Annual Statement on Research Integrity

October 2021

The University of Stirling is an international university with a global reputation for high-quality teaching and research. Stirling is numbered among the top 50 new universities in the world; a reputation that has been gained through the quality of our research, the impact it has had on society and the skills and competencies of our graduates.

The University of Stirling is strongly committed to ensuring the highest standards of research integrity in all aspects of its research activities and expects its researchers to maintain a similar commitment. The University of Stirling welcomes the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and is committed to fulfilling its five commitments.

  1. Upholding the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research.
  2. Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
  3. Supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers.
  4. Using transparent, timely, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct when they arise.
  5. Working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly.

Commitment 5 of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity requires employers of researchers to provide a short annual statement that includes:

  • A summary of actions and activities that have been undertaken to support and strengthen understanding and the application of research integrity issues;
  • A statement to provide assurance that the processes the institution has in place for dealing with allegations of misconduct are transparent, timely, robust and fair, and that they continue to be appropriate to the needs of the organisation;
  • A high-level statement on any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken, which will include data on the number of investigations. If no formal investigations has been undertaken this should also be noted;
  • A statement on what the institution has learned from any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken, including what lessons have been learned to prevent the same type of incident re-occurring;
  • A statement on how the institution creates and embeds a research environment in which all staff, researchers and students feel comfortable to report instances of misconduct.

This report summarises the activities undertaken at the University of Stirling to promote a culture of research integrity. This Annual Statement summarises the actions and activities undertaken during the 2020/21 Academic Year to strengthen research integrity.

Named Person in accordance with the Concordat

The Named Person in accordance with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity is Professor Judith Phillips OBE, Deputy Principal (Research).

Queries or concerns about research integrity and/or reports of research misconduct should be made through Ms Rachel Beaton, Research Integrity and Governance Manager.

Contact ethics@stir.ac.uk

Activities undertaken

  • In Autumn/Winter 2020 the University hosted a virtual mini research integrity festival. The event was hosted by our Institute for Advanced Studies and the University’s Dean of Research Engagement and Performance, events focused on the launch of the new electronic ethics review system; safeguarding in research sharing experiences of conducting research with integrity in an international context and with vulnerable audiences; and a research integrity panel session exploring expectations, challenges and a discussion of embedding research integrity into research culture.
  • In November 2020 the University Research Ethics Committee approved a University-wide Research Ethics Policy.
  • In November 2020 the University Research Ethics Committee approved a revised version of the Guidelines for Handling Allegations of Misconduct in Research.
  • In March 2021 the University Court approved a Code of Practice for the Protection of Children and Adults at Risk of Harm (Safeguarding)
  • The University’s electronic ethics review system was launched in November 2020 to be used by all staff and students undertaking research activities.
  • In October 2020 the University of Stirling became a signatory of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. Implementation of the Concordat will be managed via the University’s Research Environment Group. An action plan for the implementation of the Concordat was approved by University Court in September 2021. The action plan focuses on the 3 core principles of the Concordat; Environment and Culture, Employment and Professional and Career Development. Research Integrity is embedded throughout the Researcher Development Concordat.
  • In May 2021 the University ran our annual Research Culture Awards to celebrate people and groups who contribute towards a positive and vibrant research environment.
  • During 2020/21 the University requires all Faculty Research Committee meetings to have Research Ethics and Integrity as a standing agenda item.
  • During 2020/21 the University’s Research Integrity and Governance Manager has been an active participant in a number of sector wide conferences including, UK Research Integrity Office annual conference and the virtual World Conference on Research Integrity.
  • The Research Integrity and Governance Manager has engaged with the resources available from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure on Trusted Research and has created web-based support for researchers.
  • The Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey (CEDARS) ran at the University of Stirling during June 2021. The Survey asks questions relating to Research Integrity and Research Misconduct. Results of the survey will be reported to the University’s Research Environment Group.

Training and development

Training on research integrity are available to all of the University community through the University’s online learning environment on topics including: Introduction to Research Integrity and the responsible and ethical conduct of research; plagiarism and research outputs; authorship; collaborative research and data management and integrity; and peer review and publication ethics.

The Research Integrity and Governance Manager delivers ethics and Research Integrity training to specific groups/divisions of researchers.

External memberships

To ensure that the University keeps up to date of best practice related to research integrity it is a member of a number of external bodies including:

Research misconduct

The University has guidelines for handling allegations of misconduct in research which are administered by the Research Integrity and Governance Manager and includes clear principles and mechanisms to ensure that investigations are conducted in a transparent, timely, robust and fair manner.

Research misconduct investigations

The table below sets out the high level details of investigations and findings on any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken, including data on the number of investigations.

Research misconduct investigations
 Number of formal investigations completedNumber of allegations upheld (in whole or part)
  2020/21 2020/21
Fabrication 0 0
Falsification 0 0
Plagiarism 0 0
Failure to meet legal, ethical and professional obligations 0 0
Misrepresentation 0 0
Breach of duty of care 0 0
Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct 0 0
Other 0 0

The University has not conducted any formal investigations of research misconduct during this period.

Preparation of this Annual Statement

This Annual Statement was prepared by the University’s Research Integrity and Governance Manager, Research, Innovation and Business Engagement. The Annual Statement was approved by the University’s Research Ethics Committee.

Ms Rachel Beaton
Research Integrity and Governance Manager
October 2021

Previous statements