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Research Integrity

Tilburg University is committed to protecting and guaranteeing scientific integrity.

Standards for good research practices

In this chapter, the principles described earlier are further elaborated into more specific standards for good research practices. These set out what researchers must take into consideration in their work, individually and as a team. They are for the most part presented separately for each individual phase of the research process: design, conduct, reporting, assessment and peer review and communication. The chapter concludes with a number of standards applicable to all phases. In their elaboration and application, the differences between fundamental, applied and practice-oriented research may be relevant.

Design

  1. Consider the interests of science and scholarship and/or society when determining the subject and structure of your research.
  2. Conduct research that can be of scientific, scholarly and/or societal relevance.
  3. Do not make unsubstantiated claims about potential results.
  4. Take into account the latest scientific and scholarly insights.
  5. Make sure that your research design can answer the research question.
  6. Ensure that the methods you employ are well justified.
  7. If the research is conducted on commission and/or funded by third parties, always specify who the commissioning party and/or funding body is.
  8. Be open about the role of external stakeholders and possible conflicts of interest.
  9. In research with external partners, make clear written agreements about research integrity and related matters such as intellectual property rights.
  10. As necessary, describe how the collected research data are organized and classified so that they can be verified and reused.
  11. As far as possible, make research findings and research data public subsequent to completion of the research. If this is not possible, establish valid reasons for their non-disclosure.
    1. In the event of an investigation into alleged research misconduct, make all relevant research and data available for verification subject to the confidentiality safeguards established by the board of the institution.
    2. In highly exceptional cases, there may be compelling reasons for components of the research, including data, not to be disclosed to an investigation into alleged research misconduct. Such cases must be recorded and the consent of the board of the institution must be obtained prior to using the components and/or data in question in the scientific or scholarly research. They must also be mentioned in any results published.
  12. Ensure that the required permissions are obtained and that, where necessary, an ethical review is conducted.
  13. Accept only research assignments that can be undertaken in accordance with the standards in this Code.
  14. Enter into joint research with a partner not affiliated with an institution which has adopted this or a comparable Code only if there is sufficient confidence that your own part of the research can be conducted in compliance with this Code and the joint research results meet generally accepted principles of integrity in research.


Conduct

  1. Conduct your research accurately and with precision.
  2. Employ research methods that are scientific and/or scholarly.
  3. Make sure that the choice of research methods, data analysis, assessment of results and consideration of possible explanations is not determined by non-scientific or non-scholarly (e.g. commercial or political) interests, arguments or preferences.
  4. Do not fabricate data or research results and do not report fabricated material as if it were fact.
  5. Do justice to all research results obtained.
  6. Do not remove or change results without explicit and proper justification. Do not add fabricated data during the data analysis.
  7. Ensure that sources are verifiable.
  8. Describe the data collected for and/or used in your research honestly, scrupulously and as transparently as possible.
  9. Manage the collected data carefully and store both the raw and processed versions for a period appropriate for the discipline and methodology at issue.
  10. Contribute, where appropriate, towards making data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable in accordance with the FAIR principles.
  11. Take into consideration the interests of any humans and animals involved, including test subjects, as well as any risks to the researchers and the environment, while always observing the relevant statutory regulations and codes of conduct.
  12. Keep your own level of expertise up to date.
  13. Take on only those tasks that fall within your area of expertise.

 

Dilemma

As a researcher I have just finished a project on criminal activity in the Netherlands. When a colleague reads my results he tells me that the conclusions make one ethnic group look particularly bad. I agree with him that my outcomes could be used to further stigmatize an ethnic group that already receives a lot of negative media attention. What do I do?
A: I leave the conclusions as they are.: 120 votes (40.27%)
B: I leave the conclusions as they are, but I make sure that, apart from the scientific article, no attention is paid to the results at all.: 41 votes (13.76%)
C: I tone down some of the conclusions.: 25 votes (8.39%)
D: I tone down the conclusions and organize a press conference to give additional information about how the results should be interpreted.: 112 votes (37.58%)
Total Votes: 298

 

Reporting results

  1. Do justice to everyone who contributed to the research and to obtaining and/or processing the data.
  2. Ensure a fair allocation and ordering of authorship, in line with the standards applicable within the discipline(s) concerned.
  3. All authors must have made a genuine intellectual contribution to at least one of the following elements: the design of the research, the acquisition of data, its analysis or the interpretation of findings.
  4. All authors must have approved the final version of the research product.
  5. All authors are fully responsible for the content of the research product, unless otherwise stated.
  6. Present sources, data and arguments in a scrupulous way.
  7. Be transparent about the method and working procedure followed and record them where relevant in research protocols, logs, lab journals or reports. The line of reasoning must be clear and the steps in the research process must be verifiable. This usually means that the research must be described in sufficient detail for it to be possible to replicate the data collection and its analysis.
  8. Be explicit about any relevant unreported data that has been collected in accordance with the research design and could support conclusions different from those reported.
  9. Be clear about results and conclusions, as well as their scope.
  10. Be explicit about uncertainties and contraindications, and do not draw unsubstantiated conclusions.
  11. Be explicit about serious alternative insights that could be relevant to the interpretation of the data and the research results.
  12. When making use of other people’s ideas, procedures, results and text, do justice to the research involved and cite the source accurately.
  13. Avoid unnecessary reuse of previously published texts of which you were the author or co-author.
    1. Be transparent about reuse by citing the original publication.
    2. Such self-citation is not necessary for reuse on a small scale or of introductory passages and descriptions of the method applied.
  14. Always provide references when reusing research material that can be used for meta-analysis or the analysis of pooled data.
  15. Avoid unnecessary references and do not make the bibliography unnecessarily long.
  16. Be open and complete about the role of external stakeholders, commissioning parties, funding bodies, possible conflicts of interest and relevant ancillary activities.
  17. As far as possible, make research findings and research data public subsequent to completion of the research. If this is not possible, establish the valid reasons for this.


Assessment and peer review

  1. Be honest and scrupulous as an assessor or peer reviewer, and explain your assessment.
  2. Do not use information acquired in the context of an assessment without explicit consent.
  3. Do not use the system of peer review to generate additional citations for no apparent reason, with the aim of increasing your own or other people’s citation scores (‘citation pushing’).
  4. Refrain from making an assessment if any doubts could arise regarding your independence (for example, because of possible commercial or financial interests).
  5. Refrain from making an assessment outside your area of expertise, or do so only in general terms.
  6. Be generous in cooperating with internal and external reviews of your own research.
  7. Do not establish a journal that does not apply the required standards of quality to its publications, and do not cooperate with any such journal.

 

Dilemma

I am working as a PhD student and have almost finished my thesis. Within a few months I will start working at another institute on the same type of research. I have just submitted the last chapter of my dissertation to a journal. Yesterday, I received an email from my future boss in which he asks me to provide him with some review suggestions for my own paper. As it happens he is one of the reviewers. In this way, I am better prepared to respond to his review report and can increase the chance of acceptance. For both of us it will be good to have the manuscript accepted in a prestigious journal, as it will boost my career and increase the chances for getting grants together with my future boss. What do I do?
A: I tell my supervisor about the email and let it depend on him what to do.: 23 votes (7.82%)
B: It is very important for my career to get the article published, so I send an email with some suggestions to my future boss.: 5 votes (1.7%)
C: I thank my future boss for his help, but I tell him that I cannot accept the offer.: 216 votes (73.47%)
D: I contact the editor of the journal about the offer of the reviewer.: 50 votes (17.01%)
Total Votes: 294

 

Communication

  1. Be honest in public communication and clear about the limitations of the research and your own expertise. Only communicate to the general public about the research results if there is sufficient certainty about them.
  2. Be open and honest about your role in the public debate and about the nature and status of your participation in it.
  3. Be open and honest about potential conflicts of interest.


Standards that are applicable to all phases of research

  1. As a supervisor, principal investigator, research director or manager, provide for an open and inclusive culture in all phases of research.
  2. As a supervisor, principal investigator, research director or manager, refrain from any action which might encourage a researcher to disregard any of the standards in this chapter.
  3. Do not delay or hinder the work of other researchers in an inappropriate manner.
  4. Call attention to other researchers’ non-compliance with the standards as well as inadequate institutional responses to non-compliance, if there is sufficient reason for doing so.
  5. In addressing research misconduct, make no accusation that you know or should have known to be incorrect.
  6. Do not make improper use of research funds.