Guidance and policies: types, variations and accessibility

In 2013 and 2014 articles came out about a research project that analyzed various ‘guidelines’ on scientific integrity of countries within Europe (Godecharle, Nemery, & Dierickx, 2013, 2014). They observe that most of the Nordic countries and countries in central and western Europe have national policies on scientific integrity. Denmark and Norway even have specific laws to handle scientific misconduct.

The investigated guidelines vary in length from one page to 129 pages.

They conclude that there are various different approaches between countries to scientific integrity or scientific misconduct. Some policies focus on scientific integrity, while others focus on violations of said integrity.

Even on the definition of misconduct, the various documents are not consistent. Most of the documents mention FFP, but they differ in their reporting on variations and questionable research practices.

Some emphasize that intent is essential in order to speak of misconduct, whereas others include notions of negligence and deceit.

For handling allegations of misconduct several stress that research institutions should have adequate processes in place and they put the responsibility for dealing with such an allegation with the employer of the researcher.

Lastly, the researchers expressed their difficulty with retrieving the policy documents, presenting a serious challenge: how can policy documents guide research if they are so hard to find?