Follow the Money: Does Competitive Research Funding Contribute to Questionable Research Practices
Does competitive research funding (CRF) contribute to questionable research practices (QRP)? And if so, what are the mechanisms …
Dr. Fenneke Blom, Prof. dr. Lex Bouter, Dr. Daan Andriessen, Prof. dr. Yvo Smulders, Dr. Gerard Swaen, Dr. Joeri Tijdink, Dr. Coosje Veldkamp, Prof. dr. Guy Widdershoven, Dr. Hans Berkhof.
In 2018, the revised version of the Netherlands Code of Conduct on Research Integrity will become effective. However, having such a code does not imply that all stakeholders in scientific research are aware of the current rules of conduct and, more importantly, live up to them. Such codes are often aspirational and do not provide operational norms on what behaviour is considered right and wrong. Therefore, further steps need to be taken to facilitate dissemination and implementation among stakeholders in their day to day scientific research practice. Although many of the major stakeholders (including researchers, research policy makers, journal editors, funding agencies, supervisors, and review boards) have developed initiatives to foster responsible research practices (RRPs), exchange and mutual learning is essential to help stakeholders strengthen their initiatives, to effectively implement the code of conduct, and to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.
The Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN), founded in 2014, collects and shares a wide variety of relevant information on its website (www.nrin.nl) with the ultimate goal to unite the community of research integrity and to facilitate collaboration, exchange and mutual learning. NRIN organizes public events to share best practices and to discuss new ideas for researchers and educators in the field of research integrity and closed meetings for confidential counsellors and chairs of standing committees for research integrity.
This project aims to elaborate on and to augment the NRIN initiative, by performing a more exhaustive and systematic inventory and assessment of the current and planned initiatives to foster RRPs in the Netherlands. The project goes beyond the scope of just sharing knowledge: it activates policy makers, administrators, teachers, researchers, supervisors, editors, and other stakeholders to contribute and reflect on their own practices. Consequently, we expect to inspire and enable all stakeholders in scientific research to facilitate measures locally that foster RRPs.
The project comprises four parts. In Part 1, an ‘FRRP-checklist’ will be developed. This instrument aims to assess (on aspects such as effectiveness and quality of dissemination and evaluation) and classify (e.g. type of initiative, stakeholders, topics and research stage that are addressed) all FRRP-initiatives in the Netherlands. Moreover, it can be used by initiators to assess their (developing) initiatives. The FRRP-checklist will be developed by a diverse team of experts and stakeholders. To allow for the wide variety of stakeholders and the broad field of research integrity, a Delphi procedure will be used to compile the checklist and reach consensus on its content and format.
In Part 2, several strategies will be used to conduct the inventory, including a call, personal invitations to submit initiatives in our project team’s networks, consultation of previous inventories (such as www.equator-network.org, www.printeger.eu, www.rri-tools.eu etc.), and an automated search (web crawler) on the websites of research institutions in the Netherlands. The web crawler will be repeated after one year to find changes and new initiatives, and its scripts will be made available publicly for others to apply later again.
In Part 3, the checklist will be applied to assess and classify the FRRP-initiatives that are collected in part 2, and initiators receive the results of application of the checklist. The initiatives that meet our selection criteria (i.e. 1. sufficient information available, 2. within our scope and 3. soon or currently implemented) will be assessed by two reviewers. All selected initiatives will be collected in an online toolbox to inspire and enable others to easily implement or adjust it to the setting of another institution. FRRP-initiatives that
are classified based on the checklist as either ‘good practices’ or ‘unique initiatives’ will be described in more detail in mini case studies. In case of major changes to an initiative between the first and second application of the web crawler, we will invite the initiator(s) to further describe and explain the progress of the initiative, and thereby contribute to the toolbox. This will ultimately result in providing a repository which may help the relevant national and international stakeholders in their action to foster responsible research practices.
In Part 4, the results of the part 3 will be shared in an open online toolbox designed to easily browse through the included FRRP-initiatives. The toolbox will be made available via the online platform of the EU project Mapping Normative Frameworks for Ethics and Integrity of Research (EnTIRE), which is currently being developed. Moreover, the toolbox will also be accessible via the NRIN website. Knowledge transfer further includes publications in both open access or open choice peer review journals and public media, and presentations at (international) conferences.
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