Processes for dealing with allegations of misconduct
(i) Reporting allegations
Both staff and students should feel able to raise any legitimate matters of concern relating to research conduct. These should be brought to the attention of the Head of Faculty/Department/Centre, the School Associate Dean for Research or Senior Tutor for Research or the Dean as seems most appropriate to the context of the individuals and issues concerned. If necessary matters may also be raised with the Vice-President (Research and Enterprise) although it would usually be expected that if possible they should first be pursued within the School. Matters may be raised orally in the first instance, particularly in the context of a preliminary informal investigation, but it will usually be necessary to make a complaint in writing if it is to be pursued under formal institutional procedures.
City will endeavour to protect its staff and students against ill-founded, mischievous, frivolous or malicious complaints. Staff and students may assume that their research should be regarded as honest, until demonstrated to be otherwise. City will protect those who have made a complaint in good faith, if the case is dismissed. Likewise, City will protect accused staff or students in cases where allegations are subsequently dismissed.
(ii) Investigation of allegations
In all cases, principles of equal and fair treatment, objectivity, consistency and independence of investigation will apply. The principle of confidentiality will not normally be breached except in cases where it is reasonable or necessary for City to do so. Timescales will be followed as set out in the relevant procedures. Staff and students have the right to be fully informed of the nature of any allegations of misconduct and to be informed of any decisions made during the disciplinary process. Similarly, if an allegation is not initially accepted and the complainant believes that they have been misunderstood or that key evidence has been overlooked, they will have the right to respond further.
Staff: The relevant disciplinary procedures and/or Statutes will apply, including the right of appeal against decisions in disciplinary hearings, according to the terms and conditions of the member(s) of staff concerned. In the case of research misconduct, any investigation undertaken within the disciplinary procedures will be carried out by someone with sufficient knowledge and experience of research and any hearings will also include suitably experienced members.
Research misconduct as outlined in the Framework for Good Practice in Research will normally be regarded by City as either serious or gross misconduct, and may lead to dismissal without notice. Each case of misconduct will be considered on its particular merits, taking into account any mitigating circumstances. Complaints of misconduct that appear to be frivolous, malicious or mischievous will also constitute a disciplinary offence.
If procedures relating to research misconduct are terminated without conclusion that the allegations should be dismissed (for example if the member of staff resigns), and if serious concerns remain that misconduct may have occurred, the individual concerned may be asked nonetheless to see the matter through to conclusion. If this is refused, City may pass details of the outstanding case without prejudice to any future employer or bone fide enquirer about their career while at City, and to any appropriate regulatory or professional supervisory body.
Students: Any detected instances of misconduct will be considered under the relevant sections of City’s Ordinances and Regulations. Instances of cheating will be considered under City Assessment Regulations. Other instances of misconduct, including any instances of cheating which are too serious to be considered under the Assessment Regulations, will be considered under the Student Disciplinary Code. The right of appeal against decisions of academic misconduct or disciplinary hearings will apply as set out in the relevant Regulations or Code.
(iii) Recording and reporting cases of research misconduct
City has a responsibility to its funding bodies to maintain and report on cases of research misconduct. In cases where research misconduct is investigated and found to have occurred, Schools should make a brief report on the nature of the case to the Vice-President (Research and Enterprise) in order that accurate and complete reporting can be achieved. Where it is necessary to maintain confidentiality this may exclude details which would identify the member(s) of staff or student(s) concerned. This may be overruled in cases where City has an obligation to make a report to the funder, for example to comply with Research Council conditions of funding.
The UK Research Councils require allegations of research misconduct relating to an individual funded by or engaged with them (including acting as a supervisor for an RCUK-funded postgraduate student or engaged with peer review activities) even if the allegation relates to work not connected to a grant awarded by them. They reserve the right to take appropriate action, after consultation with City, about any duties being performed for RCUK. Other funders may have similar requirements. In addition, if an individual is suspended pending investigation, the funding body sponsoring any research with which they are involved must be advised.
Reports on serious misconduct may also be made on individual cases to relevant regulatory or statutory bodies or to professional supervisory bodies where this is required or appropriate to public interest.