Country Report Luxembourg
Luxembourg has a national institutional structure in the Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity (LARI). LARI’s member organisations on the local level cannot assess or give opinions on research misconduct. LARI’s Commission for Research Integrity has the exclusive authority to investigate, to give opinions and to mediate in alleged cases of research misconduct.
In December 2016, a national institutional structure for research integrity was voluntarily and jointly established, the Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity (LARI), by Luxembourg’s main research funding agency in basic research: the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), the only public university in Luxembourg: Université du Luxembourg (UL), Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER). Luxembourg took Austria as an example in setting up its national institutional structure for research integrity. It, too, was established as a non-profit association with a (1) General Assembly, (2) Board, (3) Administrative Office headed by a Secretary General, and (4) Commission for Research Integrity (CRI). The LARI – through its General Assembly – is authorized to admit other research institutions as member. By the end of April 2019, the LARI has 5 member organisations including its founders. It is financed by membership fees.
The LARI is governed by the Associations Act, LARI’s Statutes, LARI’s Rules of Procedure for the National Commission for Research Integrity (CRI) – which are based on OeAWI’s Rules of Procedure for the Austrian Commission for Research Integrity – and the (2017 revised version of the) European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. The latter holds the standards of good scientific practice and fundamental principles of research integrity.
LARI’s missions are to (1) promote responsible conduct of research by providing training, coaching and consultancy; and (2) ensure an independent inquiry and investigation in cases of alleged scientific misconduct by the CRI. It can give general procedural advice to (non) member organisations and/or guidance in solving matters to member organisations.
Commission for Research Integrity (CRI)
The Commission for Research Integrity (hereafter: the CRI) is the only organ within the LARI that is authorized to investigate, to give opinions and to mediate in alleged cases of research misconduct. The CRI started its work in 2017 and is independent of all other organs within the association or (non) member organisations.
The CRI consists of 5 – in furtherance of the Austrian system – international research integrity experts: all come from outside the country to underline its independency. Moreover, if (individual members of) the CRI come under any pressure whatsoever from individuals or institutions involved in a case, the CRI must immediately notify LARI’s Board, that will take appropriate measures to protect CRI’s reputation and LARI’s interests. The CRI is a multidisciplinary team and the members are nominated and – with assentment of the Minister of Science – appointed by LARI’s Board for a 3-year-term to a maximum of 9 years.
Scope and remit
The scope of the CRI is restricted to its member organisations. This scope is broadened, however, whereas the CRI, too, can investigate research misconduct cases within research institutions in- and outside Luxembourg benefitting from funding of its member, the FNR. The CRI, too, can start an investigation on its own initiative within these research institutions. It cannot start an investigation on its own initiative within (other) non-member organisations. Under CRI’s remit, it can be called upon by (any one from) a (non) member organisation (in- and outside Luxembourg) on alleged research misconduct, occurring in one of its member organisations or any other research organisation benefitting from funding of the FNR. The CRI may handle anonymous requests. Its investigatory and opinion-making authority is exclusive: LARI’s member organisations, on the local level, cannot assess or give opinions on research misconduct. More precise, under LARI’s Statutes, its member organisations after the initial appointment of CRI’s members – taking place in September 2017 – were obligated to end the research misconduct investigation duties of its local committees and/or ombudsperson or to change their regulations in a way that there would be no overlap with the (national) authority of the CRI.
The CRI starts with a preliminary review of competence and assigns the case to a team leader/chair who directs the investigation of the case. The CRI will obtain opinions, statements and/or additional documentation from the involved parties. If a sufficient assessment of the facts is not possible on the basis of the materials submitted, the CRI may hold a meeting with the parties involved and/or visit sites with interviews. It also may obtain expert opinions. Upon completion of the investigation, the leading CRI member shall compose a summary opinion, to be presented to the other members for approval. At any stage of the procedure, the CRI may issue recommendations to its member institutions to take actions that help in the assessment of the case (e.g. repeating experiments) or to take protective measures (e.g. securing data). CRI’s deliberations i.e. discussions on the case take place in closed sessions. The members of the CRI and, more generally, all individuals which are part of the proceedings and/or have access to information in the framework of CRI’s proceedings (e.g. members of LARI secretariat, external advisors and experts) are to maintain strict confidentiality in order to protect all persons involved.
CRI’s opinions must state the gravity of the misconduct and contain appropriate advice, e.g. on sanctions. The CRI aims to complete its investigation and opinion within 4 months after the request has been submitted. It sends its opinions to the person who or institutions which called upon the CRI if that person or institution is directly affected by the allegations submitted, and to the person(s) to whom the allegations referred. In all cases, opinions are sent to the institution(s) where the misconduct was said to have taken place as well as to the FNR, in cases where the suspected research misconduct occurred in relations with an FNR-funded project or researcher. In addition, the CRI’s opinion is sent to LARI’s Board for information purposes. The opinions of the CRI are binding because its member organisations are not authorized to give opinions on the local level about research misconduct. A kind of appeal from CRI’s opinions is possible: if substantial new information or evidence has become available since case completion, the CRI may take up the case again.
Follow-up and monitoring
In light of harmonisation and with the purpose of having an overview of research misconduct cases in Luxembourg, the member organisations of LARI must report without delay all cases of suspected research misconduct detected in their organisations, fully delegating to the CRI the inquiry and investigation of each case. Follow-up and monitoring of CRI opinion/suggested sanctions take place by the research institution in question that imposed the sanction.
LARI’s Secretary General submits a quarterly report of all LARI’s work (education, coaching, consultation, investigation) to LARI’s Board, as well as an Annual Report. The consultations and investigations, in summarized and anonymised form, are included in these reports. The Annual Report is published on LARI’s website in the English language.
For illustrative cases in English, see: https://lari.lu/best-practice-useful-links/annual-reports/
For further information, see: www.lari.lu
For questions, send an e-mail to: Katrina Bramstedt, LARI’s Secretary General (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last update: May 2019