Research is a corporate activity involving the responsible use of resources for a defined outcome, carried-out in an ethical way. To manage this complex work environment in such a way that research is both productive and enlivening it is important to outline the nature of research best practice and clarify the responsibilities of key stakeholders. To assist in this the National Health and Medical Research Council have produced an “Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research” (https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39_
australian_code_responsible_conduct_research_150107.pdf). The current policy is a response to this document.
To identify best practice in the conduct of research by the College and to note the responsibilities of key stakeholders.
This policy applies to all research stakeholders including the College’s senior management, Chief Investigators, research supervisors and students of the College whether they are supervisees or not.
Chief Investigator means the individual in-charge of the research activity. The Chief Investigator will always be a paid employee of the college.
Research Supervisor means the person authorised by the College to guide a post-graduate student (ie supervisee) through a research activity. A Research Supervisor will be a paid employee of the College, or in the case of an Associate Research Supervisor may be a paid/honourary member of faculty. A Research Supervisor will often be a Chief Investigator.
Supervisee means a post-graduate student of the College who is in a professional relationship with a Research Supervisor for the duration of a research activity.
Research activity means any act of research conducted under the auspices of Eastern College Australia. The Research Framework Policy describes research as “A God honouring creative, but logical, process in which an established body of knowledge is engaged with and enlarged.” That undergraduate activities are not designed to enlarge the body of knowledge they are not subject to this policy. Therefore a research activity may be as large as a multi-year research project or as limited as a single unit post-graduate social enquiry.
The Code means The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
- Eastern College Australia affirms the intent of the The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (ie The Code) while seeking to implement The Code in an institutionally-appropriate manner.
- In accordance with The Code, Eastern College Australia affirms its willingness to work with researchers to provide them with those resources they need to initiate, maintain and complete research activities in a timely manner. This will be contingent on factors such as institutional finances and workloads.
- All researchers are to:
- comply with relevant legislation, The Code, institutional policy and procedure, as well as external approvals/agreements in the conduct of research;
- maintain a research environment characterised by a culture of safety;
- conduct research characterised by “respect, honesty [eg conflicts of interests], integrity and rigour” as well as the “…ethical principles of integrity, respect for persons, justice and beneficence.”;
- maintain “…clear and accurate records…” ; and
- maintain the privacy of participants.
- Chief Investigators are to oversee all aspects of the research process. Chief Investigators will hold a doctorate in a field aligned with the research being undertaken and be a paid faculty member of the College.
- Where a research project involves the supervision of a post-graduate student a Research Supervisor will be appointed by the College in a timely manner. The appointment will be based upon both the student’s chosen topic and with regard to faculty members’ workload and expertise. Typically, the Research Supervisor will also be the Chief Investigator for the research to be undertaken. However, in so much as a Research Supervisor is a ‘teacher of research’ their specific responsibilities are focused on the intellectual life of the supervisee, their emotional welfare and the timely production of research-related work appropriate for examination and/or publication.
- While many research activities will require only one Research Supervisor some may require more. If so, then other academics may be appointed by the Research Supervisor as Associate Research Supervisors. Associate Research Supervisors may be permanent, casual, sessional or Honourary members of staff.
- The College is responsible for accrediting all Research Supervisors.
- Responsibilities of a supervisee are described in policy and are consistent with the responsibilities of a researcher as described above. Supervisees are also required to be active and cooperative members of the research team able to show initiative when solving either research problems or when interacting with supervisors and/or the College.
- The responsibilities of research participants are to:
- take part in a research activity only once they can give their informed consent;
- withdraw from participation if they become uncomfortable or if a hazard present;
- conduct oneself with integrity during participation;
- report concerns, a complaint or distress in a timely manner in accordance with the participant information letter; and
- advocate for oneself in managing/decreasing any distress experienced.
- Misconduct as it applies to research is, at least, irresponsible and, at worst, represents a form of institutional risk as well as having the potential to harm individuals. As such it will not be tolerated.
- Several forms of misconduct may arise generally within the College. Bullying, discrimination and academic integrity are to be dealt with in accordance with the College’s Anti-bullying Policy, Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Academic Integrity Policy.
- However, when research occurs other forms of misconduct may become apparent. They are:
- Academic integrity as applied to the creation/falsification of data by either a faculty member or a research student, as well as plagiarism by a faculty member.
- Incompetence or negligence by either a faculty member or research student.
- Sexual harassment and/or engaging in inappropriate relationships initiated by either a faculty member or a research student.
- Breaches of licences, contracts, or approvals by either a faculty member or a research student.
- To effectively deal with research misconduct the College encourages faculty members and research students to identify potential breaches and report them. People wishing to make an allegation of misconduct are directed to the College’s Complaints and Grievances Policy and its associated procedure.
- All allegations of misconduct will be dealt with promptly, thoroughly and fairly in accordance with the Complaints and Grievances Policy.
- The person against whom the allegation is made has the right to natural justice (i.e. the right to know what is alleged against them, the right to put their case in reply, the right for any decision to be made by an impartial decision-maker and, given the non-trivial nature of misconduct allegations, the right of appeal).
- Complaints will be treated in confidence where possible. When confidentiality cannot be guaranteed this will be indicated to the complainant and to the accused person (e.g. complaints regarding breaches of ethics will be reported to the Human Research Ethics Committee).
- All parties will be treated with respect.