Ethics within Research, Consultancy and Related Activity

The Senate is responsible, with recommendations from the Research Committee and the Graduate School Management Committee, for the assurance of the quality and standards of research undertaken by staff and students of the University.

Maintaining integrity and high standards is fundamental to the University’s commitment to research, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University’s research community to maintain professional standards. Staff and students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of ethical behaviour in conducting research, as well as to comply with the letter and spirit of all relevant legislation.

  1. Aston has a Research Code of Conduct which prescribes standards of work performance and conduct expected by all persons engaged in research at the University. When submitting research papers for publication, the authors must declare any relevant funding sources or other issues that constitute a potential conflict of interest. Aston upholds the rights of staff and students to publish without hindrance except where a specific written provision has been made with the agreement of all parties. Data and other information about research and research subjects should be kept confidential and must not be used without the consent of the individuals concerned.

  2. We have a Code of Practice for Dealing with Allegations of Research Misconduct, including falsification, fabrication, plagiarism, collusion and other forms of academic misconduct including inappropriate authorship or lack of authorial recognition.

  3. The University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) and School Research Ethics Committees (REC) are responsible for ensuring that staff and students are aware of ethical issues arising especially from research, consultancy and from other experiments, projects and demonstrations. The UREC has produced a range of policies and procedures for the ethical conduct of research and for ensuring that all Schools and departments have appropriate procedures for the consideration and conduct of activities with ethical implications. UREC and School RECs are responsible for the ethical scrutiny of research proposals and ensuring that a discussion of potential issues of ethical concern takes place before a project commences. UREC and School RECs ensure that researchers are aware of their responsibility to protect the rights of volunteers involved in research projects and to protect them from harm.

  4. The Bioethics Committee is responsible for the development, implementation and monitoring of procedures governing the use of animals in research. The University is very much committed to the principles of the 3Rs (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) and each project is monitored to ensure that the number of animals used is minimised and that procedures, care routes, and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare. The Bioethics Committee provides ethical advice on the standards of animal care, welfare and accommodation.

  5. The University expects all researchers to operate within the spirit and letter of current and relevant legislation, including for example:  

    • Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.

    • Contractual and commercial law

    • Data Protection Act

    • Freedom of Information Act

    • Code of Practice issued by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    • Human Tissue Act

    • Intellectual Property

    • Mental Capacity Act

    • Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care.