ARC Research Integrity and Research Misconduct
31 July 2017
Justin Withers
Research Integrity Officer, Director, Policy and Integrity

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ARC and research integrity

Three key components of ARC involvement in research integrity:

  • Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2007 (the Code) and national ethics statements/Codes
    • National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
    • Human Research Ethics Application (HREA)
    • Indigenous ethics
  • ARC Research Integrity and Research Misconduct Policy
  • Australian Research Integrity Committee (ARIC).

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ARC Research Integrity and Research Misconduct Policy

  • Outlines requirements for institutions to report to ARC on research integrity matters
  • Provides pathways for members of the public to raise concerns via the ARC
  • Outlines actions the ARC may take in response to research integrity breaches
  • ARC Research Integrity and Research Misconduct Policy.

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Purpose

  • The purpose of this policy is to safeguard confidence in the value of publicly funded research by:
    • making transparent the ARC’s role in research misconduct matters;
    • ensuring the integrity of the ARC’s grant application, peer review, grant selection and research evaluation processes, funding decisions, funded research and research outcomes; and
    • raising the awareness of the importance of research integrity and of the possible consequences for institutions and for individuals if appropriate standards are not maintained. 

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Who/what does the policy apply to?

  • Current and past ARC-funded research
  • Current ARC-funded researchers regardless of whether the matter relates to ARC-funded research
  • Current proposals for funding
  • Current applicants for ARC funding regardless of whether the matter relates to the ARC proposal.

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Pathways for reporting

  • Institutions
  • ARC business—assessors, members of ARC College of Experts, employees
  • Members of public.

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When to notify the ARC

  • Finding of a breach or misconduct through preliminary assessment 
  • (Where matter has been referred to the institution by the ARC) Outcome of preliminary assessment regardless of findings 
  • Formal inquiry to commence 
  • ARC funding suspended by institution while inquiry underway
  • Formal inquiry finalised (regardless of findings).

*It is important for institutions to provide sufficient detail to assist the ARC in considering precautionary and/or consequential actions*

(Section 3 of the ARC Research Integrity and Research Misconduct Policy)

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Matters reported to the ARC by institutions

 

Alt text: The flowcharts provides information on how process is followed when a matter is reported to the ARC by an institution.

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Matters referred to institutions by the ARC

Alt text: This flowchart provides the process steps followed when matters are referred to institutions by the ARC.

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Research Integrity Review Committee

  • Chaired by ARC Research Integrity Officer
  • Makes recommendations to the Senior Research Integrity Officer on precautionary and consequential actions
  • Ensures actions: 
    • Are commensurate with nature of matter 
    • Take into account precedents
    • Take into account action already taken by institution.

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Precautionary actions 

  • Taken while formal inquiry underway 
  • Suspend or prevent individuals from being engaged in ARC business (e.g. as assessor) until matter finalised
  • In serious cases may be additional actions such as: 
    • requiring institutions to suspend ARC-funded projects; or 
    • placing conditions on grants to mitigate risks

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Consequential actions

  • In response to finding of breach or research misconduct
  • May include (but are not limited to):
    • ceasing or recovering any or all ARC funding;
    • ceasing the progression of ARC funding proposals;
    • placing conditions on any future funding proposals (e.g. additional certifications);
    • removing individuals from ARC business; and
    • preventing individuals from being engaged in ARC business.

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Appeals against ARC actions

  • Must be made in writing by Designated Officer (DO) within 4 weeks 
  • If DO does not support appeal, affected researcher can appeal within 6 weeks
  • Appeals considered by a senior ARC officer who was not involved in making the original decision.

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Privacy

  • The ARC manages personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988
  • Information on research integrity matters is handled confidentially by the ARC Research Integrity Office 
  • Information essential to implementing decisions disclosed to appropriate ARC officers on a strictly need-to-know basis.

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Case Study 1

Issue:

Finding of research misconduct related to self-plagiarism across several papers that were outputs of ARC-funded research.

Researcher was found to be negligent and failed to adopt well established practices to ensure correct referencing. 

 

Institutional action:

The institution requested that the journals correct the affected articles, and provided training and a research mentor to the researcher.

 

ARC Action: 

Additional certification of proposals for two years. 

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Case Study 2

Issue:

  • Misleading information in a funding proposal – outputs attributed to current ARC grants were published prior to the start dates of the grants.
  • The errors were not intentional.
  • The researcher had been implicated in a previous (more serious) matter relating to providing misleading information in ARC funding proposals.

ARC Action:

  • (On the basis of this incident and repeated inappropriate conduct by the researcher)
  • Researcher ineligible to apply for ARC funding for one year
  • Two ARC funding proposals withdrawn from the assessment process
  • Additional certification required for five years.