EU-project: SOPs4RI – a new Horizon 2020 project on research integrity

SOPs4RI – a new Horizon 2020 project on research integrity

by Mads P. Sørensen (SOPs4RI Co-Coordinator)

A new four-year project funded by the European Commission wants to develop a toolbox with Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines to help research performing organisations and research funding organisations to enhance research integrity

SOPs4RI (Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity) is a four-year (2019-2022), multi-partner project funded by the European Commission. SOPs4RI aims to stimulate transformational processes across European Research Performing Organisations and Research Funding Organisations (RPOs & RFOs). The objective of SOPs4RI is to promote good research practices that align with the principles and norms of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. SOPs4RI wants to develop an online, freely accessible and easy-to-use ‘toolbox’ with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Guidelines that can help RPOs and RFOs cultivate research integrity and reduce detrimental practices.

SOPs4RI will thus create a toolbox with SOPs and Guidelines that are sensitive to organisational, disciplinary and national differences. The idea is that, when working with Research Integrity Promoting Plans, RPOs and RFOs should be able to find SOPs and Guidelines in the toolbox that can be directed towards their specific organisational and disciplinary needs. Examples of what might be contained within the toolbox include procedures for training in research integrity, procedures for dealing with issues of research misconduct, guidelines for Open Science (open data, open access etc.), guidelines for responsible reward systems, and guidelines for quality assurance, transparency and reliability (peer review procedures, preregistration of protocols, etc.).

The SOPs and Guidelines will be created in collaboration with key stakeholder groups and through a wide-ranging empirical research process. Empirical elements of SOPs4RI include comprehensive literature reviews, 20 expert interviews, a three-round Delphi survey with 100+ research integrity experts, 32 focus group interviews across academic disciplines, a survey of researchers across 31 countries, and four co-creation workshops with research integrity officers and administrators as well as other stakeholders.

In addition to this research and development programme, SOPs4RI also includes a pilot testing programme in which selected RPOs and RFOs will apply the SOPs and Guidelines in local practices. A number of public and private research funding organisations as well as university networks have confirmed their willingness to participate in the pilot phase. Results of this final step of the validation procedure will feed into the final version of SOPs and Guidelines.

SOPs4RI began in January 2019 and the final version of the toolbox will be ready in the autumn of 2022. The project can be followed on or on Twitter: @sops4ri