Research Misconduct Allegations associated with ARC funding
- Step 1: Contact Administering Organisation
- Step 2: Submit an allegation to the ARC
- Step 3: ARC handling of research misconduct allegations
- Step 4: External review
All ARC-funded research must conform to the principles outlined in the following documents:
- the NHMRC/ARC/UA Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007);
- as applicable, the NHMRC/ARC/AVCC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007); and
- as applicable, the NHMRC’s other codes on animal research.
Funding agreements between the ARC and any organisation in receipt of ARC funding also require institutions to comply with the provisions of any relevant statutes, regulations, by-laws, and requirements of any Commonwealth, State, Territory or local authority; and acknowledge that Chapter 7 of the Criminal Code provides for offences which attract substantial penalties, including theft of Commonwealth property and other property offences, obtaining property or financial advantage by deception, offences involving fraudulent conduct, bribery, forgery and falsification of documents.
If the ARC reasonably considers there is fraud, misleading or deceptive conduct on the part of an organisation, or any specified personnel, associated with ARC funding, the ARC may terminate a funding agreement and recover any or all funding associated with the breach. The ARC may also consider imposing other sanctions.
In the first instance, complaints in relation to allegations of scientific fraud, ethical breaches and research misconduct associated with ARC funding should be addressed by the organisation where the allegation is made. It is a requirement of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) that allegations of research misconduct are investigated by the responsible organisation.
Except where an ARC College member or Assessor discovers a possible case of research misconduct during the peer review of a proposal, they should report the research misconduct allegation directly to the ARC as they are bound by confidentiality obligations.
While the ARC is not an investigative body, in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007), if a research misconduct allegation associated with ARC funding is submitted to the ARC, the ARC will seek information about the case from the responsible organisation. Allegations should be submitted to the ARC in writing and sent to:
Postal: The Research Misconduct Officer
Australian Research Council
GPO Box 2702, CANBERRA ACT 2601
An allegation of research misconduct should include sufficient information to enable the ARC to identify the funded project.
The ARC’s Research Misconduct Officer will manage the research misconduct allegation handling process. They will:
- be the primary contact point for lodgement and enquiries regarding research misconduct allegations associated with ARC funding;
- acknowledge receipt of a research misconduct allegation within 10 working days of receiving the allegation;
- undertake a preliminary assessment to determine whether the case outlined in the allegation falls within the scope of ARC’s functions;
- advise the complainant if the case does not fall under ARC’s functions and provide information on possible alternative courses of action (see “External review” below);
- if the case does fall under ARC’s functions, request a statement from the administering organisation concerned that outlines the institution’s investigation of the research misconduct allegation and findings;
- in some cases the Research Misconduct Officer will provide advice to the CEO outlining the details of a case and recommending an appropriate course of action; and
- advise the complainant, in general terms, of the outcome of ARC’s enquiry into the research misconduct allegation within 30 days of receiving the allegation (or if this is not possible they will provide an explanation for the delay).
The ARC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will, with the assistance of ARC Executive where required, consider the details of the allegation and the outcome of the institution’s investigation.
Where an Administering Organisation’s investigation establishes misconduct associated with ARC funding, the ARC may:
- terminate a funding agreement;
- recover any or all Commonwealth monies; and/or
- impose other sanctions.
The capacity of the ARC to deal with anonymous allegations is restricted by the complainant’s desire to remain anonymous. Anonymous allegations about research misconduct do not allow the ARC to provide the complainant with feedback. The allegation will nevertheless be considered.
If a research misconduct investigation has been finalised by the Administering Organisation, but an individual is unsatisfied with the process of that investigation they may wish to refer their allegation to the Australian Research Integrity Committee (ARIC). The ARIC is an independent body, jointly established by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which provides a review system of institutional processes to respond to allegations of research misconduct.
Complainants may also choose to contact an external agency at any time during the handling of a research misconduct allegation, examples include:
- Commonwealth Ombudsman
- Privacy Commissioner
- Australian Information Commissioner
- Industrial review boards
- Human rights agencies