Dr Martin Turner is the senior member of staff responsible for overseeing research integrity and is the Institute’s first point of contact for anyone wanting more information.
Mr Simon Jones is the confidential liaison for whistle-blowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research being conducted under the auspices of the Babraham Institute.
The Institute’s Research Integrity Steering Group (RISG) reports to the Babraham Executive Committee (BEC). RISG is chaired by the Associate Institute Director Dr Turner and includes the following roles as members:
The RISG has the remit to:
To put this into practice within the framework of the Research Integrity assurance review, the following actions are in place to ensure open, ethical, rigorous and reproducible research.
A biannual research integrity (RI) assurance review to assess and ensure the Institute is achieving the standards set out in the Institute RI policy. A periodic review will provide structure to RI setup and act a good preparatory process for RI audits (by the Institute auditors (RSM)). The review will include two levels: corporate (overall Institute RI standards) compliance review and individual (sampled) research groups ‘Good Research in Practice’ (GRiP) looking at RI standards compliance ‘in practice on the ground’. The review report will be presented to the Institute’s Executive Committee (BEC), Audit Committee and Science and Impact Advisory Committee in the first instance and will help provide assurance to staff, BEC, Trustees, and grant awarding bodies.
The Institute has in place policies, processes and activities to foster and support integrity in research practices and these are reviewed regularly and developed to reflect changing needs. Progress in this area from 2020-2021 includes:
The following activities aim to embed awareness of research integrity, develop required skills and create a safe, positive and supportive working environment:
The Institute’s Research Misconduct Policy is published on its website and describes the processes in place for managing an allegation of research misconduct against an individual or individuals working under the auspices of the Babraham Institute. The Policy describes processes for both initial and full investigations and refers to disciplinary action(s) that might follow from the investigations if it is determined that research misconduct has occurred. Timescales are included to ensure timely investigation of allegations. Consequent to the recent establishment of the Institute’s Research Integrity Steering Group this policy is under review in order to ensure that it meets all current needs and a future iteration will include details of an appeals process.
A forthcoming policy survey will check with potential policy users that it is fit for purpose.
There have been no formal investigations of research misconduct in 2021.
The Institute received one allegation for consideration and this underwent preliminary evaluation but was determined to be poor academic practice and did not proceed to a formal investigation.
This incident reinforced the importance of training for researchers not only in the identification of matters of research misconduct, whether intended or otherwise, but also in how to appropriately respond to the discovery of a genuine error, which is perhaps more frequently faced.
The Institute has launched a variety of forums that enable researchers to communicate their concerns in confidence, including procedures for reporting concerns of misconduct by a third party employee at either Institute premises, or the premises of their employer. Such procedures can be found in the Institute’s Research Misconduct policy.
Awareness of how to express concerns and allegations is being facilitated by participation in an ‘active bystander’ training programme which will continue in 2022.