Ethics and integrity

Ethics and integrity underpin appropriate use of information.

The University expects all staff and students to demonstrate the highest standards of conduct in all their academic endeavours.

Everyone involved in any academic activity (including research, teaching, consultancy and outreach work, across all subject disciplines and fields of study) must follow the University's codes of practice and abide by the outcome of ethical review.

This includes staff, students, visiting or emeritus staff, associates, honorary or clinical contract holders, contractors and consultants.

Ethics

The University's Code of practice and principles for good ethical governance sets out an ethical framework for the conduct of all academic activity under the University's auspices.

The key principle underpinning this framework is that of avoidance of harm:

  • to the welfare and interests of human participants, protagonists and the wider community
  • to animals
  • to cultural heritage
  • to the natural environment
  • and to the reputation of the University and academia

This provides important context, in addition to the legal requirements of the Data Protection Act, for the need to protect the information we generate and handle, and for the considerations which need to be taken into account.

Where information is confidential (which includes sensitive, classified and personal information as defined in the Information Classification and Handling Scheme), or where it may potentially be subject to misuse, there is a risk of harm (as defined above) if that information is not kept securely and protected from unauthorised access.

In particular, you must have in place:

  • A clear and documented access control process for granting and revoking access to the data
  • Mechanisms to ensure that human data cannot be linked back to individuals’ details unless by authorised persons
  • Measures to ensure the information is disposed of appropriately, securely and auditably at the end of its lifespan

All academic activity which falls into this category must be submitted for review and formal approval via the appropriate departmental/subject-level ethics committee before the activity commences.

Research integrity

The University's Code of practice on research integrity sets out additional considerations for those conducting research.

Research integrity refers to high quality and robust practice across the full research process, from the planning and conduct of research to the dissemination and application of findings.

Besides the need for information security, there are two further key principles which relate to the handling of information:

  • Effective management of research data and supporting records (proposals, contracts, approvals, consents, licenses and permissions) enables researchers to demonstrate the quality and robustness of their research. Specific professional and contractual obligations should also be met. The Research Data Management Policy and the RM Policy and associated guidance set out how these principles should be implemented in practice.
  • The fundamental academic principle of openness. This is in line with the requirements of research funders to make research outputs Open Access, and with FoI obligations to publish publicly funded research outputs and data in a proactive manner. These considerations inform the University Policy on the Publication of Research. The Code of practice on research integrity also provides guidance on how the principle of openness can be balanced with the protection of proprietary interests.

Academic integrity

Applies to anyone who writes and publishes.

Principles include:

  • independent thought
  • critical thinking (comparing and evaluating other people's theories and evidence to reach your own conclusions)
  • differentiating between your own and other people's ideas

Further information

Research integrity and ethics provides guidance and links to the relevant codes of practice.

Academic integrity provides guidance for anyone who writes and publishes.