Wellcome is committed to ensuring high standards of research integrity and practice in the research it funds.
As part of this, we expect researchers to follow our guidelines on good research practice and other Wellcome policies, including bullying and harassment. We also expect UK research organisations to follow the Universities UK concordat to support research integrity, and those outside the UK to follow appropriate guidelines of a similar standard.
We use the concordat’s definition of research misconduct, and we expect the organisations that we fund to do the same.
The concordat defines misconduct as “behaviour or actions that fall short of the standards of ethics, research and scholarship required to ensure that the integrity of research is upheld.” This includes fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in performing or reviewing research, and in reporting research outputs.
For example, omitting relevant data, manipulating images, or misusing data by deliberately attempting to re-identify people from research data are all research misconduct.
It does not include honest differences in the design, execution or interpretation in evaluating research methods or results, or research of poor quality unless this encompasses the intention to deceive.
Wellcome requires host organisations to investigate all allegations of research misconduct involving researchers that we fund, and to have formal written procedures for handling these allegations.
It is the responsibility of the host organisation to:
The UK Research Integrity Office’s recommended procedure for investigation provides a detailed model that may be helpful to organisations in the UK and elsewhere.
If the host organisation or Wellcome determines that the allegation of research misconduct is substantiated, we will consider appropriate sanctions, including:
Where allegations of research misconduct are upheld, we expect organisations to implement appropriate disciplinary procedures.
If a host organisation fails to conduct a timely investigation, or to keep Wellcome appropriately informed of its actions, we may choose to apply sanctions against the organisation. This may include not accepting new grant applications or, in extreme cases, suspending funding to the organisation.
There may be instances where allegations of research misconduct are made directly to a member of our staff rather than to an individual within the host organisation.
In such instances, having discussed the circumstances with the informant, we will inform an appropriate individual at the host organisation and the organisation will then be responsible for taking suitable action in line with its formal written procedures for handling allegations.
Wellcome will not form an opinion on any allegation until an investigation has been completed and will only provide information to our staff or external advisors as necessary.
If an informant wishes to remain anonymous, this will be respected unless:
The informant will be notified of any proposed change to their anonymity.
As stated above, it is the host organisation's responsibility to investigate allegations of research misconduct and this is our preferred course of action.
In exceptional cases, we may undertake our own investigation into alleged cases of research misconduct that concern Wellcome-funded researchers (for example, where our reputation is at risk or we are dissatisfied with the investigation undertaken by the host organisation).
Any investigations will only be undertaken following consultation with the appropriate representative(s) of the host organisation.
(This is an updated version. The first version of this statement was published in January 2002.)