Key elements

A key element of the position of the CA is confidentiality. Any one who would like to consult the CA must be able to do so under strict confidentiality. Everything that will be discussed between the CA and the person who takes advice (‘’the reporter’’) remains there and no action is taken by the CA without consent of the reporter. In such a way the reporter is able to take confidential advice if he/she is unsure about an issue of research misconduct and wants to talk with somebody who is outside the daily working setting, and needs information about research conduct rules, policies and procedures in case he is considering to make an allegation of research misconduct.

It is important that the CA has an independent position and is not part of the formal process at an institution or research organization to investigate research scientific misconduct. The CA should also not be part of the Committee for Academic Integrity that investigates allegations of scientific misconduct (Forsberg et al 2018). It must be clear to all parties that the CA is there to listen, provide impartial advice and support to the reporter. In a report on CA’s activities in Dutch public organizations (De Graaf, 2016) listed as the most frequent activity ‘’offering an attentive ear’’. The CA does not investigate any allegations or complaints. He remains independent and provides advice, especially when it comes to a formal complaint. In that context it is also important to note that the CA can only collaborate with one person, the reporter (complainant in case a complaint is filed) or the defendant and only with their consent for every step in the process.