6.2 Types of misconduct in research

Examples which would be considered as research misconduct
  1. The definitions used here are adapted from Research Councils UK’s Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct. Researchers must ensure that they do not commit any of the following acts:
  2. Fabrication comprises the creation of false data or other aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent.
  3. Falsification comprises inappropriate manipulation and/or selection of data, images and/or other contents.
  4. Plagiarism comprises the misappropriation or use of others’ ideas, intellectual property or work (written or otherwise), without acknowledgement or permission. It includes self-plagiarism: reuse of one’s own work without suitable acknowledgement or permission.
  5. Misrepresentation includes:
    1. Misrepresentation of data, such as by suppression of relevant findings, or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence presenting a flawed data interpretation;
    2. Undisclosed duplication of publication, including duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication;
    3. Misrepresentation of interests, including failure to declare material interests either of the researcher or of the research funders;
    4. Misrepresentation of qualifications and/or experience, including claiming or implying qualifications or experience not held; and/or
    5. Misrepresentation of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship and/or attribution of work where there has been no significant contribution, or the denial of authorship where an author has made a significant contribution.
  6. Breach of duty of care includes, whether deliberately, recklessly or by gross negligence:
    1. Disclosing improperly the identity of individuals or groups involved in research without their consent, or any other breach of confidentiality;
    2. Placing any of those involved in research in danger, whether as subjects, participants or associated individuals, without their prior consent, and without appropriate safeguards even with consent (this includes reputational danger where that can be predicted);
    3. Not taking all reasonable care to ensure that the risks and dangers, the broad objectives and the sponsors of the research are known to participants or their legal representatives, and/or to ensure appropriate informed consent is obtained properly, explicitly and transparently;
    4. Not observing legal and reasonable ethical requirements or obligations of care for human or animal subjects, human organs or tissue used in research, or for the protection of the environment; and/or
    5. Improper conduct in peer review of research proposals or results (including manuscripts submitted for publication); this includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for peer review purposes.
    6. Breach of any express or implied confidentiality provision including provisions relating to externally awarded funding or research involving external organisations.
  7. Failure to meet ethical, legal and professional obligations includes failure to meet the standards of relevant professional bodies (e.g. the General Medical Council) and standards and limitations applied to research by research funders or Research Ethics Committees. Failure to meet ethical, legal and professional standards may also comprise failure to declare competing interests; misrepresentation of involvement or authorship; misrepresentation of interests; breach of confidentiality; lack of informed consent; misuse of personal data; and abuse of research subjects or materials.
  8. Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct includes:
    1. Failure to address possible infringements, including attempts to cover up misconduct or reprisals against whistle-blowers; and/or
    2. Failure to deal appropriately with malicious allegations, which should be handled formally as breaches of good conduct.
  9. The list of types of research misconduct above is not meant to be exhaustive. Honest errors and differences in, for example, research methodology and interpretations are not examples of research misconduct.

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