Revised UCL Research Misconduct Procedure 

13 March 2014

UCL’s procedure for investigating and resolving allegations of misconduct in academic research (the ‘research misconduct procedure’) has been in place for many years. The procedure has recently been reviewed by UCL’s Research Governance Committee (RGC) and revised with effect from 1 March 2014.

The procedure is a mechanism to investigate allegations of misconduct in academic research. It enables the full and fair investigation of allegations of this kind by an expert panel. The panel reaches a conclusion on the allegations made and recommends follow-up action. In the event that the allegation is found to be proven, follow-up action may include the use of UCL’s standard disciplinary processes. It is important to stress, however, that the research misconduct procedure is not itself a disciplinary procedure.

UCL’s RGC is charged, inter alia, to oversee and con-ordinate the operation of the research misconduct procedure. RGC requested that a working group review the procedure to ensure that it reflects and is responsive to UCL circumstances and terminology, and meets the relevant UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) standards that are considered to be the benchmark in the higher education sector.

The working group comprised representatives from Academic Services, Human Resources, the Joint Research Office and Legal Services. The group has completed its work. The revised version, based on the UKRIO model procedure, has been approved by RGC and is available online here

Particular improvements to the revised version include:

  • streamlining processes to balance the requirement for thorough investigation with a timely outcome for individuals;
  • enabling the Registrar (who is the UCL officer responsible for the procedure) to undertake action at the preliminary stages, including (i) seeking additional information to make clearer decisions and (ii) the ability to rebut allegations with little substance; and
  • ensuring that individual(s) about whom allegations have been made are informed at an earlier stage in the process and enabled to make personal representations to clarify matters, with the intention of resolving more matters earlier in the process.

Members of UCL – staff, honorary staff or students – who wish to raise concerns about possible research misconduct should contact the Registrar in the first instance. The revised procedure provides for the Registrar to carry out an initial assessment of allegations. Members of UCL are advised not to carry out their own informal enquiries into matters of this kind.

UCL also operates a Code of Conduct for Research http://www.ucl.ac.uk/srs/governance-and-committees/resgov/code-of-conduct-research, which comprises a series of statements of good practice in research.

Any member of UCL staff and/or UCL student and/or persons connected with UCL who wish to disclose concerns about possible research misconduct anonymously, often termed as ‘whistleblowers’, should do so under UCL’s Public Interest Disclosure policy instead of the research misconduct procedure.

Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) and Chair of UCL Research Governance Committee