Find out how the University addresses concerns about research integrity.
Do you have a concern about research integrity? The University uses the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research ('the Code') to address any concerns. These matters can be complicated. The response will vary depending on the nature of the issue raised.
We ensure a fair process for addressing concerns about research integrity. To do this, the University follows these principles:
1. Procedural fairness applies to this process. This means that:
- All parties know the allegations made, and each party can present their case
- Decision-makers are as free from bias and conflicts of interest as possible
- The decision is based on logically probative evidence.
2. Complainants are protected from retaliatory actions.
3. Only one investigation should be conducted.
4. Transparent and timely procedures are followed when addressing concerns.
5. The determination from this process is an academic, not legal, judgement.
Step 1 - Receipt of concern or complaint
We accept concerns or complaints from various sources. This includes:
- Members of the public
- Funding bodies
- University staff or students.
We receive concerns or complaints in various forms. In all cases, they should be directed to the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity (OREI).
On receipt of a concern or complaint, OREI will review materials received to:
- Understand whether the matter fits within the framework of the Code, its associated guidelines and University policies
- Identify whether the University is the most appropriate institution to manage and respond to the matter
- Identify whether any further information or supporting materials are required.
This process usually takes 14 business days from the receipt of a concern or complaint.
OREI will also coordinate any necessary urgent action. For example, preserving evidence, or protecting human participants or animal welfare.
Step 2 - Preparing for a preliminary assessment
If the University has jurisdiction and authority to act, OREI will arrange for a preliminary assessment. OREI will prepare and gather material to enable the Designated Officer to conduct a preliminary assessment of the matter.
Step 3 - Preliminary assessment
The Designated Officer conducts the preliminary assessment. This stage of the process is directed towards the gathering and evaluation of facts and information. It asks whether the concern or complaint, if proven, would amount to a breach of the Code. It incorporates any other relevant policy or standards for conducting research.
The preliminary assessment process usually takes three to six months from the receipt of a concern or complaint.
Step 4 - Research integrity investigation
A preliminary assessment may lead to a research integrity investigation. Research integrity investigations usually take up to 7 months, from the date of the decision to begin the investigation.
Research integrity investigations are overseen by the University’s Designated Officer. An Investigation Panel conducts the investigation and decides whether a breach of the Code has occurred. This an academic judgement. It uses 'the balance of probabilities’ as the relevant standard of proof, considering evidence available to the Panel.
Investigation Panel members are appointed based on their Code and investigation expertise, skills and experience with the relevant discipline(s). There is usually at least one external member to the University on the Panel.
Step 5 - Outcomes
The Investigation Panel will prepare a report for the Responsible Executive Officer. The report outlines the findings of fact, and whether a breach of the Code has occurred. It also advises of any recommendations.
The Responsible Executive Officer will then decide whether a breach of the Code has occurred. Pending any appeal, the Responsible Executive Officer’s decision is final.
All relevant parties will be notified of this decision.
Our ethics committees
Join an ethics committee and help safeguard the rigour and reputation of research at the University.
Research integrity principles
Learn about the principles and responsibilities that ensure research integrity at the University of Melbourne.
What is a concern?
Learn more about how we define a breach, and when you should raise a concern about research integrity.