The University Research Committee has established a sub-committee (the Research Integrity and Ethics Committee; RIEC) to provide advice on policy issues related to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and responsible research practices, including the development and implementation of a comprehensive policy framework (University of Tasmania's Responsible Conduct & Research Framework). The RIEC is Chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), and plays an important role within the University's Research Governance structure. The RIEC seeks to drive cultural change towards improved appreciation of research integrity and provides input to the planning, implementation and monitoring of education and training of stakeholders on the responsible conduct of research.
The RIEC meets twice yearly with secretarial support provided by the Research Integrity and Ethics Unit. The RIEC receives and reviews reports on the conduct of research at the University of Tasmania, including annual reports to regulatory, statutory and funding bodies on compliance with requirements for research conduct. View the Terms of Reference (PDF 262KB) for the RIEC.
The University of Tasmania is dedicated to creating and maintaining an environment that promotes the responsible and ethical conduct of research and takes allegations of conduct which deviate from the principles of research integrity seriously. Research misconduct occurs where there is an alleged breach of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the conduct occurred with intent and deliberation, recklessness or gross and persistent negligence and the consequences of the conduct are serious. This includes:
- false information on the public record;
- adverse effects on research participants, animals or the environment;
- fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research;
- failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest;
- conducting research without ethics approval as required by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes;
- avoidable failure to follow research proposals as approved by an ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, animals or the environment;
- misleading ascription of authorship; or
- the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.
A complaint or allegation of research misconduct may fall into the following categories:
- failure to take responsibility for achieving the standards aspired to in Part A of the Code;
- specific actions or omissions that constitute breaches of the Code, but lack seriousness of consequence or wilfulness; or
- serious breaches of the Code that are sufficiently substantial to warrant formal allegation, investigation, and denial or admission.
Complaints or allegations relating to the first two categories do not automatically constitute research misconduct, as they may have occurred due to ignorance, inexperience, or honest error.
Students and staff at the University of Tasmania
Speak to a Research Integrity Adviser or the Research Integrity Coordinator for to discuss the Code and the University's policies and procedures and the possible options for taking action. Research conduct issues should be referred, where ever possible, in the first instance to your supervisor or direct manager.
For People external to the University of Tasmania
If you are concerned that the conduct of a UTAS researcher or student has breached the principles of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research you are invited to discuss the matter with the Research Integrity Coordinator.
The University of Tasmania takes seriously its reporting obligations to external institutions. Increasingly, research funding bodies are requiring administering institutions to report on research integrity breaches and research misconduct. For example, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through its institutional funding agreement requires all institutions and researchers to comply with its Policy on Misconduct related to NHMRC Funding. Specifically, in relation any individual involved in NHMRC funded research, institutions must notify the NHMRC of:
- the outcomes of preliminary investigations undertaken in accordance with the Code where a breach of the Code and/or a prima facie case of research misconduct is found;
- the outcome of any research misconduct inquiries undertaken in accordance with the Code;
- a finding of research misconduct or breach of the Code that is proven without the need for a preliminary investigation or a research misconduct inquiry, such as where there is an admission of research misconduct, or compelling and uncontested evidence;
- any decision to suspend funding to an individual or team involved in NHMRC funded research; and
- all allegations which suggest an immediate high risk to human, animal or environment safety.
Similarly, in relation any individual involved in Australian Research Council (ARC) funded research or engaged in ARC business, through its Research Integrity and Research Misconduct Policy, the ARC requires notification from institutions when:
- an allegation of a research integrity breach or research misconduct is proven (and not contested) without the need for a formal research inquiry to be established; and/or
- a formal, internal or external research misconduct inquiry is commenced; and/or
- a formal, internal or external research misconduct inquiry is concluded (regardless of whether an allegation is proven or dismissed); and/or
- an institution has suspended funding to an individual or team involved in ARC funded research whilst an assessment or inquiry relating to research integrity or research misconduct is underway.
All researchers are expected to be aware of all reporting requirements imposed by funding agreements. By applying for and accepting research funding individuals consent to the University of Tasmania:
- collecting information about research conduct and other identifiable information and using it for the purposes of investigating or making enquiries in relation to a complaint or allegation of research misconduct; and
- notifying the funding body of the complaint or allegation and/or any decision resulting from any preliminary assessment or formal inquiry in accordance with the funding agreement and all relevant institutional policies.