NHMRC Releases New Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

The new Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 (the 2018 Code) and Guide to Managing Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Investigation Guide) demonstrate Australia’s commitment to ensuring the highest quality research in Australia. The 2018 Code provides a new principles-based approach to the responsible conduct of research. Both the 2018 Code and the Investigation Guide are jointly authored by Australia’s premier research funding agencies, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC), as well as Universities Australia (UA).

Chief Executive Officer of NHMRC, Professor Anne Kelso AO, said that high-quality research underpins improvements in the health, wellbeing and prosperity of our society.

“By providing researchers and research institutions with a clear set of principles for the ethical conduct of research, the 2018 Code will help to maintain Australia’s strong culture of research quality and integrity.”

Chief Executive Officer of the ARC, Professor Sue Thomas, said that while the 2007 version of the Code has been very successful in building a framework for responsible research conduct in Australia, the 2018 Code will build on this to provide more contemporary and clearer guidance to researchers and research institutions.

“Our researchers and research institutions undertake crucial work—we rely on them to advance and build knowledge that will allow us to address complex problems, grow industries, and improve national and global wellbeing. The 2018 Code will help ensure that our researchers undertake their work responsibly and to the highest ethical and scientific standards.

“It will provide assurance that the Australian research effort continues to be underpinned by honesty, rigour, transparency and accountability, and that researchers treat each other fairly and show respect for the people, communities and environments impacted by their research,” Professor Thomas said.

The 2018 Code provides a principles-based approach to the responsible conduct of research and will be supported by a series of guides for researchers and institutions that provide further detailed advice on a range of integrity matters such as authorship, data collection and management and collaborative research arrangements.

The Investigation Guide will help institutions to identify breaches of the 2018 Code and determine necessary corrective actions, and will promote greater consistency in the research sector for managing any departures from the principles of responsible research conduct.

Chief Executive-Designate of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, said the 2018 Code and its accompanying Investigation Guide demonstrate the research and university sector's commitment to upholding Australia’s reputation for world-leading and ethically-sound research.

“In Australia, we have the highest standards of research and our academic community is fiercely proud of the work they do,” Ms Jackson said.

“This Code will ensure there is strong confidence in Australia’s high-quality research—which is important for policy makers and the Australian public,” she said.

The revision of the Code has been informed by a committee of experts led by Professor Mike Calford and the Investigation Guide has been developed by a working group led by Dr Karolyn White.

UA, NHMRC and ARC thank these experts for their hard work and commitment to the project over the past two years.

For more information, please visit the NHMRC website.