15 October 2020

Radboudumc participates in the National Survey on Research Integrity (NSRI), which is being distributed to nearly 40,000 researchers in the Netherlands starting today. The survey seeks to sketch a picture of the issues that can foster or hinder research integrity, such as open science practices, competitiveness, trust in published studies, work pressure, and questionable and responsible research practices. Please fill out the survey!

The survey seeks to sketch as accurate and complete a picture as possible of the issues that can foster or hinder research integrity, such as open science practices, competitiveness, trust in published studies, work pressure, and questionable and responsible research practices.

“We are living in a time when scientific research and outcomes are essential to making decisions that affect the general population and our country’s welfare,” said professor Lex Bouter, project leader for the NSRI. “There is much at stake, and it is imperative that those who are relying on science can also trust our research practices.”

The NSRI is part of and receives funding from the Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) programme, underwritten by the Dutch ZonMw to conduct “research about research.” ZonMw and its partners are investing a total of 3.8 million euros over five years to realise the four projects, of which the NSRI is one of, in the FRRP programme.

According to FRRP: “By means of the NSRI, we will gain insight into the nature and causes of questionable research practices. The results will be used to implement substantiated improvements.”

Why research integrity – and why now?

“Different to ethics, research integrity generally refers to the principles and standards whose purpose it is to ensure validity and trustworthiness of research,” according to Gowri Gopalakrishna, the post-doc researcher on the NSRI team. “It has become an urgent topic not only in the Netherlands, but also worldwide, especially with the open science movement.”

Accelerated scientific publishing during the Covid-19 pandemic is an example that Bouter, Gopalakrishna and their team have cited as a reason to bring research integrity topics to the front of researchers’ attention, noting that the first four months of the pandemic resulted in much more related scientific publishing than in 2003 with the outbreak of SARS.

“The rapidly increasing number of publications combined with the urgency to quickly understand the new pathogen presents a significant challenge for maintaining the integrity of the underlying evidence base, and to ensure that research is conducted according to global
standards of research integrity,” Gopalakrishna and Bouter argue in a commentary written in June 2020 for British Medical Journal Opinion (1).

The NSRI: scope and results

The NSRI will be distributed by email, via an external research agency, to all academic researchers in the Netherlands beginning on October 15, 2020. Due to the high sensitivity of some topics, the survey will use a technique known as the Randomised Response (RR), which has been shown to elicit more honest answers around sensitive topics. More information about this methodology can be found at https://youtu.be/vvcaziHteAI.

Using the NSRI results, concrete action plans will be developed to strengthen the quality of scientific research, co-created with key stakeholders and in collaboration with an organisation specialised in implementing change.

The first results of the survey are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2021. Once the data have been analysed, the outcomes from the NSRI will be available through preprints, other Open Access publications and through (inter)national conferences. For more information, please see http://www.nsri2020.nl/

 

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