Research Integrity at ACU

ACU is committed to promoting and ensuring the responsible conduct of research. This includes fostering an environment characterised by the following principles:

  • Intellectual honesty, responsibility and accountability in undertaking and reporting research;
  • Respect for all participants in and subjects of research, including humans, animals and the environment;
  • Accuracy in representing contributions to research;
  • Collegiality and fairness in interactions, including communications and sharing of resources with other researchers; and
  • Transparency in declaring conflicts of interest.

Research integrity (RI) is conducting research in a way which allows others to have trust and confidence in the methods used and the findings in that result. It is not just a reflection of the individual research project, but of the institution, its researchers and the wider research community.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018 establishes a framework for responsible research conduct that provides a foundation for high-quality research, credibility and community trust in the research endeavour. The Code is supported by a series of guides that are designed to assist researchers and institutions in meeting their obligations.

The principles that ACU and all researchers must adhere to are:

  • Honesty (P1), rigour (P2) and accountability (P7): in the development, undertaking and reporting of research. 
  • Transparency (P3): in declaring interests and reporting research methodology, data and findings
  • Fairness (P4): in the treatment of others
  • Respect (P5): for research participants, the wider community, animals and the environment
  • Recognition (P6): of the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be engaged in research that affects or is of particular significance to them
  • Promotion (P8): of responsible research practices

A failure to meet the principles and responsibilities set out in the Code and/or University policy by any Research (staff or student), may constitute a breach or, in more serious cases, research misconduct. 

DOI Template for submission July 2023

Checklist for Conflict Identification

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the ACU Research Code of Conduct provide detailed guidance on responsible research conduct and, conversely, the sorts of practices that would qualify as breaches. All ACU researchers and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students should be familiar with these documents, and anyone who becomes aware of a potential breach has an obligation to report it. In the first instance, we recommend contacting an ACU research integrity advisor (RIA) to discuss your concerns. Alternatively, you can seek advice from the Research Ethics & Integrity team (REI).

Examples of research misconduct can include:

  • Fabrication, falsification and misrepresentation of research data or source material
  • Plagiarism
  • Failure to appropriately manage research data
  • Failure to provide adequate supervision
  • Failure to acknowledge the contributions of others fairly (authorship)
  • Failure to disclose conflicts of interest 
  • Failure to conduct peer review responsibly

Serious research misconduct can include intentional, reckless or negligent behaviour and may involve repeated or persistent breaches of the Code.

Once a potential breach is identified, the Research Ethics & Integrity team will assess it to determine the best approach. 

Potential outcomes include anything from dismissal to local resolution (usually counselling or retraining of the researchers involved), to referral to a more in-depth investigation process, and referral to other institutional processes.

The ACU Research Code of Conduct - Complaints and Investigations Procedure provides a framework for the fair handling of complaints and investigations, including a detailed step-by-step outline of the complaints and investigations process.

What can RIA's do?
  • Provide you with confidential advice on the Research Code of Conduct (RCC).
  • Inform you about your requirements under the Research Code.
  • Advise in relation to resolving a complaint about the RCC informally as a first step.
  • Offer support in responding to complaints about RCC and breaches.
What can't RIA's do?
  • Investigate complaints and potential breaches of the Research Code of Conduct.
  • Offer advise if they have a Conflict of Interest.
Research Integrity Advisors

School of Behavioural and Health Sciences

Professor David Greene

Institute of Religion and Critical Inquiry

Professor Robyn Horner

Institute of Positive Psychology

Assoc. Prof. Baljinder Sahdra

Faculty of Law and Business

Dr Syed Fazal-e-Hasan

Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Tom Barnes

The NHMRC Disclosure of Interests and Management of Conflicts of Interest Guide (Guide) and the Code for Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code) requires researchers to disclose to an institution all interests that are relevant, or could appear to be relevant, to proposed or ongoing research. 

A conflict of interest in research exists where there is a real, perceived, or potential divergence between the individual interests of a person and their professional responsibilities. Disclosure and, where necessary, management of conflicts of interest is crucial to maintaining the transparency and trustworthiness of research undertaken at the University.

Conflicts of interest are often thought of in financial terms, but can take almost any form, including familial, scholarly, and professional conflicts.

Conflict of interest in a research setting:

In a research setting, conflicts may affect your professional judgment in conducting, evaluating, or reporting on research. It may affect, or be seen to affect, not only the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, but also the hiring of staff, procurement of materials, sharing of results, choice of protocol, involvement of human subjects, and the use of statistical methods. In short, a conflict of interest can affect almost anything you do as a researcher, and it is important to be creative when considering how your research might be improperly influenced by your situation.

As a general guide, use the ‘trust test’ – would others (e.g. employer, clients, colleagues, or the general public) trust my judgment if they knew I was in this situation? You can also use the checklist for identifying whether or not you have a COI, available on our website.

I might have a conflict of interest, what do I do?

It’s normal to have a conflict of interest! It’s how you manage it that counts. The first principle of conflict of interest management is to disclose that conflict to others. To do this at the Australian Catholic University, you should usually complete a disclosure of interest (via Service Central) form in conjunction with your Supervisor. If your Supervisor agrees that you likely have a conflict of interest, they will work with you to create a conflict of interest management plan.

The approval email from your Supervisor must include details of the conflict of interest and how it would be managed and it should be submitted via Service Central’s Declaration of Interest Disclosure process.

Any staff involved in research must tick the Researcher tick box which ensures this information is forwarded to the Director, Research Services and Manager, Research Ethics and Integrity for review.


Page last updated on 05/04/2023

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