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Policy on Responsible Practice of Research

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					                                                                                           890/2004


                    THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

                        Policy on Responsible Practice of Research

                                   Report of the Working Party

There has been much discussion within the ANU about the inclusion of certain authorship
conditions (part of the Vancouver Protocol, see below) in the University’s Policy on
Responsible Practice of Research. On the one hand, researchers believe that the authorship
conditions are likely to be unworkable on some occasions, and question whether the agreed
practice of a group of medical journal editors should guide a scholarly community’s
authorship policy. On the other hand, researchers understand that the University is not free to
vary these conditions to something that might prove to be more widely applicable. This
debate led the Academic Board to refer a previous draft of the policy to the Deputy Vice-
Chancellor (Research) for further consideration by a Working Party. The Working Party met
on one occasion and explored a wide range of matters that should be considered in relation to
the University’s policies in this arena.

The Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice (May 1997) [“the
Statement”] provides a comprehensive framework of minimal acceptable standards for
Australian university’s codes of responsible research practice. Within the Statement, Section
3.1 identifies the Vancouver Protocol as the minimum requirement for authorship.

Whilst the ANU might well be able to construct an effective and workable definition of
authorship that improves on the Vancouver Protocol, it is not appropriate for this to be done
unilaterally.

Fortunately, a national committee of the AVCC/NHMRC/ARC is currently revising the
Statement. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) has made informal representations to
Committee members about the authorship matter, and some of the other issues raised by the
Working Party on ANU policy. These issues include the current provisions for data storage
and scrutiny, dealing with research misconduct, additional considerations regarding research
on indigenous matters, the roles of advisers and persons designated to receive complaints,
consistency with the requirements of the US Office of Research Integrity, and the desirability
of having guidelines that recognise differences between ethical considerations in clinical
research and in some social science settings.

The ANU will be invited to comment formally as part of the process of revision, which is
expected to take at least the whole of the period 2004-5. It should be noted a national
committee is also revising the closely related National Statement on Ethical Conduct in
Research Involving Humans, and the ANU will be invited to make comments and
submissions to this review as well.

Pending the revision of the Statement, to ensure that the University’s Policy on Responsible
Practice of Research 888d/2003 conforms to the current Statement, the wording of clause 2.2
of the draft Policy needs to be altered. To adhere to the Vancouver Protocol, Clause 2.2 of
the University’s policy must read as follows:

“Clause 2.2

Authorship reflects substantial participation, where all of the following conditions are met:
        •     conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data;

        •     drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
                                                                                  890/2004
                                                -2-
        •     final approval of the version to be published.”

A copy of the revised version of the University’s Policy on Responsible Practice of Research
is attached.

Related matters

The ANU has received advance notice of a forthcoming revision of the National
Statement on Ethical Conduct of Research on Humans (NSEC). The ANU will wish
to provide submission and comments to this process, informed by campus-wide
consultations of interested parties.

As noted above, the Joint AVCC/NHMRC Statement and Guidelines on Responsible
Research (JSRR) is also being revised. The ANU will wish to make submissions in
relation to this as well.

Because there are significant overlaps and parallels between the purposes of NSEC
and JSRR the ANU may wish to form a Working Party to deal with ANU responses to
both reviews. Advantages would include a more integrated ANU position, and
potentially sharper focus and broader engagement by the ANU community in these
important matters.

As mentioned above, a Working Party was formed to review the ANU’s Policy on
Responsible Research Practice. I have invited members of this working party to
remain together to provide advice in relation to the revised JSRR. If this group
(membership attached) were expanded by including two additional researchers, one in
biomedical and one in social science research, the larger group could serve as an
ANU Working Party on National Policy on Research Integrity and Ethics as
described in the attached draft Terms of Reference.

Recommendation:

    1. That the Academic Board endorse the revised Policy on Responsible Practice of
       Research (888e/2003) and recommend to Council that it be approved;

    2. That the Academic Board notes the proposal that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor
       (Research) forms a Working Party on National Policy on Research Integrity and
        Ethics.

Enclosures:

    1. Draft Terms of Reference for the proposed Working Party on National Policy on
        Research Integrity and Ethics
    2. Revised version of the University’s Policy on Responsible Practice of Research

				
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