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

2.3 Maintaining accountability

There are a number of situations in which you as a grant holder, particularly of a public-funded grant, will be expected to use your own judgement:

  • It is generally accepted that you will not seek or receive funds for the same research project from multiple sources, unless this forms part of the award or has been agreed in writing at the award stage.
  • A grant holder, typically through their research or grants unit, may modify the aims and objectives of an approved research project in order to follow advancements in your discipline, but you have an obligation not to use any amount of an award for purposes not related to the research project.
  • Funding is awarded for a specific research project and nominated personnel. If at any time during the term of funding a named chief investigator ceases to be a member of your university and to contribute to the funded work, your university and the funding sponsor should be notified.
  • There is an expectation that personnel be appointed at the correct level and that personnel costs are expected to have first-call on research funds.
  • You will be expected to meet any reporting requirements specific to your grant program.
  • There is a requirement to acknowledge the funding support wherever possible, in publications and presentations. You should refer to the funding agreement covering your project to ascertain the correct format for acknowledging the funding source.

Activity 2 (Safeguarding the Murray–Darling case study: "Juggling the funds")

What would you do and why?

You have a number of parallel projects and have reasoned that with a mix of public-funded and industry support you can even out some uncertainty you are facing with research funding. You realise that your industry-funded work is subsidising the commercial arm of the company sponsoring your research and that publication numbers are falling. Additionally, you reason that no public-funded research will ever fund truly innovative research, so you will commit funds from both the public and private funds to pilot data for your next large submission to a public-funded research body. Accountability to your industry partner and the public-funding body means that some 'creativity' will be needed in arriving at a balance of funds used for this purpose.

How will you proceed?

Would your position change if rather than a first-named or chief investigator, you were an early career researcher employed on, and benefiting from the momentum of, this work?

Questions for reflection

You might wish to reflect on the following questions for discussion at the module workshop:

  • Do you have a strategy for maintaining the momentum in your grant funding?
  • Are you aware of resources within your university that can be used to fund strategic pilot work?
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