Research Code of Conduct and Ethics
Research Code of Conduct and Good Practice in Research
Many funders of research, including the Research Councils, major charities and Government departments, require recipients of funding to comply with good practice in the conduct of research as well as relevant ethics review arrangements. Many of these requirements are set out in the Concordat to Support Research Integrity to which the University is a signatory.
The University also requires that all those conducting research here, whether they are students or members of staff, to adhere to the highest levels of research conduct.
The University Research Code of Conduct (pdf version: June 2016) lays out the standards expected from all those carrying out research under its auspices. The Code covers areas such as
- Approval procedures
- Publication and Authorship
- Reviewing research for journals or funding bodies or internally
- Supervision and management of students or researchers
- Intellectual property (to be read in conjunction with the IP policy)
A web-based version of the Code is also available and can be found here.
The Research Code of Conduct lays out how the University will deal with cases of misconduct in research, as well as explaining what constitutes research misconduct. There is also a useful checklist identifying key points of good practice to consider when developing a project.
The University has set up a research integrity group to oversee developments and policy in this area. You can read about their work and see the annual reports to the University's Council here.
Policy on Researching and Handling Sensitive, Extreme or Radical Material
The Government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (“the Act”) imposes a duty on “universities (amongst others) to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Many of the requirements of the act are not relevant to research, but the Act includes a requirement that universities have clear policies and procedures for students and staff working on sensitive or extremism-related research. A separate but related issue concerns research into security-sensitive issues, and the storage and circulation of security-sensitive research material.
In order to meet its obligations under these regulations, the University has passed a Policy on Researching and Handling Sensitive, Extreme or Radical Material (June 2016), as a sub-policy to the Research Code of Conduct.
All those carrying out research relevant to these areas must abide by the Policy and ensure that their research undergoes appropriate reviews. These reviews are in addition to any ethics reviews.
A review process for any projects falling within the remit of the Code has been developed and will be rolled out in March 2017. Until this process is operational, if you need assistance in this area, please contact the Research Ethics and Environment Manager, Lynne Parsons.
Clinical Research Governance and Sponsorship
The term Research Governance is often used in the context of medical research, particularly since the publication of the Department of Health’s Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care Research (RGF) in 2001.
The Research Governance Framework requires research falling within its remit to ensure ethical practice and scientific quality and promote good practice and quality research culture, whilst ensuring robust financial systems.
Research falling within the remit of the RGF includes research involving NHS patients, their tissue or data, research involving NHS staff, premises or facilities.
The RGF introduces the concept of a Research Sponsor, which is defined as the institution responsible for confirming proper arrangements are in place to initiate, manage, monitor and finance a study. A Principal Investigator conducting clinical trials is legally obliged to nominate a Sponsor for the trial. The area of clinical trials is heavily regulated particularly by the Clinical Trials Regulations.
A procedure has been established for University led projects falling within either the Research Governance Framework or the Clinical Trials Regulations, to seek confirmation of who will act as Sponsor. Sponsor approval must be obtained before research commences. Research falling within the RGF also requires ethical approval from the NHS Research Ethics Committee. more information about funding a Sponsor can be ontained from the Research Governance Manager.
Ethics Review Processes
All projects involving human subjects must undergo ethical review and be approved before the project begins, whether in receipt of external funding or not.
The Department of Health’s Governance Arrangements for NHS Research Ethics Committee (GAFREC) and other legislation (such as the Human Tissue Act and the Mental Capacity Act, Clinical Trials Regulations) set out when a research project requires review and approval from an appropriate NHS research ethic committee.
More information about the types of research requiring an NHS REC can be obtained from the GAFREC website. Alternatively you may contact the Research Governance Manager.
All other projects involving human subjects not falling within the remit of policy requirements or applicable legislation identified above are subject to review under the University Committee for Research Ethics Concerning Human Subjects (Non-NHS). More details about this process and the ethics approval form can be obtained from the Committee website or your departmental Ethics Officer.
Ethical Funding Policy and Guidelines
The University of Leicester has an obligation to conduct its research and enterprise funding operations and relationships in an ethical manner, and to ensure that due diligence is observed when assessing whether or not to accept Funding.
The Ethical Policy and Guidelines for the Acceptance and Refusal of Donations and Research and Enterprise Funding provides guidelines to allow members of the University Council and the staff who support them to make clear and consistent decisions regarding the acceptance or refusal of Funding. They are to be observed by all staff of the University of Leicester engaged in securing funding on the University’s behalf.