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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly - Protecting Yourself, Your Research and Your University

Topic 1: The research context

Many of the decisions a researcher makes in their day-to-day research activities are pragmatic and involve the use of data as facts to be interpreted on the basis of established knowledge and accepted practices. Examples of written guidance available to researchers in decision-making are: codes of ethical conduct in research involving human subjects and in the use of animals in research, institutional codes of conduct, codes of conduct for professional societies, and instructions to authors published by the editors of scholarly journals. However, there are times when you find that you will need to use reasoning to decide what is right or fair in a situation. In the research context you are expected to give priority to ethical values above other personal values. For example, you may often join your fellow researchers in complaining that it is not fair that you have to work so hard to be recognised as an upcoming research leader but while the expectations on you are many, the consequences of choosing a less-than-ethical means to recognition and of misconduct would be far reaching.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Understand why research reputation is important
  • Understand the international context of research integrity
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Explain the notion of research compliance and its support of responsible research.

Topic content

Read the following notes.
1.1 Reputation management – the university, research project, and yourself as the researcher
1.2 The international context
1.3 The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
1.4 Working within university protocols and maintaining good relations with the relevant university agencies

Pursuing the topic further

Engaging with this material (and the material in other sections of the module under the same heading) is optional. However, if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the topic you may find the following material useful.

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in the US Department of Health and Human Services has a number of downloadable resources from the front page. The ORI web page on case studies summarises closed inquiries and investigationsinto allegations of research misconduct. The handbook ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research introduces the reader to research integrity issues involved in research – from inception to planning, conducting, reporting, and reviewing.

The European Science Foundation (ESF) has developed a European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2011) which has received support from the All European Academies. This code can be read on line here:

Anderson, M. S. and Steneck, N. H. (editors). (2011). International Research Collaborations: Much to be Gained, Many Ways to Get in Trouble. New York: Routledge.

National Academies Press. (2002). Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct, can be read online


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