Country Report Greece
National Research Integrity Landscape
Greece does not (yet) have a national (institutional) structure for research integrity. On the local level, cases of research misconduct are handled by ad-hoc committees of Research Performing Organisations (Universities and Research Institutions). The procedures followed at an institutional level are described by each institute’s internal Code of Conduct.
Initiatives for the establishment of a national (institutional) structure for research integrity
Initiatives have been taken in order to establish a national institutional framework for research ethics and research integrity for all disciplines whereby the EU plays an important (indirect) role: initiatives haven been undertaken partly in meeting the standards on research ethics and research integrity of the EU in obtaining funding for research.
The first initiative was taken by a network in 2008. In that year, EARTHnet, A leading network for research ethics and research integrity, was voluntarily established. EARTHnet became a member of ENRIO in 2014 and participates in meetings and conferences worldwide in the field of research ethics and research integrity. The initiative for this network was taken by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). NTUA already had an understanding of ethics on the fields of Natural Sciences and Engineering , as well as on nanoscience and nanotechnology. The network’s tasks are to (i) raise awareness among the Greek academic community on research ethics and research integrity issues (ii) promote the institutionalisation of a national code of conduct for research (iii) promote the establishment of a national committee on research ethics and research integrity, and (iv) disseminate the latest developments at the European level, and beyond, to the Greek stakeholders. In line with this, EARTHnet focused on research ethics and research integrity in all disciplines. Consequently, the NTUA took the initiative to broaden its research ethics committee, estsablishing a Committee for Research Ethics and Research Integrity, covering all disciplines. At present, EARTHnet has 15 participants including the largest universities in Greece, the National Bioethics Committee, the Biomedical Research Foundation Academy of Athens, the National Hellenic Research Foundation and the National Center for Science and Research. All public research institutions can become a participant of the network.
A second initiative was taken in 2014, again by a network. In that year, RCR-Greece, Network of Responsible Conduct of Research in Greece, was voluntarily established and legally based as a non-profit organisation. Its aim is to foster research integrity and responsible conduct of research, focusing on education and training of scientists of all disciplines, organising and giving lectures in these fields. The initiative was taken by 5 researchers of different universities (forming the Board of Directors). It addresses to research institutions, scientists and (under) graduate students. The network is free for all from the scientific community: its members are researchers, professors, scientists and professionals. RCR-Greece became a member of ENRIO in 2014. In 2015, it hosted the ENRIO Meeting in Athens, Greece.
A third initiative was taken by the Greek government. A law was released in 2017, according to which a Deontology Committee (DC) should be created in each Higher Education Institute. This committee must be composed of the Deans and the Vice-Rector responsible for Academic Affairs, Student Care and Lifelong Education (N.4485/2017, Αrticle 47). Its responsibilities are to (i) draft a local Code of Conduct for academic, administrative and research issues (ii) safeguard the application of this Code of Conduct and pinpoint research misconduct (iii) prepare an annual report concerning the application of this Code of Conduct and suggest any needed additions, and (iv) examine allegation of research misconduct coming from the institute’s community and if such an allegation is sufficiently justified, a report is sent to the Rector to proceed with a formal investigation.
A fourth initiative was again taken by the Greek government when it took an important step towards a more concrete national institutional structure for research integrity. Starting in September 2017, the Minister of Education assigned a panel of six experts to draft a document as basis for a national law that would apply to all research ethics committees at the institutional level in which both research ethics and research integrity would be addressed. Two out of the six experts were members of EARTHnet. The government required the document to include guidelines on how and according to which rules the research ethics committees needed to operate. After the experts met at 9 October 2017 at the Ministry of Education, they produced a written opinion the end of November 2017. The idea herein presented was that based on a national law, all public institutions performing research would harmonize their operation and its codes of conduct according to this document. This national law went into force on 2 March 2018 (N4521/2018, Articles 21-27). Based on this law, every public research institution doing research must have a Research Ethics and Deontology Committee (REDC), the main task of which is to apply ethical assessment in research proposals. The committee must consist of minimum 5 and maximum 7 researchers with expertise of their research areas, research ethics and research integrity. At least 2 must come from outside the research institution. The members are chosenfor a 3-year-term with a maximum of 6 years. The committees are authorised to evaluate research protocols and to monitor if rules of research ethicsand research integrity are met. Its opinions are binding.
EARTHnet has initiated a survey (among the Research Ethics and Deontology Committees (REDCs) of EARTHnet’s member Research Performing Organisations (RPOs)) in light of the new law of 2017 for the founding and operation of REDCs. This survey will map the challenges faced during the creation of the REDCs and during the first 6 months of the implementation of the new law of 2017 i.e. from October 2018 until March 2019. It aims to map the challenges concerning the (i) selection of the REDC members (ii) interaction with the institutional agencies and academia; and (iii) implementation of ethical assessment in publicly funded research.
From 2018, Greece is represented in the Mutual Learning Excercise (MLE) on Research Integrity. This program, according to the official site of the EC focuses “on the exchange of national practices regarding four priority areas for advancing in the research integrity field, namely, promoting positive incentives, spreading research integrity culture among stakeholders through communications and dialogue, enhancing training in all stages of the research careers and stimulating processes and structures that support research integrity” (https://rio.jrc.ec.europa.eu/en/policy-support-facility/mle-research-integrity). The 2nd country visit took place at the premises of the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. The focus of this event was on two out of the four MLE’s priority areas:
- Promoting positive incentives
- Spreading research integrity culture among stakeholders through communication and dialogue.
For further information: see: www.enrio.eu and www.earthnet.ntua.gr and www.rcr.gr
For questions, send an e-mail to: Panagiotis Kavouras EARTHnet (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Panayiotis Foteinopoulos RCR-Greece (email@example.com)
Last update: May 2019