New Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

The new version of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is published today. The Code of Conduct will enter into force on 1 October 2018. Erasmus University Rotterdam is currently working on the duties of care that are part of the new code.

Recently, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Associated Applied Research Institutes (TO2), Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) worked together intensively to thoroughly amend and expand the Code of Conduct that has been in use since 2004.

The amendment process, which included a public consultation, was led by a committee chaired by Prof. Keimpe Algra: “Research integrity is essential if research is to be conducted properly. This new Code of Conduct ensures that the Netherlands keeps up with international developments regarding research integrity. I am proud that we have drawn up a Code of Conduct that applies to fundamental, applied, and practice-oriented research. This new Code of Conduct describes clear standards that researchers in many research organizations can apply to their daily practices”.

Striking elements

Compared with the previous version, a number of striking elements of the new Code of Conduct are as follows:

•             The new Code of Conduct is written in such a way that it can apply to both public and public-private scientific and scholarly research in the Netherlands.

•             The Code of Conduct specifically allows for collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches, as it takes into account the differences between different institutions. The Code of Conduct defines five principles of research integrity and 61 standards for good research practices and duties of care for the institutions.

•             The institutions’ duties of care are new additions to this Code of Conduct. With these, the research organizations show that they are responsible for providing a working environment that promotes and safeguards good research practices.

•             Moreover, the new Code of Conduct for Research Integrity distinguishes between research misconduct, questionable research practices, and minor shortcomings.

•             The final chapter describes how an institution must address potential research misconduct.

•             On the one hand, the Code of Conduct grants institutions adequate scope to deliver a balanced verdict regarding potential research misconduct, while on the other hand it explicitly states the criteria that play a role in such a scenario.

The final point clearly shows how the Code of Conduct should be viewed: as a helping hand that researchers and institutions can and will apply themselves. Committee member Prof. Lex Bouter says, “This Code of Conduct is a way for participating organizations to demonstrate that integrity is an essential part of their research practice. We want researchers to be able to work in an open environment in which they feel responsible and accountable. Science and scholarship can only develop further if people can share concerns about dilemmas and discuss errors made. This Code of Conduct is our contribution to that thought.”

Implementation at Erasmus University Rotterdam

At Erasmus University, a plan has been outlined for the various components of our duties of care as an institution. It is about facilitating researchers in such a way that they can easily act in accordance with the new code of conduct. In particular training and supervision, research culture, data management, disclosure and dissemination and ethical standards and procedures.

This plan is now being worked out and will be implemented the coming months. EUR has already worked hard on a number of themes from the new code. These initiatives are of course continued.

For more info, check the press release of VSNU.