Envision a world where there were no policies, processes, rules, or regulations. What do you see? Chaos and confusion? Similarly, conducting research in the absence of clearly defined guidelines and policies may no doubt still yield new findings, however, they may or may not be entirely ethical and of great quality. 

Just like all the other industries the research sector too is evolving rapidly. Today winning the funding is just starting point and brings along increased responsibility unlike in the past when the research activities were not heavily regulated by the government and legislation. 

Good research governance is essential to protect the interests of participants, researchers, funders, and other stakeholders. It also enables research to be conducted efficiently and effectively, making the most use of available resources. 

But what exactly does research governance imply and why is it important? To assist you gain a better understanding of the subject; read the article we have compiled below. 

What is research governance?

The government, as well as the research institutions that perform research, establish rules and procedures from time-to-time basis on which research is planned, monitored, and managed. All these frameworks together, constitute research governance. It is a system that ensures that research is conducted ethically and with rigour and that the results are reliable.  

Good research governance protects both the researcher and the participant while also ensuring that research is of the highest quality. And with the growing funding support available not just from the government but also from non-profit organisations for conducting research activities, and research being conducted on such a massive scale around the world, the need for governance is greater than it has ever been.  

Importance of good research governance:

Research carries a significant impact on people's lives. The Research Governance framework includes a set of principles and practices that guide and manage the conduct of research. It ensures that research is conducted ethically and with integrity.  

Good research governance is important for several reasons: 

  •  It protects the safety and welfare of participants in research studies: 

The responsible conduct of research is a fundamental ethical obligation for all individuals involved in the design, conduct, and review of research. It is also a regulatory requirement for institutions receiving federal funding for research. Research governance not only promotes the safety and welfare of participants in research studies but also helps to ensure the validity and integrity of the research process is maintained. 

  • It ensures that research is compliant with regulations: 

Good research governance is founded on a system of organisational structures, policies, and procedures that are designed to promote ethical and responsible practices. These include: a code of ethics for researchers, a process for reviewing and approving research proposals, mechanisms for monitoring and supervising research, and procedures for responding to misconduct. 

  • It promotes responsible use of data and results: 

Research data and findings can be used by government to make important decisions about health, safety, and the environment and/ or by companies to make informed decisions towards improving existing or launching new products or and services.  

But who is responsible for ensuring that the data is used responsibly? The principles and guidelines laid out in the research governance frameworks paves the way for responsible and ethical use of data and research results. It covers all aspects of data management, from how data is collected and stored, to how it is used and shared. 

  • It helps to maintain public trust in research: 

The role of research governance is to ensure that all research is conducted ethically, and that the public can trust in the results. It helps to maintain public trust in research, by ensuring that experiments are conducted properly, and that any data or findings are made available for public scrutiny. 

  • It ensures that research is conducted ethically and with integrity: 

Research governance includes policies and procedures that are put in place to protect the validity and integrity of the research and to ensure that research is conducted in an appropriate and responsible manner and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. 

  • It promotes transparency and accountability in the research process: 

Research governance plays a huge role in ensuring that researchers are held accountable for their actions. This includes both individual researchers, and research institutions. Misconduct in research can carry a negative impact over an institution's standing and can even result in criminal charges. 

How can research governance be improved?

Improved research governance can aid in ensuring research is reliable and of high quality. But how can one improve research governance within their organisation? Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • establish clear guidelines and procedures for conducting research and ensure everyone involved in the research process understands and follows the same guidelines, 
  • create and enforce standard operating procedures for all phases of the research process, 
  • have a system in place for monitoring and reporting research misconduct to ensure researchers understand their obligation to perform their work in line with the ethical standards. 
  • funding agencies could play an important role in improving research governance by providing more support to researchers and ensuring that their work is carried out in a safe and responsible manner, 
  • finally, research organisations should consider fostering two-way communication to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of and understand their responsibilities. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to research governance. Each institution must develop and continually improve a system that meets the specific needs of its researchers, administrators, and governing board. 

Solve your ethics and governance challenges with OmniStar Ethics:

Adhering to the revisions in research regulations and guidelines from time to time is something all parties involved in the research must comply with. This process could be simplified if research institutions leveraged technology to their advantage. 

To comply with local and government policies and regulations you need reliable processes and information you can trust. With OmniStar’s in-built compliance controls, you can save your applicants' time, researchers' time by streamlining and automating ethics and governance processes within your organisation. 

Contact an OmniStar expert today to discuss how we can help solve your ethics and governance challenges with OmniStar Ethics. 

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