Research governance

The University has an obligation to ensure that public funds are used effectively and without wastage, and that our actions are open and transparent. Key to this is promoting and facilitating best practice in research, with an emphasis on good data management and ensuring the dignity, safety and well-being of researchers and participants, both human and animal. To meet these obligations, the following structure has been put in place.

Governance structure

The University is responsible for:

  • Articulating and publicising applicable standards
  • Training new and existing staff
  • Acting as the accountable guarantor to external bodies

Deans of Faculty are responsible for:

  • Assurance and enhancement of the quality of the research supervision provided by Faculty
  • Establishment and maintenance of academic standards in both teaching and research
  • Ensuring arrangements are in place for the effective management of staff and their performance

Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Each member of the research team conducts research to the highest professional standards
  • Each member of the research team receives sufficient training and information to perform the tasks allocated
  • Resources available for the project are efficiently utilised
  • Research outputs are of the best quality

The primary responsibility for ensuring good governance and ethical practice does, however, rest with the individual researcher. Staff and students can find helpful information about key considerations for their research on our pages.

Allegations of research misconduct

Research that fails to comply with our principles of good conduct may give rise to a complaint of misconduct. Although a rare occurrence, research misconduct is handled very seriously by the University, and we're committed to ensuring that any such complaints are investigated with thoroughness and rigour.

Research misconduct includes, but may not be restricted to, the following:

  • Fabrication – the creation of false results, other outputs or aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent, and presenting and/or recording them as if they were real
  • Falsification – the inappropriate manipulation and/or selection of research processes, materials, equipment, data, imagery and/or consents;
  • Plagiarism – Using others’ ideas, intellectual property or work (written or otherwise) without permission or acknowledgement;
  • Failure to meet – the legal, ethical and professional obligations, for example:
    • Not observing legal, ethical and other requirements for human research participants, animal subjects, or for the protection of the environment
    • Breach of duty of care for humans involved in research, including failure to obtain appropriate informed consent
    • Misuse of personal data, including inappropriate disclosures of the identity of research participants and other breaches of confidentiality
    • Improper conduct in peer-review of research proposals, results or manuscripts submitted for publication. This includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for the purposes of peer review.
  • Misrepresentation of:
    • data, including the suppression of relevant results/data or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence presenting a flawed interpretation of data
    • involvement, inappropriate claims to authorship or attribution of work and denial of authorship/attribution to persons who have made an appropriate contribution
    • interests, including failure to declare competing interests of researchers or funders of a study
    • qualifications, experience and/or credentials
    • publication history, through undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication
  • Improper dealing with allegations of research misconduct – including failing to address possible infringements, attempts to cover up misconduct or reprisals against whistle-blowers, or failing to adhere appropriately to agreed procedures in the investigation of alleged research misconduct accepted as a condition of funding. Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct includes the inappropriate censoring of parties through the use of legal instruments, such as non-disclosure agreements.

We address allegations of misconduct with the following legal requirements in mind:

Human Rights Act 1998

Freedom of Information Law in Scotland

Data Protection Act 2018

Please refer to the University Procedure for Handling Allegations of Research Misconduct  for further details.