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Research Integrity

RCUK Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct

The RCUK Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct aims to help researchers and research organisations to manage their research to the highest standards, and provides guidance on the reporting and investigation of unacceptable research conduct.

This document was developed following a wide consultation with partners across the higher education and research sector, and replaces the 2009 RCUK Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct. Predominately, it covers the promotion of good research conduct, this includes: good conduct in peer review; the need for appropriate training and development; what constitutes unacceptable research conduct; and the investigation and reporting of unacceptable research conduct (this was updated in July 2015 with a reference – page 6 – to the RCUK Guidance on best practice in the management of research data’, and again updated from 1 April 2017, in response to some of the recommendations in the Science Europe report, “Research Integrity Practices in Science Member Organisations” (July 2016), and for consistency with the policy of the Wellcome Trust. The changes are explained further at the beginning of the document.

The document is available here. Since April, the research councils have received quite a few queries to which we have responded individually. However, we felt it would be helpful – for Research Organisations and researchers, as well as ourselves – to draw the responses together in the form of “Frequently Asked Questions”. In drafting these, we have had very helpful discussions with the Russell Group Research Integrity Forum. The FAQs are here (January 2018) .

Research Integrity in RCUK is overseen by the RCUK ‘Good Research Conduct Network’, chaired by Tony Peatfield ( Research Council members (who are the contact people concerning matters of research integrity or misconduct) are:

Concordat to Support Research Integrity

The RCUK Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct is set in the context of the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity, which RCUK signed in July 2012, and should be read in conjunction with the Concordat.

RCUK worked with Universities UK and other stakeholders to agree the new national Concordat with other UK partners and funders, which all employers of researchers are encouraged to sign. The concordat outlines five important commitments that those engaged in research can make to help ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity are maintained. It also makes a clear statement about the responsibilities of researchers, employers and funders of research in maintaining high standards in research.

The Concordat is available from the Universities UK website here.

As a signatory to the Concordat, RCUK is committed to producing an annual narrative statement on research integrity. The first of these, covering the year to 30 June 2013, is available here . The second, covering the year to 30 June 2014, is available here ; the third, covering the year to 30 June 2015, is available here ; the fourth, covering the year to 30 June 2016 is here ; and the fifth, covering the year to 30 June 2017 is here .

Assurance on Research Integrity & Ethics

The Concordat includes: “to provide assurance over efforts to strengthen research integrity, Research Councils UK will use its existing assurance mechanisms to garner feedback on activity across the sector….”. Early in 2013, RCUK piloted a set of assurance questions with seven HEIs. These have been agreed across the funders that are signatories to the Concordat and will be rolled out to all HEIs in due course as part of the overall RCUK assurance programme. More details are here

(October 2013): As a consequence of feedback from the pilot RCUK is considering clarifying the wording of some of the assurance questions, and will be consulting other signatories to the Concordat. Changes are expected to be published in 2014, and these will be communicated to ROs through a variety of channels.

(April 2014): The assurance questions have now been updated (details here ) and from July have been incorporated into the RCUK assurance programme.


The Concordat was established following a report published by the UK Research Integrity Futures Working Group, chaired by Professor Dame Janet Finch, in September 2011, which made recommendations about arrangements for good research conduct in the UK.

The report concluded that the UK and its employers of research would benefit from a unified approach to issue surrounding research integrity and recommended that a new system for research integrity in the UK to be developed.

The report can be read here .

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