The backbone of research
"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.", - Dr. Samuel Johnson, English writer 1709-1784
Integrity without knowledge is weak Scientific integrity is the backbone of research. Integrity is breached if, e.g., research data are falsified or manipulated, if the researcher intentionally misleads colleagues or other stakeholders, or if Intellectual Property Rights are exploited improperly. But a breach of integrity may be much more subtle than this. Researchers within Radboudumc are responsible for keeping up a high standard of integrity, and consequently the reputation of the Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, the Donders Institute, Radboud University and Radboudumc.
To this end, several reports and guidelines have been issued. The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice by the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) was adopted by Radboud University and Radboudumc (available in Dutch and English).
COREON (Committee of Regulation in Health Research) has drawn up the Code of Conduct for Health Research. This is a Dutch handbook for the use of (anonymous) personal data during scientific research.
The Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) installed the Netherlands Board on Scientific Integrity (LOWI) which serves as an advisory panel for Executive Boards of universities where suspected breaches in integrity have occurred.
To evaluate suspected breaches, Radboud University itself issued a special regulation on scientific integrity (available in Dutch and English). The present regulations apply both to any research performed at Radboud University and to any scientific research performed at Radboudumc.
Claims of a suspected breach of integrity can be discussed with a confidant. Prof. Bart Kiemeney, Prof. Dorine Swinkels and Prof. Hannie Kremer function as confidential advisors scientific integrity. PhD candidates can also choose to contact their mentor.
Relevant links with regard to scientific integrity
Principals of good scientific practiceAlthough dishonesty in science cannot be fully prevented through sets of rules alone, appropriate precautions can nevertheless guarantee that all those involved in scientific activity are regularly made aware of the standards of good scientific practice. read more
Principals of good scientific practiceThe principles of good scientific practice can be violated in many ways - from a lack of care in the application of scientific methods or in documenting data, to serious scientific misconduct through deliberate falsification or deceit. All such violations are irreconcilable with the essence of science itself as a methodical, systematic process of research aimed at gaining knowledge based on verifiable results. Although dishonesty in science cannot be fully prevented through sets of rules alone, appropriate precautions can nevertheless guarantee that all those involved in scientific activity are regularly made aware of the standards of good scientific practice.
ExcellenceThe Radboudumc and its researchers should strive for excellence when conducting research and aim to produce and disseminate work of the highest quality.
HonestyThe Radboudumc aims to create and maintain a culture of research that fosters and supports honesty in research. Scientists should be honest in relation to their own research and that of others. They should do their utmost to ensure the accuracy of data and results, acknowledge the contributions of others, and neither engage in misconduct nor conceal it.
IntegrityThe Radboudumc and its scientists must comply with all legal and ethical requirements relevant to their field of study. They should declare any potential or actual conflicts of interest relating to research and where necessary take steps to resolve them.
Co-operationThe Radboudumc and its scientists should promote the open exchange of ideas, research methods, data and results and their discussion, scrutiny and debate, subject to any considerations of confidentiality.
AccountabilityThe Radboudumc and its scientists should recognise that in and through their work they are ultimately accountable to the general public and should act accordingly. They should ensure that any research undertaken complies with any agreements, terms and conditions relating to the project, and allows for proper governance and transparency.
Training and skillsThe Radboudumc should provide training and opportunities for development for its researchers, and the necessary resources to enable them to conduct research to the required standards. The Radboudumc should support scientists in identifying unmet needs for training and development. Scientists should ensure that they have the necessary skills, training and resources to carry out research, in the proposed research team or through collaboration with specialists in relevant fields, and report and resolve any unmet needs identified.
SafetyThe Radboudumc and its scientists should ensure the dignity, rights, safety and wellbeing of all involved in research and avoid unreasonable risk or harm to research subjects, patients, participants, researchers and others. They should report and address any concerns relating to the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of those involved in research. Research should be initiated and continued only if the anticipated benefits justify the risks involved.
General statement regarding misconduct in researchAny misconduct in research conducted at Radboudumc is unacceptable and should be reported to the contact person for scientific integrity issues. Scientists who are found to have committed misconduct in research will be subject to disciplinary proceedings. Scientists who are found not to have committed misconduct will be supported and appropriate steps taken to restore their reputation and that of any relevant research project.
Research Integrity RoundsWe organize 3 Research Integrity Rounds each year. All students, PhD candidates and senior researchers are invited to attend these events. The Research Integrity Rounds are aimed at both students and researchers, especially for the interaction between these future and already experienced scientists. read more
Role of the confidential advisors scientific integrityRadboudumc has appointed three experienced scientists as confidential advisors scientific integrity in the case of suspicion of scientific misconduct or related matters. read more
Role of the confidential advisors scientific integrity
- Any employee at the Radboudumc can confidentially inform one of the confidential advisors scientific integrity in case of suspicion of scientific misconduct or related matters. Naturally, PhD candidates can also choose to contact their mentors. The information that a PhD candidate shares with his/her mentor is also strictly confidential.
- The confidential advisor scientific integrity is there to advise those who approach him/her on the steps to take. The confidential advisor scientific integrity will NOT follow-up on the case, i.e., he/she will not examine the plausibility of the allegations with regard to accuracy and relevance. The confidential advisor scientific integrity will keep complete confidentiality to protect the complainant and the individual or party against whom the allegation has been made.
- The confidential advisor scientific integrity may refer the complainant to one of the confidential advisors on academic integrity (Dutch: vertrouwenspersonen wetenschappelijke integriteit) who further investigates the allegation.
- The confidential advisors scientific integrity advise the RIMLS, RIHS and DCMN scientific directors on all relevant matters related to good scientific practice and scientific conduct and provide a yearly written report including anonymized statistics on consultations.
- The confidential advisors scientific integrity provide information regarding scientific conduct for all Radboudumc personnel. For example, they participate in the mandatory PhD course on scientific integrity.