Responsible conduct of research

24.5.2018

In order for research to be ethically acceptable and reliable and for its results to be credible, the research must be conducted according to the responsible conduct of research.

In order for research to be ethically acceptable and reliable and for its results to be credible, the research must be conducted according to the responsible conduct of research. Applying the guidelines for the responsible conduct of research within the research community constitutes a form of self-regulation that is bound by legislation. Furthermore, the responsible conduct of research is an integral part of the quality assurance of research organisations.

Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland

The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK has formulated the guidelines for the responsible conduct of research and for handling alleged violations of conduct (the RCR guidelines) in co-operation with the Finnish research community.

The objective is to promote the responsible conduct of research (hyvä tieteellinen käytäntö, HTK, in Finnish) while ensuring that the alleged violations are handled with competence, fairness and expediency.

The effectiveness of these guidelines is based on a voluntary commitment by the research community to adhere to them. The RCR guidelines apply to all academic disciplines in Finland, and a list of the organisations committed to these guidelines can be found on TENK’s website.

Promoting the responsible conduct of research and handling alleged violations are primarily the responsibility of the organisations conducting research. When alleged  misconduct has been reported and the report has been finalised by the organisation, the party dissatisfied with the ruling may request a statement from TENK.

The premises for the responsible conduct of research

From the point of view of research integrity, the premises for the responsible conduct of research are the following:

  • The research follows the principles that are endorsed by the research community, that is, integrity, meticulousness, and accuracy in conducting research, and in recording, presenting, and evaluating the research results.
  • The methods applied for data acquisition as well as for research and evaluation, conform to scientific criteria and are ethically sustainable. When publishing the research results, the results are communicated in an open and responsible fashion that is intrinsic to the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
  • The researcher takes due account of the work and achievements of other researchers by respecting their work, citing their publications appropriately, and by giving their achievements the credit and weight they deserve in carrying out the researcher’s own research and publishing its results.
  • The researcher complies with the standards set for scientific knowledge in planning and conducting the research, in reporting the research results and in recording the data obtained during the research.
  • The necessary research permits have been acquired and the preliminary ethical review that is required for certain fields of research has been conducted.
  • Before beginning the research or recruiting the researchers, all parties within the research project or team (the employer, the principal investigator, and the team members) agree on the researchers’ rights, responsibilities, and obligations, principles concerning authorship, and questions concerning archiving and accessing the data. These agreements may be further specified during the course of the research.
  • Sources of financing, conflicts of interest or other commitments relevant to the conduct of research are announced to all members of the research project and reported when publishing the research results.
  • Researchers refrain from all research-related evaluation and decision-making situations, when there is reason to suspect a conflict of interest.
  • The research organisation adheres to good personnel and financial administration practices and takes into account the data protection legislation.

In addition, researchers also need to comply with the practices listed above when working as teachers or instructors, when applying for research positions or for research funding, as well as when functioning as experts in their field both inside and outside the research community.

Besides research activity, the principles of responsible conduct of research apply to teaching materials, written and spoken statements, evaluations, CVs and publication lists, as well as to societal interaction in both printed and electronic publication channels, including the social media.

Each individual researcher and research group member is primarily responsible for complying with the principles of the responsible conduct of research. Nonetheless, the responsibility also rests on the whole research community: research groups and their principal investigators, the directors of research units and the administration of research organisations.


Further information:

Investigation of misconduct in Finland: http://www.tenk.fi/en/investigation-of-misconduct-in-finland
Responsible condict of research: http://www.tenk.fi/en/responsible-conduct-of-research
Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland: http://www.tenk.fi/sites/tenk.fi/files/HTK_ohje_2012.pdf