Country Report Portugal
National Research Integrity Landscape
Portugal does not (yet) have a national (institutional) structure for research integrity. Cases of research misconduct are handled by ad-hoc committees of universities i.e. research institutions. In general, there is no transparency on the procedures followed and the arguments that underlie its decisions taken. Initiatives have been taken, though, by national organisations, among which the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), to come to a national (institutional) structure for research integrity in Portugal.
Initiatives for the establishment of a national (institutional) structure for research integrity
The first initiative was taken by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Technologia)(hereafter: FCT), the national funding agency for science, research and technology, which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education. In 2014, FCT joined ENRIO. Inspired by this network, FCT in 2016 prepared a document in which it stressed the need of a national framework for research integrity in Portugal to avoid differences between procedures and sanctions on the local level. The document received positive feedback from the research community in national consultations rounds. The initiative, however, did not receive (enough) support from the Council of Rectors of Portuguese universities, arguing that research misconduct cases could best be solved internally on the local level.
A second initiative was taken by the National Council of Ethics for Life Sciences (hereafter: CNECV). In 2018, it issued a Recommendation on Integrity on Scientific Research in which it referred to the existence of (i) national frameworks in other European countries, and (ii) the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. It stressed the importance of research integrity and the need of a national framework and a national code for research integrity for Portugal. The CNECV in this respect proposed a conceptional framework for Portugal in which research institutions would (1) adhere to the ethical principles of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2) agree on a national code for research integrity on the basis of national consultation rounds to serve as a framework, based on which research institutions would (a) establish objective, transparent and clear procedural rules (b) monitor procedures (c) offer training, and (d) foster an institutional culture in which the aforementioned could be achieved. It further recommends to install permanent independent committees for research integrity within research institutions on the local level to investigate research misconduct cases. For serious research misconduct cases such as fabrication, falsification and plagiarism it recommends that a national commission for research integrity will be established. Research institutions on the local level must address to this national commission for research integrity before it can take any final decisions i.e. sanctions in these (serious) research misconduct cases. The advices of the national commission for research integrity need to be binding. By proposing this concept, CNECV aims to stimulate a discussion at the parliamentary level and to stimulate higher and private research institutions, universities and funding agencies to already revise and reinforce its existing ethical codes according to this conceptual framework. This is needed as the European Union requires, when one asks for funding, commitment to the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.
In 2018, the CNCEV has sent the Recommendation on Integrity on Scientific Research to the government in order that it results in a parliamentary discussion. Until present, this discussion did not (yet) take place. The Recommendation on Integrity on Scientific Research is made publicly available by the CNECV.
Last update: May 2019