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Governance of Good Research Conduct: Consultation on a Code of Conduct and Policy


Research Councils UK (RCUK) have now launched a new policy document setting out clear guidance on best practice for researchers. The RCUK Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct also provides guidelines which describe how to manage research to ensure the highest standards, and on the reporting and investigation of unacceptable research conduct.

The Code, developed after a wide consultation last year with partners across the higher education and research sector, aims to provide clear guidelines to help researchers and research organisations achieve the highest standards possible when carrying out research. Covering a wide range of suggested best practice areas, from the need for appropriate training and development at the early career stage to how to handle the resignation of a researcher under investigation, the Code is designed to fit in with research organisations' own internal procedures.

Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of RCUK, welcomed the publication of the Code, and said: "I believe that the close interaction with universities and research organisations in developing this document has been very important. Putting the policy and Code of Conduct in place is an important step forward in the approach to these matters in the UK."

The policy document is available here PDF, 75KB.

Please note: this consultation is now closed.

Research Councils UK have published for consultation a Code of Conduct and Policy on the Governance of Good Research Conduct, as part of our commitment to the highest possible standards in good research conduct and research integrity.  We have invited responses from organisations that we fund, research foundations and associations, academies, and journal editors. However, we would also welcome views and comments from other organisations and individuals.

The consultation concerns not only core issues of plagiarism and falsification of data, but also such areas of proper representation of credentials and findings, conflicts of interest, access to data for replication, abuse of peer review, and informed consent and protection of research subjects.  It also covers concern about whether weaknesses and cases of poor conduct which have been identified are fully pursued and publicly available, so they are unlikely to be repeated.

The key questions on which we would particularly welcome comment include:

  • The overall policy statement and any additions or amendments needed.
  • The code of conduct, including whether this needs to be expanded, re-focused or developed in any way.
  • Suggested guidance on desirable management arrangements in research organisations.
  • General guidance on procedures for reporting and investigating complaints, identifying any key weaknesses without making the guidance overly prescriptive.
  • The need for a central repository of information on cases of proven misconduct, and how this might be established and managed.
  • The need for a national advisory body on a voluntary basis to;

    • establish common guidance on codes of conduct;
    • desirable management systems to ensure best practice;
    • procedures for dealing with problematic cases;
    • sanctions/penalties for varying failures in conduct.

    Such a body might also oversee and advise on investigations into serious allegations of misconduct, and liaise with non-UK national authorities on cases of cross-border misconduct.

The consultation document is available here PDF, 147KB

A form for responding to the consultation is available here DOC, KB

RCUK carried out a consultation on policy in this area between July and October 2008. It has now considered the 114 responses it received to this consultation. Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of Research Councils UK, wrote to respondents on 22 April, setting out the RCUK response.

A copy of this letter is available here PDF, 55.3KB

The resulting draft RCUK Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct is available here PDF, 156KB

This will be finalised and issued as RCUK policy by 30 June 2009.

An analysis of the responses to the consultation is available here PDF, 90.4KB

For further information, please contact Glyn Davies.


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