Research Integrity


Individual Responsibilities

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This section clarifies the personal responsibilities of researchers at all levels of their career.

As the level of responsibility increases, the requirements of the other categories continue to apply e.g., responsibilities set out for ‘Researcher’ apply also to ‘Principal Investigator’ or ‘Head of academic unit. Although each individual involved in research will have their own specific responsibilities in terms of their tasks and level of formal accountability, the principal rule is that you as an individual are responsible for your own actions. This section is complemented with specific responsibilities set out for the research life cycle.

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Researcher - staff and student 

Individual Researcher
For the purpose of this Code, ‘Researcher is defined as any person involved in research including, UCL students or staff, honorary staff, affiliate academics and visiting researchers. This definition includes anyone performing activities that support the ‘disciplined inquiry that aims to contribute to a body of knowledge or theory’ and would include technical or other professional staff directly engaged in the research activity themselves or on behalf of the academic staff. As a researcher: 

You Must

You Should

Supervisor of student research

As a student research supervisor:  

You Must

  • Ensure that appropriate risk assessments are completed prior to commencing research. Monitor and review at regular intervals, or in the event of change, as you are accountable for the safety of students under your supervision.  
  • Work with the students and others as necessary to ensure that all relevant ethical, legal and UCL requirements are fulfilled. 

You Should

  • Help students to identify and undertake appropriate training to ensure they are able to undertake the research according to best practices.  
  • Openly and honestly discuss, respect and acknowledge student contributions to research projects, including having conversations and setting expectations around intellectual property and potential authorship. 
Principal investigator

While responsibility for compliance with safety, ethics and any other legal standards lies with leaders of research groups, responsibility may be delegated to other staff provided that it is made clear and documented within the research group what is expected of each of its members. As a principal investigator:  

You Must

  • Ensure that appropriate risk assessments are completed prior to commencing research. Monitor and review at regular intervals, or in the event of change, as you are accountable for the safety of others under your supervision. 
  • Ensure that all relevant ethical, legal and UCL requirements relating to the work of your team are fulfilled.Take steps to ensure that all researchers involved in the work are aware of the relevant safety, ethical and legal standards and restrictions (e.g., on data sharing) relating to the research. 
  • Ensure the appropriate financial management of funds in line with UCL Financial Regulations and UCL Post Award Policy.  

You Should

Head of academic unit

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Heads of academic unit within the university include heads of faculty, departments, institutes and other academic divisions. As a Head of academic unit: 

You Should

  • Take steps to ensure that the research environment within your area encourages and supports a culture of research integrity and which is safe, welcoming and inclusive, recognising the social, moral and legal obligations to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of children and adults at risk involved in any UCL research activities (for more, please see UCL's policies on Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, Guidelines on EDI and Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk.
  • Have a good understanding of relevant UCL policies and guidelines, including this Code of Conduct, UCL’s Statement on Research Integrity, UCL Disclosure of Conflict and Declaration of Interest Policy, UCL Statement of Transparency and others. 
  • Take steps to ensure that researchers within your area are aware of relevant UCL policies. 
  • Consider if there is adequate professional services and administrative support available to enable the research, when approving research activities 
  • Encourage and enable training and development required for staff and students within your area. 
  • Take steps to help ensure that good practice and legal obligations relating to the management of research data are followed within your department/unit. 
  • Consider genuine concerns raised, including any supporting evidence, and take actions to resolve them. 


Collaborative work

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This applies to academic and non-academic collaborations including work with third parties, such as inter-faculty, team projects, and cross-institutional collaborations. We recognise that there might be different standards and requirements in different disciplines, institutions or countries. If there are any clashes or conflicts between the different requirements and policies, you should seek advice from the relevant department or individual, e.g., Research Services, Data Protection Office, UCL Research Ethics Committee, etc. 

As a UCL researcher, you should always build your collaborations on honesty, rigour, transparency, open communication, care and respect. 

You Must

  • Work in accordance with the policies and procedures of both UCL and the partner institution concerned. 

You Should

  • Inform collaborators of the behaviours and research integrity standards, including our legal and ethical obligations. 
  • Follow the standards for international collaborations as set out in ‘Global Code of Conduct’. 
  • Before the start of the research, clarify and agree with all the collaborators: 
    • The roles and responsibilities of all collaborators. You need to agree who the sponsor/s is/are and where the responsibility for the research lies, whether with UCL or other. This may need to be re-negotiation over time as appropriate. 
    • The laws and regulations that will apply, including if relevant regulatory permissions and approvals that will need to be obtained and adhered to e.g., data control and management, ethical review requirements, publication policy, procedures for handling conflicts, protection of the intellectual property, possible cases of misconduct, etc. 
  • Agree with all collaborators content and authorship on submissions for publication of the research results. 
  • Raise awareness with the collaborators of UCL policies, including UCL’s Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, current UCL guidance on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and UCL’s Safeguarding Policy.  


Please see associated policies and guidance - Quick Links