The research establishment has stepped up on research misconduct.
This is a vast change from recent practice, where the Australian Research Council declined to define it (CMM June 19 2017). But peak bodies, the ARC, National Health and Medical Research Council and Universities Australia have combined to create a new Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
They have combined to present eight principles of “responsible research conduct,” which may not survive a cross-examining QC, but set out obligations that all members of the research community will understand. There are also separate sets of responsibilities of institutions and individuals.
The Big Three has also produced a separate guide to managing and investigating “potential breaches” of the new code, which provides plain-language definitions of what they are.
The Australian research community now has what the three organisations say are, “processes for managing and investigating potential breaches of the 2018 Code that can be applied to the range of research contexts in Australia—from small medical research institutions to large universities and across all research disciplines. It aims to ensure procedural fairness to all parties.”
This is a necessary improvement from last year when an ARC/NHMRC working group, including people who worked on the new code declined to define research misconduct, in part because, “there is no internationally agreed definition of research misconduct.” Wrong then, right now.