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Research integrity

Research carried out with a high level of integrity upholds values of honesty, rigour, transparency and open communication, as well as care and respect for those involved in research and accountability for a positive research environment. These values, and the behaviours they instil, are central to a healthy research culture, whether in public or private research settings.

The research community is overwhelmingly motivated by these values. However, systemic pressures, such as the incentives offered to researchers and research organisations, can make it difficult to uphold these principles.

Research conducted with a high level of integrity is more trustworthy – and trusted – by other researchers, by users of research and by society in general.

The role of UKRI

UKRI has two main roles in supporting research integrity: as a funder of research and of research organisations and as a steward of the UK research and innovation system.

As a funder, UKRI sets clear expectations about the environment and the ways in which the research it supports should be conducted. It does this through a set of funding policies and terms and conditions, backed up by guidance and an active funding assurance programme.

UKRI has a role in convening other funders and stakeholders to consider actions that will encourage culture change to address the systemic pressures noted above, and so improve integrity in research.

We are also establishing a national research integrity committee. It will champion research integrity in the UK by developing, identifying and sharing good practice. The committee will build and share evidence and provide a national and international voice.

In due course the committee will help strengthen current self-regulation by working with the sector to improve accountability within the system.

Our main activities

In 2018, the Commons Science and Technology Committee published its report of an inquiry into research integrity (PDF, 1.2MB). A key recommendation was that UKRI set up a national research integrity committee. The government and UKRI responded to the Commons Committee report (PDF, 5MB) and we are now setting up the national research integrity committee under the auspices of UKRI.

Our next steps in establishing the national research integrity committee are:

  • recruiting a chair and members of the committee
  • running a public consultation and other engagement to inform the committee’s direction and priorities.

We are also developing an evidence base to inform the ways in which UKRI and other stakeholders can support research integrity.

We will continue working across UKRI to improve and develop our own policies and processes, for example the use of the Résumé for Researchers narrative CV format in grant applications.

National and international initiatives

We are a signatory to the 2019 concordat to support research integrity (PDF, 275KB). It outlines five important commitments that those engaged in research can make to help maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity. It also makes a clear statement about the responsibilities of researchers, employers and funders of research.

As a signatory to the concordat, we have produced an annual narrative statement on research integrity for the year to 31 March 2019 (PDF, 163KB).

Previously, the research councils produced annual narrative statements on research integrity for:

We provide support to the UK Reproducibility Network, which is a national peer-led consortium that aims to ensure the UK retains its place as a centre for world-leading research. They do this by investigating the factors that contribute to robust research, promoting training activities, and disseminating best practice.

We also support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA), and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

The 2020 integrity landscape report

Vitae, working with UK Research Integrity Office and the UK Reproducibility Network, was 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 1,500 researchers and representatives of stakeholder organisations. The final report synthesises the findings of these activities:

Bullying and harassment

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

Key resources

You can find out more about:

Get in touch

Contact us for more information about about our work in research integrity.

Email: ric@ukri.org

Last updated: 28 October 2020

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