Universities could be forced to sign up to the proposed Concordat to Support Research Integrity as a condition of public funding under proposals being considered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce). The Concordat–drafted by Universities UK, Research Councils UK, among others–sets out the standards required of researchers, funders and universities, but makes clear that primary responsibility for policing misconduct rests with institutions. Please see a previous blog post from 4 April which provides more detail on the Concordat. Fortunately, Bournemouth University is already on track to implement the standards set out in the Concordat.
If Hefce decides to require universities to sign up to (and effectively implement) the Concordat as a condition of public funding, this will be a huge first step towards funding being tied to research integrity principles. As BU’s research conduct officer, it brings me great joy to see Hefce helping to ensure research is done to the highest degree of integrity by requiring compliance with the concordat as part of the financial memorandum universities sign with Hefce. A paper prepared for Hefce’s board members said the move would “provide assurance to the government and the…public that public funding for research is used with integrity and that appropriate mechanisms are in place to identify and respond to…misconduct,”adding that “the other major UK funders” are also considering making compliance a condition of their grants. A final decision on this plan will be made once the final version of the Concordat is published next month.