Group of Eight Australia
Australia's Leading Universities
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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly ĘC Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

1.4 Working within university protocols and maintaining good relations with the relevant university agencies

Much of the preceding discussion has looked at research in the traditional way, from the individual dimension. Regarded in this way, the notion of ‘compliance’ can become one of an imposed requirement and it loses an important aspect, particularly for emerging research leaders. Rather than a ‘just-in-time’, or post hoc obligation, you may wish to consider the partnership of good research governance and compliance as one in which a researcher can be proactive. Promotion of a robust research environment is about institutional culture and behaviour, as well as the professional performance of individuals. This culture is learnt through experience, mentoring, and formal processes. How many times might you ask a nonacademic member of your staff to meet a compliance obligation? Is it possible that they are more aware than you of the university agencies involved in organisational, governance, and legal issues surrounding your research?

Institutional governance and associated compliance can be core competencies that assist a successful researcher and provide skills which are also transferable outside your university into interactions with government agencies and industry. Are you sufficiently aware of the agencies that operate to support your university's compliance with legal and ethical and good-governance issues? Working from your current awareness of university protocols and your interaction with the agencies involved, how would you consider the following situation?


1. Safeguarding the Murray–Darling case study, activity 1: ("Who gets hurt?")

What would you do and why?

Professor Prolific has called an urgent meeting of all Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) project leaders. There have been incidents of slippage in research protocols and processes and in many of the compliance requirements. As one of these projects is likely to generate high media interest when raised with the MDB council, representatives of the Murray–Darling Management Trust (MDMT) have been asked to attend. During a break in the discussion an MDMT engineer suggests that surely, so far away from your university, the governance issues you have been concerned with can't possibly apply. Surely it would be better to deal with these issues "on the ground". Research of this complexity in such a greenfield setting must expect some initial problems – the university seems to be "always on your case". He asks, "Why do you bother, who gets hurt?".

What will you reply?

Spend 5–10 minutes considering your response. Bring your notes to the workshop.

2. List of research opportunities

Read the Code if you have not already done so. Consider the list of research opportunities that the MDB community development project has to offer, as shown in the background of the Safeguarding the Murray–Darling case study.

a. Create a list of those for which the Code has implications.

b. Categorise these implications.

Spend 5–10 minutes creating your list and bring your notes to the workshop.

(Note that on the final subtopic page of each topic, the Next > link in the navigation bar below returns you to the first page for this topic, so you can review the topic as a whole and complete any activities listed there before moving on to the next topic via the Organiser page.)

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