Graduate School Handbook Part 10 – Research governance

Information about research governance for postgraduate research degrees at UWE Bristol including research project conduct and expectations, ethics, intellectual property and misconduct.

Research governance is the framework by which the University manages research to ensure research integrity is maintained. This framework includes principles, legal and regulatory provisions, standards of good practice, policies, guidance, systems, management and supervision. Further information about UWE’s framework for research governance is set out in the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct.

PGR 10.1 Expectations about PGR research project conduct

All UWE Bristol research must have a designated project manager who is responsible for the conduct of the research including compliance with the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct and University policies on:

  • Health and safety and risk management
  • Research ethics
  • Research data management
  • Intellectual property
  • IT acceptable use
  • Staff welfare and dignity at work.

Regulations

Regulations about research project conduct, intellectual property and restricting access to a thesis

PGR10.1.1R For postgraduate research projects the project manager is the Director of Studies who is responsible for ensuring that the project is carried out in line with the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct, and meets the University’s requirements for ethical approval where appropriate.  It is the responsibility of the Director of Studies, and where appropriate other named supervisors, to ensure that the postgraduate researcher is given effective induction, training, support and monitoring to assure good research practice (see also Code of Good Research Conduct, annex 1, research role definitions).

PGR10.1.2R A postgraduate researcher who, having received appropriate advice and guidance from their Director of Studies/supervisory team, deliberately and wilfully chooses to ignore it resulting in a breach of the requirements of the Code, may be personally liable. (See Code Chapter 5, 5.3.1 pg. 1)

PGR10.2 Intellectual Property

PGR10.2.1R The Director of Studies is responsible for providing guidance to the postgraduate researcher on the application of the University’s policy on Intellectual Property (IP) both with regard to the PGR’s own research study and outputs, and to the use of any third party intellectual property within their thesis.

PGR10.2.2R Having received this advice PGRs are responsible for compliance with the University’s policy on Intellectual Property within their research work and outputs. (See also part 5 of this handbook PGR personal conduct and expectations). 

PGR 10.3 Restricting access to a thesis

PGR10.3.1R Any application to restrict access to a thesis should normally be made at RD1 stage, with appropriate supporting evidence, and will be considered by the Research Degrees Award Board on the recommendation of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee.

PGR10.3.2R Where the need to restrict access to a thesis emerges at a subsequent stage of registration, exceptional application must be made to the Research Degrees Award Board.

PGR10.3.3R The agreed period of restriction will not normally be longer than two years from the date of the confirmation of the award; however the Research Degrees Award Board may approve a shorter or longer period where it considers this to be appropriate.


Procedures for research governance

PGR10.4 Ongoing monitoring - good research practice requirements

PGR10.4.1 An induction check list is sent to Directors of Studies to ensure that they cover relevant aspects of research conduct as well as other introductory information with their PGR when they arrive at UWE.

PGR10.4.2 The RD1 project proposal process is undertaken by the PGR with guidance from the Director of Studies.  The RD1 proposal will require the Director of Studies to confirm that they have provided advice to the PGR about the key requirements for good research conduct including research ethics and intellectual property.  PGRs will also be required to confirm that they have received this advice.

PGR10.4.3 At each subsequent stage (e.g. progression examination and progress review stages 2 & 3) reviewers will check with the PGR that the research governance of the project including ethical approval requirements has not changed

PGR10.5 Research Ethics

PGR10.5.1 All research involving human participants, their tissues or data requires ethical approval by the University's Research Ethics Committee (UREC) or one of its Faculty Research Ethics Committees (FRECs) in accordance with the operating procedures set out in chapter 6.3 of the Code of Good Research Conduct.

PGR10.5.2 Research that involves NHS or Social Care organisations, or involves human tissues, may also require review by an NHS REC or the Social Care REC.

PGR10.5.3 The RD1 proposal form includes a requirement to indicate whether the project will involve human participants.  It is the Director of Studies responsibility to ensure that ethical approval is gained before the research begins.  Failure to obtain ethics approval where it is a requirement may be regarded as research misconduct.  Guidance about research ethics and how to apply for ethical approval is available on the UWE Research Ethics webpage

PGR10.5.4 If the research involves children, young people or vulnerable adults there are additional requirements for training in safeguarding.  Guidance on this can also be found the UWE Research Ethics webpage.

PGR10.6 Intellectual property

PGR10.6.1 The University’s intellectual property (IP) requirements with regard to individual PGRs are covered under the terms and conditions accompanying their initial offer.  By signing the terms and conditions PGRs are agreeing to these IP arrangements.

PGR10.6.2 Where the research project involves collaboration with other external bodies or organisations, or individuals employed by those organisations, any specific intellectual property requirements should be specified in a letter of collaboration or contractual collaborative agreement.  It is the Director of Studies’ responsibility to ensure that any such letter of collaboration/collaborative agreement is attached to the RD1 proposal for consideration by the FRDC.

PGR10.6.3 Where there is a change in the project or supervision arrangements or the introduction of collaborative partners at any point subsequent to the RD1 approval process, it is the Director of Studies’ responsibility to ensure that the project remains compliant with the University’s IP requirements. 

For example, if an additional supervisor is added to the team who is employed by an external organisation and brings with them employer IP requirements then these must be clearly agreed in writing and should be notified to the Faculty Research Degrees Committee (FRDC) at the time the change of supervision is proposed.

PGR10.7 Third party copyright

PGR10.7.1 PGRs should be careful to copy extracts of published works (including diagrams and illustrations) within permitted limits, ensuring that they obtain any necessary permission and attribute these appropriate in their thesis/critical commentary.  All third party material is subject to copyright rules unless there is an explicit statement to the contrary.  Copyright approval must be obtained regardless of whether a thesis/critical commentary is in electronic or printed format.

PGR10.8 Restricting access to a thesis

PGR10.8.1 The Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB) will normally only approve an application to restrict access to a thesis on the following grounds:

a. to enable a patent to be lodged;
b. to protect commercially sensitive material;
c. to protect material that may be politically sensitive or has implications for national security;
d. to protect the safety, physical or mental health of identified individuals;
e. where the candidate has not, despite ongoing and evidenced best efforts, been able to gain permission to include third-party copyrighted material without detrimental effect to the fabric of the thesis;
f. where it can be clearly demonstrated that the candidate’s opportunities to publish material from the thesis in the normal range of journals or other published outlets for that subject discipline will be significantly and detrimentally affected by providing open access via the University’s Research Repository, the British Library EThOS or other specified online service.

PGR10.8.2 Access to a thesis will not be restricted in order to protect the research leads of the PGR or their supervisors.

PGR10.8.3 All applications must be made by the postgraduate researcher themselves, and must include supporting evidence.  Supporting evidence at f) may include a letter from the relevant publisher(s) or an extract from the publisher's terms and conditions obtained from a verifiable source e.g. the Sherpa-Romeo Website.

PGR10.8.4 Where RDAB decides that the nature of the candidate’s work prevents the thesis from being made openly available in the library of the University via the Research Repository or, in the case of a PhD, via the British Library EThOS, or other specified online service, or in that of any collaborating establishment, then it will be retained by the University on restricted access immediately upon completion of the award for a time no longer than the period approved.  Subject to any requirements under the Freedom of Information Act (2002) it will only made available to those who were directly involved in the research.

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