Research Integrity, Governance and Ethics

Aston’s Research Strategy sets out our ambitious plans to grow and develop our research base.

The University has developed a strong reputation for working closely with industry, the professions, and other stakeholders and for the strong focus on providing solutions to real problems of industry, and addressing societal challenges with high impact research. Since our creation in 1895, we have been an integral part of our region and its employers, advancing knowledge in a relevant and meaningful manner. To find out more please see our research strategy.

Our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Simon Green, provides the strategic direction and leadership for all our research. He is supported by the Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Integrity, Professor Jo Lumsden, and Aston University Research Integrity Office (AURIO), as well as our research and ethics committees. The Research Integrity Office provides support and advice for all researchers on research ethics, research governance and good research practice at Aston University. The team includes:

Jo Lumsden - Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Research Integrity: Provides academic leadership and has primary responsibility for research ethics and integrity across the University. Chair of the University Research Integrity and Ethics Committee (URIEC). Leads and oversees process for investigation of research misconduct.

Becky Case - Research, Integrity and Governance Manager: Oversees the Aston University Research Integrity Office (AURIO), including the development, implementation and awareness raising of the University's policies in respect of research ethics, research integrity, open science and the Human Tissue Act. For the Human Tissue Authority licence.

Matt Richards - Research Integrity Officer: First point of contact for queries relating to research governance, integrity and human tissue work. Leads on study support for research involving the NHS for which Aston is sponsor. Secretary to University Research Integrity and Ethics Committee (URIEC) and HTA Oversight Group.

Hannah Smart - Research Ethics Officer: Oversees administration of all three college research ethics committees (CRECs) at Aston, including providing guidance and support for applicants, reviewers, and Chairs. First point of contact for College level research ethics applications and queries relating to ethics approval.

Use of Metrics

Aston University is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, and as such supports the following recommendations:

  • the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;
     
  • the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and
     
  • the need to capitalise on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact).

In accordance with this Aston has adopted the below principles in operationalising the Policy for the Responsible Use of Metrics:

  • Substantive peer review remains the principal means of assessing the quality of individual research outputs.
     
  • The University will use a basket of metrics, derived from the Elsevier online tool Scival, to be used, where appropriate, at the moderation stage of the Aston Peer-Review Process for Research Outputs in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the College of Health and Life Sciences and Aston Business School. The basket of metrics will not be used at all in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, or in Aston Law School because the data and coverage in these disciplinary areas are not of sufficiently high quality to justify its use.

The basket of metrics includes:

  • Citation Count: the number of citations received during a specific time window: 2 years for disciplines in EPS and HLS; 5 years for ABS.
     
  • Field-weighted citation impact (FWCI): FWCI is a value assigned to a given paper based on the ‘expected citations’ received by papers in the field between two and four years after publication. A score of ‘one’ represents the median number of citations for the field.

These metrics account for field-specific publication patterns while recognising that the expertise and experience of Aston academics can assess the relationship between raw citation counts and the quality of individual outputs. This understanding is vitally important for those outputs which fall beyond the traditional field boundaries employed by metrics such as FWCI. It is also important that those involved in the moderation process consider the broader context in which the author is working.

Person-based metrics (eg H-indices), journal classifications (eg CABS) and Journal Impact Factors should not be used to inform the peer review process. The basket of publication metrics should not be used for monographs, book chapters, non-English language outputs, patents, software, datasets and databases.

Formal complaints of research misconduct, including from current Aston staff and students who feel they have been affected by research misconduct, should be reported to Matt via email or our online submission form. To find out more, please visit our Research Misconduct page. Information about how we support our researchers with matters of research integrity, ethics and governance can be found on the pages below.