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Practice Safe Research

There may be a time in your career when you are asked to prove that your research is actually your work.

For example:

  • The Promotion & Tenure (P&T) Committee that is adjudicating your tenure application may want to know what percentage of an article you contributed.
  • The P&T Committee may want to know how much work your work study student contributed.
  • You may need to protect yourself against reprimand if ever accused of committing academic fraud and misconduct.
  • A Journal or funding body may request that you provide original data sets.

The practices of generating the evidence may be discipline specific so speaking with your Chair/Director/Dean regarding expectations may prove to be fruitful.

Some things to keep in mind in creating a paper trail include:

  • If you are changing from one computer to another or from one software system to another, be vigilant with archiving your information.
  • Keep accurate and organized records by using a log, a diary or a science lab book analogy.
  • Create a log of your search strategy, i.e. date, data base, search terms.
  • Keep track of the contacts that you have made. You may need to call on them to substantiate a claim that you have made.
  • Chronologize your thoughts. Be sure to include the year not just the month and day.
  • Have a paper trail of the different versions of a document. Ensure that iterated drafts are date stamped.
  • Retain email correspondence with publishers.
  • Keep notes on discussions you have had with people about concepts.
  • Some performances are not recorded so keep a copy of the event poster or conference agenda.
  • Keep whatever storage device you choose safe, central, and have a backup copy.


Academic Fraud and Misconduct Article, Faculty Collective Agreement

Clause 5 Retention of Research and Scholarly Materials

“Members shall be responsible for providing the Employer access to their Research and scholarly activity materials in electronic or some other format for seven years from publication or release to the public of the Research results. This Clause shall not apply where destruction of original Research materials or data before the expiration of a seven-year period is a legitimate pre-condition for conducting the Research; where such destruction of original materials is required, the Member shall provide access to secondary materials in which observations of the original data have been recorded.”

MAPP 7.0 Academic Integrity in Research Activities

Section 2. b)  Expectations and Responsibilities

“At a minimum, Researchers are responsible for:

Keeping complete and accurate records of data, methodologies and findings, including graphs and images, in accordance with the applicable funding agreement, institutional policies and/or laws, regulations, and professional or disciplinary standards in a manner that will allow verification or replication of the work by others.”


Cindy Cossar-Jones, UWOFA’s Professional Officer

July, 2019