2006 – Response to the Second Round Consultation – Draft Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Attachment: CAPA Submission

Recent federal government proposals involving sedition laws and antiterrorism
legislation and guidelines have worrying consequences for
Australian research and academic freedom. The Code must be broad
enough to withstand changes to the political and funding environment.
Recommendation 1: That the Code contains an authoritative
statement about research independence and freedom of speech.

The Code will be ineffective without provision by institutions for
adequate funding to implement the resource requirements. Compliance
with the Code will be harder to ensure without this funding.
Recommendation 2: That the Code specifies institutional
responsibility for the funding of resource requirements.

While individual responsibility is important, this draft comprises too
much emphasis on the individual.
Recommendation 3: That the onus to ensure the responsible
conduct of research is firmly placed with institutions.

CAPA is apprehensive regarding the position of research students in
relation to requirements to ensure the responsible conduct of research.
Too often, when things go wrong it is the research students who lose
out the most. While recognising that research students come from a
variety of research and employment backgrounds, the Code requires a
general principle that they are subject to procedures that take into
consideration their status as students.
Recommendation 4: That the Code stipulates that student
status is recognised appropriately in institutional policies and
guidelines for the responsible conduct of research.

The Code asserts that ‘the community forms its views on research not
only by its outcomes but also by the standards by which it is carried
out’. The community also forms its views by the statements and policy
priorities of government and relevant ministers. The recent legislative
proposals to reduce the independence of the ARC, combined with the
public statements of the former Minister for Education regarding some
Humanities and Social Science research, can only have a detrimental
impact on community opinion of Australian research.

The Code claims to have ‘broad relevance across all research
disciplines’. CAPA advises that the developing bodies must ensure this
broad relevance by consulting widely and in particular with
representatives of the creative and performing arts, and Indigenous

The developing bodies state that ‘all institutions that receive funding
from the ARC and NHMRC to support their research are required to
adhere to this code.’ The Code should clarify that the institutions must
adhere to the Code consistently, not only in regard to research funded
through the ARC and NHMRC.