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Research integrity

UK Research and Innovation aims to help researchers and research organisations to undertake and manage research to the highest standards and provides guidance on the reporting and investigation of unacceptable research conduct.

UKRI is currently considering the need to revise its policies and processes related to research integrity across its nine constituent Councils. The policies and processes of the former RCUK and Research England continue to apply until further notice. RCUK and Research England policies should be considered in conjunction with the revised 2019 Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

Research integrity: a landscape study

In January 2017, the Science and Technology Select Committee (Commons) launched an inquiry into research integrity. Following collection of both written and oral evidence, the Committee published its final report in July 2018. The Committee’s report highlighted that there is a need to better understand what incentives and effects there are in the UK research and funding system that influence researcher and institutional behaviour in the context of research integrity. The report asked that UKRI commission research to understand the effects of these incentives.

Vitae, working with UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) and the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), were commissioned by UKRI to conduct a study into the effects of incentives in the research system on researcher behaviour. The study, overseen by an expert advisory group, was conducted through an extensive literature review, a survey, researcher workshops and interviews, collectively reaching over 1500 researchers and representatives of stakeholder organisations. The final report synthesises the findings of these activities.

The report is available to read here. (PDF, 5.1MB)

Annex A – Literature review (PDF, 1.1MB)

Annex B – Quantitative data summary (PDF, 1.9MB)

Annex C – Qualitative workshop summary (PDF, 844KB)

Annex D – Qualitative interview summary (PDF, 1.1MB)

Bullying and harassment was identified within the report as the single biggest negative influence on research integrity. UKRI has already made a strong commitment to tackling bullying and harassment in the research and innovation sector. Find out about our work in this area.

If you would like to discuss this report with the research integrity team please get in touch with Rebecca.veitch@ukri.org or Neil.jacobs@ukri.org

webinar will take place on 8 July for a discussion of the research integrity study findings.

Council policies

The RCUK Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct continue to apply for AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and STFC investments, until further notice. RCUK’s Policy and Guidelines cover, principally the promotion of good research conduct, including: good conduct in peer review; the need for appropriate training and development; what constitutes unacceptable research conduct; and the investigation and reporting of unacceptable research conduct.

Institutions eligible to receive research funding from Research England must comply with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. This is a condition of receiving funds specified in Research England's Terms and Conditions of Grant (PDF). Further information on supporting research integrity is available on the Research England website.

Contacts within each policy-holding council concerning matters of research integrity or research conduct are:

Current research integrity policies are overseen by the Good Research Conduct Network, which remains operational until further notice.

UK Research and Innovation is using the Government Internal Audit and Assurance service to obtain feedback on research conduct activity across the sector, through assurance questions incorporated into the Funding Assurance Programme.  UKRI will review this approach as the role of the new UK research integrity committee becomes clearer.

UK Research Integrity Committee

In 2018, the Commons Science and Technology Committee published its report of an inquiry into research integrity. A key recommendation was that UKRI set up a national research integrity committee.  The Government and UKRI responded to the Commons Committee report, and UKRI is exploring how best to establish the national research integrity committee under its auspices.  Progress updates so far are:

  • In June 2019, the Minister provided an update [pdf] to the Science and Technology Committee. 
  • In February 2020, UKRI provided an update to the Science and Technology Committee

Further updates will be given here.

Concordat to Support Research Integrity

UKRI is a signatory of the 2019 Concordat to Support Research Integrity

The concordat outlines five important commitments that those engaged in research can make to help ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity are maintained. It also makes a clear statement about the responsibilities of researchers, employers and funders of research in maintaining high standards in research.

The revised concordat represents a renewed ambition to further strengthen the concordat which was published in 2012. It provides the principles and commitments to ensure that research produced by, or in collaboration with, UK universities, research institutes and others undertaking research is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The 2019 revision of the Concordat was informed by publication of the report into research integrity published by the Commons Science and Technology Committee in July 2018.

As a signatory to the Concordat, RCUK committed to producing an annual narrative statement on research integrity. These are available below:

Bullying and Harassment

We recognise the close link between research integrity and fostering safe and inclusive research and innovation environments. Tackling bullying and harassment is a priority for UKRI and integral to its wider vision for equality, diversity and inclusion.