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Category Research
Type Code of Practice
Approved by Council, 3 August 1993
Date Code of Practice Took Effect 1 January 1994
Last approved revision 25 July 2018
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Senior Research Analyst, Research and Enterprise


To outline the standards of conduct expected of all staff and students undertaking and supervising research at the University of Otago

Organisational scope

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


Original data
Original data herein means unpublished data; including raw data, anonymised data, analysed data and working notes.


1. General Considerations

  1. 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 relation 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.
  2. Researchers should participate only in work which conforms to agreed ethical standards and which they are competent to perform.
  3. Institutions and researchers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all those associated with research. Staff should ensure the implementation of the University's policies for compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and related legislation. Staff are responsible for ensuring that all people under their supervision are aware of, and adhere to, any applicable policies, codes of practice and guidance material.
  4. Research involving the use of humans as participants or their personal information (including health records) must be approved by the appropriate ethics committee, either the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee, the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health), or by a Health and Disability Ethics Committee. Research involving animals must be approved by one of the University's Animal Ethics Committees (the Dunedin Animal Ethics Committee, the Christchurch Animal Ethics Committee or the Wellington Animal Ethics Committee).
  5. If data or material of a confidential nature are obtained, created or inferred by a University staff member or student, full confidentiality must be observed.
  6. 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 or health information the provisions of the Privacy Act 2020, the Health Information Privacy Code 2020 and the specific Codes of Practice adopted by the Privacy Commissioner must be fully observed.
  7. Research methods and results shall be open to scrutiny by the scholarly community through publication in appropriate journals. Publication may be temporarily withheld 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 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).
  8. Ownership of intellectual property resulting from research is defined in the University of Otago Policy for Intellectual Property Rights and in the Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Research Students Policy.

2. Publication and Authorship

  1. When creating books, articles or other research outputs, staff and students are responsible for ensuring that all sources are properly acknowledged and, when necessary, permission is obtained to reproduce the copyright material of others.
  2. 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.
  3. It is important that authors of publications acknowledge any technical assistance and the source of any funding support.
  4. Papers, articles or abstracts which contain similar data or material and are submitted to several journals must be properly declared to the publishing authorities concerned.

3. Retention and Disposal of Research Data

  1. Retention
    The University's general expectation is that original research data will be retained after publication and made accessible for possible future scrutiny. The length of time that original research data must be retained will vary between disciplines, as stipulated by the relevant professional bodies. For work subject to approval by a non-health human ethics committee, data is normally required to be held for a minimum period of five (5) years.  Original health research data should normally be retained for ten (10) years after publication. Individual research workers shall be entitled to hold copies of the data during the retention period.
  2. Storage
    The University is responsible for providing data storage space where practicable. This could take the form of electronic or physical space. In deciding on the appropriateness of storage options, the security obligations in (c) below must be taken into consideration.
  3. Security
    Special provision must be made for the security of research 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 2020 and to any Codes of Practice adopted by the Privacy Commissioner. Information about individuals who may be identifiable must be kept safe from loss, as well as from unauthorised access, use, modification or disclosure.
  4. Disposal
    If research data is to be disposed of it must be disposed of securely. A health researcher who collects or uses health information for one research purpose may retain the information for another research purpose providing the researcher has indicated the possibility of reuse to the relevant Ethics Committees and/or the individual(s) concerned.

4. The Role of Supervisors of Graduate Student Research

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

5. Disclosure of Potential Conflict of Interest

  1. The University of Otago defines a potential conflict of interest as a circumstance in which a staff member may, through their employment with the University, have, or be perceived to have, the opportunity to unfairly benefit themselves or some other party related to them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

University policies

Other related policies

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Tthe Senior Research and Policy Analyst
Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise

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