EPSRC's scientific misconduct policy
EPSRC is committed to maintaining high standards of research conduct within the research communities it supports, and takes complaints about scientific misconduct very seriously.
Unacceptable research conduct
Unacceptable research conduct includes:
- Breach of ethical guidelines or duty of care
- Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct
- Failing to address conflicts of interest
The following sections provide brief information about good research conduct and how cases of unacceptable research conduct should be dealt with. However, full details of our expectations are set out in the following documents.
- Concordat to Support Research Integrity
A comprehensive national framework for good research conduct and its governance.
- RCUK Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct
RCUK's approach to the establishment and maintenance of good research conduct which sets out the Research Council's expectations.
Promoting good research conduct
Ultimate responsibility for promoting and safeguarding good research conduct lies with the employing research organisation. It is incumbent upon all research organisations covered by the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance and Good Research Conduct to have in place policies and procedures for promoting good research conduct, as well as procedures for whistle-blowers, and for dealing with allegations of research misconduct.
The peer review process
When seeking EPSRC funding, applicants must ensure that the information submitted is in accordance with the good practices outlined in the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance and Good Research Conduct.
Those who undertake peer review for EPSRC and those employed by or who undertake duties on behalf of EPSRC who manage and administer peer review must also abide by the principles of RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance and Good Research Conduct.
Reporting and investigating of unacceptable research conduct
Allegations of poor research conduct should be considered through the relevant research organisation's own misconduct procedures. Full details of the process that should be followed is contained in the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance and Good Research Conduct.
Research organisations must keep EPSRC informed of any allegations of misconduct wherever the case concerns individuals and/or research awards funded by us.
For potential cases of misconduct
As laid out in the Code of Conduct whistleblowers should suffer no detriment for making allegations of misconduct in good faith. The RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance and Good Research Conduct, states that all individuals working in research should feel able to raise concerns about standards of research conduct and research organisations must have in place procedures for whistle-blowers, in line with The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and associated legislation. In addition, individuals making an allegation in good faith must be protected and supported. Similarly all staff must be protected from malicious allegations.
Research Councils have a role in monitoring the approaches taken by research organisations to safeguarding research integrity. Monitoring for compliance with RCUK's policy is the responsibility of the RCUK Audit and Assurances Services Group and is undertaken as part of the RCUK Funding Assurance Programme.
The role of EPSRC
In circumstances where EPSRC believes that an investigation is flawed it retains the right to conduct its own investigation into the process used by the research organisation. However, EPSRC is not an appeal body for individual cases. Nor is it able to provide expertise to institutions in conducting investigations.
Making a complaint
Misconduct in grants processes
If you consider that there has been scientific misconduct in our grants processes - either by applicants, by our staff or by those who advise us you should write to The Professional Support Unit, EPSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1ET or via email to The Professional Support Unit. Correspondence should be copied to Mr Adrian Paul, Associate Director Planning, Operations and Governance, EPSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1ET or via email to Adrian.Paul@epsrc.ac.uk.
We will treat any complaint in the strictest confidence. To help our investigation please make as much evidence of misconduct that you have available to us.
Complaints about funding decisions based on disagreement about scientific judgments are excluded as are any matters that are the subject of litigation or legal proceedings.
Misconduct in activities funded by EPSRC
If you consider that there has been scientific misconduct involving activities funded by EPSRC, you should initially contact the relevant authorities in the institution employing the person concerned. If you are unable to progress the matter with the institution you should write to The Professional Support Unit, EPSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1ET or email to The Professional Support Unit. Correspondence should be copied to Mr Adrian Paul, Associate Director Planning, Operations and Governance, EPSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1ET or via email to Adrian.Paul@epsrc.ac.uk.
What happens next?
You will receive an acknowledgement within three working days and an initial response within 20 working days. If this is not possible, you will be given an explanation of the reasons for the delay and a timescale for when you will receive a considered reply.
Record-keeping and data protection
As a public body we have a duty to register complaints and operate effective procedures for their tracking. This requires us to keep information concerning complaints and to evaluate our response in order to learn from our mistakes.
Information about complaints will be kept in our electronic data systems, but will be restricted to members of staff dealing with the complaint and our professional advisors. We adhere to the Whistle-blowers' Code and any such information submitted in accordance with this code will be appropriately protected.