Research integrity

Keele University expects its researchers to observe the highest standards of integrity when undertaking research. This section defines research integrity and provides detail and resources about our research misconduct procedures, code of good research practice, how to contact the research integrity team and links to the research integrity talks

Research integrity is defined as maintaining high quality and robust research practices throughout a research project.  It is about ensuring that, from idea conception through design, conduct, collection and recording of data, reporting and dissemination of findings, to the application and exploitation of findings, all practices are conducted in an honest and transparent manner.  For a more detailed definition of research integrity please see page 6 of the revised Concordat to support research integrity.

As detailed in the Keele University Research Integrity Policy, Keele University is committed to the standards of research integrity outlined in the revised Concordat to support research integrity.  The five commitments described in the Concordat to support research integrity are:

  1. Maintaining the highest standards of research integrity
  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. Dealing with allegations of research misconduct using transparent, timely, robust and fair processes
  5. Work together to strengthen the integrity of research and to review progress regularly and openly

The Code of Good Research Practice outlines Keele’s commitment to research integrity as an employer and details the expectations of those conducting research on behalf of Keele.

Professor David Amigoni - Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Enterprise is the institutional lead for research integrity at Keele, he is supported by Dr Jim Grange, Academic Lead for Research Integrity and Improvement, and Dr Tracy Nevatte, Head of Project Assurance.  This team is responsible for developing initiatives to raise awareness of research integrity and enhancing the research culture at Keele.  


The Research Committee is responsible for the oversight of research integrity matters at Keele, with escalation of concerns to the Senate if required. 

Keele's main contact for research integrity is:

Professor David Amigoni
Pro Vice Chancellor for Research & Enterprise
Room CM2.15
Claus Moser Research Centre
Keele University
Staffordshire
ST5 5BG

Email: d.amigoni@keele.ac.uk
Tel: +44(0)1782 733209

The administrative contact is:

Dr Tracy Nevatte
Head of Project Assurance
Directorate of Research, Innovation and Engagement
David Weatherall Building
Keele University
Staffordshire
ST5 5BG

Email: t.nevatte@keele.ac.uk
Tel: +44(0)1782 732975

or you can contact:

Dr Jim Grange
Academic Lead for Research Integrity and Improvement
DH1.28 - Dorothy Hodgkin Building
Keele University
Staffordshire
ST5 5BG

E-mail: j.a.grange@keele.ac.uk
Tel: +44(0)1782 733389

Allegations of research misconduct should be made, in writing, to the relevant Associate Dean for Research/Research Institute/School Director. Where the subject of the complaint/allegation is the Associate Dean for Research/Research Institute/School Director themselves, the complaint should be made to the relevant Dean. A copy should also be sent to the Human Resources Department.

If you wish to contact the Research Integrity team about research misconduct or any other related query, please email the Research Integrity team at research.integrity@keele.ac.uk, this can be used for allegations of research misconduct or general queries.

 

In accordance with the Concordat to support research integrity, Keele University produces an annual statement that is made publicly available.  The current Research Integrity Annual Statement 2018-19 is available.

Archive Annual Research Integrity Statements:

Research misconduct is when individuals fail to meet the standards of research integrity i.e. ethical, legal and professional standards, honesty, transparency and safety.  Examples of misconduct include fabrication of results, manipulation of images, conducting unethical research, breaches of legislation and plagiarism.  The misconduct can be through negligence or intentional.  The revised Concordat to support research integrity has a more detailed definition of Research Misconduct and is the definition that Keele University also uses.

Keele University has a process for dealing with allegations of research misconduct that is described in the Research Misconduct Procedure.

If you would like to contact the University about an allegation of research misconduct please see the contact section above.

Public and academic trust in publications has been eroded over time due to poor practice and integrity.  The China’s Publication Bazaar article (Science 2013 (342) 1035-39) and other articles have highlighted the practices of ghost writers, authorship, data and papers for sale as some of the main issues.  In some countries large financial rewards have been provided to authors of high-impact articles as described in this Nature article.  Dr Irene Hames gave a presentation, at a UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) event, which covereds publication ethics.  The majority of issues which arise are related to authorship, peer review and images.  This article has a useful figure (figure 2) describing misconduct in relation to publications.

Authorship and contributorship

Issues around authorship occur in all disciplines and are not confined to the biomedical sciences. 

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has published guidance on integrity and authorship and has a database of cases that can be searched as guidance and as an educational tool.  

It is recommended that the research lead outlines authorship order at the start of the project and highlights that it may be updated due to changes in contribution as the project progresses.  This should be an ongoing dialogue that continues throughout the project.  The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICJME) authorship guidelines can be too rigid and are open to abuse but McNutt et al (2018) have suggested alternative authorship policies.

If a PhD student contributes the majority of the work for a publication they must be the primary author and not replaced by the research lead or head of the research group.  It does not matter what career stage an author is at, it is their contribution to the research that determines their place in the author list.

The Bullied into Bad Science campaign is aimed at supporting early career researchers.   If you are an early career researcher and feel that it is difficult to directly challenge a more senior academic, the authorship guidelines from COPE and the McNutt et al (2018) article may be useful tools to indirectly engage in dialogue.  Please remember you can contact your Faculty Research Integrity Champion, our Academic Lead for Research Integrity and Improvement or the institutional lead for Research Integrity for support.

Ghost writers, those that write a paper and are not listed as an author or ‘guest writers’ that appear in the author list without any contribution to the work, are not acceptable practices and are not supported by Keele University.

The Montreal Statement on Research Integrity in Cross-Boundary Research Collaborations is a useful standard when dealing with authorship in research collaborations. The Contributors Roles Taxonomy is a useful tool that can help to define an individual's contribution to a publication and is becoming more widely adopted by journals and publishers.

It is recommended that all researchers register with ORCiD to get an ORCID iD which is your unique digital identifier as a researcher.

Peer review

Dr Jane Alfred gave a  presentation, at a UKRIO event about publication ethics, which highlights some of the issues with the peer review system.  Peer review must be ethical and robust. Again, trust in the peer review system has been eroded due to poor conduct and integrity.  The classic peer review system lacks transparency, for example authors can suggest reviewers that they have worked with introducing bias into the review process.  Occasionally academics are asked to review an article or application in a field that is not aligned with their expertise, if this happens to you it is ok to reject the request you should never feel pressured to complete a review.

Images

Image manipulation to falsify results is an unacceptable practice and yet is often reported.  Jana Christopher gave a presentation, at a UKRIO publication ethics event, which highlights some of the practices that have been identified during her role as an Image Data Integrity Analyst.  Journals are moving towards routine screening of images following publications such as Bik et al 2018 highlighting the extent of the problem.  It is recommended that you work as much as possible with the primary data to create images and to keep the primary data in an unadulterated format so that it can be provided to the journal at submission or is available if requested.  Some alterations are acceptable for example using contrast to improve the quality of an image but it is not acceptable to increase the contrast to a point where data are obscured.  If you are unsure, this article by Cromey (2010) may be a useful resource.  In a move to prevent the publication of altered images PLOS ONE and PLOS Biology updated their submission policy in 2019, so that raw gel and blot data must be provided at submission.

Predatory journals and publishers

Predatory publishers and journals suffer from a lack of transparency and quality, and generally cannot be trusted.  You may have received an email from one asking for you to submit an article or promising faster publication turnaround times.  If you are unsure of a journal or have been approached to publish in a journal you do not recognise, you can use this website to help to check if a journal is trusted, or speak to others in your area or to your Faculty Research Integrity Champion.  

Cambridge University Library produced this useful video on ‘How to spot a predatory publisher’.

 

Reproducibility is a key component of robust research and features initiatives such as open access and making protocols and datasets available for others to review or use.  Keele University is a formal institutional member of the UK Reproducibility Network..

The following introduction documents are produced by the UK Reproducibility Network:

Pre-registration and registered reports

Preprints

Open access publications

Data sharing

Open code and software

 

The Keele University Research Governance Toolkit is designed to facilitate legislatively compliant research.  It includes details of the university’s research ethics committees, procedures to follow if undertaking health and social care research, research involving human tissue and research data management.

As part of the Research Talks series the following presentations relating to research integrity and research culture have been recorded and made available here:

Dr Simon Kolstoe - 26 February 2019 - Research Ethics, Integrity and Governance: What is the difference and who is responsible?

Prof Marcus Munafo - 24 October 2019 - Scientific ecosystems and research reproducibility

Prof Leanne Hodson - 27 November 2019 - Developing a supportive research environment

Please inform the Project Assurance Research Integrity team if you find a useful resource that is not listed here so we can add it to the list.

Dynamic Ecology

Retraction Watch

Research integrity and culture

Wellcome Report - What researchers think about research culture

UKRI Report - Research Integrity: A Landscape Study

Lucas, G.N., 2010. Singapore statement on research integrity. Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 39(4), pp.126–127. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljch.v39i4.2476

Research Misconduct

The Office of Research Integrity definition of research misconduct

The Office of Research Integrity - It's a slippery slope to research misconduct

Image integrity

American Scientist article on how to detect faked photos

Enago Academy - Scientific fraud - how journals detect image manipulation - part 1

Enago Academy - Scientific fraud - how journals detect image manipulation - part 2

The Office of Research Integrity - online learning tool for research integrity and image processing

List of other useful resources from the Image Data Integrity initiative

Koppers, L., Wormer, H. & Ickstadt, K. Towards a Systematic Screening Tool for Quality Assurance and Semiautomatic Fraud Detection for Images in the Life Sciences. Sci Eng Ethics 23, 1113–1128 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-016-9841-7

Publications, Authorship and contributorship

COPE report 2003 - How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers

Authorship: Musings about guests and ghosts - Citrome - 2017 - International Journal of Clinical Practice  https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcp.12986 

UK Research Integrity Office, 2010: Guidance for researchers on retractions in academic journals

UK Research Integrity Office, 2017: Good practice in research: Authorship

COPE webinar (2017) Standards in authorship

Author services supporting Taylor and Francis authors - Co-authorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Reappraised Checklist - to assess whether a paper has flaws that call its integrity into question

Demarcating spectrums of predatory publishing: Economic and institutional sources of academic legitimacy

Predatory Publishing guidance from COPE