The Concordat to Support Research Integrity (the Concordat) developed by the Universities UK with the 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 HEFCE) made compliance with the Concordat a condition for research grants and requires confirmation of compliance through the University’s annual assurance statement for 2013/14 to HEFCE in December 2014. In accordance to this recommendation, the University of Nottingham produced the first Annual Statement on Research Integrity to the Council (the University of Nottingham’s governing body) on the actions that the University have undertaken to sustain and further enhance research integrity. The latest version of the statement can be found here - 2017-18 Annual Statement on Research Integrity to the Council.
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 suggested structure of what such a statement might contain. The UKRIO Self-Assessment Tool for the Concordat to Support Research Integrity 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 the University’s international campuses.
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 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
- 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 the school/faculty level. Details of school/faculty ethical review processes and further guidance can be accessed on the research ethics workspace pages.
The University’s Research Ethics Committee oversees the organisation, implementation and arrangements of non-medical research ethics, monitoring delivery within schools and advising Senate regarding the University’s framework, policy and procedures for ethical review.