ETHICS, INTEGRITY, & LEGAL ISSUES
Keeping to rules, regulations, and the law
RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH
All research students and their supervisors are responsible for understanding the ANU Policy: Responsible conduct of research and the supplementary Code of Research Conduct. These policies cover topics such as the appropriate management of data, supervision of students, dissemination of research findings, attribution of authorship, and conflicts of interest.
MANDATORY RESEARCH INTEGRITY TRAINING
Research Integrity covers issues of academic conduct, privacy, and public perception of the University’s research integrity. All students must complete research integrity online training within three months of the commencement of your candidature. The training is mandatory for HDR students, constitutes one of your milestones, and no further milestones can be completed until this milestone is finalised. NB: This is not the same as the human ethics training on ARIES, which is attended prior to completing the human ethics research protocol application (see below). To undertake this training, visit the Research integrity training homepage.
Research Integrity Advisors are available to assist you and to give confidential advice about what constitutes misconduct in research, the rights and responsibilities of a potential complainant, and the procedures for dealing with allegations of research misconduct within the University. See the ANU’s Research integrity training pages for more information and make sure you are familiar with the ANU Policy: Responsible conduct of research and the supplementary Code of Research Conduct.
HUMAN ETHICS REVIEW
The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and local sub-committees have been set up to consider the ethical implications of proposals for human research in all disciplines. You need to apply for human ethics review if, in the course of your research, you intend to conduct research that involves human subjects. This includes research where you intend to administer surveys or questionnaires, conduct interviews or focus groups, undertake participant observation, or similar. Any data that you collect without first having ethics clearance cannot be used as part of your research. Similarly, you cannot retrospectively apply for ethics clearance.
Obtaining ethics clearance is a time-consuming process and allowance for this needs to be built into your research plans. It can take months, for example, if your proposal is high risk and has to go to the main ethics committee, and the committee asks for amendments to be made. Bear in mind that approval is not automatic and the committee may ask for revisions. If the committee has serious concerns it will ask the researcher to resubmit their application to be considered at the next meeting.
You can apply for ethics approval without first having presented your First PhD thesis seminar and thesis proposal review (TPR) seminar; however, most students work on both their ethics approval and their TPR seminar concurrently. Please note that if you receive ethics approval before you have given your TPR, and your panel requires changes to your research proposal, you could well have to apply for ethics approval again. We strongly encourage you to complete your TPR and ethics approval as well as your Research Integrity Training within the first year of your degree.
Before applying for human ethics review, you should familiarise yourself with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2018). You should then fill out a New investigator or author registration form and then complete the application process in the ARIES Online Management System. For information on ARIES training sessions please see the ANU’s Ethics and integrity website. You should also check out the Before you begin info and direct any inquiries about your project to the Human Research Ethics Officer.
Be aware that ANU takes academic honesty very seriously. You may be dismissed from the degree if you engage in cheating, collusion, fabrication, plagiarism, recycling, or poor academic practice. Several policies, procedures, and guidelines relate to academic honesty at ANU. You must know what is contained in these documents and how these may affect your academic results. If you are unsure about your academic practices, book an appointment to discuss things with the Crawford PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor.
Research students are not beyond plagiarism. A lot of plagiarism occurs inadvertently, maybe because you didn’t keep track of your notes and references properly, because you were feeling time constraints to get a paper finished, or because you were lazy in your copying and pasting. The key thing is that you avoid plagiarisim in the first place, so if you have any doubts about the appropriateness or otherwise of your scholarly practices, then book in to see the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor. Of course, if you’re simply being dishonest through collusion, recycling, cheating, fabrication, and such like, then you will be kicked out of the degree for misconduct.
Further information is available on the ANU’s Academic honesty and plagiarism website.
You can log in to Wattle to submit your work to Turnitin for checking, but before you do, you should do some background research on how Turnitin uses your work. Only then will you be in a position to make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to go ahead and submit your work to the company.
Just a note: these are general tips for things to consider, they do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions specific to your work, you need to contact the PARSA Legal Officer in the first instance.
Intellectual Property (IP)
Make sure you are familiar with the ANU’s Intellectual Property Policy.
Some of the questions you have regarding IP may be covered off during the Human ethics review process.
If you are doing work across multiple countries you may have to contend with variations in IP law. This issue of jurisdiction can be resolved with negotiation between the parties; PARSA can provide you with advice on IP agreements, and it is advisable to seek legal advice in most cases.
Because of the associated complex IP issues, if you are negotiating with CSIRO seek specific advice.
If you encounter a particularly sticky issue and the other party is being unreasonable, it can be helpful to get the university’s support in negotiations. In such instances, you should ask your supervisor to put in a formal request for advice from the Legal Office. The Legal Office cannot provide you with independent legal advice. PARSA, however, can provide you with independent legal advice on proposed agreements. Please note that you cannot approach the ANU Legal Office as a student: you must work through your supervisor.
If you are working for another university as a research assistant, can you use any of the material you generate for them as part of your PhD? Again that depends. It’s best to clarify all these issues before you start in the role, and get advice if there’s anything about your employment contract you are concerned about.
If you are hiring someone to do a specific aspect of your work for you for your PhD (e.g., data entry) make sure it is very clear to all parties what the role is and that they are working under your instruction and direction so that you retain the IP. Ideally this should be in a written agreement or an agreed exchange of emails. Again, read the ANU IP Policy thoroughly.
The Australian Copyright Council website is a good place to start if you have questions around copyright.
The ANU Library is also doing some specific work on copyright.
In a field where publishing in your preferred journal is a difficult and long process you might want to know whether or not you can submit an article that is drawn directly from the PhD prior to publication of your thesis. The short answer is: it depends. Speak to your supervisor in the first instance. It is important to be clear on who owns copyright and what permissions are granted if you do submit an article to a journal.
If you are publishing in a journal, be sure to check what rights you are signing away. Read the copyright licence! Sometimes journals will remove your freedom to upload a PDF of your work to a public site; depending on the journal and publisher you may be in breach of the agreement you signed.
Copyright only applies if you produce something material (e.g., writing, an image, or a recording). If you present at a conference and have a lightbulb moment that wasn’t documented in your abstract/paper, then perhaps don’t share it. Go home and write something first; otherwise you can get into difficult territory if someone takes that lightbulb moment and writes it up before you do. One great idea is to forward slides, abstracts, conference papers, etc., written by you to the ANU Digital Collections repository. In that way there is a record of your work and the date and time it was created that can be verified by an independent body.
Fair dealing exceptions allow the use of copyright materials for study and research. It’s worth becoming familiar with what this allows you to do.
Moral rights are the rights of the author of a work and include to be attributed as the author, not to have authorship falsely attributed, and not to have the work treated in a way harmful to the author’s reputation. Moral rights are discussed in the ANU IP Policy.
Read the ANU’s insurance-related policies carefully. You may or may not be covered, depending on the circumstances of your research.
Insurance is also important if you are travelling.
This is all really important. Really.