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School of the Biological Sciences

The School of Biological Sciences is committed to achieving excellence in research that is ethical, open and in line with the University’s and funders policies.

The University provide regular training sessions for all staff and students.  These address issues of research integrity, legal and ethical obligations, bribery and anti-slavery practices, data protection, GDPR, record keeping, and professional standards.

Research Ethics

We are committed to promoting and facilitating the conduct of ethical research, as is consistent with the practice of most funding bodies, and of research institutions such as the Royal Society and British Academy. The School therefore attaches great importance to addressing ethical aspects in all research activities carried out by its members. Attention to the ethical (and legal) implications of research for researchers, research subjects, sponsors and collaborators is seen as an intrinsic part of good research practice. Policies on research ethics adhere to the principles set out within the University's Code of Research Ethics in emphasising the need for ethical awareness as part of the commitment to professionalism in research.

The need for an ethical approach to research applies to all members of the School who conduct or advance research. This includes academics, undergraduates, postgraduates, visiting scholars, research fellows, research associates and research assistants.

As well as assessment by departmental ethics committees, more detailed reviews for departmental staff are carried out by the Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee, the Cambridge Human Biology Research Ethics Committee and the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body.

Research Integrity

Underpinning our research is an ethos of openness, where researchers are supported to conduct and publish reproducible research, in an environment that maintains the highest standards of integrity and ethics. The University is committed to Universities UK (UUK) Concordat to Support Research Integrity, and was recognised as a Leader in Openness around Animal Research 2019-2022 for "the innovation and courage shown by individuals and their organisations in supporting greater openness around the use of animals in research".

The University promotes good research practice through its Researcher Development Programme and Good Research Practice framework. Governance policies and procedures are overseen by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research.

DORA – San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

The University is also a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), demonstrating an institutional commitment to ensure that scientific output is measured accurately and evaluated wisely.

The School of Biological Sciences and the School of Clinical Medicine, recognising substantial common ground in research values and metrics across the life sciences, have established specific guidance for recruitment, probation, and promotion procedures, in line with the University’s actions:

  1. to eliminate journal-based metrics in research assessment of individuals;
  2. to be transparent and consultative about how research quality will (and won’t) be evaluated;
  3. to encompass a wide range of potential research impacts, reaching beyond a narrow focus on peer-reviewed publications and including contributions to open science, translation of research to clinical and other applications, public engagement and policy impacts.

More detailed information on this guidance is available on the Faculty of Biology website.

Open Access and Open Data

The University of Cambridge is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible to contribute to society as well as to academic advancement, in accordance with the University’s core values.

The University provide a framework and guidance to support researchers in making research findings available and meeting funders’ requirements. Further guidance and advice are available on the Open Access website.

Alongside this, to support researchers managing and sharing data produced in research, the University provide additional guidance and advice to researchers on various aspects of research data planning and management as well as providing assistance in meeting funders’ expectations. More on this is available on the Research Data website.