Code of Ethics

  1. Ethics defines the moral value of human conduct and the rules and principles that ought to govern it. The code of ethics for research is therefore a code of behaviour considered correct for that particular group of people or for those individuals engaged in research.
  2. The purpose of this document is to provide a guide that ethical standards are maintained in the conduct of research by developing general principles which outline the ethical conduct expected of all persons (members of faculty, other staff and students) engaged in research in the University.
  3. The general principles and specific requirements for the ethical conduct of research, described below, may not be exhaustive. They are intended to provide a general understanding of what is to be practised and what is to be avoided.

General Principles

  1. The following are the general ethical principles which apply to all research activities.
    • Research activities should be regarded as a series of systematic enquiries which seek to expand knowledge and understanding. Every effort should be made to conduct the enquiries in a manner which is free from bias, distortion and prejudice. Alternative views about the interpretation of the results should be welcomed and treated with tolerance and respect
    • Researchers shall:
      1. assume direct responsibility for the intellectual and ethical quality of their work,
      2. avoid conflict of interest,
      3. demonstrate integrity and professionalism in using research funds,
      4. ensure the safety of everyone involved in the research work,
      5. respect intellectual property rights; in particular, recognize and acknowledge the contribution of others and scrupulously avoid plagiarism,
      6. refrain from using proprietary information contained in confidential documents or in papers seen via the process of peer review,
      7. accept that their research results will be subject to peer scrutiny and debate,
      8. be fair and refrain from acting with ulterior motive in criticizing the work of others, and
      9. comply with any conditions agreed with the research sponsors.

Specific Requirements

  1. The followings are to be used as a guide with regard to specific requirements in data retention, publications, supervision of research personnel and conflict of interest.


    Data Collection, Retention and Access

    • Researchers are responsible for the accuracy of their data. Fabrication of data (claiming results where none have been obtained) or falsification of data (amending records to give incorrect information) is totally unacceptable and must be strictly avoided.
    • Researchers should be able to demonstrate the integrity of their data and hence the results obtained in any research work must be accurately recorded in durable and retrievable form (for a period of at least five years from the date of any publication which is based upon it).
    • All members of a research team possess the mutually agreed right to have access to data and other products of the research.
    • The recorded data must remain in the research unit upon the departure of the investigator from the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, and arrangements for the safekeeping of the records must be made with his/her immediate superior.
    • Data related to published work should be available for scholarly inquiry by other researchers, except where confidentiality undertakings to third parties have been given. In this connection, it may not be appropriate to engage a research student on contracted research having a company-confidential nature because this will give rise to a conflict with the requirement that the thesis must be in the public domain.


    • All persons and only those persons who have made a significant intellectual contribution to any published work should be included as authors of that publication.
    • All authors must endorse the whole publication and share the responsibility for its validity.
    • The order of the authors’ names should normally indicate the degree of contribution made by each author in a publication.
    • Evaluation of the degree of contribution should take into account: (i) development of the theoretical concepts and models, (ii) experimental work, programming work, survey work, etc. and (iii) writing of the publication. The order of importance is normally as indicated above, but the order between (i) and (ii) could be either way depending on how significant the two aspects are in a particular publication.
    • People who are only involved in such activities as collection of data, compilation of tables, typing/proofreading of drafts or administration of the work should not be listed among the authors.
    • Researchers should refrain from publishing essentially the same work in different outlets. A publication which contains new results but which also has a high degree of overlap with another publication must make appropriate reference to that publication. The division of research findings into multiple small publications in order to increase the publication count of the author(s) should also be avoided.
    • Researchers should refrain from submitting essentially similar publications, except conference abstracts, to more than one potential outlet simultaneously.
    • Publishing a work in a language other than the original without acknowledging the original work and/or the original author is unacceptable.
    • Individuals or organizations who contribute to the research work by providing materials or funding should normally be acknowledged.

Supervision of research personnel

    • The principal investigator of any research project is ultimately responsible for the supervision of any research personnel (research student, research assistant, etc.) associated with that project.
    • Researchers are expected to establish an equitable professional relationship with research personnel under their supervision and to deal with them as their peers.
    • The supervisor must ensure that any research personnel under his/her supervision is aware of and conforms to institutional requirements for the conduct of research.

Conflict of Interest

    • A researcher must disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest in his/her research work.
    • A researcher’s affiliation with any organization which may have a direct interest in the subject matter must be acknowledged.

Compliance and Breach of the Code

  1. Researchers should exercise good judgement in complying with this Code of Ethics for Research, and should not compel others to act in breach of this code. In subscribing to and abiding by this code, a researcher is expected to take into consideration all the principles in this code and to act in a manner consistent with its spirit as well as the letter of this code. Furthermore, he/she should discourage malpractices caused by others and should report unethical conduct of fellow researchers to the appropriate authorities.
  2. Failure to observe the principles of this code will result in the researcher having to answer to the University. Violation of this code may also lead to disciplinary actions.


Updated on 30 January 2013