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Research governance and integrity

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"Ensuring high standards of research governance and integrity"

This area of the website provides information and advice for staff and students on the policies and procedures for governing good research practice and for investigating and reporting misconduct in research.


Research governance ensures that all research, undertaken by both staff and students, is carried out to the highest standards.

All members of the University of Sunderland research community are expected to adhere to the highest professional standards of research integrity.

Research ethics

All of our research must be conducted in accordance with:

The University's Research Ethics principles
The University's Professional Codes of Practice
The law

Find out about our Research ethics principles and the role of the Research Ethics Committee.

Research Integrity Concordat

As a University, we are committed to ensuring that our researchers know and understand what is expected of them. 

At the University of Sunderland we comply with the formal agreement or ‘concordat’ about standards and integrity in UK research. The concordat embodies commitments that will assure Government, the wider public and the international community that research in the UK continues to be underpinned by the highest standards or rigour and integrity.

Read more about the Research Integrity Concordat .


Research integrity is about honesty and transparency in how you conceive, conduct and report your research. You want to be fair and accurate in your presentation of interactions with peers, open about any (potential) conflicts of interest within your research and ensure your research participant is protected, maintaining their dignity and rights at all times.

We also operate strict policies and procedures and comply with relevant guidelines.

Code of practice

We comply with the formal agreement of the concordat concerning standards and integrity in research.

Read more about the University of Sunderland’s Research Code of Practice.

Career Development of Researchers Concordat

The University is fully committed to supporting and developing our research staff and adheres to the seven key principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers:

  • Recognition of the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research
  • Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation's human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research
  • Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment
  • The importance of researchers' personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career
  • Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development and lifelong learning
  • Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers
  • The sector and all stakeholders will undertake regular and collective review of their progress in strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK

Read the full concordat.

In order to underline and reinforce our commitment to the Concordat and to ensure that we are adhering to, and applying the principles embodied therein, we have undertaken a full and comprehensive review of our processes and procedures with respect to our recruitment, support and development of researchers. This has included a gap analysis undertaken during the academic year 2012/13. Where it was felt that improvements could be made, these have been included within an Action Plan. Our actions are:

  • Pilot “Principal Investigator Development Programme”
  • Ensure that PIs and line managers of researchers are aware of their responsibilities and that all researchers are appraised
  • Pilot ‘Broadening Horizons’ course for researchers
  • Update website to provide support resources for PIs and researchers
  • Apply for renewal of Athena Swan Bronze Award
  • Pilot “How to be an Effective Researcher” course
  • Review careers guidance provision for researchers
  • Review Induction programme for researchers
  • Review mentoring arrangements for researchers
  • Introduce Personal Development Planning support for Researchers
  • Review researcher representation on university committees, and implement any changes
  • Set up Research Concordat Steering Group to monitor and review our Action Plan

View the full original Gap Analysis and Action Plan (.pdf) and HR Excellence Four Year Progress Report 2017.

Two-year review process (2015)

The review group agreed the scope of the internal review, structure of the report and process for updating the action plan. The report will be received and considered by the University's Research and Innovation Committee and will continue to monitor progress throughout the duration of the action plan:

Two year Report - HR Excellence in Research Award

HR Excellence in Research Action Plan 2015-2017

Four-year review process (2017)

A Research Concordat Steering Group was formed in 2013 to guide, monitor and review the implementation of the Action Plan. The group meets on an annual basis to assess and update the action plan and reports to the Research and Innovation Group, a sub-group of the Academic Board. The evaluation of the implementation plan including revised action plan is detailed below:

HR Excellence Four Year Progress Report 2017

HR Excellence in Research Action Plan 2017-2019

Six-year review process (2019)

Since 2018, the University Staff Development Group has overseen responsibility for the delivery of the HR Excellence Action Plan. Reporting to the Research and Innovation Strategy Project Group and Operations Board, the University Staff Development Group oversees implementation of the University Staff Development Framework and includes representation from the research community. The Research and Innovation Strategy group review and monitor implementation of the delivery plan and is chaired by members of the University Executive. The year 6 review document and updated action plan is available via the links below.

HR Excellence in Research 2017-19 Update (.pdf)

HR Excellence in Research Six Year Progress Report 2019 (.pdf)

HR Excellence in Research Action Plan 2019-2021 (.pdf)

Annual Statements on Research Integrity

Download past and current Annual Statements on Research Integrity

Responsible use of research metrics

The University is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA).

DORA is an international declaration on the responsible use of ‘metrics’ or research indicators. It’s principles are:

  • the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;

  • the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and

  • the need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact).

The University of Sunderland supports a dynamic research environment, we recognise that sector leading, applied research will be adaptive, agile enough to respond to the demands of a changing world and always focussing on areas of need. We ensure equality and diversity is embedded in all aspects of our research practice, support and recognition, measured against benchmarks. We feel that the mission of DORA strongly aligns with our own.

Having signed DORA the University will now work toward fully implementing its principles.

Throughout 2020-21 we will review our existing practices, provide education to members of staff and create a responsible metrics policy to underpin all our research assessment considerations.

DORA badge

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