Research integrity (RI) committees contribute to responsible research conduct as the basis of research behavior, and play a role in dealing with cases of research misconduct and fostering research integrity among different research institutions (1).
Research integrity committees usually serve as a base of knowledge for questions regarding research integrity and research misconduct. The importance of the RI committee lies in its responsibility in promoting research integrity, i.e. providing advice for researchers on how to adhere to the responsible conduct of research. This is usually done by guidelines, checklists and other documents in which good research practices are presented. Moreover, RI committees are responsible for dealing with cases of research misconduct and they should be notified if an alleged case of research misconduct has occurred. By performing these actions, RI committees contribute to better science and the prevention of research misconduct.
PhD Students, Researchers, Research institutions, Supervisors, Postdocs, Universities, Funders, Junior researchers, Senior researchers
The organizational structures of RI committees and their responsibilities regarding cases of research misconduct may vary. In some countries, RI committees (or commissions) are established at the national level, hence their responsibility is to handle cases of research misconduct, or serve as an advisory body, for all research institutions within state borders (e.g. National Commission for Research Integrity-Luxembourg, Finnish National Board on Research Integrity, Danish Committee on Research Misconduct (DCRM), Commission for Research Integrity-Austria, French Office for Scientific Integrity, Netherlands Board on Research Integrity). For example, the Danish law on research misconduct stipulates the responsibility of the DCRM to handle the cases of research misconduct, while each institution has a responsibility to process cases of questionable research practices.
Some RI committees are established as a part of research integrity organisations, providing training and other educational activities for researchers (e.g. the Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity, the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity).
In some countries, dealing with cases of research misconduct is the responsibility of research institutions and institution-based committees as there is no national body to handle investigations and process cases of misconduct. An example of the latter is Sweden, where each research institution is responsible for conducting an investigation of research misconduct and to impose a sanction.
All these RI bodies, both at the national and institutional level, are doing important work in the field of research integrity promotion and guiding researchers with the principles of good scientific practices. There are numerous documents, issued by RI bodies and committees in the form of guidelines and checklist, as well as documents describing committees’ procedures when dealing with misconduct allegations. Some European examples are: Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice by the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity, FNR Research Integrity Guidelines, Guidelines for the Investigation of Misconduct (by the Irish National Forum), Roadmap for Scientific Integrity 2020 (OFIS), Integrity and responsibility in research practices (CNRS-CPU), Scientific integrity guideline(CNRS), TENK Guidelines.
1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.