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Nature Comment: Research integrity: nine ways to move from talk to walk

Research integrity is vital for good research. How to make it an inseparable part of research culture takes more than having rules and procedures in place. The EU Horizon 2020 project Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI) has found three areas and nine topics of focus in the first phases of the project explained in the Nature Comment. Leiden University researchers Andrea Reyes Elizondo and Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner contributed to this comment.

A total of four types of studies

During the first phases of the project, firm consensus was found on the nine topics of focus. These proved to have a match in local, national and European statements, declarations, and codes about research integrity. In order to find the topics, the partners of the consortium carried out the following studies:   

  • A round of 23 expert interviews that included researchers, educators (lecturers, professors), policy makers, members of research integrity committees, and individuals involved in research from industry and funding organisations;
  • Two scoping reviews of literature related to best practices for research integrity promotion and factors influencing the implementation of research integrity practices, with documents such as existing procedures and guidelines;
  • A Delphi survey study involving 69 research-integrity policymakers;
  • A modelling of research culture covering the natural, social and biomedical sciences, and the humanities.

Online toolbox

In an additional study, 30 focus groups from across Europe (covering different disciplines) were organised, to hear from researchers, managers, and funders what is lacking on research integrity plans or implementation at their institutions. These interviews helped to prioritise the topics for the procedures and guidelines found in the earlier phases of the project .

The results of these first phases of the project formed the basis to build an online toolbox, to assist research organisations to help bridge the gap between talks, codes and guidelines, and putting these into practice. There is now a first version available which will be improved by co-creation with all relevant stakeholders to make sure it helps the research community, not give them more work.

The comment published in Nature provides ideas and concrete examples on how institutions can introduce plans and procedures for research integrity, based on the project’s findings so far. The consortium SOPs4RI invites researchers and managers to check the resources available and to share views, concerns, examples of best practices and any other input in order to improve the final version of the toolbox.

Members SOPs4RI consortium

The SOPs4RI consortium is formed by:

  • the Amsterdam UMC,
  • the School of Medicine in Split (HR),
  • the University of Essex (UK),
  • the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity (AU),
  • the National Technical University of Athens (GR),
  • the Irish Health Research Board (IE),
  • KU Leuven (BE),
  • the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK),
  • EARMA - European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EU),
  • the University of Trento (IT),
  • the University of Warsaw (PL),
  • and Leiden University (CWTS)
  • under the lead of Aarhus University (DK).
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