Research Related Complaints
The University of New England is committed to resolving research complaints and allegations with respect and integrity.
Making a research related complaint
What is a breach of the University’s Code of Conduct for Research Rule (CCR) and what is research misconduct?
A breach of the UNE CCR is a failure to adhere to the principles contained within the CCR. Breaches of the CCR can occur on a spectrum from minor to major. Some breaches can be minor and, for example, relate to administrative errors. Most minor breaches can be easily resolved. Other breaches can be of a more serious nature and may be considered to be research misconduct.
Research misconduct is defined as a serious breach of the UNE CCR which is also intentional or reckless or negligent. This may include, but is not limited to, fabrication, falsification, misrepresentation, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research, and failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest. Research misconduct may include avoidable failure to follow research proposals as approved by a research ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, animals or the environment. It may also include, but is not limited to, the willful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.
What should I do if I have a concern about research or a potential breach of the UNE CCR?
Have you spoken with a Research Integrity Advisor?
Your first point of contact should be a Research Integrity Advisor. They will be familiar with the CCR and the Procedures for the Investigation of Research Conduct Breaches or Related Complaints (Procedures). RIAs will offer confidential advice on whether the matter should be referred to the Research Integrity Office.
Where your concern relates to human or animal ethics, initial enquiries should be made with either the Chair Human Research Ethics Committee, Professor Frances Quirk, or the Chair of the Animal Ethics Committee, Dr Adam Hamlin.
You can also make a complaint directly to the Research Integrity Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to make a complaint if I have observed someone doing the wrong thing?
Employees and staff are encouraged to report a possible breach of the CCR. UNE researchers are expected to be committed to high standards of professional conduct in accord with the accepted practice of their disciplines, codes of relevant external funding bodies and legislative requirements. Allowing people to do the wrong thing can have a detrimental impact on the reputation of UNE and the excellence of research more generally.
Can I remain anonymous if I make a complaint?
Yes, the University can receive anonymous complaints. However, it is important to remember that the University can only act on the information it receives. If additional information is required before UNE is able to proceed with a preliminary assessment, the University may not be able to contact you and the complaint may not be able to proceed.
If you wish to make an anonymous complaint, you can do so by:
- sending a written complaint by mail to the Research Integrity Office at UNE, or
- sending an email to email@example.com from an email address that does not contain your name or any other obvious identifier, or
- placing a written complaint in the DVCR (Deputy Vice Chancellor Research) mailbox just inside the door of Research Services.
Research Services is located on the top floor of the TC Lamble Building.
Can I escalate this matter externally, or must I always lodge my complaint with the University?
You can directly approach any of the agencies listed below rather than go through the UNE research related complaints process. In some cases, the agency may suggest to you that you have your complaint dealt with under the University’s processes in the first instance.
- NSW Ombudsman
- Independent Commission Against Corruption
- NSW Police Force - criminal matters only
- Information and Privacy Commission
Things to keep in mind
Don’t leave it too late. The sooner you seek information about your concern or lodge a complaint, the quicker the issue may be resolved. Records are more likely to be available and people who were involved are able to explain what happened.
Remain respectful - You might be dissatisfied about something, but please be mindful in communicating your concerns with courtesy and respect. The complaint handlers assigned to your case are there to support you throughout the whole process.
Maintain confidentiality - It is important that the details of the complaint you have raised remain confidential to you and the complaint handler. Confidentiality will be required of everyone who becomes involved in the complaint process.
How do I lodge a complaint?
If you would like to make a formal complaint, you can lodge a formal complaint in writing with UNE Research Integrity Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens next?
Once your complaint is received, a Designated Officer (who is a senior University officer who has had no prior involvement in the substantive issue that is the subject of the complaint) is assigned to your case and will assess the complaint to determine if the complaint relates to a breach of the CCR. Where this is the case, the complaint will proceed to a Preliminary Assessment in accordance with the Procedures. An Assessment Officer will be assigned to your complaint and they may contact you to gather additional information or request further clarification.
How long will this process take?
The time taken will depend on the complexity and urgency of the case. For urgent and critical complaints, the Assessment Officer assigned to your case will action the concern as soon as possible.
Please allow up to 5 working days for acknowledgement of your complaint.
Outcome of Investigation
At the completion of the investigation, all relevant parties including the complainant(s), respondent(s) and other related parties (i.e. funding agencies) will be notified of the determination in writing.
What can I do if I’m dissatisfied with the process or outcome?
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or the way your complaint was handled by the University, you can lodge an external review with any of the following agencies.
- NSW Ombudsman - for a procedural review
- Australian Research Integrity Committee - for an external review of any investigative processes into potential breaches of the Code
Anything else I should know?
Please be aware that the University will not accept complaints which are:
- Vexatious or malicious,
- Trivial in nature,
- Lacking sufficient information to enable a proper investigation.
Depending on the type of concern, the University may deal with a complaint under an alternate UNE policy or procedure. The University may refer complaints to other organisations or agencies where a complaint falls outside of its scope of responsibility and control or where it is lawfully required to do so. UNE will inform the complainant of any referral.
- UNE Student Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides individual support to UNE students.
- Counselling for Staff (EAP) provides confidential counselling services for UNE staff.
- UNELife offer student advocacy and welfare support.
- NHMRC Factsheet – What should I do if I suspect a researcher may be doing the wrong thing?