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Professional conduct

At ECU, our approach to Research Integrity and meeting the principles and responsibilities of the Australian Code, is addressed through three components of world class research and underpinned by three supporting structures. Professional Conduct is a key component of this approach and encompasses:

  • Peer Review;
  • Breaches to the Code;
  • Conflict of Interest; and
  • Publication and Dissemination.

As presented in ‘Peer Review; the supporting guide to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research’, Peer review is ‘the impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field’ (NHMRC 2018) and has a number of important roles in research including:

  • the assessment of research proposals and grant applications;
  • the assessment and selection of material for publication and dissemination;
  • the assessment of the research of Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates;
  • the assessment of research quality, engagement and impact by government bodies; and
  • other reviews or assessments of research conducted by individual researchers, teams,
  • academic units and institutions.

Under the Code, researchers have the responsibility to: (R28) ‘Participate in peer review in a way that is fair, rigorous and timely and maintains the confidentiality of the content’ (NHMRC 2018). Researchers must participate in the peer review process, conduct peer review responsibly, avoid interference in the peer review process and engage with the professional conduct module within ECUs research integrity professional learning program to be aware of their obligations relating to peer review.

Researchers and supervisors should be familiar with the ECU Authorship, Publication or Research and Peer Review policy and guidelines which set out the position for the promotion of an environment of collegiality, honesty, integrity, accuracy and responsibility within the impartial and independent scholarly assessment of research activities.

The peer review process may also draw attention to departures from the principles in the Code, including by identifying plagiarism, duplicative publication, errors and misleading statements. Peer reviewers should familiarise themselves with the processes involved in reporting potential breaches of the Code identified during the peer review process.

Useful Information

Research conduct which fails to meet the principles and responsibilities of the Code (including; not meeting required research standards, fabrication, falsification, misrepresentation and plagiarism), may be defined as a breach. ECU manages these breaches primarily through the Research Misconduct Policy and Research Misconduct Assessment procedures, supported by the ‘Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018’, one of the companion guides to the Code.

The Code sets out a number of responsibilities for researchers and institutions when preventing, detecting, reporting and investigating potential breaches to the code.  For more information on those responsibilities, along with ECUs approach to managing breaches or to raise a concern or complaint on research conduct see the Managing and Reporting Breaches of the Code webpages.

The Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code) requires researchers to ‘disclose and manage all interests that are relevant or could appear to be relevant to proposed or ongoing research (R24)’ (NHMRC 2018).

All researchers and supervisors should be familiar with the ECU Conflict of Interest Policy and guidelines, which set out the requirements for the disclosure and management of actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest and outlines the principles, roles, responsibilities and procedures that govern the University’s process.

The Policy requires that at the time that an individual identifies an actual or perceived conflict of interest that is likely to conflict with a University activity they are going to participate in, they immediately disclose the conflict to their supervisor. The supervisor should ensure that the individual’s conflict of interest is recorded by ensuring the individual completes a Conflicts of Interest Disclosure Form. For more information see ECUs Conflict of Interest webpages.

ECUs Legal and Integrity staff can provide face-to-face training if you need further support in understanding the identifying or managing actual or perceived conflicts of interest. For further information please contact: integrity@ecu.edu.au. Researchers can also engage with the conflict of interest module within ECUs research integrity professional learning program to further understand their obligations under the Code.

Under the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research (2019), researchers have the responsibility to:

  • Disseminate research findings responsibly, accurately and broadly. Where necessary, take action to correct the record in a timely manner (R23); and
  • Cite and acknowledge other relevant work appropriately and accurately (R27).

Researchers have a responsibility to their colleagues and the wider community to disseminate a full account of their research and to acknowledge those who have contributed to it. The University promotes an environment of collegiality, honesty, integrity, accuracy and responsibility in the authoring, reviewing and publication of research findings.

The responsible dissemination of research findings is promoted through the Authorship, Publication of Research, and Peer Review policies and guidelines and supported by ongoing, online and face to face researcher professional learning. ECU researchers will adopt referencing methods set out in the ECU Library Referencing Guide to ensure that information and ideas (published or unpublished) from other people are acknowledged appropriately and accurately.

The Library Publishing Library Guide can provide further information for researchers.

Useful Information

Professional Conduct: Peer Review; Breaches of the Code; Conflict of Interest; and Publication and Dissemination.Research Services are continuing to develop this professional conduct domain which includes:

Further information will become available throughout the year, however in the meantime if you wish to discuss further, please contact:

Research Integrity & Data Coordinator
Claire Blankley
Email: c.blankley@ecu.edu.au

Manager, Research Governance
Stacey Waters
Email: Stacey.waters@ecu.edu.au

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