Practicing Integrity: Final report

Laura Louise Sarauw, Susan Wright, Lise Degn, Jakob Williams Ørberg, Rachel Douglas-Jones

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportRapportForskning


Executive Summary

1. What is the problem that ‘Research Integrity’ is trying to fix?
International documents framed research problems in four different ways – international collaboration, the ‘reproducibility crisis’, loss of public trust, and whether steering incentives promote not only scandals but everyday ‘questionable research practices’. Each framing asked Research Integrity to fix a different problem through different interventions.

2. How is the Research Integrity Code translated into institutional processes in universities and university colleges?
Some of the 8 universities and 7 UCs are using the Danish Code to build a research culture; in others, there seemed to be signs of ceremonial implementation, which does not impact academic environments. Most heads of department considered research integrity important, but something that was most problematic in other departments, not their own. They thought the self-regulation of scientists was more useful for building high integrity research cultures.

3. How is the code taught to PhD students?
There were marked differences in the problem narratives of PhD RI courses in science, medicine, social sciences and humanities. One focused on a ‘broken system’ operating against good practice while another depicted all researchers as ‘small cheaters’. In a third, integrity meant following standard procedures of validity and reliability and in a fourth, research meant continually making ethical judgements. Students were aware of the importance of RI, but the meanings of ‘integrity’ and ‘compliance’ remained unclear.

4. How is research integrity training taken up by doctoral students in their working lives?
PhD students experienced tensions between trying to be good researchers, positioning themselves in a system with diverse forms of accountability, and avoiding non-compliance. International and national policies envisaged that early career researchers would act as change agents, but few felt able to challenge power relations in complex research hierarchies.

5. What is missing from the existing code and RI practices?
Responsibility for developing research integrity is widely distributed and fragmented. Gendered and hierarchical relations are central to participants’ stories of research dis-integrity, but the issue of power is missing from the Code. Incentive structures are often inimical to research integrity. It is unclear how PhD students can become reflexive actors shaping their own research environment without making them feel responsible for dysfunctional systems that senior researchers find hard to change, and even endorse.

6. Future action
There is need to
• sustain the focus on research integrity
• align steering incentives with RI at all levels • clarify the meanings of integrity and compliance
• continue to develop institutional systems to support RI
• establish a forum for dialogue between all the
actors in RI policy field, especially linking top- down policy making with bottom-up practice.
UdgivelsesstedAarhus University
ForlagAarhus Universitet
Antal sider10
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7684-549-0
StatusUdgivet - 1 nov. 2019
Udgivet eksterntJa
NavnDPU Working Paper Series on University Reform


  • Integrity
  • Research Integrity
  • Research integrity training

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