12. Building Research Integrity

Helen Titchener and Bronwyn Greene

Why read this chapter?

The supervisory relationship is at the heart of an emerging researcher’s grounding in the responsible, ethical conduct of research. It is largely through their relationship with you, the supervisor, that a higher degree researcher learns what it means to conduct their research with integrity. While the responsibility for modelling exemplary conduct rests with the entire scientific community, it is the supervisor who is in the key position to mentor the higher degree researcher and ensure they have an appropriate and robust grounding in both the conduct of their research and in their own conduct as researchers.


Challenges around matters of integrity will arise throughout a candidature and you should aim to identify and resolve them promptly; both as a teaching opportunity and in order to avoid the development of inappropriate practices that can become rooted in your higher degree researchers’ ways of operating as future researchers.

Rules and guidelines around research integrity and codes of conduct may seem bureaucratic or irrelevant to your supervisory practice. Unfortunately, if you do not establish shared protocols around the candidature, the research and your supervisory relationship, when something does go wrong, or when one party calls into question the actions of another, it can be very difficult to sort out what has happened and find a way forward.

This chapter summarises the principles of research integrity and presents tools that you and your higher degree researchers can adopt to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities as the various elements of the research project unfold.

Structure of the chapter

The chapter is presented in two parts.

Part One outlines definitions, meanings and resources relating to research integrity that are available to help you and your higher degree researchers understand:

  • The meaning of research integrity and how it differs from research ethics
  • International principles of research integrity
  • National and institutional resources.

Part Two provides some tools that you can use to help you embed matters of research integrity into your ongoing supervisory practice.

Part one

Definitions and meanings

What is research integrity and how does it differ from research ethics?

In general terms, research integrity relates to the principles and standards that promote honesty, transparency, and reliability throughout the research process. It involves the responsible conduct of research, which includes the design, execution, analysis, and dissemination of findings. Research integrity requires researchers to uphold the fundamental values of honesty, accuracy, fairness, and accountability. It emphasises the importance of maintaining intellectual honesty, avoiding conflicts of interest, and ensuring the reproducibility and reliability of research outcomes.

In academic contexts, research integrity involves upholding the norms and practices of the scholarly community. This includes appropriately citing and referencing the work of others, respecting intellectual property rights, and avoiding plagiarism. Research integrity also encompasses the responsible use of research funds and resources, the appropriate handling and reporting of data, and the commitment to the principles of confidentiality and privacy.

Research ethics, on the other hand, focuses on the moral principles and guidelines that govern the treatment of human subjects and the use of animals in research. It involves the ethical considerations and decision-making processes associated with conducting research involving living beings. Research ethics aims to protect the rights, welfare, and dignity of individuals or groups participating in research studies.

Ethical research practices require obtaining informed consent from participants, ensuring voluntary participation, protecting confidentiality, and minimising any potential harm or risks. Researchers must also consider issues of equity, justice, and fairness when recruiting participants and conducting research. Additionally, research ethics entails maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of research subjects, and handling sensitive data with care and respect.

Although research integrity and research ethics share common principles, they differ in scope and focus. Research integrity pertains to the broader spectrum of research practices, extending beyond the treatment of subjects to encompass all aspects of responsible research conduct. Both concepts are crucial in upholding the highest standards of conduct in research.

Resources around the principles of research integrity

There are a number of resources that you may find helpful to use in discussions framing your supervisor/candidature agreements (see also Part Two).

The Singapore Statement

The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity  (available under CC BY 4.0) forms the basis of most national and institutional research integrity frameworks and is a useful starting point for discussions with your higher degree researchers.

The Statement, included below, was developed in 2010 as an international effort to promote greater research integrity worldwide, and to foster a common approach to the fundamental aspects of the responsible conduct of research.

The Statement is based on the four principles of honesty, accountability, professional courtesy and fairness, and good stewardship, and sets out 14 key responsibilities that are fundamental to maintaining these principles in the conduct of research.

Australian code for the responsible conduct of research

In Australia, matters of research integrity are governed by the principles of responsible research conduct as established in the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research 2018 (the Australian Code).  The code was co-authored by the Australian Research Council (ARC), The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and Universities Australia.  The principles of the code are:

  • Honesty and rigour in the development, undertaking and reporting of research
  • Transparency in declaring and managing conflicts of interest and in the reporting of research methodology, data and findings
  • Fairness in the treatment of others
  • Respect for research participants, the wider community, animals, and the environment
  • Recognition of the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be engaged in research that affects or is of particular significance to them
  • Accountability for the development, undertaking, and reporting of research
  • Promotion of responsible research practices.

The Code is supported by a number of short and accessible guides that expand on various topics that are likely to arise throughout the candidature lifecycle.  Topics of the guides are authorship, collaborative research, conflicts of interest, managing breaches of the Code, management of data, peer review, publication, supervision, and the role of research integrity advisors. Each guide outlines the responsibilities of both institutions and researchers in these particular areas. A useful way of ensuring that your higher degree researchers understand their obligations in each facet of their research journey would be to schedule a discussion of these key topics at relevant times during candidature and use the guideline as a basis for your conversations.

Other national resources

Many other countries have developed their own sets of principles and resources.  The following list is not exhaustive but may be a helpful starting point for those of you who are based outside Australia.

European Science Foundation Fostering Research Integrity in Europe
All European Academies (ALLEA) The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
Research Council of the United Kingdom Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct
Council of Canadian Academies Honesty, Accountability and Trust: Fostering Research Integrity in Canada
Office of Research Integrity, USA Multiple resources

Institutional requirements and resources

Your own institution will have research integrity policies, procedures and guidelines. These are designed to provide you with as much specific information as possible to help guide your practice as both a researcher and supervisor.

At the highest level:

  • Policies provide the must-dos; they are the legal position of your institution
  • Procedures set out the actions and processes that should be undertaken
  • Guidelines provide a plain English version of the key points from the policy and procedure documents.

In addition to any specific research integrity policy documents, your institution may also have Codes of Conduct for both staff and students.

When questions are raised or allegations are made around the actions of a higher degree researcher, or a supervisor, these documents are used to establish whether a breach has occurred and what course of action is appropriate. In many institutions, you will find Research Integrity Officers who are available to assist you with any questions you have and to manage allegations of breaches of integrity.

Other institutional resources available to you and your higher degree researchers may be provided through your library or dedicated research training unit. Here you are likely to find a raft of training resources around all facets of research integrity and ethics. Note that some of these may form a mandatory component of the candidature, while others will be available to tap into on an as-needed basis.

The Singapore Statement 


The value and benefits of research are vitally dependent on the integrity of research. While there can be and are national and disciplinary differences in the way research is organized and conducted, there are also principles and professional responsibilities that are fundamental to the integrity of research wherever it is undertaken.


  • Honesty in all aspects of research
  • Accountability in the conduct of research
  • Professional courtesy and fairness in working with others
  • Good stewardship of research on behalf of others


1.  Integrity: Researchers should take responsibility for the trustworthiness of their research.

2.  Adherence to Regulations: Researchers should be aware of and adhere to regulations and policies related to research.

3.  Research Methods: Researchers should employ appropriate research methods, base conclusions on critical analysis of the evidence and report findings and interpretations fully and objectively.

4.  Research Records: Researchers should keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow verification and replication of their work by others.

5.  Research Findings: Researchers should share data and findings openly and promptly, as soon as they have had an opportunity to establish priority and ownership claims.

6.  Authorship: Researchers should take responsibility for their contributions to all publications, funding applications, reports and other representations of their research. Lists of authors should include all those and only those who meet applicable authorship criteria.

7.  Publication Acknowledgement: Researchers should acknowledge in publications the names and roles of those who made significant contributions to the research, including writers, funders, sponsors, and others, but do not meet authorship criteria.

8.  Peer Review: Researchers should provide fair, prompt and rigorous evaluations and respect confidentiality when reviewing others’ work.

9.  Conflict of Interest: Researchers should disclose financial and other conflicts of interest that could compromise the trustworthiness of their work in research proposals, publications and public communications as well as in all review activities.

10.  Public Communication: Researchers should limit professional comments to their recognized expertise when engaged in public discussions about the application and importance of research findings and clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views.

11.  Reporting Irresponsible Research Practices: Researchers should report to the appropriate authorities any suspected research misconduct, including fabrication, falsification or plagiarism, and other irresponsible research practices that undermine the trustworthiness of research, such as carelessness, improperly listing authors, failing to report conflicting data, or the use of misleading analytical methods.

12.  Responding to Irresponsible Research Practices: Research institutions, as well as journals, professional organizations and agencies that have commitments to research, should have procedures for responding to allegations of misconduct and other irresponsible research practices and for protecting those who report such behavior in good faith. When misconduct or other irresponsible research practice is confirmed, appropriate actions should be taken promptly, including correcting the research record.

13.  Research Environments: Research institutions should create and sustain environments that encourage integrity through education, clear policies, and reasonable standards for advancement while fostering work environments that support research integrity.

14.  Societal Considerations: Researchers and research institutions should recognize that they have an ethical obligation to weigh societal benefits against risks inherent in their work.

Part two

This section presents you with some tools that you can use to help you embed matters of research integrity into your ongoing supervisory practice.

Supervisory agreement

Even if your institution does not mandate it, it is good practice to develop a supervision agreement with your higher degree researchers in the first weeks of candidature.  The agreement should define the goals, roles, rights and responsibilities of all parties including the higher degree researcher and all members of the supervisory team.

In Australia, the NHMRC guideline on how supervision of research degree candidates supports the responsible conduct of research (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2019) provides the following points of guidance:

  • Supervisors must work cooperatively with those whom they supervise, and with any co-supervisors, to establish and maintain an appropriate level of engagement.
  • Supervisors and those whom they supervise should agree, in writing, on:
    • Expectations related to progression and development
    • The appropriate level of oversight of the development and conduct of the research
    • Expectations related to work product or deliverables, if relevant
    • Expectations related to the involvement of the supervisor in the work of the individual/s under supervision, or vice versa, if relevant
    • Arrangements related to any planned co-authorship
    • Any necessary training for the individual/s under supervision
    • The frequency and format of meetings
    • Expectations related to contact between meetings
    • The nature and format of feedback
    • How any disputes will be resolved
    • When and how the agreement will be reviewed during the supervisory relationship.
  • Where remote supervision is provided, supervisors should ensure that the individual/s being supervised are not disadvantaged because of these arrangements and should consider the use of appropriate technology.

Other issues to consider in constructing your agreements might include the following:

  • How the supervisory team will operate, clearly outlining roles and responsibilities of all members, both supervisors and the graduate researcher. This is a helpful reference when difficulties or conflicts arise.
  • When draft texts are to be submitted, read, and discussed, and by which member(s) of the team,
  • Which members of the team should be involved in the analysis and interpretation of the data, who holds rights to the data, and how they should be stored,
  • How to ensure that your higher degree researchers have adequate time and opportunity to engage in additional training around research integrity matters,
  • How to ensure that all members of the team have current knowledge of the institution’s research integrity policies and resources, including around emerging areas such as the use of generative artificial intelligence.

Research integrity checklist for higher degree research supervisors

The following checklist is provided to help summarise all the points raised above and provide you with a quick-access tool that you can use to help ensure you have considered and integrated those issues into your supervisory practice.


  • Continuously communicate research integrity expectations: Clearly communicate the importance of the responsible conduct of research…not just once, but throughout their candidature. This should include clearly articulating the research integrity principles and guidelines they are expected to follow throughout their candidature and beyond.
  • Embed responsible research practices into everyday practice: Encourage your higher degree research students to adopt responsible research practices, such as accurate data collection and record-keeping, rigorous analysis, and transparent reporting of results.
  • Encourage a culture of research integrity: Foster a culture of research integrity within your research group and institution. Encourage collaboration, respect, and open communication among researchers. Promote discussions on research integrity and ethics to facilitate learning and awareness. Offer mentorship and support by being available to openly address their concerns and provide guidance on ethical decision-making.

Build knowledge

  • Know your research integrity policies: Review your national research integrity code/institution’s research integrity policies and guidelines to ensure you have a clear understanding of the expectations and standards for research integrity. If there isn’t a national code or institutional one,  the Singapore Statement is a good starting point.
  • Provide training on research integrity: Ensure that your higher degree researchers receive appropriate training on research integrity and the responsible conduct of research. This may include any institutional workshops, seminars, or online modules, but you should also share with them relevant literature that promotes responsible conduct of research.
  • Stay updated and seek guidance: Stay informed about research integrity. Stay updated with relevant research integrity guidelines, policies, and best practices. Seek guidance from institutional research integrity advisors.

Manage misconduct

  • Address plagiarism and intellectual property: Higher degree researchers should already know what plagiarism is by now. Talk to them about plagiarism, intellectual property rights, and proper citation practices. Emphasise the importance of attributing ideas and other work appropriately and seeking permission when necessary, especially copyright permission.
  • Monitor and address research misconduct: Be vigilant in monitoring your higher degree research students’ work, and promptly address any signs of research misconduct, such as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism. Educate your students about the consequences of research misconduct and the potential impact on their academic and professional careers.

Foster good practice

  • Ensure ethical treatment of humans, animals and the environment: If the research involves human subjects, ensure that your higher degree research students understand the principles of informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, and the ethical treatment of participants. If the research involves animals, ensure that your student understands the importance of the ethical, humane, and responsible care and use of animals in research. Guide them in obtaining the necessary approvals before commencing any research involving human subjects or animals, or any other research requiring permits or approvals.
  • Good data management and sharing is good research: Encourage good data management practices, including proper storage, backup, and organisation of research data. Check to see that the student has indeed appropriately stored and managed their data. Have you seen it? Do you know where it is? Discuss the importance of data sharing and archiving, while also considering confidentiality and data protection issues.
  • Encourage open and transparent research: Encourage higher degree researchers to share their research findings openly and honestly. Promote the principles of pre-registration, data sharing, and open access publishing, where applicable and ethically appropriate.
  • Disclose and manage conflicts of interest: Ensure that your higher degree researchers understand what constitutes a conflict of interest and how to identify and manage such conflicts. Discuss the importance of disclosing any potential conflicts of interest that may arise during the research process, including in peer review.
  • Promote responsible authorship and publication: discuss and agree on responsible authorship practices with your higher degree researchers, including understanding authorship criteria and order, acknowledging contributions appropriately, where and how outputs will be published, and publication ethics. Help them understand the importance of avoiding predatory publishers, duplicate publication, and salami slicing (where one project is “sliced” into smaller pieces for multiple publications), and ensure that they understand the importance of properly disclosing conflicts of interest.
  • Discuss dealing with unexpected results: help your higher degree researchers to understand appropriate ways of understanding negative research results; reporting them appropriately and framing them as opportunities for learning not failure.

Display leadership

  • Lead by example: as an HDR supervisor, your students will learn from you and they will model the behaviours that they observe. Walk the talk and ensure that you engage in the responsible conduct of research at all times. Your actions as a supervisor will carry more weight than your words.


Hopefully, the issues and resources presented above will have reinforced the need to ensure that matters of research integrity are woven into the candidature from the earliest days and that this chapter has provided some resources and tools to help you achieve that aim.  When this is done well, integrity becomes part of the fabric of the candidature that helps to build and maintain both strong supervisory relationships and future researchers who embrace the four principles outlined in the Singapore Statement – honesty, accountability, professional courtesy and fairness, and good stewardship of research.


While most of these sources and additional readings are freely available, some are not. The lock icon beside an entry indicates that the source may be available from your library.

National Health and Medical Research Council.  (2019). Guidance to support the code: Supervisionhttps://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/australian-code-responsible-conduct-research-2018#download



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Confident Supervisors: Creating Independent Researchers Copyright © 2023 by Helen Titchener and Bronwyn Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.