Research Misconduct Procedure

Please make sure you are familiar with the Research Conduct Regulations.

 

9.6 Introduction

9.6.1 There are three stages to the Research Misconduct Procedure: 

  • Stage 1: Internal Examiner or Supervisor Investigation
  • Stage 2: School-level investigation
  • Stage 3: University Research Misconduct Panel

9.6.2 We can make decisions and apply penalties at any stage of the procedure.

9.6.3 In cases where the allegation represents a serious breach of research conduct, we may choose to escalate the procedure immediately to a higher stage without exhausting the procedure at a lower stage. If we decide to start our investigations at a higher stage of the procedure, we will explain to you why we have decided to do this.

 

9.7 General guidance

9.7.1 If we ask to meet with you in relation to an allegation of research misconduct, you should seek independent advice from the Students’ Union Advice Centre. They have experience of supporting and advising students during research misconduct proceedings and one of their advisers can support you throughout this procedure.

9.7.2 We work on the balance of probabilities when considering allegations of misconduct. This means that based on the evidence presented, the circumstances are more likely to have occurred than not.

9.7.3 If your School suspects that you have breached the Research Conduct regulations, they will proceed with an investigation. The investigation may include:

  • Reviewing the piece of work you have submitted;
  • Reviewing your application for ethical approval;
  • Considering your conduct in relation data collection or data management;
  • Looking at any relevant source materials;
  • Talking to witnesses;
  • Asking you to demonstrate your knowledge in relation to the work you have submitted.

9.7.4 Allegations of research misconduct will always be investigated by academic staff who are eligible to be main doctoral supervisors.

9.7.5 The Director of Graduate Education (DoGE) or nominee is responsible for overseeing all cases of research misconduct in the School and will approve all School decisions.

9.7.6 If we conclude that you have committed an offence, we will then take into account any previously upheld allegations when applying a penalty. It is likely that if you have a previously upheld offence, we will apply a more serious penalty.

9.7.7 We will keep a record of any investigation and any outcome where it is determined that an offence has occurred, in line with the University’s records management policy. If the outcome of an investigation is no case to answer then we will not keep a record of the allegation on file.

 

9.8 Deadlines

9.8.1 We expect you to keep to the deadlines in this procedure unless you have compelling independent evidence to show why you could not do this.

9.8.2 We are also expected to meet our deadlines but there may occasionally be times when we are unable to do this for good reason. If so, we explain why and keep you informed of when you can expect to receive your outcome.

 

9.9 Absence from any meeting or hearing

9.9.1 We expect you to attend any investigation meetings or hearings. If you are unable to attend for a good reason, which can be independently evidenced, you must let us know before the date of the meeting or hearing date.

9.9.2 If you cannot attend a meeting as part of a Stage 1 or Stage 2 investigation held at School level, you should contact your School directly before the hearing date and we will consider holding the meeting at a later date.

9.9.3 If you cannot attend a University Research Misconduct Panel, you must email RegistryResearch@hud.ac.uk before the hearing date and we will consider holding the meeting at a later date.

9.9.4 We are unable to postpone a meeting indefinitely and will normally only rearrange a meeting once.

9.9.5 If you do not tell us in advance that you are unable to attend the meeting or hearing, and you do not attend, it will go ahead in your absence and a decision will be made based on the information available to the panel on that day.

9.9.6 If you tell us in advance that you are unable to attend but cannot provide independent evidence to explain why, the meeting or hearing will go ahead in your absence and a decision will be made based on the information available.

 

9.10 Mitigation in relation to penalties

9.10.1 If you have faced extenuating circumstances which you believe affected you at the time you were working on your research, and you can provide independent evidence to corroborate this, we may take this into account when considering your case. In submitting mitigation, you are accepting that you have committed an offence. Mitigation does not provide a defence for research misconduct but it might allow us to consider a lesser penalty. We may not necessarily apply a lesser penalty, even when there are extenuating circumstances, because we will also consider other factors, such as the seriousness of the offence.

 

9.11 Research Council funded students

9.11.1 In cases where a candidate’s work is associated with a project funded by a Research Council, the School will notify the relevant Research Council of any research misconduct investigations.

9.11.2 This applies to allegations made against PGRs funded by Research Council grants and staff engaged in Research Council funded research or in the management related activities of that research. Specifically:

  • Researchers, research support staff and students funded by the Research Councils;
  • Applicants for Research Council funding of any kind;
  • Researchers, research managers and research administrators in institutions in receipt of, or eligible to apply for Research Council funding.

 

9.12 Stage 1: Internal Examiner or Supervisor Investigation

9.12.1 The purpose of a stage 1 investigation is to establish the facts as far as possible. We will treat you and any other person involved fairly and will not make assumptions about whether or not the allegation is true or false.

9.12.2 If we suspect a breach at an assessment point (such as progression monitoring or final thesis exam), the internal examiner will speak to you about the allegation at a meeting. 

9.12.3 If we suspect a breach outside of an assessment (for example, during fieldwork stage), normally your supervisor will speak to you about this at a meeting.

9.12.4 We will arrange a meeting for you with the relevant academic member of staff so that you can discuss the allegation and we will give you 5 working days’ notice of the meeting.

9.12.5 You will be allowed to bring a supporter with you who is not connected to the allegation; this will ordinarily be a member of staff from the Student’s Union Advice Centre.

9.12.6 When we invite you to meet with us, we will explain the allegation that has been made and provide you with a copy of any available/relevant evidence.

9.12.7 The investigator may request additional evidence from your School, this may include:

  • Copies of online supervision records;
  • University or school-based training that you have attended;
  • Confirmation that you have access/been advised of the draft TurnItIn submission area.

9.12.8 During this meeting, the academic will present you with the evidence and explain why they are concerned about your work. It is likely that they will ask you questions about the work and may ask you to demonstrate your knowledge in relation to that work by asking you specific questions around its content.

9.12.9 The academic will recommend an outcome to the School Director of Graduate Education (or nominee) who is responsible for overseeing all cases of research misconduct in the School and will approve all School decisions.

9.12.10 The academic will make notes of your meeting and these will be sent to you, along with the investigation outcome, within 5 working days of the meeting.

9.12.11 The academic will consider all the evidence and material available and will make a decision based on the balance of probabilities.

9.12.12 The outcome letter will be copied to the Registry PGR Team and held on file, unless the outcome is that there is no case to answer, in which case we will not keep a copy of the letter.

 

9.13 Stage 1 Offences

9.13.1 Offences that can be considered under Stage 1 are limited to poor academic practice.

9.13.2 The investigator will use their academic judgement to determine whether your work is poor academic practice. Poor academic practice suggests you have been careless when completing your assessment. If it is your first offence and your mistake is relatively minor, we want to give you the opportunity to learn from it.

9.13.3 The investigator may decide to apply a Stage 1 penalty if, for example:

  • You have attempted to reference, but your referencing does not meet the required standards and the alleged research misconduct is not extensive or blatant and does not result from an obvious lack of effort;
  • You have not cited your own work correctly;
  • You have made an incorrect attempt at referencing or poor paraphrasing in one or two non-consecutive paragraphs of the overall report;
  • You have included data in your appendices but you have not fully anonymised it in a small number of instances.

 

9.14 Stage 1 Outcomes

9.14.1 The available outcomes of a Stage 1 investigation are provided below. When considering what outcome is appropriate, the academic may consider:

  • The degree of severity of the offence;
  • Whether or not it is a first offence;
  • The level of the award you are registered for (master’s or doctoral level);
  • The stage of your degree (progression stage or final thesis submission);
  • Any mitigation you present.

9.14.2 No case to answer – it is determined that no offence or poor academic practice has occurred. All records of the allegation and investigation will be deleted from your student file. 

9.14.3 Written caution – this outcome will only be chosen in the case of poor academic practice. Where an offence has occurred, even if minor, a higher penalty should be applied or the case should be upheld and referred.

  • You will be issued with a written caution letter;
  • You will be allowed to correct the problematic sections of your work in the amendments phase of your assessment;
  • The written caution will be recorded on your file and deleted once you have completed your programme of research;
  • In the case of further misconduct, this caution will count as a first offence. 

9.14.4 Case upheld and referred – it is determined that research misconduct has occurred and the case will be referred to a Stage 2 or 3 investigation. 

9.14.5 All second offences must be referred to a higher stage. 

 

9.15 Stage 2: School–level Investigation

9.15.1 We may not be able to conclude an allegation against you at Stage 1, or you may have been referred directly for a Stage 2 investigation. In that situation, your case will be referred to the Director of Graduate Education (DoGE), or their nominee, in your School. The academic who investigates your case at Stage 2 will be independent of the allegation and the Stage 1 investigation.

9.15.2 We will arrange a meeting for you with the investigator so that you can discuss the allegation and we will give you 5 working days’ notice of the meeting.

9.15.3 You will be allowed to bring a supporter with you who is not connected to the allegation; this will ordinarily be a member of staff from the Student’s Union Advice Centre.

9.15.4 When we invite you to meet with us, we will explain the allegation that has been made and provide you with a copy of any available/relevant evidence.

9.15.5 The investigator may request additional evidence from your School, this may include:

  • Copies of online supervision records;
  • University or school-based training that you have attended;
  • Confirmation that you have access/been advised of the draft TurnItIn submission area.

9.15.6 The purpose of this investigation is to review the facts and to re-consider the case as a whole. The DoGE (or nominee) will consider all available material in the case and will speak to you and any other relevant parties about the allegation.

9.15.7 During this investigation the DoGE (or nominee) will present the evidence against you, ask you questions about the work you have submitted.

9.15.8 The DoGE (or nominee) will consider all the evidence and material available and will make a decision based on the balance of probabilities.

9.15.9 A note-taker will be present in the room to keep a record of the discussions that take place. A copy of the meeting record, along with the investigation outcome, will be sent to you within 5 working days of the meeting.

9.15.10 The outcome letter will be copied to the Registry PGR Team and held on file, unless the outcome is that there is no case to answer, in which case we will not keep a copy of the letter.

 

9.16 Stage 2 Offences

9.16.1 Offences that can be considered under Stage 2 are minor instances of research misconduct.

9.16.2 The investigator may decide to apply a Stage 2 penalty if, for example:

  • This is a repeat instance of a Stage 1 offence;
  • You have attempted to reference but have done so poorly, and the poor referencing is more extensive than just poor academic practice would suggest;
  • There are large sections of poor paraphrasing in your work, or you have substituted or re-ordered words or linked unacknowledged sentences with your own;
  • Much of the data you have included in the appendices has not been fully anonymised;
  • There has been a minor breach of the University Research Ethics and Integrity Policy which can be rectified and does not have the potential to harm (or have harmed) the health and well-being of anyone conducting or participating in the research, or who may be impacted by the research.

 

9.17 Stage 2 Outcomes

9.17.1 The available outcomes of a Stage 2 investigation are provided below. When considering what outcome is appropriate, the investigator may consider:

  • The degree of severity of the offence;
  • Whether or not it is a first offence;
  • The level of the award you are registered for (master’s or doctoral level);
  • The stage of your degree (progression stage or final thesis submission);
  • Any mitigation you present.

9.17.2 No case to answer – it is determined that no offence or poor academic practice has occurred. All records of the allegation and investigation will be deleted from your student file. 

9.17.3 Written caution – this outcome will only be chosen in the case of poor academic practice. Where an offence has occurred, even if minor, a higher penalty should be applied or the case should be upheld and referred.

  • You will be issued with a written caution letter;
  • You will be allowed to correct the problematic sections of your work in the amendments phase of your assessment;
  • The written caution will be recorded on your file and deleted once you have completed your programme of research;
  • In the case of further misconduct, this caution will count as a first offence. 

9.17.4 Penalty 1 – it is determined that minor research misconduct has occurred, or it is a second or subsequent offence with a lower penalty applied previously, and the case is upheld. You will normally be given between one to three months to correct the problematic sections of your submission, depending on the severity of the offence, and your work will then be examined. Your corrected work will be considered as a resubmission attempt - this means that limited outcomes will be available to you following your examination. 

9.17.5 Case upheld and referred – it is determined that gross research misconduct has occurred and the case will be referred to a Stage 3 investigation. 

 

9.18 Stage 3: University Research Misconduct Panel

9.18.1 If the allegation against you cannot be concluded at School-level, Registry will convene a University Research Misconduct Panel to consider your case. The purpose of this panel is to consider the case as a whole with a view to making a final decision on the outcome.

9.18.2 You will be given a minimum of 10 working day’s notice of the hearing and we will notify you in advance of who the panel members will be.

9.18.3 The panel will normally include:

  • Two academics members of staff, which could be the Dean of the Graduate School, a Director of Graduate Education (DoGE) or another member of a School Research Ethics Committee who is not from the School where the allegations originated;
  • An elected officer of the Students’ Union. 

9.18.4 Panel members will receive appropriate training before they are allowed to sit on a panel and make decisions. 

9.18.5 You will be allowed to bring a supporter with you who is not connected to the allegation; this will ordinarily be a member of staff from the Student’s Union Advice Centre. Please be aware that if you invite a supporter to the hearing, they are not normally allowed to speak on your behalf and you are responsible for informing them of the hearing date.

9.18.6 Other attendees may include:

  • The Stage 2 investigator or nominee who may attend the hearing and present the case on behalf of the School;
  • A member of the Registry PGR Team who will act as Secretary to the hearing;
  • Any witnesses brought by you (it is your responsibility to inform them of the hearing date);
  • Any witnesses brought by the school, which may include the academic who originally raised the allegation.

9.18.7 The Panel may request additional evidence from your School, this may include:

  • Copies of online supervision records;
  • University or school-based training that you have attended;
  • Confirmation that you have access/been advised of the draft TurnItIn submission area.

9.18.8 You will be provided with all of the relevant material and evidence that has been gathered up to this stage in advance of the hearing.

9.18.9 If you want the Panel to hear your version of events, we expect you to attend the hearing. 

9.18.10 We will ask you to complete and submit a University Research Misconduct Student Response Form at least two working days’ in advance of the hearing date. The Research Misconduct Student Response Form asks you to confirm your attendance, any witnesses or supporters you intend to bring to the meeting and any additional evidence or documents you intend to submit. If you do not plan on attending the meeting, the form provides you with an opportunity to submit a statement in response to the allegation. The form also asks you to confirm whether you intend to present mitigation.

9.18.11 Failure to submit the response form and failure to attend the hearing will result in the meeting going ahead in your absence and a decision will be reached based on the information contained within the available documentation.

9.18.12 The purpose of the hearing is for the full facts of the case to be reviewed and reconsidered. The Stage 2 investigator will be invited to present the background of the case and an overview of the previous stage/s of the investigation. The Panel will speak to you, and any other relevant parties invited to the hearing, about the allegation and your work.

9.18.3 The Panel will consider all of the evidence and material available and will make a decision based on the balance of probabilities.

9.18.4 A Secretary will attend the hearing to keep a record of the discussions that take place. A copy of the meeting record, along with the investigation outcome, will be sent to you within 10 working days of the meeting.

9.18.5 The outcome letter will be held on your student file, unless an outcome of no case to answer is determined, in which case all records of the allegation and hearing will be deleted.

 

9.19 Stage 3 Offences

9.19.1 Gross examples of research misconduct will always be referred to a University Level Research Misconduct Panel. Serious cases such as this may include:

  • Serious misconduct where there is a clear intent to deceive and gain unfair advantage, for example ghosting, fabrication and falsification of data, an attempt to pass off another person’s work as your own;
  • Poor referencing or bad paraphrasing throughout large sections of your work;
  • Research that has been conducted in serious breach of the University Research Ethics and Integrity policies;
  • Failure to comply with your ethical approval.

9.19.2 When considering what outcome is appropriate, the panel may consider:

  • The degree of severity of the offence;
  • Whether it is a first offence or you have previously been issued a written caution or penalty;
  • The level of the award you are registered for (master’s or doctoral level);
  • The stage of your degree (progression stage or final thesis submission);
  • Any mitigation you present. 

 

9.20 Stage 3 Outcomes

9.20.1 The available outcomes of a Stage 3 hearing are provided below. When considering what outcome is appropriate, the Panel may consider:

  • The degree of severity of the offence;
  • Whether or not it is a first offence;
  • The level of the award you are registered for (master’s or doctoral level);
  • The stage of your degree (progression stage or final thesis submission);
  • Any mitigation you present.

9.20.2 No case to answer – it is determined that no offence or poor academic practice has occurred. All records of the allegation and investigation will be deleted from your student file. 

9.20.3 Written caution – this outcome will only be chosen in the case of poor academic practice. Where an offence has occurred, even if minor, a higher penalty should be applied or the case should be upheld and referred.

  • You will be issued with a written caution letter;
  • You will be allowed to correct the problematic sections of your work in the amendments phase of your assessment;
  • The written caution will be recorded on your file and deleted once you have completed your programme of research;
  • In the case of further misconduct, this caution will count as a first offence. 

9.20.4 Penalty 1 – it is determined that minor research misconduct has occurred, or it is a second or subsequent offence with a lower penalty applied previously, and the case is upheld. You will normally be given between one to three months to correct the problematic sections of your submission, depending on the severity of the offence, and your work will then be examined. Your corrected work will be considered as a resubmission attempt - this means that limited outcomes will be available to you following your examination. 

9.20.5 Penalty 2 – it is determined that serious research misconduct has occurred, or it is a second or subsequent offence with a lower penalty applied previously, and the case is upheld. You will be required to correct the problematic sections of your work and resubmit for a lesser degree; this penalty can only be applied to a doctoral candidate, with the lesser degree being an MPhil. You are permitted to have up to six months to correct your work, depending on the severity of the offence, and it is the decision of the panel as to how much time is granted within this parameter.

9.20.6 Penalty 3 – it is determined that gross research misconduct has occurred, or it is a second or subsequent offence with a lower penalty applied previously, and the case is upheld. Your work will be academically failed and you will be withdrawn from your course.

  • Penalty 3 will be used in serious or extensive cases where no mitigation presented or the Panel does not accept that the mitigation can account for the level of misconduct. 
  • Where you are required to leave your course, you will be awarded any credit you have achieved through any taught element of your course, unless the Panel specifies otherwise. 
  • Students that are withdrawn will lose access to their University accounts within 24 hours of the withdrawal being instigated. If your School notifies you that you are being withdrawn, they will give you 24 hours in which to save any documents or correspondence that you may need from your University accounts, before they formally withdraw you.

 

9.21 Appealing a research misconduct penalty

9.21.1 If you are unhappy with the outcome of a research misconduct investigation and the penalty applied, you may decide to submit an appeal. We would strongly recommend that you seek impartial advice and support from the Students’ Union Advice Centre.

 

9.22 Grounds for Appeal

9.22.1 For your appeal to be successful, you must provide independent evidence to demonstrate at least one of the following grounds:

  • You can demonstrate that a material irregularity occurred during the procedure; and/or
  • You can demonstrate that the decision makers reached an unreasonable decision and/or the penalty was disproportionate; and/or
  • You have extenuating circumstances which for good reason you could not tell us about earlier. Please see our Supporting Evidence Guidance for PGRs for information about appropriate standards of evidence for extenuating circumstances; and/or
  • There was bias or reasonable perception of bias in the procedure.

9.22.2 The burden of proof in substantiating your appeal arguments rests with you.  

 

9.23 How to submit an appeal

9.23.1 You can appeal a penalty that is awarded at any investigation stage. However, you cannot appeal against your case being referred to a higher stage of the procedure until that stage is concluded and a penalty has been applied. 

9.23.2 If you wish to appeal, you should complete the Research Misconduct Appeal Form and submit it to RegistryResearch@hud.ac.uk no later than 10 working days from the date that you received the investigation outcome.

9.23.3 If you submit your appeal later than 10 working days after the date your outcome was sent to you, you will need to provide independent evidence to explain why you could not have submitted your appeal to us any sooner. This is in addition to the evidence required to support your case for an appeal. If you do not send us appropriate independent evidence to corroborate why your late appeal should be considered then your appeal will be rejected on the basis that it was submitted late, and no further details of your appeal will be considered. 

9.23.4 We will issue a Completion of Procedures letter to you, normally within 20 working days of the date you submitted the appeal. You should read the content of the letter carefully and, if appropriate, discuss the outcome with your School.

9.23.5 If your appeal is successful, the decision of guilt may be changed, or it may stand but the penalty applied may be altered. When we notify you of the outcome, we may provide you with a deadline by which you are required to confirm that you accept the changed decision. If you fail to accept the offer by the specified deadline, we will write to you and confirm that the offer has been withdrawn. 

9.23.6 If your appeal is rejected, the original decision will stand. You may wish to discuss the outcome with the Students’ Union Advice Centre who can independently guide you through the decision. This decision will be final and will bring to an end the University’s internal procedure.

 

9.24 Independent review of the appeal decision

9.24.1 Our appeal decision is final and there are no further appeal stages within the University. If you wish to request an external, independent review of our final decision, you should contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) within 12 months of the date of the Completion of Procedures letter.

 

 

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