The Netherlands and Poland: what does RI training for doctoral candidates look like?

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the topic of RI is collectively self-regulated by several educational institutions. These consist of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Associated Applied Research Institutes (T02 Federation), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU; KNAW et a/., 2018).

In 2004, VSNU, in collaboration with its 12 member organizations, drafted the first version of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice (NCCSP, 2004).This was amended in 2012 and 2014, mostly on topics of self-plagiarism. A new version of the Code of Conduct was published in 2018 following the revised version of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (ALLEA, 2017) in its Preamble, and built upon both the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct (2007) and the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity (2010). It lists 61 standards of good practices in various phases of research practice (NCCSP, 2018). In addition, it introduces a separate chapter on the institutions’ duties of care to ensure supportive working environments that promote and guarantee good research practices. Member organizations must ensure that all affiliated institutes they represent oversee or adopt the Code of Conduct. Other institutions, including private enterprises, can also adopt it. Local institutions are entitled to define their institutional Codes of Conduct to fit their particular needs, as long as they do not contradict the national Code of Conduct (KNAW et al, 2018).

Definition of research integrity

Research integrity is defined in the new Code of Conduct (NCCSP, 2018, p. 7) as follows:

If scientific and scholarly research is to perform [its] role properly, research integrity is essential.This holds true for all disciplines. Research in the sciences and the humanities derives its status from the fact that it is a process governed by standards. That normativity is partly methodological and partly ethical in nature, and can be expressed in terms of a number of guiding principles: honesty, scrupulousness, transparency, independence and responsibility. Researchers who are not guided by these principles risk harming both the quality and the trustworthiness of research.

These five guiding principles were mentioned explicitly by three of the five interviewees, while adding additional explanations, e.g.:

We are accustomed that RI has those 4-5 values ... openness, independence, trustworthiness, honesty, societal responsibility. These are the ones that are still useful today.

(NL3, Dec 2019)

Research integrity is defined in the Code of Conduct, we use this as a background [...].

(NL5,Jan 2020)

The two others referred to RI in a looser manner:

... difficult [task], usually we do not think in terms of definitions, this is [the ethicists’] job. Basically, anything that has to do with integrity, honesty about results, reporting, mentioning sources, honesty and openness. These are very important. Trust is the basis of science. If you cannot trust a report by a colleague, or publications ([e.g. because of] false, manipulated data) then the basis of science is gone.

(NL2, Dec 2019)

RI for me is having a responsible relationship with reality in terms of data, collection, management, analysis ... responsible relationship towards your colleagues; and also responsible relation with one’s environment and stakeholders.

(NL1, Dec 2019)

The Netherlands, therefore, has a thoroughly formulated, common definition in the new Code of Conduct. Even though the respondents mention that there is no “clear” definition, they do seem to have a similar understanding of what RI is about, and the aspects where issues related to RI may arise.

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