Code of conduct in research

The AAD is committed to high standards of professional conduct in all activities. This code of conduct in research describes the standards of conduct and performance required of all those engaged in research in the AAD. Research workers have a duty to ensure that their work pursues the goals of the AAD and enhances the profession to which they belong.

This code covers employees of the AAD, and includes employees from other institutions when they are engaged in research with the AAP. Where this code varies from the code of their home institution, our code prevails with respect to research with the AAP.

This code is based on the following principles. In the AAD, research describes any critical and creative activity undertaken on a systematic, disciplined basis and dedicated to increasing knowledge. The defining characteristics include:

  • a dependence on formal, disciplined modes of inquiry
  • technical, conceptual, or development of innovative scientific methods
  • an open, rigorous approach to the testing of results
  • a commitment to publication in some form.

Debate on, and criticism of, research work are essential parts of the research process. Research workers should:

  • work only on approved Australian Antarctic research projects
  • demonstrate integrity and professionalism
  • observe fairness and equity
  • participate only in work which conforms to accepted ethical standards
  • participate only in work which they are competent to perform
  • avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest
  • ensure the safety of those associated with the research.

Reasonable requirements for confidentiality of data must be observed, consistent with the requirements of the Antarctic Treaty. Research workers must not use such information for their own personal advantage or that of a third party. Research involving animal or human subjects must be approved for ethical clearance by the appropriate ethics committees. Special conditions attached by the committees must be scrupulously adhered to. All researchers must recognise that the onus is on them not only to adhere to such conditions and processes, but also to provide the various assessment bodies with timely and appropriate information to enable them to make a full assessment of proposed and progressing work.

Theme Leaders are responsible for the conduct of research within their programs, the observance of this code, and ensuring all workers are familiar with the code. All research workers are individually responsible for ensuring their work conforms to this code.

Chief investigators must obtain permits from the relevant authorities and meet all legislative requirements, including Environmental Impact Assessments, and ethics approvals prior to a final approval being granted by AAD for the project to go ahead. Research involving plants and/or animals or entry into designated protected areas will also require permits. Quarantine permits may also be required for returning samples to Australia.

Where a person is in doubt about the applicability of provisions of this code or about the appropriate course of action to be adopted in relation to it, advice should be sought from the Chief Scientist. If requested, the advice will be provided in confidence.

Data and sample storage and retention

A condition of participation in the AAP is that all data collected under the AAP, products derived from those data, and samples remain the property of the Commonwealth of Australia. This excludes samples collected from Macquarie Island which are the property of the Tasmanian Government. It is the role of AAP Chief Investigators to ensure that all data and samples generated as part of their research are adequately managed for long-term re-use. This generally involves ensuring from the outset that all data/samples are adequately documented with metadata and that arrangements are made for data to be deposited with the Australian Antarctic Data Centre (AADC). Alternative long-term repositories will be considered to host data but this will require a due diligence check of the nominated repository by the AADC.

Appropriate metadata must be created in the AADC’s metadata system to describe any captured data and all data must be submitted to the AADC, or an approved long-term repository, by a project’s end date. Progress towards completion of metadata and submission of all datasets will be monitored by the AAD. Completion of metadata involves ensuring that the record accurately describes the final state of the data, as it is progressively worked up through the project. Note that all metadata records are made public after initial moderation and should be available from an early point in the project’s execution. Samples must be catalogued and submitted to recognised collection hosting facilities.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, data submitted to the AADC will be made public, usually after a suitable embargo period. Extenuating circumstances preventing timely publication of data must be presented to the AADC Manager.

The Australian Antarctic Program Data Policy is available on the Australian Antarctic Data Centre website.

Authorship and publication

Authorship is a sensitive matter in which quite different views of relative contributions can be held sincerely by contributors, leading at times to disagreements on who should be the authors and the order in which they are listed. The question of authorship should be discussed at the earliest possible stage in a research project and reviewed whenever there are changes in participation.

All persons, including university students and technical and professional support personnel who have made a substantial contribution to the research leading to a publication must be given the opportunity to be included as an author on the publication. Contributions to the conception, execution or interpretation of the work being reported may warrant recognition as an author.

All authors bear responsibility for the publication.

A person who has not participated in conceiving, executing or interpreting at least part of the relevant research is not to be included as an author of a publication deriving from that research.

Every attempt must be made to reach agreement on the authorship of a publication and the order in which authors are listed. Informal advice and assistance should be sought from the relevant Theme Leader. If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved, formal adjudication of the issue will be made by the Chief Scientist.

The authors must ensure that others who have contributed to the work are recognised in the publication. Courtesy demands that individuals and organisations providing facilities should also be acknowledged.

A publication which is substantially the same as an earlier publication derived from the same research, must make appropriate reference to the earlier publication.

An author who submits substantially similar work to more than one publisher should disclose that fact to the publishers at the time of submission.

Where a publication has several authors, one author should be nominated executive author to accept overall responsibility for the entire publication.

All care should be taken to ensure that publication reference, or acknowledge all pertinent supporting research and data.

While the program continues to encourage publication for both maximum scientific exposure and in non-Antarctic high quality journals it also now places a great importance on publications that are designed for policy makers, end users, the public and other stakeholders.

All publications and presentations made relating to projects within the AAP must acknowledge the support they have received from the AAP.

Supervision of research higher degree candidates

All research higher degree candidates must have supervision during their participation within the AAP. In particular, when students are to be members of field teams there is a requirement that a supervisor be identified within the field team.

Where AAD staff are invited to act as joint supervisors of university students they must inform themselves of the provisions of the relevant codes of that university, such as the code of conduct of research and code of conduct in supervision of higher degree students. Where these differ substantially from the provisions of this code of conduct in research, the matter must be raised with the Chief Scientist.

Formal appointment as joint supervisor will not be made until the Chief Scientist is satisfied that the inconsistency in the provisions will not disadvantage the Australian Government.

A person must decline appointment as a supervisor unless he/she expects to be able to discharge, and abide by, the responsibilities set out in the university’s relevant codes as well as this code. 

Misconduct

Misconduct means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.

Confidential advice on integrity in research and possible misconduct is available from the Chief Scientist.

Any complaint of misconduct in research is to be made to the Chief Scientist.

Where the complaint is made against a member of AAD staff, the Chief Scientist will gather all available information relevant to the complaint and report to the Director, AAD.

Where the complaint is made against a student enrolled at a university, the matter will be pursued in accordance with that university’s appropriate instrument governing student discipline.