College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Research ethics and integrity

The University of Edinburgh is committed to ensuring that research ethics, integrity and governance have a high profile and are firmly embedded in the University’s ethos and culture.

This page outlines:

  • Research ethics, integrity and governance and where to get help
  • Research misconduct policy and who to contact should an issue or problem arise. 

The University has adopted the five commitments set out in the Universities UK Concordat to support research integrity:

  • maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research
  • ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
  • supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrityand based on good governance, best practice and support for the developmentof researchers
  • using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of researchmisconduct should they arise
  • working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly

Ethical Research

College researchers are obliged to:

  • Conduct research as capably as their knowledge permits.
  • Protect the dignity and preserve the wellbeing of human research participants.

Meeting these obligations requires:

  • Respect for free and informed consent from research participants. 
  • Respect for privacy and confidentiality of research participants. This respect begins with the identification of research subjects and continues through analysis of data and dissemination of results.
  • Minimising the impact and possible risks of research. This applies whether the impact is on individuals, communities, or environments. It is a strong obligation when research subjects may be vulnerable.
  • Protection of data to comply with UK regulations and agreed procedures regarding storage, archiving, and in some cases, destruction of data.
  • Operating with honesty and integrity at all times.

ACCORD - ethics and governance support

The Academic and Clinical Central Office for Research and Development (ACCORD) is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian Health Board.  

Based within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, ACCORD:

  •  provides a single point of entry for researchers throughout the lifecycle of their studies
  • aims to ensure  that the University meets clinical research governance and regulatory requirements, fulfils legal, ethical and scientific obligations, whilst nurturing and attracting world class research. This includes:  funding applications;  protocol development;  help with the IRAS form; planning study set-up; legal input; etc. It provides: governance and regulatory advice; quality assurance services; pharmaco-vigilance; training and guidance; etc.
  • Accord 
  • Key contacts
  •  General mailbox - email: researchgovernance@ed.ac.uk - managed by Research Governance Coordinators and Facilitators who can advise on ensuring your clinical research fulfils legal, regulatory, ethical and scientific obligations.

Research misconduct

What is research misconduct?

...fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research; deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviation from accepted practice or agreed protocols in carrying out research, and failure to avoid risk or harm to humans, animals used in research, and the environment where appropriate.Unversiity  Research Misconduct Policy, Page 1

  • Breaches to research integrity can be damaging to individuals and to institutions, undermine public trust, and in worst cases can cause harm.
  • The University's Research Misconduct Policy defines research misconduct to include (but not limited to) “fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research; deliberate, dangerous or negligent deviation from accepted practice or agreed protocols in carrying out research, and failure to avoid risk or harm to humans, animals used in research, and the environment where appropriate;”
  • The University misconduct policy “applies to anyone involved in research in the University, whether as an employee, student, research manager or in some other capacity, such as a visitor or external research collaborator.” (page 1 of policy)
  • Importantly, research misconduct can include errors which are made unwittingly, for example submitting a manuscript to several journals at once or the improper use and interpretation of statistical analyses.
  • Educating yourself on what constitutes misconduct, and seeking training where necessary, is key to avoiding breaches of research integrity.

How to report research misconduct

  • Contact the CMVM College Dean of Research. Should they be unavailable, contact the CMVM  Director of HR. CMVM staff list

  • For information on student academic misconduct, including procedures and key contacts, see the Academic Services website.

University-wide Research Misconduct Policy(642.96 KB PDF)

University Research Ethics and Integrity Review Group (REIRG)

The Research Ethics and Integrity Review Group (REIRG)  is a cross-College initiative that provides oversight and ensures that research integrity and governance is firmly embedded in the University’s ethos and culture.  Its website is a valuable source of information on research integrity.

Research Ethics and Integrity Review Group (REIRG)

Institute for Academic Development resources - research ethics and integrity

Key documents, training, etc. :

Institute for Academic Development - Research ethics and integrity

Links - Research misconduct 

University Policy relating to disciplinary, grievance and capability processes

EPSRC's Scientific Misconduct Policy

MRC Misconduct Policy

On-line training

Online Training and development resources relevant to Research Ethics and Integrity - both Internal and External resources

Other links

The University of Edinburgh:

Accord

External:

Universities UK concordat

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research  ethics and integrity

Medical Research Council - good research practice

Medical Research Council - Regulatory Support Centre resources and tool kits 

Medical Research Council - ethics e-learning

Research Governance Framework for Health and Community Care in Scotland

University of Edinburgh policies

The University's key commercial policies:

Anti-bribery and Corruption

Conflict of Interest

Delegated Scheme of Authority

Fraud and Misappropriation

Modern Slavery Act

The Procurement Journey

Receipt of gifts

Segregation of Duties

Whistleblowing

Other University of Edinburgh policies

Data protection principles 

Financial regulations

Freedom of Information request (FOI)

Health and safety codes of practices 

Insurance policies

Intellectual property 

Policy on use of animals in research (2013) 

Procurement for research purposes

Research and Data Protection

Research data management policy

Research integrity

Research misconduct - staff

Academic misconduct - students

Research publications policy

Supervisors and Research Students, Code of Practice 

Whistleblowing

Research integrity

UK Research Integrity Office: Code of Practice for Research

Singapore Statement on Research Integrity

Caldicott Guardian approval (NHS)