We are committed to ensuring that research conducted in Australia is of the highest quality and integrity. The 2018 Code is a crucial part of the framework for the responsible conduct of research in Australia.
In June 2018, NHMRC, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Universities Australia (UA) (the co-authors) released the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the 2018 Code) and the Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the Investigation Guide).
The 2018 Code provides clear, practical, relevant and contemporary guidance that can be applied to a range of different research contexts. The 2018 Code is a principles-based document that sets out eight principles of responsible research (P1–P8) and 29 specific responsibilities for institutions (R1–R13) and researchers (R14–R29).
The Investigation Guide assists institutions to manage, investigate and resolve complaints about potential breaches of the 2018 Code.
Guidance to support the Code
The 2018 Code is also supported by guides on specific topics to encourage responsible research conduct. These guides articulate the broad principles and responsibilities of the 2018 Code.
The following guides are available:
- Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
- Management of Data and Information in Research
- Peer Review
- Disclosure of Interests and Management of Conflicts of Interest
- Collaborative Research
- Publication and Dissemination of Research
The release of the Publication and Dissemination of Research Guide completes the suite of guides that reflected the content of Sections 2–8 of Part A of the 2007 Code. Although superseded, the 2007 Code will remain available on NHMRC’s website for reference, as there may be times when institutions will need to refer to it for integrity matters that were active prior to the 2018 Code being implemented.
NHMRC recognises the critical contribution that consumers can make to research, as well as their right to participate in research. The Statement on consumer and community involvement in health and medical research (the Statement) complements the Code by guiding research institutions, researchers, consumers and community members in the active involvement of consumers and community members in all aspects of health and medical research. The Code together with the Statement establishes a framework for credibility and community trust in publically funded research.
The table in the downloads section below summarises the main changes to the 2018 Code and Investigation Guide compared to the 2007 Code.
What institutions need to do to implement the 2018 Code
Institutions should have already updated their existing policies to reflect the principles and responsibilities of the 2018 Code and the processes outlined in the Investigation Guide.
Institutions in receipt of funding from other agencies, such as the Australian Research Council (ARC), should refer to the specific funding agency’s policies.
Use and definition of the term research misconduct in the 2018 Code and Investigation Guide
The 2018 Code and Investigation Guide use the term ‘breach’ to describe a failure to meet the principles and responsibilities of the Code. Use of the term breach emphasises that all breaches of the Code occur on a spectrum of seriousness, impact on the integrity of research and should be managed appropriately according to the specifics of each case.
The 2018 Code and Investigation Guide provide a definition and suggested use of the term ‘research misconduct’. While it is recommended that institutions use the term research misconduct to acknowledge the egregious nature of some serious breaches, institutions are not required to use the term. Not mandating the use of the term research misconduct provides institutions with the option of completing an investigation under the Code separately from other institutional processes if the use of the term research misconduct would preclude this (such as investigations under Enterprise Agreements) and encourages timely corrective actions.
The definition of research misconduct in the Code has been informed by extensive consultation with the sector.
When investigations should follow the Investigation Guide
Institutions should ensure their processes for investigating potential breaches of the 2018 Code align, as far as possible, with the Investigation Guide. Ultimately, institutions must ensure that the processes they use to manage and investigate potential breaches of the 2018 Code are procedurally fair and do not hinder the timely implementation of all corrective actions.
How institutions report potential breaches of the Code to NHMRC
NHMRC has released the NHMRC Research Integrity and Misconduct Policy (the Integrity Policy) to replace the NHMRC policy on misconduct related to NHMRC funding (2016). The Integrity Policy is effective from 1 July 2019.
Australian Research Integrity Committee reviews
ARIC undertakes reviews of institutional processes used to manage and investigate potential breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code).
Complaints or concerns received by an institution on or after 1 July 2019 should be managed and investigated consistently with the 2018 Code and the Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the Investigation Guide).
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: 16 July 2021