Aalborg University has a set of rules for dealing with suspected questionable research practice and research misconduct as these may be referred to the AAU Practice Committee. However, staff members may also see that practice does not comply with current rules and laws in other situations. The purpose of this procedure is to describe what actions staff members should take in these situations.
Staff members have a duty to warn and advise when there is doubt about the legality of an action within their own work area. Staff members also have a duty to decline an order if a manager issues and maintains an order that is clearly illegal or requires the staff member to do something that is manifestly criminal. The procedure in relation to this is detailed in Code of Conduct in the Public Sector, Chapter 2.
In addition, staff members who are subject to unlawful orders have the right – and in some cases also the duty – to notify someone internally about an illegal situation, including a professionally unsound situation. This also applies in situations where the staff member is aware of unlawful management or other misconduct, such as manifest misuse of public funds.
If a staff member becomes aware of an unlawful situation, including a professionally unsound situation that does not concern research misconduct, the staff member may follow this procedure:
- The staff member contacts the line manager and makes them aware of the issue. If the staff member sees that it is the line manager who is acting in an unlawful or professionally unsound manner, the staff member may instead contact the line manager's immediate superior directly. The staff member may also contact their union representative who can approach the manager's immediate superior on behalf of the staff member.
- The manager investigates the case and identifies the issue. This can be done in consultation with, for example, the relevant Shared Services unit. In the event of an unlawful or professionally unsound situation, the manager takes the initiative to remedy the situation.
- In this context, the manager cannot ensure the staff member’s anonymity. As far as possible, the manager is responsible for protecting the staff member concerned from any retaliation from colleagues or others involved.