Country Report
United Kingdom

National Research Integrity Landscape

The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is the UK’s national advisory body for research integrity. Established in 2006, UKRIO delivers a wide-ranging programme of guidance and support to enhance good research practice and research culture. There are many other national and international organisations that address aspects of research integrity as part of their wider activities, such as open research, research culture or publication ethics.

The UK’s national framework for research integrity is The Concordat to Support Research Integrity. Complying with the Concordat is a contractual requirement by some research funders but is otherwise voluntary. UKRIO’s activities include support on how to comply with the Concordat.

In the UK, individual research employers are responsible for investigating allegations of research misconduct. There is no national regulator or other body to investigate or oversee research misconduct investigations. Funders can require institutions to report on investigations to them, as part of compliance with the Concordat or other contractual obligations. UKRIO provides advice and guidance on misconduct investigations to individuals and organisations.

UKRIO has produced this map of the research integrity landscape in the UK. It is illustrative of those involved in UK research integrity and is not exhaustive. Other organisations with key roles in this landscape include Government, regulatory bodies, research funders, learned societies and professional bodies, the UK Reproducibility Network and the UK Committee on Research Integrity.

There is 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 organisations and 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 UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent charity which works closely with the research community to ensure UK research is produced to the highest integrity, quality and efficacy. It offers support to the public, researchers and organisations to further good practice in academic, scientific and medical research.

Established in 2006, UKRIO is the UK’s most experienced research integrity organisation and provides independent, expert and confidential support across all disciplines of research, from the arts and humanities to the life sciences. UKRIO covers all research sectors: higher education, the NHS, private sector organisations and charities. No other organisation in the UK has comparable expertise in providing such support in the field of research integrity.

Assessment framework

As noted above, the UK’s national framework for research integrity is The Concordat to Support Research Integrity. Complying with the Concordat is a contractual requirement by some research funders but is otherwise voluntary. The Concordat and research funder policies require research employers to establish their own frameworks and systems to govern the research which they conduct.

UKRIO ’s activities include support on how to comply with the Concordat and support for research organisations in fulfilling both funder requirements and wider responsibilities for research integrity. It has developed key guidance for UK research integrity, including its Code of Practice for Research and Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research, as well as many other resources. It assisted in developing the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.


Mission(s) and tasks

UKRIO’s vision is that through its activities, the UK research community is supported to produce work of the highest integrity, quality and efficacy. UKRIO pursues its vision in three ways:

  • Education via guidance publications on research practice, training activities and comprehensive events programme.
  • Sharing best practice within the community by thought leadership, facilitating discussions about key issues, informing national and international initiatives, and working to improve research culture.
  • Giving confidential expert guidance in response to requests for assistance.

UKRIO welcomes enquiries on any issues relating to the conduct of research, whether promoting good research practice, seeking help with a particular research project, responding to allegations of fraud and misconduct, or improving research culture and systems.


Advisory Service


UKRIO is an independent charity, supporting the public, individual researchers and research organisations to further good practice in academic, scientific and medical research and in addressing allegations of poor practice, unethical behaviour and misconduct. It provides impartial advice on research conduct, including allegations of misconduct. It does not have regulatory powers; it advises and helps enquirers. UKRIO does not have an investigatory, oversight, or adjudication role; its representatives may take part in investigations at the request of an employer, regulator or other appropriate body or person.

The charity’s advice is not mandatory or legal advice. Based on the information provided to it, UKRIO advises enquirers on how to proceed in the most appropriate way. This will include suggesting which body/bodies might best resolve the issue(s), perhaps an employer. UKRIO’s advice is not mandatory, but reflects best practice in the conduct of research and addressing misconduct. The charity’s guidance is not a substitute for legal advice from suitably qualified persons.


UKRIO is a registered charity under UK law and consists of four elements. It is overseen by a Board of Trustees; UKRIO’s Office Team carries out UKRIO’s programme of work to support UK research. The Office Team and Trustees are supported by expert advice from an Advisory Council and an Advisory Community of volunteers.

Scope and remit

The role of UKRIO is as an advisory body. It is not a regulatory organisation 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.

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


Guidance from UKRIO’s Advisory Service can be sought via its website, which contains information on the work of the Advisory Service and its scope, answers to common enquiries/ questions and a form to submit an enquiry and ask for advice.

UKRIO adheres to a standard protocol when responding to requests for assistance.


Definition of research misconduct

There is no UK-wide agreed definition of the term. Although The Concordat to Support Research Integrity sets out a definition that has seen significant uptake within higher education, and which has been adopted by UKRIO, this has yet to be adopted and used by all research sectors in the UK. The definition is used in UKRIO’s outputs, in particular its  Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research, and has been adopted and operationalised by the UK higher education institutions and other organisations which have implemented the Concordat.

The Concordat to Support Research Integrity (2019) definition:

Research misconduct can take many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Fabrication: making up results, other outputs (for example, artefacts) or aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent, and presenting and/or recording them as if they were real
  • Falsification: inappropriately manipulating and/or selecting research processes, materials, equipment, data, imagery and/or consents
  • Plagiarism: using other people’s ideas, intellectual property or work (written or otherwise) without acknowledgement or permission
  • Failure to meet: legal, ethical and professional obligations, for example:
    • not observing legal, ethical and other requirements for human research participants, animal subjects, or human organs or tissue used in research, or for the protection of the environment
    • breach of duty of care for humans involved in research whether deliberately, recklessly or by gross negligence, including failure to obtain appropriate informed consent
    • misuse of personal data, including inappropriate disclosures of the identity of research participants and other breaches of confidentiality
    • improper conduct in peer review of research proposals, results or manuscripts submitted for publication. This includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for the purposes of peer review
  • Misrepresentation of:
    • data, including suppression of relevant results/data or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence presenting a flawed interpretation of data
    • involvement, including inappropriate claims to authorship or attribution of work and denial of authorship/attribution to persons who have made an appropriate contribution
    • interests, including failure to declare competing interests of researchers or funders of a study
    • qualifications, experience and/or credentials
    • publication history, through undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication
  • Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct: failing to address possible infringements, such as attempts to cover up misconduct and reprisals against whistle-blowers or failing to adhere appropriately to agreed procedures in the investigation of alleged research misconduct accepted as a condition of funding. Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct includes the inappropriate censoring of parties through the use of legal instruments, such as non-disclosure agreements.

Honest errors and differences in, for example, research methodology or interpretations do not constitute research misconduct.

Source: The Concordat to Support Research Integrity, Universities UK et al. (2019), Commitment 4, p 12-13.

Advice and appeal

UKRIO’s advice is not mandatory, but reflects best practice in the conduct of research and addressing misconduct. Its guidance is not a substitute for legal advice from suitably qualified persons.

Appeal of any advice of UKRIO’s Advisory Service is not necessary, as the advice is not mandatory, hence, it is not appealable.


Follow-up and monitoring

Those who receive advice from UKRIO are free to contact UKRIO as their situation progresses and seek further advice.



Research organisations in the UK are subject to a variety of legal governance requirements and other obligations. For higher education institutions and public bodies, this includes being subject to Freedom of Information legislation. Both the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and many research funder requirements mandate report of anonymised summary data on research misconduct cases at an institution, though these requirements have limited uptake outside of higher education. Research funder grant contracts can also mandate reporting to funders by research organisations in relation to research misconduct cases on grant-funded research projects.

UKRIO is overseen by its Board of Trustees and is subject to UK law, including legal requirements for UK charities.



For illustrative resources, see:

For further information, see:

For questions, send an e-mail to: Steph Neave, Chief Executive Officer ( )


Last update: May 2024