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 Code, 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 will be supported by guides on specific topics to encourage responsible research conduct. These guides articulate the broad principles and responsibilities of the 2018 Code.  

The first guide is the Investigation Guide.

The Authorship and Management of Data guides are now available:

The following additional guides are currently under development and planned for release later in 2019:

  • Peer Review
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Research Supervision
  • Dissemination of Research
  • Collaborative Research across Organisations.

As these guides are released, it is up to each institution to determine whether existing policies will need to be amended.

In the meantime, and until such time as the individual guides are developed, institutions and researchers should refer to the advice set out in Chapters 2-8 of the 2007 Code.

Further updates will be provided on this website.

What institutions need to do to implement the 2018 Code

Institutions should have already reviewed and 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 have updated their processes for investigating potential breaches of the 2018 Code, as far as possible, to be in line 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. Current or ongoing investigations should follow existing institutional policies.   

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.

When ARIC will start to use the Investigation Guide as a benchmark

Complaints or concerns received by an institution on or after 1 July 2019 should be managed and investigated consistently with the 2018 Code and Investigation Guide. 

More information

Please email: integrity@nhmrc.gov.au.

Development of the 2018 Code

The table in the link below summarises the main changes to the 2018 Code and Investigation Guide compared to the 2007 Code.

Find out more information about the development of the 2018 Code, including the membership of the Code Review Committee and the Better Practice Guides working

  • Development of the Code (see downloads)

Last updated: 27 June 2019 

 

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