Inform is committed to promoting and sustaining an open, supportive, inclusive and equitable research environment, that develops good research practice and is based on the principles of research integrity. Inform’s approach to this is outlined below which to a large extent forms the basis of our ongoing compliance with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, a condition of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). In turn, this concordat requires employers of researchers to publish an annual statement on research integrity.
We primarily refer to the ethical frameworks provided by the British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR) as guidance of best practice for research. Inform also adheres to the ethical principles for charities as set out by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.
All Inform researchers have masters level training in social scientific and/or historical research methods. At times, we make also employ research assistants who act under the express instruction of an Inform Researcher who takes responsibility for mentoring in research integrity.
Staff members have a responsibility to safeguard the proper interests of enquirers and informants and to record any information received from them fully and accurately.
Staff members need at all times to keep in mind the health and safety implications of their work for Inform with a view to reducing to a minimum the risks to themselves and to others.
Inform staff may conduct research related to our aim of providing information about minority religions and sects which is as accurate, up-to-date and as evidence-based as possible in public places. Public places are understood to include both offline and online locations and events where the public is welcomed/allowed to attend without restriction.
As far as possible, staff should obtain the freely given, informed consent of people who are potential sources of information for Inform. This implies a responsibility to explain in appropriate detail – and in terms meaningful to informants – what the request for information is about, who is making and financing it, why it is being made, and how any information collected might be stored and used.
There is no warrant for covert collection of data on behalf of Inform. Enquirers and informants need to know how far they will be afforded anonymity and confidentiality. They should also be asked whether they are prepared to agree to the use of data-gathering devices such as tape recorders and video cameras.
When staff access data held in Inform’s files, they must respect the terms on which the data were collected and the limitations, if any, that are imposed on their use.
Staff must respect the anonymity and privacy of enquirers and informants. In the case of extremely sensitive information, Inform staff should ask the Director whether special procedures are required.
Staff members of Inform do not enjoy legal privilege. This means that they have no grounds in law for withholding information if it is requested by a court of law.
As a charity, Inform is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
The first point of contact for concerns about research integrity should be raised with Inform’s Office Manager, Warwick Hawkins (Warwick.Hawkins@kcl.ac.uk).
Concerns about any research misconduct can be raised the Chair of Inform’s Management Committee in the first instance, Dr. George Chryssides (GDChryssides@religion21.com).