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Research Integrity

Tilburg University is committed to protecting and guaranteeing scientific integrity.

Institutions’ duties of care

Institutions provide a working environment that promotes and safeguards good research practices. They ensure that researchers can work in a safe, inclusive and open environment where they feel responsible and accountable, can share concerns about dilemmas and can discuss errors made without fearing the consequences (‘blame-free reporting’). These obligations on the part of institutions are duties of care. Institutions must fulfil these duties so that researchers can and, in fact, do observe the standards for good research practices. Many of these duties of care apply to distinct levels within an institution, engendering further obligations for personnel working at various levels, particularly supervisors, principal investigators, research directors, managers and executive board members.

Training and supervision
  1. Raise awareness about research integrity within the organization and, where necessary, provide or facilitate training courses for researchers, support staff, research leaders and research managers.
  2. Embed a focus on research integrity firmly in educational activities of higher education institutions.
  3. Provide a working environment in which responsible research practices are facilitated.
  4. Ensure that new researchers and PhD students are supervised by suitably qualified persons.
  5. Ensure transparent and fair procedures for appointments, promotions and remuneration.

 

Dilemma

As part of my PhD I would like to write an article with a professor other than my supervisor. I think I can learn a lot from working with someone else and it is also preferable for my career to collaborate with different universities and publish in international journals. When I discuss the idea with my supervisor he lets me know that the professor in question is not suitable at all and that there is no need to collaborate with other universities. I know my supervisor personally dislikes the professor I would like to work with, but I am afraid that ignoring his opinion may influence the way he assesses my dissertation. Although a competent researcher, my supervisor is not a very accessible person who sometimes makes radical choices that I do not understand. What do I do?
A: I refrain from writing an article with this particular professor.: 32 votes (11.39%)
B: I tell my supervisor why I think he does not want me to work with the professor. If he confirms my suspicion I refrain from writing the article.: 41 votes (14.59%)
C: I decide to write the article with the other professor but make sure that it is only published after my dissertation is approved and assessed.: 47 votes (16.73%)
D: I tell my supervisor that I don’t want to be restrained by his personal feelings and will write the article.: 161 votes (57.3%)
Total Votes: 281

 

Research culture
  1. Ensure compliance with all relevant statutory regulations, codes of conduct, instructions and protocols.
  2. Encourage a research culture in which the standards [of good research practices] are embedded and take measures if there are signs that they are not being complied with or there is a risk that this will occur.
  3. Provide clear instructions, protocols and other means to support researchers and to help them understand what constitutes good research practice within their discipline(s) and institution.
  4. Take appropriate measures to prevent non-compliance with the standards. For example, monitor the quality and intensity of the supervision of starting researchers such as PhD students as well as the composition of PhD committees.
  5. Provide an open, safe and inclusive research culture in which researchers:
    1. discuss the standards for good research practices,
    2. hold each other accountable for compliance with the standards, and
    3. are prepared to report any reasonable suspicion of non-compliance to the committee or officer referred to in 21 below or a confidential counsellor as referred to in 20 below.

Dilemma

As a PhD student I am co-authoring an article with an experienced senior researcher who is known as an expert on the topic. Our article has just been reviewed and one of the reviewers questions our methodology. We both know that there are some weak points in our methodology, but since only one of the reviewers mentions it the senior researcher argues that we do not have to make any profound changes for the article to be accepted. In an earlier discussion we had on the topic I agreed on following the methodology proposed by the senior even though I had my doubts. What do I do?
A: I agree with the senior’s point of view and only make some minor changes in the description of our methodology.: 13 votes (4.8%)
B: I ask my supervisor to convince the senior researcher that we have to make profound changes. If he does not succeed I go with the senior’s point of view.: 31 votes (11.44%)
C: I make a plea for profound changes and if they are rejected by the senior researcher I refrain from coauthoring.: 147 votes (54.24%)
D: I make a plea for profound changes and if they are rejected by the senior researcher I acquiesce to the senior’s point of view.: 80 votes (29.52%)
Total Votes: 271

 

Data management
  1. Provide a research infrastructure in which good data management is the rule and is facilitated.
  2. Ensure that, as far as possible, data, software codes, protocols, research material and corresponding metadata can be stored permanently.
  3. Ensure that all data, software codes and research materials, published or unpublished, are managed and securely stored for the period appropriate to the discipline(s) and methodology concerned.
  4. . Ensure that, in accordance with the FAIR principles, data is open and accessible to the extent possible and remains confidential to the extent necessary.
  5. Ensure that it is clear how data, software codes and research material can be accessed.

Publication and dissemination
  1. Ensure that contracts with commissioning parties and funding bodies include fair agreements about access to and the publication of data and research material.
  2. Ensure that the public communication of research results is performed scrupulously.

Ethical norms and procedures
  1. Undertake ethical reviews where necessary; for example, by setting up one or more ethical committees and providing them with adequate support. These committees can provide researchers with binding or non-binding advice on issues such as the use and treatment of patients, human and animal test subjects, the possible risks of publishing data, the use of human tissue, risks to the environment or cultural heritage and potential conflicts of interest.
  2. On the institution’s website, publish information about its policy with regard to the registration and disclosure of relevant ancillary activities, positions and interests, including the measures in place to implement that policy.
  3. Appoint and support easily accessible confidential counsellors for research integrity.
  4. Appoint a committee or officer to consider complaints as referred to in the next section.