The College of Science and Engineering undertakes a wide range of research and consultancy work. At one end this covers research with human subjects (surveys, questionnaires, laboratory experiments), through clinically-related research on humans or human-derived tissue, and animals, to fundamental research in the fields of evolution, mathematics, informatics, chemistry, physics, astronomy and engineering.
Experimentation upon human subjects, human tissue (particularly stem cells), and animals is undertaken with strict adherence to the ethical principles laid down in the codes of practice referred to below and overseen by the appropriate research ethics committees. In addition, each School in the College has a member of staff who, with the Head of School, is available for dealing with the ethical issues that may arise from time to time.
In practice, the vast majority of the College's research does not raise ethical requirements that are not handled by the standard disclaimers signed by both Principal Investigator and Head of School. However, in some instances there is a need for ethical oversight and approval of specific research projects and several Schools in the College have instituted Research Committees to deal with these instances (including the School of Geosciences and School of Informatics). For those who do not have access to a School Ethical Committee, but where ethical issues do arise, they are dealt with on an ad hoc basis through the procedures (see link below) for the College agreed by the University Research Ethics Committee in 2004. Annual reports are prepared by the Schools and forwarded via the College to the University Committee.
There is the expectation that the research community maintains "the highest possible standards in the conduct of research ... [by ensuring] ... that all those engaged with research:
The above text is from the 'Concordat to Support Research Integrity' published by Universities UK:
As well as the familiar issues like plagiarism, data forgery and harm to participants, more contemporary issues where there are integrity risks include: digital image manipulation, inappropriate use of project funding, pressure from funders about research conclusions, how to relate to colleagues with hypothesised lower standards of ethics, authorship on papers, gratuitous citation agreements, multiple publication of the same result, open data/access, confidentiality of ideas encountered during proposal and paper review, etc.
The UK Research Integrity Office provides expert advice and guidance about the conduct of research.
This article was published on Aug 26, 2013