National Research Integrity Landscape
The Czech Republic does not have a national commission on research integrity with competence over all university and non-university research institutions. This country report describes the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the Czech Academy of Sciences which is the leading non-university public research institution in the Czech Republic with research institutes all over the country, dealing with cases on research misconduct within its institution and affiliated institutes. Besides, all public universities have a commission for scientific integrity as well to deal with cases of research misconduct within their institution.
The Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS)
The Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) was established by Act No. 283/1992 Coll. as the Czech successor of the former Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. The CAS is set up as a complex of 54 public research institutions. It does not function as the supreme learned society which is in the hands of the Learend Society of the Czech Republic. The supreme self-governing body of the CAS is the Academy Assembly. The executive body of the Academy is the Academy Council headed by the President of the CAS. The Council for Sciences is primarily engaged in setting science policy of the Academy. The Academy employs over 9,000 employees, more than a half of whom are researchers. It carries out fundamental and strategic applied research in three scientific divisions (I) Mathematics, Physics and Earth Sciences (II) Life and Chemical Sciences, and (III) Humanities and Social Sciences. Its institutes are engaged in university education in general and PhD studies in particular. The CAS is financed from the state budget. Supplementary sources of income include funds from grant agencies on the basis of competition with scientific projects, and from abroad in particular from the EU. The general consultancy on good scientific practice on the national level in the Czeck Republic is done, for example, by the Czech Bioethical Commission of the Research and Development Council and on the local level by advisory ethical commissions of the association of (27) public universities.
The Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS
In 2002, the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the Czech Academy of Sciences was established by the Council for Sciences of the CAS. It was established as a collegial body. It operates independently of all other organs of the CAS and its institutes.
The Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is governed by the Statutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Code of Ethics for Researchers of the Czech Academy of Sciences (also Code of Ethics), and the (2017 revised) European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. The Code of Ethics is for internal use and was prepared by the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS and approved by the Academy Council in 2006. It includes a framework of principles of good scientific practice, including the method of resolving cases of violation by researchers of principles of the Code of Ethics and/or of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. All research institutes of the CAS have implemented both codes.
Mission(s) and tasks
The mission of the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is to promote good scientific practice and resolve correctable violations of scientific conduct in first or second instance, occurring within the CAS or its institutes. It is also authorized to mediate in cases. It does not organize or give trainings but the Commission’s members participate at the educational programmes of the CAS for PhD students.
The mandate of the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is to examine, conclude, resolve (by eventually mediating) on suspected cases of research misconduct within the CAS or its institutes. The Commission cannot impose sanctions, however, its conclusions are referred to executive bodies of the CAS which – in cases of research misconduct – decide about the sanctions.
The Commission for the Scientific Integrity consists of 12 (Czech) member experts (including a chair who presides the confidential sessions). The members all have voting rights and represent the three scientific divisions of the CAS, three of them are from other institutions. All are appointed by the Council for Sciences of the CAS for a 4-years-term to a maximum of 8 years.
Scope and remit
The scope of the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is restricted to the CAS and its institutes. Its remit is restricted to research misconduct committed by the employed researchers of the CAS and its institutes; a motion, however, can be done by anybody. The Commission for Scientific Integrity of the CAS does not accept anonymous enquiries.
According to Article VII of the Code of Ethics, possible violations of the fundamentals of proper conduct in science shall be resolved at an organisational level, always one level higher than that in which a dispute arose. In such cases the Institutes may establish ad hoc commissions at the respective level to resolve such a dispute. The violation in question shall be resolved by the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS (i) in first instance, if the resolution of a dispute exceeds the competence of the Institute of the CAS (e.g. in case of involvement of two institutes), or (ii) in second instance, if parties to the dispute do not agree with the conclusions adopted by the Institute of the CAS. The enquiry with the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS must be in writing under (i) by the Institute of the CAS, and (ii) by the party who disagrees with the conclusions adopted by the Institute of the CAS. All involved must commit to strict confidentiality. In examining a case, the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS will request information of the parties involved by e-mails, letters, telephone communication and at the end by personal interviews with the parties involved. A report of the resolution of the dispute must be circulated to all participants and must include measures leading to rectifying the problem if the violation of the ethics of scientific misconduct was involved. Where the professional expertise of the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is insufficient, it will request confidential support from external referees. Based on the information provided, it will come to a report on the resolution of the dispute.
Definition of research misconduct
Article VII of the Code of Ethics states that the following are considered to be conduct incompatible with the fundamentals of ethical conduct in science: ‘fraud, forgery, plagiarism, falsification, distortion, deliberate deception and theft, namely in any phase of the process of scientific-research work from the plan to the publication of the results.’
Follow-up and monitoring
Follow-up and monitoring on sanctions or measures taken, takes place by the research institution in question which imposed these on the person accused of research misconduct.
Conclusions and appeal
The conclusions of the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS are based on the Code of Ethics for Researchers of the Czech Academy of Sciences (also Code of Ethics), and the (2017 revised version of the) European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Its report on the resolution of the dispute must include measures leading to rectifying the problem if the violation of ethics of scientific conduct was involved. The Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS is not bound by time limits in writing its report on the resolution of the dispute. Its reports on the resolution of the dispute, including measures leading to rectifying the problem are binding. The report is sent to all parties involved. Appeal from it is not possible: the Commission for the Scientific Integrity of the CAS operates as the highest instance within the CAS, dealing with research misconduct cases. If sanctions under labour law were applied by the institutes of the CAS, appeal would be possible to the court.
The CAS publishes its Annual Reports as from 2003 on its website, in the Czech and the English language. The same applies for its Code of Ethics. In its Annual Report of 2003 it is mentioned that ‘In 2002, the Academy established a new body for ethical issues – Commission for Scientific Integrity’. The sessions of the Commission for Scientific Integrity, however, are all confidential and in these Annual Reports there is no mentioning of its work, the number or nature of its cases. However, the Commission for the Scientific Integrity must submit its own Annual Reports to the Council for Sciences.
Last update: May 2019