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Research code of conduct

National Gallery Code of Practice and Good Conduct in Research


1. This Code of Practice sets out the standards and conduct expected of those engaged in research at the National Gallery. 

This Code of Practice applies to all the Gallery’s employees and others working at the Gallery including, for example, those engaged as self-employed guest curators.

Research Management:

2. In order to promote an effective, well-embedded research culture, to be able to carry out high quality research in support of the Gallery’s objectives and to continue to refresh and enhance the body of knowledge about the collection available to the public:

  • The Gallery has established a Research Committee chaired by the Director of Collections and Research; the Head of Conservation and Keeper, Head of Science, Head of Digital Services, Head of Learning and National Programmes, Head of Curatorial, Research Centre Manager and Publisher are also members.

The remit of the Committee is to identify those projects which are most likely to make a significant contribution to the Gallery’s research objectives, ensure they can be carried out effectively, and monitor their progress. 

  • The Committee will liaise with the Gallery’s Development Department over grant applications and other sources of funding for research.
  • The Committee will continue to ensure that all those who join the Gallery with a view to being active in research, or who may become so, have the requisite research skills, and we will, where appropriate, consider offering training to improve or develop such skills.

It will also review policies on the Ownership of Research and on Good Conduct and Practice in Research and related topics and ensure that these are widely distributed and properly understood.

Code of Practice

3.  Good conduct in the context of research practice at the Gallery includes the following principles:

  • Applying the highest possible standards of integrity and professionalism, including observing relevant legal and ethical requirements.
  • Understanding the responsibilities of individuals in accordance with the Gallery’s Health and Safety Policy.
  • Treating the collection and all works of reference belonging to the Gallery (eg books and photographs) with care and respect.
  • Being open to scrutiny and to debate.

To ensure that these principles are adhered to staff are required to observe the following practices and principles:

a.  Primary research data should be secured and stored accurately, and results should be documented clearly and accurately.  Data should be held for the periods recommended by the Gallery’s Records Management Policies and Departmental Guidelines, and in compliance with the Gallery’s legal obligations in respect of Data Protection. 

b. Staff should seek advice where necessary to ensure that the Gallery’s legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act are observed.  In accordance with this Act information that will be published within a reasonable period may be exempt from disclosure.  Advice on any form of confidentiality agreement that does not come within the scope of the Data Protection Act should be sought from the Gallery Archivist or the member of staff with particular responsibility for Freedom of Information.

c.  Staff should seek advice where necessary to ensure that the Gallery’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights is observed.  According to the Gallery’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights and its Code of Conduct, the Gallery owns the Intellectual Property Rights in any research work or associated publication prepared or carried out in time paid for by the Gallery (unless the Gallery has specifically surrendered this to a third party).  Staff should note that in association with the obligations set out above, there may be a need for confidentiality in order to protect the Gallery’s or another body’s IPR.

d.  Acknowledgement of the contributions of others to the authorship of research, whether in the form of a book, article, lecture or texts for a website, gallery or exhibition.  Authorship can be defined as substantial participation in a research project, in conceiving, planning or designing it or its methodology, acquiring, generating, analysing or interpreting data or other material in support of the research, drafting or critically revising the written results of the project.

Authorship of a piece of research work must be discussed between participants at an early stage in a project and reviewed when there are changes in participation.  No person who should be an author according to the above definition should be excluded as an author without their permission in writing.

Authors must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that others who have contributed to the work are recognised in the publication or other research output.  Authors should also take all reasonable steps to ensure appropriate recognition for all sponsors and funders as well as those institutions and individuals who have supported or contributed to the work.

e.  Originality
Authors should also take all reasonable steps to ensure that any reported or published research has been carried out by the acknowledged authors themselves, and that no ideas, data,  texts or results have been copied without permission or acknowledgement, or invented or fabricated.

f.   Project planning and conduct
Research projects should be planned and conducted in accordance with the Gallery’s rules and guidance on standards of good and effective practice in project management.  If researchers need advice in this area they should seek it via the appropriate Director and training will be provided if appropriate.

g.  Supporting co-researchers
Those with particular responsibility for leading and managing research projects should take reasonable steps to ensure that a co-operative environment is created in which all researchers are encouraged to develop skills, junior researchers are supported, guided and encouraged, and the open exchange of ideas is fostered.

h.  Working with the public
If a research project involves members of the public researchers should ensure that all participants understand the process to be undertaken, the reasons for undertaking the research, the identity of the funders and the ways in which the research will be used and disseminated.  All participants must give freely given and informed consent and made aware of their right to refuse to participate.

i.  Acknowledging conflicts of interest
All researchers should make full disclosure of any potential or actual conflict of interest including, personal, familial or financial conflicts, in accordance with the Gallery’s Code of Conduct.

j. The Gallery’s Budget Holder’s Guide should be adhered to and all financial records should be accurately kept and budgets regularly updated.  Reasonable care should be taken that all grant applications be as accurate as possible.

k. Training and leadership
Those leading research have a particular responsibility for encouraging and nurturing good practice and developing the research skills of their junior colleagues, and for identifying training needs in accordance with the Gallery’s probation and performance review procedures

Misconduct in Research

4. Misconduct in research includes non-compliance with the code set out above, and includes but is not limited to:

  • Misleading ascriptions of authorship, attributing work to others who have not contributed to the research and the lack of acknowledgement of work produced by those including research associates, trainees or students
  • Plagiarism, defined as the presentation of the data, text or ideas or another without permission or acknowledgement
  • Fraud, defined as deliberate deception which involves the invention of data or fabrication of results

 It does not include what can reasonably be considered to be honest errors or differences of opinion.

Raising Concerns and Reporting Procedure for  Misconduct

5. It is considered that misconduct in research may put the Gallery at risk and where Gallery staff, students and those contracted to undertake research for the Gallery have a genuine and reasonable belief that misconduct in research is taking  place, they are expected to report their concerns to the Director of Scientific Research or the Director of Conservation.

In the first instance concerns may be reported orally. The Director of Scientific Research or the Director of Conservation will discuss your concerns fully with you and in confidence. If he is if satisfied that there is a  reasonable belief for the concern and that you are acting in good faith, you will be asked to confirm your concerns in writing prior to him consulting with the Director of Scientific Research or the Director of Conservation as appropriate. The Director of Scientific Research and Director of Conservation will decide whether an investigation will be carried out and, if so, who by.

Concerns will be investigated promptly, thoroughly and with sensitivity, and in keeping with the Gallery’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

If misconduct is discovered as a result of any investigation the Gallery’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure will apply. Maliciously making a false allegation about misconduct in research will be considered to be a disciplinary offence.