Areas of conduct

Areas of conduct

The Macquarie University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research provides guidance and standards for good research practice in a number of areas.

Guiding principles

Researchers and professional staff must, in all aspects of their research:

Researchers should make their research methods, results and outputs open to scrutiny and debate.

Special responsibilities 

Researchers have special responsibilities when working with human research participants.

Working with some groups of people involves particular responsibilities unique to that group. Researchers should be familiar with these responsibilities.

Research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples spans many methodologies and disciplines. There are wide variations in the ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities or groups are involved in, or affected by, research. 

Researchers working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals should be familiar with:
Values and Ethics - Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (2003);
Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (2012); and
Keeping research on track: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about health research ethics (2006).

Appropriate consumer involvement in research should be encouraged and facilitated by Macquarie University and its researchers. Health researchers working with consumers should be familiar with the Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (2002).

Researchers also have special responsibilities when working with particular groups of people. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007, updated March 2014) provides guidelines for working with these groups, including:

  • women who are pregnant and the human foetus
  • children and young people
  • people in dependent or unequal relationships
  • people highly dependent on medical care who may be unable to give consent
  • people with a cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, or a mental illness
  • people who may be involved in illegal activities
  • people in other countries.

If you have any questions about conducting research with these groups, please contact ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au

Managing research data and materials 

 Research data and materials are the basis of good research and need to be managed properly.

Research data and records should be accurate, complete and in sufficient detail to enable verification of research results and to reflect what was communicated, decided or done. Data forming the basis of publications must be available for discussion with other researchers.

Materials, e.g. lab notes for chemical science work, audio recordings and samples for linguistics, field notes for anthropology, must be retained to substantiate published claims and research results.

Hard and digital data must be recorded in a durable and retrievable form and be appropriately indexed so that it can be found. Where a field has specific standards for the management of data they should, as far as possible, be followed.

Research data must be retained intact for a period of at least five years from the date of any publication which is based upon the data. For some areas of research, data must be retained for longer periods. Researchers should consult any relevant guidelines or legislation such as the NSW State Records, General Retention and Disposal Authority - University Records.

Researchers are encouraged to share their data and materials with other researchers. Where possible, researchers should make data publicly available through a suitable repository. Find out more about managing research data at Macquarie University and the University's databases and collections.

Authorship 

It is important that authorship of research outputs is correctly attributed. This ensures that contributors receive the appropriate credit and that people who have not contributed substantially are not inappropriately credited.

Who should be an author?

To be named as an author, a person must have made a substantial scholarly contribution to the work and be able to take responsibility for at least part of the work.

For a person to be recorded as an author of an output requires that he or she is directly involved in the creation by making substantial contributions through a combination of the following criteria:

  • conceiving or designing the project
  • analysing and interpreting the data on which it is based
  • writing or critically revising the intellectual content in the output.

In addition to these criteria all authors must give final agreement to the version to be submitted for publication and retain a record of that agreement. Minor corrections (e.g. correction of typographical errors) to proofs may be managed by the corresponding author without the need for further agreement. However, substantial changes in content (e.g., new results, corrected values, and changes of title and authorship) are not allowed without the approval of all authors.

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 conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

A person who qualifies as an author must not be included or excluded without their permission.

Researchers should comply with authorship conventions appropriate to their discipline. These requirements may vary according to discipline, journal requirements and funding provisions. Researchers should be familiar with international best practice in their discipline, for example ICMJE: Roles and Responsibilities.

In what order should authors be listed?

The standard order of authors can vary between disciplines. The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. If you assign author order in an atypical way you should include an explanation in the publication. Many journals are now asking authors to explain the individual contributions of authors.

A common way of ordering authors is to list them in the order of their contribution to the publication from most to least. Depending on the field, the senior author may then be listed as the final author. Resources such as Authorder may be useful for establishing the relative contributions of authors in a collaborative project.

What are the responsibilities of researchers?

  • follow the guidelines stated above when determining if a person has made a substantial contribution to the publication
  • come to an agreement with all the eligible authors
  • include all the eligible authors. All authors must explicitly accept or decline authorship
  • do not allow ineligible people to be included as authors
  • acknowledge all those who have contributed to the research and declare any conflicts of interest
  • keep records of authorship agreements.

What if there is an issue with authorship?

If you have an issue surrounding authorship among your collaborators you should first attempt to resolve it through discussion with them. It is best to have a discussion about authorship early so that everyone is informed.

If you would like more information about authorship issues or if you are concerned about any aspect of authorship practice at Macquarie please contact a research integrity advisor.

If you are from outside Macquarie University and have concerns about authorship practices please contact the Director, Research Ethics and Integrity.

Publication and dissemination of research findings 

Dissemination of research findings is a critical part of the research process. Typically, research is not fully complete until the findings have been made widely available. However, researchers need to be aware of any agreements with funding providers which might prescribe if, when and how research findings can be disseminated.

Dissemination of research findings goes beyond formal publication in journals or books and can include non-refereed publications, web pages, other media and digital repositories.

Researchers must ensure that published reports, statistics and public statements about research activities and performance are complete, accurate and unambiguous. In the event that a researcher becomes aware of unintentional misleading or inaccurate statements in their work, they must attempt to correct the record as soon as possible.

Researchers should, where possible, make the results of their research publicly accessible. Researchers must comply with the University's Open Access Policy.

Communicating research findings with the wider community

Engaging with the wider community is a vital part of disseminating research findings. There are a variety of traditional and emerging ways of getting information to the public, but the general principles apply in all cases.

  • When discussing the outcomes of a research project, special care should be taken to explain the status of the project — for example, whether it is still in progress or has been finalised.
  • As far as possible, all authors of the work should be acknowledged.
  • The source of any financial support should be acknowledged.
  • Anyone directly impacted by the research findings should be informed before wider dissemination of the results.

Researchers often find that they need to discuss complicated findings in a clear, concise manner with members of the public. Group Marketing can provide training and advice on how best to communicate research, and can provide help with writing press releases and preparing for interviews, as well as liaising with the media.

Higher degree research candidates 

Macquarie University aims to develop new researchers with a strong culture of research integrity. The University provides resources and training to research students to assist them in learning about research integrity.

Research students, like all researchers at Macquarie, are expected to comply with Macquarie University's research integrity guidelines and conduct responsible research. Research students should discuss research integrity with their supervisors. In particular they should make sure they understand how to conduct responsible research in relation to:

  • The ethical approval requirements of their project
  • The safety requirements of their project
  • Respect for the environment
  • Management of research data
  • Responsible publication and dissemination of findings
  • Appropriate attribution of authorship
  • Peer review
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Collaborations
  • Reporting suspected research misconduct

Responsibilities of supervisors at Macquarie

  • Ensure that research integrity training for students starts as soon as possible after the commencement of a new student and continues throughout their candidature with regular updates.
  • Mentor and provide support to guide the professional development of students.
  • Ensure valid and accurate research by providing suitable oversight.
  • Ensure that that a student's project has all necessary ethical and biosafety approvals prior to commencing research. If there is doubt about the need for approval, advice should be sought from Macquarie University Research Ethics and Integrity.
  • Ensure appropriate attribution, including ensuring that students receive appropriate credit for their work.
  • Ensure the student's research data and materials are held with appropriate security and that data and materials are retained within the University for at least five years, or longer if necessary.

Responsibilities of higher degree research students

  • Display a professional attitude towards research and actively seek guidance from supervisors
  • Complete all induction and training courses as soon as practical after commencing.

Conflict of interest 

Conflicts of interests occur when various personal, financial, political and academic concerns coexist and the potential exists for one interest to be illegitimately favoured over another that has equal or even greater legitimacy, in a way that might make other reasonable people feel misled or deceived. Research related conflicts of interest may apply to researchers and those who facilitate research funding with industry, philanthropic sources and government agencies.

Conflicts of interest in the research area are common and it is important that they are disclosed and dealt with properly. An individual researcher should therefore expect to be conflicted from time to time, and be ready to acknowledge the conflict and make disclosures as appropriate.

Examples of possible conflicts of interest in research include, but are not limited to, situations:

  • where the research is sponsored by a related body
  • where the researcher or a related body may benefit, directly or indirectly, from any inappropriate dissemination of research results (including any delay in or restriction upon publication of such results)
  • where the researcher or a related body may benefit, directly or indirectly, from the use of University resources
  • where the researcher conducts a clinical trial which is sponsored by any person or organisation with a significant interest in the results of the trial
  • where private benefits or significant personal or professional advantage are dependent on research outcomes.

Note: A related body is any person or body with which the researcher has an affiliation or a financial involvement.

Financial involvement or interest

A financial involvement includes a direct or indirect financial interest, provision of benefits (such as travel and accommodation) and provision of materials or facilities.

An indirect financial interest is a financial interest or benefit derived by the researcher's relatives, personal or business associates, or students.

Perceptions

It is important to recognise that real or perceived opportunities to give preference to personal interests may routinely arise from competing obligations and can be other than financial.

Managing conflict of interest

The responsibility for managing a conflict of interest rests, in the first instance, with the individual. Researchers and those who facilitate research and research funding should assess their own situation to ascertain if a conflict of interest exists whenever there is potential for a perceived or actual conflict of interest.

Disclosure

All staff and students must make a full disclosure of a conflict of interest or of circumstances that might give rise to a perceived or potential conflict of interest as soon as reasonably practicable.

Peer review 

Peer review is the impartial assessment of research by others working in the same or a related field. Peer review is often used in the evaluation of grant proposals, publications and ethics approvals.

Macquarie acknowledges the importance of peer review as part of the scientific process and we encourage all of our researchers to participate in peer review.

The peer-review process involves the sharing of information for scholarly assessment on behalf of the larger disciplinary community. The integrity of this process depends on confidentiality until the information is released to the public. 

Therefore, the contents of research proposals, of manuscripts submitted for publication, and of other scholarly documents under review should be considered privileged information not to be shared with others, including students and staff, without explicit permission by the authority requesting the review. Ideas and results learned through the peer review process should not be made use of prior to their presentation in a public forum or their release through publication.

Responsibilities of researchers

  • not to interfere with the peer review process
  • to participate in peer review and to fulfil any peer review obligations associated with their funding
  • assist trainee researchers in developing peer review skills and understanding their responsibilities
  • declare all relevant conflicts of interest.

Collaborative research 

Macquarie encourages collaborative research within and beyond the University, nationally and internationally.

When establishing an external research collaboration you should discuss the following areas with your collaborators:

  • ownership of intellectual property (see the University's Intellectual Property Policy);
  • ownership, location and access to the data and materials;
  • confidentiality;
  • identification and management of conflicts of interest;
  • protocols for the dissemination of research outputs;
  • sharing of commercial returns, and
  • responsibility for ethics and research safety.

In some instances it may be necessary to have a formal agreement between the collaborating organisations. All researchers are encouraged to discuss their potential collaborations with their Faculty Research Manager at an early stage to determine if a formal agreement is required.

Researchers involved in a collaborative research project must familiarise themselves, and comply, with the written agreement governing the collaboration and all policies and agreements affecting the project.

Researchers must disclose to their collaborators, as soon as possible, any actual or apparent conflicts of interest relating to any aspect of a collaborative project.

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