The Dilemma Game App of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) has won an award from the Council of Europe as Best Practice for promoting scientific integrity. For years the Dilemma Game was played as a card game and in 2020 the game was digitised. The app has successfully reached a larger audience outside the EUR: it has been downloaded more than 10,000 times in various countries.
"We know that the app is used by people in all kinds of countries, from Wales to Japan," says Mathieu van Kooten, policy officer at Academic Affairs and coordinator of the app's development at the time. "And the reactions are very positive. The app is frequently used for courses on integrity, especially with PhD candidates, and for meetings of teams or departments that want to discuss dilemmas."
So now there is the prize from the Council of Europe (CoE), a pan-European human rights organisation, out of 46 entries from 23 countries. Van Kooten and his colleague Nick den Hollander presented the Dilemma Game App in front of the CoE in Strasbourg on 7 December and subsequently received the prize. The jury was enthusiastic and praiseful. Van Kooten: "What they found particularly special is that it is an open shared resource, and that it is used in all kinds of countries by different organisations." The app was developed in-house by an IT team from EUR.
Developing a moral compass
The Dilemma Game confronts researchers with difficult dilemmas and helps them to further develop their 'moral compass'. Consider questions such as: may I omit specific observations from my research? Or: do I agree to my colleague co-authoring a publication to which she has added little? The game can be played individually or in groups. The participants make their own choice for each dilemma and then the votes appear on the screen.
Anonymous and structured
"An advantage of the app is that the participants can choose anonymously and the discussion is structured," explains Muel Kaptein. As professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, he was the initiator of the app's development. "Moreover, after going through the selected dilemmas, the group gets all kinds of instructive statistical information about the group dynamics and patterns in the answers, from which the group can learn. And every month a new dilemma becomes available in the app. This way, users are constantly reminded of the importance of integrity and the attention to integrity is spread over time." In addition, users can propose dilemmas themselves, which means that the new dilemmas are also always up to date.
Integrity must be organised
That attention to integrity is essential in the academic world is beyond dispute: "Integrity is a core value of universities. Without integrity there is no science and no education," says Kaptein. "However, integrity is not self-evident and you have to organise it as a university. There are all kinds of policies, procedures and rules for that. But the most important thing is a culture of integrity where staff and students are aware of what integrity entails, and are willing and able to go for it."
Integrity requires reflection and an open culture
"As rector, but also as ethicist, I am extremely proud of the EUR Dilemma Game App!", reacts Annelien Bredenoord, rector magnificus of Erasmus University Rotterdam. "Integrity is by no means always black or white, but requires reflection and an open culture. It is crucial for doing science well. Therefore, the game is not only important for the EUR, but for all scientists who can get to work with integrity in this way. My congratulations to the creators."
New EUR integrity code
Recently, a new integrity code was developed for staff, both scientific and support staff, and students of Erasmus University Rotterdam. This document does not contain ready-made 'rules', but describes the most important norms and values of the Erasmus community: what do we stand for and how do we treat each other? Not only in relation to each other, but also to the entire academic world and society. The code also provides an overview of the most important integrity provisions, so that you know where to turn if you run into problems.
More information and the new code itself can be found here.