The University of Western Australia
The broad principles that guide research has long been established and central to these are the maintenance of high ethical standards, and validity and accuracy in the collection and reporting of data.
This policy provides a framework for sound research practice and for the protection of individual research workers, including staff and postgraduate research students, as well as contracted agents, from possible misunderstandings.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) administers funding for health and medical research on behalf of the Australian Government.
Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee (AVCC) is now Universities Australia (UA)
the University means The University of Western Australia.
UWA means The University of Western Australia.
1.1 The policy is based on the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice (1997), which was developed to provide a comprehensive framework of minimum acceptable standards, and has subsequently been updated to take account of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007).
1.2 All queries regarding the observance of this policy must be directed to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) [DVC (R)].
2.1 It is a basic assumption of the University that academic and research staff, and postgraduate research students, are committed to high standards of professional conduct.
2.2 Researchers have a duty to ensure that their work enhances the good name of the University and the profession to which they belong.
2.3 Researchers must only participate in work which conforms to accepted ethical standards and which they are competent to perform. When in doubt they must seek assistance with their research from their colleagues or peers.
2.4 Debate on, and criticism of, research work are essential parts of the research process.
2.5 The University and its researchers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all those associated with the research.
2.6 It is essential that the design of the research project takes account of any relevant ethical guidelines and legislative requirements.
2.6.1 Research must comply with established guidelines such as the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (2004).
2.6.2 Research must comply with relevant legislation including the Gene Technology Act 2000 and Regulations 2001, Federal and State Quarantine Acts and the National Health Security Act 2007 and Regulations 2008.
2.6.3 Where research procedures are of a kind requiring approval by a human or animal experimentation ethics committee, a biosafety committee, or by other validly constituted regulatory committees, research must not proceed without such approval.
2.7 It is acknowledged that research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples spans many methodologies and disciplines.
2.7.1 There are a wide variety of ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities or groups are involved in, or affected by, research. Such research must comply with Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (2003) and the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (2000).
2.8 Appropriate consumer involvement in research is encouraged and must comply with the Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (2002).
2.9 If data of a confidential nature is obtained, for example from the individual patient records or from certain questionnaires, confidentiality must be observed and researchers must not use this information for their own personal advantage or that of a third party.
2.10 Confidentiality may be necessary for a limited period in the case of contracted research or of non-contractual research which is under consideration for patent protection. In general, however, research results and methods must be open to scrutiny by colleagues within the institution and, through appropriate publication, by the profession at large.
3.1 Data (including electronic data) must be recorded in a durable and appropriately referenced form. Data management must comply with relevant privacy protocols, such as Standards Australia on personal privacy protection.
3.2 Data must be held for sufficient time to allow reference. For data that is published this may be for as long as interest and discussion persists following publication.
3.3 It is recommended that the minimum period for retention of data is at least five years from the date of publication but for specific types of research, such as clinical research, 15 years may be more appropriate.
3.4 Wherever possible, original data must be retained in the school or research centre in which they were generated.
3.5 Individual researchers are able to hold copies of the data for their own use. However, retention solely by the individual researcher provides little protection to the researcher or the University in the event of an allegation of falsification of data.
3.6 When the data is obtained from limited access databases, or via a contractual arrangement, the location of the original data must be identified, or key information regarding the database from which it was collected must be retained by the researcher or research centre.
3.7 In all cases, prior to the publication of research findings a Location of Data Form must be completed.
3.8 Data related to publications must be available for discussion with other researchers.
3.9 Where confidentiality provisions apply (for example, where the researchers or the University have given undertakings to third parties, such as the subjects of the research), it is desirable for data to be kept in a way that reference to them by third parties can occur without breaching such confidentiality.
3.10 Confidentiality Agreements have been developed to protect intellectual property rights (UWA Intellectual Property Policy and Regulations) belonging to the University, or to pass on obligations of confidence to others in relation to confidential information received by the University. Where such agreements limit free publication and discussion, limitations and restrictions must be explicitly agreed.
3.11 It is the obligation of the researcher to enquire whether confidentiality agreements apply, and of the Head of School or the research centre to inform researchers of their obligations with respect to these provisions.
3.12 All confidentiality agreements must be made known at an early stage to the DVC (R).
3.13 Researchers are responsible for ensuring appropriate security of any confidential material, including that held in electronic media.
3.14 Where computing systems are accessible through networks, particular attention to security of confidential data is required.
3.15 Security and confidentiality must be assured in a way that copes with multiple researchers and the departure of individual researchers.
4.1 The Head of School or academic unit must ensure that supervision of each research student/trainee (including Honours, Masters and Doctoral students, and early career postdoctoral staff) is assigned to specific, responsible and appropriately qualified senior research worker(s), and that the ratio of research students/trainees to supervisors is low enough to assure effective intellectual interaction and effective oversight of the research at all times.
4.2 Supervisors or Heads of Schools or academic units must provide each research student/trainee with written material on applicable Federal and State legislation and institutional guidelines for the conduct of research, including those covering ethical requirements for studies on humans and animals, hazardous materials including biohazards, requirements for confidentiality, and occupational health and safety matters.
4.3 Supervisors must provide guidance in all matters of good research practice. This includes discussing with the student, at the outset, relevant issues of research conduct and ethics, and intellectual property, and referring any problems/queries to the Head of School for consideration.
4.4 Supervisors must ensure, as far as possible, the validity of research data obtained by a student under his/her supervision.
5.1 The University recognises the importance of research being communicated to other researchers, professional practitioners and the wider community. Ideally this would occur after peer appraisal. Where research is reported in the public media prior to peer review, the reporting must be based on the research data and findings.
5.2 Peer assessment of research outcomes is important in the validation of research.
5.3 Wherever possible, researchers must submit their research for peer review.
5.4 Publication of multiple papers based on the same set(s) or subset(s) of data is not acceptable, except where there is full cross-referencing within the papers (for example, in a series of closely related work, or where a complete work grew out of a preliminary publication and this is fully acknowledged).
5.5 An author who submits substantially similar work to more than one publisher must disclose this to the publishers at the time of submission.
5.6 Publications must include information on the sources of financial support for the research. Financial sponsorship that carries an embargo on such naming of a sponsor must be avoided.
5.7 Publications involving either a student enrolled with the University, or a University staff member must acknowledge the work was carried out at the University by using the University by-line.
5.8 Deliberate inclusion of inaccurate or misleading information relating to research activity in curriculum vitae, grant applications, job applications or public statements, or the failure to provide relevant information, is a form of research misconduct. Accuracy is essential in describing the state of publication (in preparation, submitted, accepted), research funding (applied for, granted, funding period), and awards conferred, and where any of these relate to more than one researcher.
5.9 All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that published reports, statistics and public statements about research activities and performance are complete, accurate and unambiguous.
6.1 The minimum requirement for authorship must accord with the 'Vancouver Protocol' as set out in the fifth edition of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. Authorship is substantial participation, where all the following conditions are met:
6.2 Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusion must be the responsibility of at least one author. An author's role in a research output must be sufficient for that person to take responsibility for at least that part of the output in that person's area of expertise. No person who is an author, consistent with this definition, must be excluded as an author without their permission in writing.
6.3 Research students can be authors and own the copyright of their thesis, in accordance with Sub-Regulation 4 (2) of the UWA Intellectual Property Regulations.
6.4 Authorship of a research output is a matter that must be discussed between researchers at an early stage in a research project, and reviewed whenever there are changes in participation. If there are conflicts arising through disputes about authorship, the DVC (R) must be notified. The DVC (R) will determine the appropriate course of action.
6.5 When there is more than one co-author of a research output, one co-author (by agreement amongst the authors) must be nominated as executive author for the whole research output, and must take responsibility for record-keeping regarding the research output.
6.6 Where the research is published, including electronically, one author must be given principal status with the responsibility for signing a Statement of Authorship form ensuring that all co-authors are in agreement with their inclusion and that no person entitled to authorship as defined in clause 5.1 above has been excluded. Authors of web-based publications must be able to take responsibility for the publication's content and must be clearly identified in the publication.
6.7 The authors must ensure that others who have contributed to the work are recognised in the research output. Courtesy demands that individuals and organisations providing facilities must also be acknowledged.
7.1 The University encourages all researchers to participate in peer review because this provides expert scrutiny of a project, and helps to maintain high standards and encourage accurate, thorough and credible research reporting.
7.2 Participants in peer review must act fairly and in a timely manner, must keep confidential and not disclose the content or outcome of any process in which they are involved, must declare conflicts of interest, and must ensure that they are informed, and comply with the criteria to be applied.
7.3 Researchers whose work is undergoing peer review must not seek to influence the process or outcomes.
7.4 Supervising researchers have a responsibility to assist trainee researchers, including students, in developing the necessary skills for peer review and understanding their obligation to participate.
8.1 Disclosure of any potential conflict of interest is essential for the responsible conduct of research.
8.2 Researchers have an obligation to disclose any affiliation with, or financial involvement in, any organisation or entity with a direct interest in the subject matter or materials of researchers.
8.3 A conflict of interest may also arise if any organisation or entity with a direct interest in the subject matter provides direct benefits to the researchers such as sponsorship of the investigation, or indirect benefits such as the provision of materials or facilities or the support of individuals such as provision of travel or accommodation expenses to attend conferences.
8.4 Other examples of conflict of interest include where a researcher (or their spouse or dependent) has a financial interest (equity, directorship, consultant) in the funding agency or in an agency being paid from the grant funds, or where the terms of a new grant from a funding agency require disclosure of project data from a related project and the terms of the related project grant prevent that disclosure.
8.5 When a conflict of interest arises at the time of reporting or proposing research, and this conflict of interest has the potential to influence research and investigations, publication and media reports, grant applications, and applications for appointment and promotion, the researcher must disclose the details "in confidence" to the DVC (R) who will decide whether a conflict of interest exists and, if so, what further action should be taken.
8.6 The action taken by the DVC(R) in the case that a conflict of interest is identified will include consultation with the researcher and may also involve consultation with the funding agency or other parties to ensure that the conflict of interest does not compromise the research, or the University's interests.
8.7 In some circumstances, it may be necessary to reject or terminate a research project, or to disclose the conflict of interest to the editors of journals or the readers of published work arising from the research.
9.1 Where the University is involved in a joint research project, including overseas, an agreement must be reached in writing with the collaborating organisations detailing issues to do with intellectual property, confidentiality and copyright, sharing commercial returns, responsibility for ethics and safety clearances, and reporting to appropriate agencies.
9.2 The collaborating parties must identify a person to be involved in the management of research data, primary materials and other items to be retained at the end of the project.
Location of Data Form at
Statement of Authorship Form at
Confidentiality Agreements at http://www.research.uwa.edu.au/staff/funding/confidentiality-agreements
TRIM File No:
Director, Research Services
Related Policies or legislation:
Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice (1997) at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/grants/policy/researchprac.htm
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/e72syn.htm
Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (2004) at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/ea16syn.htm
Gene Technology Act 2000 and Regulations 2001 at http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/content/legislation-2
Quarantine Act 1908 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00167
WA Quarantine http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/PC_93008.html
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) at http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis
National Health Security Act 2007 at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2007A00174
National Health Security Regulations 2008 at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010C00436
Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (2003) at http://www.research.gov.au/publications/synopses/e52syn.htm
Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (2000) at http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/research/docs/ethics.pdf
Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (2002) at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/r22syn.htm
UWA Intellectual Property Policy and Regulations at http://www.legalservices.uwa.edu.au/lso/ip_res_contracts/2._ip_policy
UWA Code of Good Practice for Postgraduate Student Research and Supervision at http://www.postgraduate.uwa.edu.au/page/41555.
UWA Policy on Determining Authorship and Resolving Disputes between Authors at http://www.universitypolicies.uwa.edu.au/search?method=document&id=UP12%2F13.
Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals at http://www.icmje.org/