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Responsible Practice in Research - Code of Conduct

Category Research
Type Code of Practice
Approved by Council, 3 August 1993
Date Code of Practice Took Effect 1 January 1994
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible Officer Senior Research Analyst, Research and Enterprise
Review Date 31 January 2012


The mission statement of the University of Otago is:

"to provide an environment, open to all sections of the community; to extend, share and apply knowledge in cultural, professional and scientific disciplines through research, teaching and technological development of the highest international quality; to foster intellectual enquiry and debate; and to promote and enrich the cultural, economic, scientific and social development of New Zealand".

Integrity in conduct of research by University staff is pivotal to fulfilling this mission. University staff may work alone, with colleagues inside or outside the University and with postgraduate students and must at all times exhibit high ethical standards and ensure the validity and accuracy of data collected and reported.

Organisational Scope

This Code of Practice applies to all staff and students of the University who engage in any form of research.

Policy Content

1. General Considerations

(a) It is a basic assumption that researchers are committed to the highest standards of professional conduct in undertaking and supervising research. They have a duty to maintain the highest standards of probity in research applicable to their science or discipline, and to the good standing of the University. These standards include rigorous opposition to all forms of fraud, including misrepresentation and falsification of results, the observance of the highest standards of safety in relation to themselves, co-workers and research participants, the maintenance of confidentiality and the full attribution and acknowledgment of authorship of all published material.

(b) Research workers should participate only in work which conforms to agreed ethical standards and which they are competent to perform.

(c) Institutions and research workers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all those associated with research. Staff should ensure the implementation of the University's policies relating to Health & Safety; Hepatitis B Infection; HIV Infection and AIDS; Standard Laboratory Practices for Control of Infection Risks; and the Revised New Zealand Guidelines for Genetical Manipulation Research. Staff should ensure that all research workers and students under their supervision are aware of the relevant codes and policies.

(d) Research involving the use of humans or of personal information (including health records) must be approved by the University's Ethics Committee or as appropriate the Otago Area Health Board Ethics Committee (or its successor) or the Canterbury or Wellington Area Health Board Ethics Committee (or their successors).Research involving animals must be approved by the University's Committee on Ethics in the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (or the Christchurch or Wellington School of Medicine's Committee on Ethics in the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals).

(e) If data or material of a confidential nature are obtained by a University staff member or student, full confidentiality must be observed. The data or material must not be used for personal commercial advantage or passed to a third party for that person's commercial advantage, except with the specific consent of the person or agency providing the data or material. In all research involving the collection or use of personal information the provisions of the Privacy Act 1993 and the specific Codes of Practice adopted by the Privacy Commissioner must be fully observed.

(f) Research methods and results shall be open to scrutiny by the scientific community through publication in appropriate journals. Publication may be withheld for a short finite period if the results are commercially sensitive and/or when patent protection is being sought, but authority for such temporary withholding of publication must in all cases be obtained from the Registrar.

(g) Ownership of intellectual property resulting from research is defined in the University of Otago Policy for Intellectual Property Rights.

2. Publication and Authorship

(a) Original data of published material should be archived for five (5) years after publication for possible future scrutiny. The University is responsible for providing data storage space and each Division should be responsible for deciding on an appropriate policy for the storage whether centrally or by an individual. Individual research workers shall be entitled to hold copies of the data. Special provision must be made for security of data and access to it, if it includes information about individuals who may be identifiable, either directly or through a key to code numbers. Practices in this regard must conform to the principles of the Privacy Act 1993 and to any Codes of Practice adopted by the Privacy Commissioner.

(b) It is neither desirable nor practical for the University to supervise the creation of books, papers or articles. Staff and students must be very careful in using material from other authors and ensure that it is properly acknowledged and permission obtained to reproduce copyright material in other publications.

(c) It is important that all authors listed on the publication shall have contributed in a significant way to the work. The principal author is responsible for the entire publication and should ensure that other authors accept, in writing, responsibility either for the entire paper or for that part of it with which they were concerned.

(d) It is important that authors of publications acknowledge any technical assistance and the source of any funding support.

(e) The submission to several journals of papers, articles or abstracts containing similar data or material must be properly declared to the authorities concerned.

3. The Role of Supervisors of Graduate Student Research

The University is responsible for ensuring that graduate student research is properly supervised. Individuals given responsibility for research supervision should be competent in the field and have the time to supervise students adequately.

Research supervisors should ensure that students are aware of the ethical standards relevant to their work. This includes the nature of intellectual property. Supervisors should ensure that the work submitted by students is the students' own and that data have been validly obtained.

4. Research Centres and Units

Wherever appropriate, the head of the Centre or unit or the director of the research should be personally involved in research supervision. Within such groupings, there should be wide discussion of the work of all individuals by their peers.

5. Disclosure of Potential Conflict of Interest

Disclosure of any potential conflict of interest is essential for the responsible conduct of research. Such disclosure must be made to the relevant authorities, which will include the funding or sponsoring agencies and the Head of the relevant department or research centre. (In the case of Heads of Department or Directors of Research Centres, disclosure should be made to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the relevant Division.)

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

  • Allegations of Misconduct in Research – Procedure for dealing with
  • Externally Sponsored Graduate Research Procedures
  • Health & Safety Policy
  • Hepatitis B Infection
  • HIV Infection and AIDS
  • Intellectual Property Rights Policy
  • Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Research Students Policy
  • Policy for Intellectual Property Rights
  • Privacy Act
  • Resources for Graduate Research Candidates
  • Revised New Zealand Guidelines for Genetical Manipulation Research
  • Standard Laboratory Practices for Control of Infection Risks

This document draws heavily on Guidelines on Fraud and Serious Misconduct in Research, Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, Canberra, 1989, pp 1-7, and Guidelines for Responsible Practice in Research and Dealing with Problems of Research Misconduct, Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, Canberra, 1990, pp 1-10.