United Kingdom

1 institution

UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO)

Founding year

2006

History

The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent charity, offering support to the public, researchers and organisations to further good practice in academic, scientific and medical research.

 

We promote integrity and high ethical standards in research, as well as robust and fair methods to address poor practice and misconduct. We pursue these aims through our publications on research practice, the support and services we provide to organisations, our education and training activities, and by providing expert guidance in response to requests for assistance.

 

Since 2006, UKRIO has provided independent, expert and confidential support across all disciplines of research, from the arts and humanities to the life sciences. We help all involved in research: researchers, research organisations and members of the public, including patients and research participants.

 

UKRIO covers all research sectors: higher education, the National Health Service, private sector organisations and charities – wherever the research affects the public good. No other organisation in the UK has comparable expertise in providing such support in the field of research integrity.

 

As an advisory body, rather than a statutory regulator, there is no obligation to come to us for help but this has not stopped researchers and universities from seeking our assistance, often on difficult issues. Our publications have been endorsed by funding bodies and learned societies, and are used by many leading research organisations, including over 50 UK universities.

 

UKRIO is funded by subscriptions from research organisations.

  • Reflecting confidence in our approach to issues of research integrity and the services that we provide to the research community, today more than 60 UK universities and other research organisations subscribe to UKRIO, including most of the Russell Group of UK universities.
  • Most recently, universities from outside the UK have also discovered the benefits of a UKRIO subscription.

ENRIO member since

2008

Structure

The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent charity, offering support to the public, researchers and organisations to further good practice in academic, scientific and medical research.

Our role and remit: UKRIO is not a regulatory body and has no formal legal powers. UKRIO fills gaps between jurisdictions, where no overall regulation might apply, and helps to direct researchers, organisations and the public to regulatory bodies when issues fall within their jurisdiction.

We help institutions achieve high standards when they have to manage challenges to research integrity and support individuals faced with bad practice. Our advice and guidance emphasises the good practice that runs across all research disciplines and all regulatory remits. In this way our role complements that of regulatory bodies for research and supports the work of the UK Government and research funders.

Further information on our role and remit can be found on our website under Guidelines for Seeking Advice.

Main Tasks

Established in 2006, our aims are to:

  • Promote the good governance, management and conduct of academic, scientific and medical Research.
  • Share good practice on how to address poor practice, misconduct and unethical behaviour.
  • Give confidential, independent and expert advice on specific research projects, cases, problems and issues.

Key elements of our programme of work:

  • UKRIO’s advisory service, which provides independent, expert and confidential advice on the conduct of research, whether promoting good practice or addressing alleged poor practice and misconduct. The service is open to all and covers all subject areas. We welcome enquiries on general issues as well as specific projects and cases.
  • Publications on research integrity include UKRIO’s Code of Practice for Research (2009) and Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research (2008), as well as supplementary guidance on particular aspects of research practice and notable issues and pitfalls.
  • UKRIO’s Register of Advisors – experts who are available to serve as external members on panels investigating or adjudicating claims of research misconduct.
  • Expert assistance to organisations devising, implementing or revising systems to ensure good practice in research and address misconduct.
  • In-depth and long-term support to help improve standards of research practice, research governance and research ethics in institutions.
  • Advice and support in developing and delivering training programmes on issues of research integrity – from education about the responsible conduct of research to instruction for senior managers in the process of investigating allegations of research misconduct.
  • Raising awareness of research integrity and related issues.
  • Informing the development of new UK and other initiatives, using UKRIO’s unique experience, expertise and data. The UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity was developed with the assistance of UKRIO and it recognises us as a key part of the architecture for the future.
  • Additional services for subscribing institutions: organisations involved in research can choose to subscribe to UKRIO and receive additional, long-term support and services. We do not provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ service to our subscribers but tailor our activities to their particular needs. As well as the practical benefits, we feel that subscribing to UKRIO allows institutions to signal their commitment to support integrity and high ethical standards in their research.
    UKRIO provides an associate membership for non-UK research organisations that may wish to subscribe.
  • Annual conference on research integrity and other events

Investigation

Supporting research integrity in the UK

There is currently no overall statutory regulation of research conduct in the UK. Regulators – such as those for certain types of research (e.g. human clinical trials or research involving animal subjects) or for certain types of researchers (e.g. medical doctors) – are exceptions rather than the rule.

When issues of research conduct arise such as allegations of misconduct, unless the type of research is governed by statute, it normally devolves to the relevant employer to investigate and take any remedial actions. Research funders, via contractual mechanisms, help ensure that employers fulfil their responsibilities.

As stated in The Concordat to Support Research Integrity, research organisations are also responsible for taking positive steps to ensure that their research meets accepted standards, ‘…collaborating to maintain a research environment that develops good research practice and nurtures a culture of research integrity… supporting researchers to understand and act according to expected standards, values and behaviours’. Again, funders help ensure that employers fulfil these responsibilities.

This work by employers and funders is supported by the activities of UKRIO, learned societies, professional bodies and other networks. Safeguarding and enhancing research integrity in the UK can therefore be said to have a tripartite structure: research organisations supporting and overseeing their researchers; funding bodies monitoring research organisations; and UKRIO and others supporting the first two groups. At the core is self-regulation by researchers but this is not taken for granted, as demonstrated by the roles and activities of the three groups.

The role of UKRIO

UKRIO is an independent charity, a not-for-profit advisory body on issues of research conduct, providing confidential and expert support across all subject areas. We help all involved in research

members of the public, individual researchers and research organisations including universities, NHS bodies, private sector organisations and charities.

UKRIO’s work includes helping individuals raise concerns about research conduct with the appropriate organisation(s) and advising employers and other bodies on how to investigate allegations of research misconduct in a fair, thorough, timely and transparent manner.

UKRIO is not a regulatory body. The guidance we offer is not mandatory but reflects best practice in research and addressing misconduct and questionable practices in research. We do not have a case investigation or oversight role, though we can and do participate in investigations at the request of an employer, regulator or other appropriate body or person. This includes sourcing experts who act as external members of institutional panels investigating allegations of research misconduct.

Advice from UKRIO is open to all. Further information, including how to contact us, can be found here: http://ukrio.org/get-advice-from-ukrio/

UKRIO has also published benchmark guidance for conducting investigations of alleged misconduct in research (UKRIO Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research). Many leading research organisations, including over 50 universities, use our published guidance, which is endorsed by funding and professional bodies.

Workflow of a research misconduct investigation

An allegation of research misconduct is reported to a UK research organisation. The organisation would assess the allegation to determine:

  • Has it been submitted to the organisation which has responsibility for the research project(s) in question or should it be forwarded to another research organisation?
  • Does the allegation need immediate referral to a statutory regulator or other external body?
  • What legal, contractual, ethical and other obligations exist regarding the research project(s) in question?
  • Is there a need to take immediate action to prevent harm or risk of harm to research participants, patients or others?

The allegation would then undergo an initial assessment to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a formal investigation of the allegation (i.e. whether there is a prima facie case to answer).

The initial assessment may recommend a formal investigation of the allegation. Alternatively it may recommend: that the allegation be dismissed because it is mistaken or because it is vexatious/malicious; that the allegation be referred to an external body, such as a statutory regulator; or when the matter is of a relatively minor nature, that it should be addressed through education and training or other non-disciplinary approach, such as mediation.

The purpose of a formal investigation is to conclude whether the allegation of misconduct is upheld in full, upheld in part or dismissed. It will also make recommendations regarding any further action the Formal Investigation Panel deems necessary to address any misconduct it may have found, correct the record of research and safeguard research participants, patients or others.

These recommendations might include:

  • whether the allegation should be referred to the organisation’s disciplinary procedure;
  • what external organisations should be informed of the findings of the investigation, such as statutory regulators, funding bodies, partner organisations and professional bodies;
  • whether any action will be required to correct the record of research, including but not limited to informing the editors of relevant journals;
  • whether procedural or organisational matters should be addressed by the organisation;
  • informing research participants or patients or their doctors;
  • noting other matters that should be investigated;
  • supporting the reputations of persons who have raised concerns in good faith/ the public interest; and
  • supporting the reputations of persons who have been accused of misconduct but exonerated after an investigation.

Training

UKRIO provides advice and support in developing and delivering training on issues of research integrity, from education about the responsible conduct of research to instruction for senior managers in the process of investigating allegations of research misconduct.

UKRIO staff and members of our Register of Advisers also deliver training direct, both standalone sessions and those which can be integrated into existing staff or student development programmes.

Sessions are designed to share good practice in the conduct of research and pass on the lessons that UKRIO has learnt through its advice and guidance services. The focus is on raising awareness of research integrity, providing practical and useful support on how to avoid or address common issues, and using illustrative case studies to demonstrate how situations can arise and be resolved.

Our training sessions also provide a forum for delegates to relate their own experiences in confidence, consider how research integrity is best supported in different contexts and seek advice on difficult issues.

UKRIO provides training that emphasises the good practice that runs across all research disciplines as well as sessions that focus on a single discipline. Topics include:

  • General introductions to research integrity and research misconduct
  • How to adapt our published guidance for use in specific research environments
  • Training for managers and administrators who have responsibility for investigating allegations of misconduct in research
  • Case study workshops
  • Sessions which focus on particular aspects of research integrity, such as research ethics, informed consent, internet-mediated research or publication ethics and authorship in academic publications.
  • Approaches to implementing the requirements of research funders and other bodies, such as the UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity

As well as delivering training, UKRIO also gives informal and formal input into the development of institutional programmes for the education and training of staff and research students.

Promoting Research Integrity

UKRIO contributes to the national and international promotion of integrity in research. This involves discussion of our work at conferences and other events, giving lectures and case study workshops, as well as articles in academic journals and in the press. We also hold our own events to support good research practice.

We also undertake regular visits to a large number of UK research organisations/

UKRIO also contributes to the development of initiatives to support and sustain good research practice, such as the UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity. We use our unique experience, expertise and data to inform these processes, to help ensure the promotion of high quality research and the protection of participants and patients.

Other tasks:

Please see under ‘Key elements of our programme of work’, above in the area Main Tasks

Contact

James Parry

Chief Executive, UK Research Integrity Office

UK Research Integrity Office
Sussex Innovation Croydon
No 1 Croydon
12-16 Addiscombe Road
Croydon CR0 0XT - UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0) 20 3828 1325