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Research misconduct

Disclosure date: 21 November 2013

Reference: FOI2013/111

Request

1.) What are SOAS' policies towards monitoring and dealing with cases of research misconduct; including cases of fraud, plagiarism, impersonation, ethical misrepresentation and falsification of results?

2.) What regulations does SOAS have in place governing the investigation and reporting of research misconduct?

3.) What safeguards or procedures do SOAS have in place to ensure research integrity?

4.) Please could you send me the records of any cases of research misconduct SOAS has found in the past 3 years (2010-2013), and how the University dealt with such cases?

5.) And finally, please could you send me any minutes from meetings within the last 5 years which include discussions about how the University should deal with cases of research misconduct?

Response

1.) All SOAS’ research ethics policies including those dealing with these issues can be found at http://www.soas.ac.uk/researchoffice/ethics/ on the SOAS website.

2.) Please see above.

3.) Please see above.

4.) One allegation of plagiarism was made in the last three years, which was investigated in line with the policy for investigation of allegations of research misconduct. The allegation was not upheld.

SOAS considers further information to be exempt from disclosure under sections 40(2) and 40(3) of the Freedom of Information Act. Under section 40(2), information is exempt from disclosure if it is personal data belonging to someone other than the applicant and if one of the conditions at section 40(3) is satisfied. The relevant condition at section 40(3) is that disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles. The relevant principle is the first data protection principle set out at Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This requires personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully. In order to be processed lawfully, processing (in this case the disclosure of information) must satisfy one of the conditions at schedule 2 of the Act. In this case, the disclosure would allow the identification of the complainant and the respondent. This is personal data under the Data Protection Act. This means that the disclosure would need to satisfy a condition in schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act. There is no relevant condition. It is not therefore necessary to consider whether disclosure would be fair, however this is unlikely as the individuals concerned would not expect this information to be disclosed as misconduct proceedings are confidential. Therefore, the information concerned is exempt from disclosure. Section 40 is an absolute exemption so there is no requirement to carry out a public interest test.

5.) The following minutes from the Research & Enterprise Committee discussed this issue:

http://www.soas.ac.uk/committees/research/file62341.pdf

The following minutes from Academic Board discussed this issue:

http://www.soas.ac.uk/committees/academicboard/file60941.pdf
http://www.soas.ac.uk/committees/academicboard/file76636.pdf (setting up of research ethics panel)

Most committee minutes up to 2012 are available online at http://www.soas.ac.uk/committees/ should you wish to search these records further.