Breaches, Misconduct and Complaints

  • What is a breach?

    The NHMRC’s Guide to Managing and Investigating Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research defines a breach as “ Failure to meet the principals and responsibilities of the code, and may refer to a single breach or multiple breaches .”

    The seriousness of a breach of the Code is reviewed on a sliding scale. A major research breach (or continued and repeated breaches) is considered research misconduct.

    When the seriousness of a breach is assessed, these factors will be considered:

    • How much the conduct deviated from the expected practice;
    • Who is affected by the breach and to what degree;
    • Whether the integrity of the research is compromised and, if so, to what extent;
    • Whether the researcher is experienced and if they have been found guilty of previous breaches.
    Minor research breaches are typically rectified through advice and counselling and rarely require an investigation. Examples include:
    • administrative errors;
    • clerical errors; and
    • unintentional oversights.

    Some examples of major breaches may include but is not limited to:

    1. fabrication of results;
    2. falsification or misrepresentation of results;
    3. plagiarism;
    4. misleading ascription of authorship;
    5. use of others' intellectual property without due acknowledgment;
    6. failure to declare and manage serious conflicts of interest;
    7. failure to responsibly manage and administer research funds;
    8. falsification or misrepresentation to obtain funding;
    9. conducting research without appropriate approvals such as written ethics approval, licenses and permits;
    10. risking the safety of human participants, or the wellbeing of animals or the environment;
    11. deviations from the Code that occur through gross or persistent negligence; and
    12. wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.
  • Recommended definition of research misconduct

    Research misconduct is a serious breach of the Code which is also intentional or reckless or negligent.

    Breaches of the Code and allegations of misconduct should be reported immediately, and will be investigated accordingly.

  • Who do I contact regarding concerns, breaches or misconduct?

    If you have a concern regarding research conduct at the University, you should first talk to a Research Integrity Advisor (RIA). They will be able to provide advice regarding the relevant Codes and Procedures and help you to determine if the matter should be referred to the Research Integrity Unit.

    You can also contact the Research Integrity Unit to discuss a matter, or if you would like to lodge a submission regarding a potential breach or allegation of misconduct. Submissions for student research misconduct can be made via Student Conduct.

    If you are concerned about research conduct at another institution, it is best to directly go to that institution's equivalent research integrity office.

  • Investigation Process

    Charles Sturt has designed a procedure that supports the process to receive, investigate and manage complaints or allegations surrounding research activity that is occurring in contradiction to the Code. This process has been guided by the Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the Guide).

    This process applies to all research activity undertaken by University staff and students, where a concern has been raised.

    Manage & Investigation Process

  • Roles and Responsibilities

    Responsible Executive Officer* (REO)

    At the University, the Vice-Chancellor undertakes the role of Responsible Executive Officer and:

    • is provided with a report at the conclusion of the assessment or investigation of potential or found breaches of the Code and;
    • decides on the course of action to be taken.

    Designated Officer* (DO)

    The Manager, Research Integrity Unit is appointed as the DO to:

    • receive complaints about the conduct of research or potential breaches of the Code;
    • and to oversee their management and investigation where required.

    Assessment Officer* (AO)

    The Assessment Officer is a person or persons appointed by the University to conduct a preliminary assessment of a complaint about research.

    Research Integrity Advisors (RIA)

    A Research Integrity Advisor will champion Charles Sturt University policy and procedure in order to foster responsible research conduct.

    The RIAs engage with university staff, students and the public to discuss concerns regarding the conduct of research and provide advice about the options available for progressing or resolving the matter.

    If required, the Research Integrity Advisor will also report breaches of the Code to the Designated Officer.

    Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

    The Research Integrity Officer is responsible for the coordination of the research integrity breach investigation process and providing support to the Research Integrity Advisors network and Designated Officer.

    Review Officer (RO)

    A senior University staff member with the responsibility to receive requests for a procedural review of an investigation of a breach of the Code.

    * Roles of DO and AO may be performed by the same individual in any one matter, however, the role of REO must be performed by a different individual.