. rectification of the Breach, and if relevant, re-submission of relevant work;
        • d. in the case of a Visitor, notification of the Visitor’s home institution; and/or
        • e. in the case of a Research Student, probation of candidature.
  • 4. Remedial Actions for Research Misconduct by Students include:
        • a. rectification of Research Misconduct and if relevant, resubmission of relevant work;
        • b. Reprimand by the VC;
        • c. probation;
        • d. suspension or termination of a University scholarship;
        • e. suspension or termination of HDR Student candidature;
        • f. Exclusion from the University;
        • g. Expulsion from the University;
        • h. rescission of the Student’s degree by the University Council.
  • 5. Remedial Actions for Research Misconduct by Visitors include:
        • a. rectification of Breach or Research Misconduct and if relevant, resubmission of relevant work;
        • b. Reprimand by the VC;
        • c. suspension or termination of the University’s appointment or admission of that Visitor;
        • d. the University terminating that Visitor’s right to access University campuses, premises and resources;
        • e. notification to the Visitor’s home institution or employer.

16 Appeals and Reviews

  • 1. Any Researcher against whom an adverse finding is made or upon whom an outcome is imposed under this Policy, whether for Breach or Research Misconduct, may appeal the determination under one or more of the following grounds:
        • a. that there is evidence of a breach of procedural fairness, or
        • b. that there is new and substantial evidence relating to the allegation of Breach or Research Misconduct that was not previously available or considered by the person or Committee who made the determination.
  • 2. All appeals must:
        • a. be lodged in writing to the Research Student Centre within 20 working days of notification of the determination and outcome of the most recent investigation;
        • b. state fully the reasons for the appeal; and
        • c. include any relevant documentary evidence to support the appeal.
  • 3. The DVC(R) will forward the appeal to the person or committee hearing the appeal as stipulated in sections 16.6 to 16.7.

Appeals

  • 4. A Researcher may appeal against a finding or outcome imposed by the University on the grounds in section 16.1 above.
  • 5. An appeal must not be conducted by a person who was involved in the original decision making process.
  • 6. Where that appeal relates to a determination of the DoR, that appeal will be referred to the DVC(R) or another University office of equivalent seniority, and that person has the authority to consider the appeal, and determine whether the appeal is:-
        • a. Dismissed; or
        • b. Upheld; and
        • c. If upheld, refer the matter back to the DOR.
  • 7. Where that appeal relates to a determination of the DVC(R) that appeal will be referred to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) who will:
        • a. Determine whether the appeal is dismissed; or
        • b. Refer the matter to the Council Committee of Appeal.
  • 8. A Staff Member may not appeal under this Policy against any disciplinary action taken pursuant to the relevant Enterprise Agreement.

Consideration and Outcome of the Appeal by Researcher

  • 9. The DVC(R), CAO or the Council Committee of Appeal (whichever is relevant) shall consider the case put forward and evidence provided by the appellant to support the appeal and determine whether there are sufficient grounds for the appeal as soon as possible, and within a maximum of 10 working days of having received the appeal.
  • 10. The DVC(R), CAO or the Council Committee of Appeal’s Chair (whichever is relevant) must determine whether there are valid grounds for appeal, and:
        • a. If there are not valid grounds for appeal, may dismiss the appeal, in which case the original determination will stand; or
        • b. If there are valid grounds for appeal, the matter will be considered by the DVC(R) or the Council Committee of Appeal (whichever is relevant), which may:
          • i. Dismiss the appeal;
          • ii. Uphold the appeal and/or recommend the varying of any penalty that has been imposed ; or
          • iii. Refer the matter back to the relevant Officer or Committee for further inquiry and recommendation;
  • 11. The DVC(R), CAO or Council Committee of Appeal Chair (whichever is relevant) will advise the appellant of the outcome of the appeal as soon as possible and within a maximum or 10 working days of the determination.

17 Record Keeping

  • 1. All files relating to cases of alleged Breach or Research Misconduct will be retained and disposed of in accordance with the University’s Records Management Policy, the State Records Act 1998, and the General Retention and Disposal Authority GDA23. Records of the investigation may include:
        • a. Investigation plans;
        • b. Evidence and other information gathered;
        • c. Records of investigation meetings;
        • d. Summaries of investigation; and
        • e. Outcomes of investigation.
  • 2. Files relating to cases of alleged Breach or Research Misconduct will be retained and disposed of by:
        • a. the Research Student Centre where related to a Research Student and/or Visitor;
        • b. the Director of Human Resources where related to a Staff Member.
  • 3. The Researcher has the right of access to copies of all records relating to the investigation.

18 Version Control and Change History

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By

Amendment

1

12 October 2007

University Council

New policy introduced in response to changes to the guidelines provided by the Australian Vice Chancellor’s Committee (AVCC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Updates to reflect 2007 Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

3

 

DVCR

Minor Amendments to amend inconsistencies – no change to policy intent or procedures

4

6 May 2009

Vice Principal (Administration)

Migrated to UOW Policy Template as per Policy Directory Refresh

5

7 August 2009

University Council

Review and update. Minor amendments to replace reference to PVCR position and inclusion of interim appeals provisions.

5

5 February 2010

University Council

References to Council Committee of Appeal (Student Matters) amended to Council Committee of Appeal as per University Council resolution 2010/03.

6

26 August 2010

Vice-Principal (Administration)

Updated to reflect divisional name change from Personnel Services to Human Resources Division

7

17 August 2012

University Council

Major review and alignment of the Policy with the NHMRC Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, resulting in changes to improve processes and clarify roles, and addition of urgency and appeal provisions.

8

11 September 2013

Chief Administrative Officer

Updated to reflect title change from VP(A) to CAO.

Last reviewed: 8 November, 2013

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