By Rikard Juttmann MD PhD – retired coordinator scientific integrity Erasmus MC
In recent years, Dutch universities increased their efforts to enforce scientific integrity considerably. Before, integrity of researchers was considered to be more or less self-evident. After all, academic institutions had all thorough research codes, in which unmistakable integrity rules for scientific conduct were clearly anchored. For exceptional cases of disagreement on integrity issues, confidential counselors – usually eminent elder professors of immaculate reputation – were appointed to mediate. The research codes were made available to scientific staff during enlistment and this was considered to be sufficient to prevent true professionals – as scientists were supposed to be – from moral aberrancies. In 2011, however, because of several notorious cases of academic misconduct in the Netherlands, this (in hindsight maybe naïve) position dramatically changed. Since Erasmus MC was also confronted with serious academic misconduct within its own ranks, in 2012 the dean initiated the design and the implementation of a so called “Action Plan Scientific Integrity (APSI)” in all 52 Erasmus MC academic departments. A coordinator scientific integrity was assigned to manage this policy in close cooperation with the confidential counselor.
The agreements applicable for all departments were:
- Each department makes its own APSI.
- Each APSI contains at least 15 testable goals, which are applicable for all departments: seven on research culture, two on education and six on digitalization and storage of research data.
- The head of department is responsible for the implementation and the execution of the APSI. This document will be signed for approval by the head of department and the dean.
- The APSI defines the steps that the department will take to reach the testable goals.
- As far as digitalization and storage of research data are concerned, the APSI also defines the logistic and technical bottle necks foreseen by the department and the central support desired for the solution of these bottle necks.
- On the basis of the testable goals, the APSI will repeatedly be evaluated and actualized, in cooperation with the coordinator scientific integrity.