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Durham University

Research and Innovation Services

Research Misconduct Definition

Unacceptable conduct includes each of the following:


This includes the creation of false data or other aspects of research, including documentation and participant consent.


This includes the inappropriate manipulation and/or selection of data, imagery and/or consents.


This includes the general misappropriation or use of others’ ideas, intellectual property or work (written or otherwise), without acknowledgement or permission.



  • misrepresentation of data or presenting data in ways that are out with normal academic practice, for example suppression of relevant findings and/or data, or knowingly, recklessly or by gross negligence, presenting a flawed interpretation of data;
  • failure to reveal data/alternate points of view which do not support the original hypothesis, including withholding negative or unexpected research findings*;
  • undisclosed duplication of publication, including undisclosed duplicate submission of manuscripts for publication;
  • misrepresentation of interests, including failure to declare material interests either of the researcher or the funders of the research;
  • misrepresentation of qualifications and/or experience, including claiming or implying qualifications or experience which are not held;
  • misrepresentation of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship and/or attribution of work where there has been no significant contribution, or the denial of authorship where an author has made a significant contribution; and
  • deliberate maligning of an academic's research reputation.

(*Note that embargos, while not regarded as suppression of data, require consideration, assessment, and formal approval by the University.)

Mismanagement or inadequate preservation of data and/or primary materials,

including failure to:

  • keep clear and accurate records of the research procedures followed and the results obtained, including interim results;
  • hold records(paper or electronic) with an appropriate level of security;
  • preserve and make appropriate research data accessible to others for reasonable periods after the completion of the research in line with the University’s Research Data Management Policy; and
  • manage data according to the research funder’s contractual terms and all relevant legislation.

Breach of duty of care,

which involves deliberately, recklessly or by gross negligence:

  • disclosing improperly the identity of individuals or groups involved in research without their consent, or other breach of confidentiality;
  • unauthorised use of information which was acquired confidentially;
  • placing any of those involved in research in danger, whether as subjects; participants or associated individuals, without appropriate safeguards; this includes reputational danger where that can be anticipated;
  • not taking all reasonable care to ensure that the risks and dangers, the broad objectives and the sponsors of the research are known to participants or their legal representatives, to ensure appropriate informed consent is obtained properly, explicitly and transparently;
  • not observing University ethical policy / processes and associated legal requirements;
  • improper conduct in peer review of research proposals or results (including manuscripts submitted for publication); this includes failure to disclose conflicts of interest; inadequate disclosure of clearly limited competence; misappropriation of the content of material; and breach of confidentiality or abuse of material provided in confidence for peer review purposes;
  • failure to reasonably ensure the work of co-investigators and co-authors does not breach this policy;
  • intentional, unauthorised use, disclosure or removal of or damage to research related property of another, including apparatus, materials, writings, data, hardware or software or any other substances or devices used in or produced by the conduct of research;
  • failure to comply with the Health and Safety and environmental requirements of legislation and with University standards, including failure to co-operate with either the University or Departmental H&S procedures and arrangements and failure to obtain appropriate prior approval to conduct research when this is required by legislation or by University local rules;
  • contravention of relevant legislation;
  • colluding in, or concealing, the misconduct of others; and
  • encouraging any of the above on the part of any other member of staff or other person associated with the University.

This list is not exhaustive.