If your research involves working with humans or animals you have specific legal and moral obligations to them.
Our Research Ethics & Governance Officer, Nicole Palmer, can help you to understand what these are, and what you need to do in order to comply with them and safeguard those taking part in the research.
Research Integrity can be viewed as the attitudes and habits of researchers to conduct their research according to the appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
The University of Kent expects all those engaged in research, and supporting research within the University, to conduct their activities with integrity. This will ensure that all research supported by the University is of the highest quality.
The Concordat to Support Research Integrity
To support our drive to maintain the highest standards of research integrity the University is compliant with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.
As a signatory to the Concordat we are committed to:
Maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research
Research Integrity-Code of Ethical Practice in Research policy sets out the required standards of researcher integrity expected of all University researchers. It outlines the University’s research ethics review process, and highlights legislative requirements and the areas of research to which they apply.
Schools have research ethics representatives who act as a first point of contact for questions about research ethics and integrity. The Research Ethics & Governance Officer provides advice and guidance both on an individual basis and via training workshops and seminars for staff and students.
Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
The University-level Research Ethics & Governance Committee regulates and monitors the work of Research Ethics Advisory Groups (REAGs) that review applications for ethics review. The Committee provides a forum for the sharing of best practice and will also receive complaints and appeals against REAG decisions, providing a final opinion in these cases. The Committee has approved template application documentation that REAGs can adapt relevant to the types of project they review. The documentation is designed to identify research that falls within legislative requirements, and directs applicants to the Research Ethics & Governance Officer who provides advice and guidance and facilitates navigation of routes for compliance with all relevant legislation.
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
The University has clear policies, practices and procedures to support researchers, developed by the Research Ethics & Governance Officer and approved and endorsed by the Research Ethics & Governance Committee.
The University provides learning, training and mentoring opportunities to support the development of researchers. The Research Ethics & Governance Officer provides training for staff and students, and the Graduate School runs a programme of researcher development training for postgraduate students and early career researchers. Schools provide training for their students in research ethics review processes and ethics issues specific to their research areas.
Using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise
Code of Practice for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research sets out examples of bad research practice that can lead to research misconduct and the procedures that must be followed for the investigation of allegations of research misconduct.
Initial allegations must be made to the relevant Faculty Dean and are subject to a screening procedure carried out by a nominated screener who collects all relevant evidence in an investigation to assess whether the allegation has substance. The Screener will report to the Dean within a fixed timeframe to advise either that the allegation has substance or that it has no substance.
After reviewing the report the Dean will decide on a suitable course of action including disciplinary procedures for allegations where a prima facie case is established.
There are procedures for appeals against decisions reached under this process and also procedures setting out appropriate administrative action to protect the interests of any relevant funding bodies or publishers and to meet all contractual obligations.
The University has a whistleblowing process that can be used to raise concerns relating to matters of research integrity or research misconduct. Professor Shane Weller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation, is the University’s named point of contact to act as a confidential liaison for whistleblowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research supported by the University of Kent.
Working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly
The Research Ethics & Governance Committee provides regular reports to Senate setting out the work it is undertaking to strengthen the integrity of research within the University. The Committee also reports to the Research & Innovation Board, and the University’s Ethics Committee.
In compliance with the Concordat the Committee’s Annual Report for Senate 2016-17 (pdf) includes a high-level statement on any formal investigations of research misconduct that have been undertaken.
We have recently established a Research Cluster in Applied Research Ethics and Integrity. Our objective is to bridge the historical gap between the academic study of research ethics and integrity and its application in research practice and teaching. We aim to build collaborative partnerships, incorporating academic and non-academic networks, to carry out research, consultancy and teaching in research ethics and integrity.
Review and Approval
Different projects will require different types of review and approval. Any work involving human participants or animal subjects will need to be submitted for ethics review.
Research involving the NHS
Research in the NHS must comply with the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research and will need review and approval by the Health Research Authority before it can go ahead. If you are planning research in the NHS please contact Nicole Palmer at the earliest opportunity for help with navigating the approvals processes.
General Data Protection Regulation
- GDPR Privacy Notice
This is the University-level statement on the GDPR and our lawful basis for the processing of personal information for the purposes of research. A link to the statement must be included in participant information, but must, of course, be preceded by project-specific research data protection information.
- GDPR Guidance
Use of Animals in Research at Kent
The University of Kent is committed to high quality research and teaching. Such research has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the understanding of the biological sciences and to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in both humans and animals. Whilst new methods increasingly enable scientists and medical researchers to reduce studies involving animals, non-animal methods have yet to be developed that can properly reproduce the complex biological characteristics of a living system.
The University is committed to ensuring that animals are used only when there is no alternative, that researchers use the minimum number of animals needed to meet their scientific objectives and to achieving the highest possible standards of animal care and welfare. The principles of replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research (the “3Rs”) underpin all related work carried out at the University.
In 2020, the university used a total of 295 mice in regulated procedures.
Use of Animals in the School of Biosciences
The School of Biosciences makes extensive use of alternatives such as cell culture, which is why our use of animals has always been, and continues to be, very low. We do not use animals if there is an alternative and without very careful consideration, both by the school and by the University Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body. Where the use of an animal is judged essential, the school makes every effort to ensure that it uses the minimum number of animals needed to meet the scientific objectives and that those animals experience the highest possible standards of care and welfare.
In 2020, the School of Biosciences used a total of 54 mice in regulated procedures.
Governing Legislation and Policies