Stakeholders workshop | Revision of the ECoC on RI

Friday 25 November 2016


25 November 2016


Brussels, Belgium

Stakeholders workshop | Revision of the European Code of Conduct on Research Integrity

by Mathias Willumsen

Friday 25 November 2016

The drafting group for the revision of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity as well as the European Commission expressed appreciation for the support for revising the existing code to create an up-to-date framework for dealing with research integrity in Europe. The workshop had participation from a lot of stakeholders each representing an organization or similar with interest in the topic. Everyone was very well-prepared and took part in the fruitful discussions on the various content in the revised draft for the Code.

The debate was split into two major sessions – one concerning the structure of the Code and the contents in each chapter (Introduction, Principles, Good Research Practice and Violations of Responsible Conduct of Research), the other concerning terminology in the Code.


Session one – structure and contents in each chapter 


It was pointed out and generally supported that the Code should specify that the responsibilities of scientists to ensure that their research avoids doing unacceptable harm to living should also include harm to the environment and cultural heritage. This was a general point made to the current textual draft of the Code.

Furthermore there was a discussion on whether or not the Code should contain a paragraph explaining about the core and ethos of science. Some opposed this as the Code should keep a clear focus on research integrity, which a majority supported.

Further points brought up were:

  • The Code needs to specify that its main focus is creating and maintaining a culture of high integrity in research
  • The Code should address that there should be a point of contact for research integrity (institutional or national)
  • The Code should take into consideration that it is also applicable for private companies doing research – especially if the Commission adopts the Code in H2020 – and not only academic research.


There was a general consensus to try and shorten the list of principles (as also previously suggested by ENRIO) and make a more clear distinction between principles of research integrity and standards for good research practice. The importance of the principles of honesty, transparency and accountability was highlighted.

Good Research Practices:

All standards under each sub headline in the chapter was discussed with minor inputs on improvement. One important point that also reached consensus was, that the publication and authorship sections need to be revisited and made more precise and probably shorter.

Violations of responsible conduct of research:

ENRIO pointed out (supported by other stakeholders at the meeting) that it might be counterproductive to add an incomplete list of non-acceptable behaviors. As resent studies show, QRP actions can easily exceed more than 100 different situations and behaviors. Therefore it could be an idea to reformulate this section to describe in general what we understand by QRP/violations of responsible conduct of research with a few non-exhaustive examples. This was taken under consideration by the drafting group, however no decision on the matter was reached at the meeting.


Session two – Terminology in the Code

There was a general agreement that ‘research’ is preferred over ‘science’ as also previously suggested by ENRIO.

Furthermore there was a rather lengthy debate on whether to us QRP (as suggested of ENRIO) instead of ‘violations of responsible conduct of research’. The discussion split the room as some pointed out, that these practice we talk about are not ‘questionable’ but rather unacceptable. On the other hand,  QRP is the internationally recognized description if you want to encompass the full behavioral sphere (the grey area) from good research practice to research misconduct.

ENRIO raised the point, that the description on how to handle allegations should limit itself to overlying principles and not go into processing details due to the various character of different systems in Europe for handling misconduct cases.