The Concordat to Support Research Integrity (the Concordat) was developed by Universities UK with funding and research councils, the Wellcome Trust and a number of government departments. It was launched on 11 July 2012.
The Concordat recommends that universities should publish "a high-level statement on any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken", which should be presented annually to the University’s governing body and "should be made publicly available".
In July 2013, Research England (formerly Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)) made compliance with the Concordat a condition for research grants. It also required confirmation of compliance through the University’s annual assurance statement for 2013/14 to HEFCE in December 2014. In accordance with this recommendation, the University of Nottingham produced the first Annual Statement on Research Integrity to the Council, on the actions that Nottingham has undertaken to sustain and further enhance research integrity. The latest version of the statement can be found here.
There was no guidance provided, neither in the Concordat nor by HEFCE, about the format or content of the high-level statements. The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) created the Self-Assessment Tool for the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, which provided useful guidelines and a suggested structure of what such a statement might contain. The UKRIO self-assessment tool formed the basis of the University of Nottingham’s statement. This annual statement provides a wide ranging summary of activities undertaken across the University to support research integrity, including addressing allegations of misconduct.
Researchers must ensure that all research is subject to active and appropriate consideration of ethical issues. The University of Nottingham’s Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics provides a comprehensive framework for good research conduct and the governance of all research carried out across the University, including its international campuses.
The University of Nottingham also has a dedicated Code of Practice on Handling Allegation of Research Misconduct.
The code defines research misconduct activities in line with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, and is in line with UK Research Integrity Office recommendations. The code was also designed to meet the expectations of research funders and regulatory bodies.
Ethical review (and approval) is required where the research involves the participation of human participants, their data and/or their tissues. All parties involved with research should aim to maximise the benefit of the research and minimise any harm to participants, considering ethical issues throughout the research lifecycle.
The aim of ethical review is to ensure that research is conducted safely and appropriately, rather than to limit research activity. The route required for ethical approval depends on the nature of the research:
- If your research involves NHS patients or the use of an investigational medicinal product or medical devices, then the ethical review required is that of a Health Research Authority (HRA) Research Ethics Committee (REC) along with NHS Trust approvals. If your research involves only NHS staff or facilities, then you will require NHS approval only, along with an ethical opinion from an in-house (School) REC. Applications for the HRA REC and NHS approvals are coordinated via the Research Governance team (log-in required) or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
- Studies involving healthy human participants and/or their data require ethical review via an in-house (School /Faculty) REC (see below)
- Studies involving work with animals will need approval via the University’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB)
For studies involving healthy human participants, the University of Nottingham operates a devolved structure for ethical review, reflecting the diverse nature of research across the University. Review and approval takes place at School/Faculty level. Details of School/Faculty ethical review processes and further guidance can be accessed on the research ethics workspace pages (log-in required) or by contacting the relevant faculty directly.
The University’s Research Integrity and Ethics Committee reports to Senate and addresses both research integrity and research ethics.
The committee champions the training and embedding of a culture of research integrity and good practice across all areas of the University. It defines the University's research integrity and research ethics policy, establishes the process and procedures for providing oversight of research integrity and ethical review, and monitors best practice of research integrity and research ethics across the University.
It also takes into consideration differences between campuses and international legal frameworks, and sets minimum requirements for international research environments.