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Research Integrity in Norway (RINO)

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Research integrity in Norway (RINO) In this project we aim to map the prevalence of research misconduct and questionable research practices in Norwegian universities, university colleges and research institutes, as well as knowledge of and attitudes toward these practices. Furthermore, we seek insight into certain institutional and cultural factors that might promote good research ethical culture.

Background

In 2017 Norway adopted a new act on Research Ethics which emphasizes the responsibility of individual researchers and research institutions.

The Research Integrity Committees at the University of Bergen (UiB) and The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) have started cooperating on their preventive mandate, which requires building good research ethical culture at both institutions. As a basis for this work, the institutions want more knowledge of current practices.

The Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees (FEK), on the other hand, see the need for a new national survey as a knowledge base in the overall work to promote research ethics. The three institutions (UiB, HVL and FEK) are therefore collaborating on this research project.

Research integrity is commonly considered as part of research ethics. In this study, the term “research integrity” mainly refers to behavior related to scientific principles, values and norms that are essential for the development of reliable scientific knowledge. Recognition of these principles, values and norms constitute good scientific practice. Thus, research integrity is about maintaining and complying with good scientific practice.

 

Aim: To map prevalence, attitudes and institutional factors

Research integrity, then, implies adherence to the basic rules of good scientific practice, such as they typically are expressed in ethical codes of scientific conduct (See for example, Singapore Statement on Research Integrity, 2010, Guidelines for Research Ethics in Science and Technology, 2016, Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Theology, 2016; The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, 2017).

Breaches of research integrity are often referred to as research misconduct. Serious breaches of research integrity – falsification, fabrication and plagiarism (FFP) - have received a lot of attention nationally and internationally over the last years. However, while FFP are very serious, empirical studies suggest that these practices are less common compared to so-called questionable research practices (QRP). This includes practices such as allocating authorship based on the wrong premises, using data selectively and hiding conflicts of interest.

In a meta-analysis of several international studies, Fanelli (2009: 8) found that 2 % admitted to having fabricated or falsified in their research, while one third admitted applying questionable research practices. Other studies have shown the same trend.

Arguably, questionable research practices, QRPs, constitute in many ways a greater problem than FFP because they occur far more often and thus more significantly affect research ethical culture (read more in the full project description (pdf.))

In this project we aim to map the prevalence of certain practices, as well as knowledge of and attitudes towards these practices. Furthermore, we seek insight into certain institutional and cultural factors that might promote good research ethical culture.

The aim of the study is threefold:

(1) to map out the prevalence of and attitudes to certain types of research misconduct, including questionable research practices;

(2) to gain insights into researchers’ knowledge of and attitudes to research integrity; and

(3) to map out possible causal drivers behind misconduct and to suggest factors that may promote research integrity. 

 

Methodology and data collection

The project consists of three methodological components:

  1. Literature review

Review of current literature on research integrity.

   2.  Quantitative study

Questionnaires will be distributed to the scientific employees/staff at all Norwegian universities, university colleges and research institutes.

    3.  Qualitative study

Qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews and focus groups will be conducted with a sample of relevant actors in the Norwegian research environment and R&D institutions. 


Data will be collected from all Norwegian universities, university colleges and research institutes. A total of approximately 30,000 researchers will receive an electronic invitation to participate in the survey. This number more or less totals the number of all academic researchers in Norway. The sample selections in the other follow-up studies will include:

  1. Scientific employees (including Ph.D.-candidates)
  2. Leaders
  3. Research administrative employees
  4. Members from Research ethics committees and integrity offices

For further information, please see the project description.