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Research Integrity NWO-I Institutes

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Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
Principles, standards and measures
Confidential counsellors research integrity
Scientific integrity desk
Online training research integrity
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Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

NWO-I believes it is vitally important that scientific research is carried out in an honest, scrupulous, transparent, independent and responsible manner during all research phases. After all, research that lacks integrity can cause damage and harm the trust in science and the trust between scientists or researchers. NWO and NWO-I therefore monitor the quality of the scientific research funded by NWO, and the quality of the scientific research that NWO institutes carry out.

NWO wholeheartedly subscribes to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. With this code of conduct, the Netherlands keeps pace with international developments in scientific integrity. The code is endorsed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), NWO, the TO2 federation, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the Universities of the Netherlands (UVN). These organisations ensure that the NWO Institutes, university medical centres, universities of applied sciences and universities that they represent or that reside under them, subscribe to this code. Other institutions, including private businesses, can subscribe to this code too. For further information, we refer you to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018.

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Principles, standards and measures

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity defines five principles. These principles can be seen as virtues that motivate a good researcher in various research phases (design, realisation, reporting, assessment and peer review and communication) to make the right choices: honesty, scrupulousness, transparency, independence and responsibility.

In this regard, the institution ensures a work environment in which good research practices are duly facilitated and safeguarded. For example, the institution ensures that researchers can work in a safe, inclusive and open environment, in which they feel responsible and accountable, can share dilemmas and discuss mistakes made without having to be afraid for the consequences (blame-free reporting). The duties of care concern the training and supervision, research culture, data management, publication and dissemination, and ethical standardisation and procedures.

Failure to comply with the standards has a detrimental effect on professional responsibilities. This harms the research process and the relationship between researchers, and possibly the confidence in and credibility of the research too. The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity distinguishes between violations of scientific integrity, questionable behaviour and minor shortcomings. The code describes how an institution must deal with potential violations of scientific integrity. The code gives institutions the room to reach a balanced assessment about potential violations of scientific integrity, but it also explicitly states the weighting criteria that play a role in this assessment.

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Confidential counsellors research integrity

NWO-I has two confidential counsellors research integrity: Dr Tanja Kulkens, also Head of Chemistry and Physics at NWO, and Prof Thom Palstra, Professor of Solid State Chemistry and former rector of the University of Twente. Both of them can be reached via vertrouwenspersoonWInwo-i@nwo.nl.

The confidential counsellors research integrity want to be easily accessible for NWO-I employees who have questions or struggle with a dilemma concerning research integrity that they cannot discuss with their immediate colleagues. The confidential counsellors can listen, advise and, if necessary, guide you. In 2022, the two counsellors will visit the NWO institutes to talk with both management and the employees. By doing this, they will make their new role better known so that employees will be able to approach them more easily should that be necessary. With almost 1900 employees, NWO-I is a large organisation where difficult dilemmas will always occur.

Who are Kulkens and Palstra?

Kulkens has been the confidential counsellor for the NWO-I Whistleblowing policy for some time and has now taken on the position of confidential counsellor research integrity too. Though she has no experience with violations of research integrity, the subject of integrity plays an important role in the peer-review process and other activities that she supports and carries out at NWO Domain Science. She is familiar with science as well as researchers, and knows which dilemmas researchers face. Kulkens hopes that it will be possible to bring these dilemmas to light at an early stage.

As rector of the University of Twente, Palstra was responsible for the setting up and design of the House of Integrity. This not only concerns scientific integrity but also ethics committees, a safe (social) work environment and business integrity. During his work for his previous employer, Bell Laboratories, Palstra learned just how important research integrity is: the entire research system there was built on it. Research integrity therefore plays an important role in how Palstra does research and how he supervises students and PhDs.

When should you approach the confidential counsellors?

The confidential counsellors can be approached via vertrouwenspersoonWInwo-i@nwo.nl, if you have concerns about violations of research integrity. They can provide substantive and procedural advice, for example, if it is not clear whether a certain case indeed represents a violation of research integrity and what could be done about this. They can also, where necessary, provide supervision during the formulation of a complaint. You are guaranteed complete confidentiality if you approach the confidential adviser(s). Subsequent actions will only take place if the employee who took the initiative provides consent for this to the confidential adviser(s).

Thom Palstra and Tanja Kulkens: ‘Consider it your own responsibility to actively deal with research integrity issues but remember to contact us if you cannot work things out!’

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Scientific Integrity Desk

NWO-I has its own Scientific Integrity NWO-I Institutes Complaints Procedure, which applies to complaints about (suspected) violations of scientific integrity by an NWO-I employee.

You can submit complaints about a (suspected) violation of scientific integrity by an NWO-I employee to our Scientific Integrity Desk via meldpuntWI-NWO-I@nwo.nl.

Everyone can submit a complaint about a suspected violation of scientific integrity via this service desk to the confidential adviser scientific integrity. If a complaint does not lead to a solution, then it will be submitted to the scientific integrity committee, which will investigate the complaint and issue a recommendation. Based on this recommendation, the NWO-I Foundation Board will establish an initial judgement. This initial judgement can be submitted by the complainant and/or alleged perpetrator to the National Board for Research Integrity (Dutch acronym LOWI).

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Online training research integrity

NWO-I wants their trainee researchers to keep aware of research integrity in daily practice. Discussing integrity is essential as it contributes to an open, safe and inclusive research culture in which good scientific practices are ensured. NWO-I therefore offers 4 online modules to combine with the Dilemma Game App. This training is  for all NWO-I PhD students and researchers in the first year of their appointment. It is part of the NWO-I training programme for PhD students.

You will find more information about this training here.

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Read more

On the NWO website, you can read more about how the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity was developed and revised.

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