Introduction

The term ‘good scientific practice’ represents the standards that apply to scientific activities. These standards are continuously being developed within the individual sciences. Good scientific practice are discussed internationally under the headings ”research integrity”, ”scientific integrity”, ”good scientific practice”, ”responsible conduct of research (RCR)” and ”ethics of science.” A serious breach of good scientific practice is traditionally referred to as scientific dishonesty (research misconduct).

In Denmark, the individual research institutions are expected to carry out preventive and ongoing work to ensure compliance with good scientific practice. Since the 1990’ies, a public committee has had competence to hear many cases concerning scientific dishonesty (research misconduct) – previously the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), now the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct. Some cases concerning scientific dishonesty have also been brought before the Danish courts.

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How to establish good scientific practice

The standards of good scientific practice are continuously developed within the individual sciences and in various forums nationally and internationally. There is currently not one sole authoritative description of all standards of good scientific practice, but a series of guidelines and recommendations can be found in the following documents:

The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty

Another important source for the definition and establishment of standards of good scientific practice are the decisions made by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) in cases of alleged scientific dishonesty.  DCSD’s decisions are available at DCSD’s website.

In addition, in 2009 DCSD published a set of Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice with special focus on health science, natural science and technical science containing

  • Guidelines on research protocols and reports, data documentation and data storage in basic
    health research
  • Guidelines on research protocols, data documentation and data storage in clinical and
    clinical/epidemiological research
  • Guidelines on agreements at the initiation of research projects
  • Guidelines relating to rights and duties concerning storage and use of research data
  • Guidelines on publication matters
  • Guidelines on research in the field of mathematics – including statistics
  • The Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data and research projects

As indicated above, these guidelines are now referred to as “historical documents” on the DCSD’s website.

Research institutions’ principles of good scientific practice

The Danish Council of Ethics

The Council advises and creates debate on biotechnology which affects human life, our nature, the environment, and food. The Council also works with ethical issues related to the health care sector. This is achieved in collaboration with the Central Research Ethics Committee (see health research projects).

See

Special codification

In some areas ethical aspects are subject to codification. See among others

General values ​​and considerations

The general internationally agreed practices are based on a number of core values ​​for good scientific practice.

The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity emphasises the following values:

  • Honesty in all aspects of research
  • Accountability in the conduct of research
  • Professional courtesy and fairness in working with others
  • Good stewardship of research on behalf of others

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity emphasises the following values:

  • Honesty in communication
  • Reliability in performing research
  • Objectivity
  • Impartiality and independence
  • Openness and accessibility
  • Duty of care
  • Fairness in providing references and giving credit
  • Responsibility for the scientists and researchers of the future

The Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity emphasises honesty, transparency and accountability as the three guiding principles of good scientific practice.

The standards of good scientific practice are also affected by other values and considerations. These include considerations for freedom of research and  freedom of expression and consideration for the persons or the object to which the research relates or may impact.

Key topics

Good scientific practice includes among others the following topics:

Planning and execution of research

Researchers are responsible for the planning and conduct of their research, including that research is planned and performed in accordance with the standards that apply to the particular area of research. For example obtaining necessary permits, preparation of experimental protocols, logs and records. Please refer to the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, p.8 f for more information about this.

You can read more about the requirements for planning and execution of research in the following articles on Forskerportalen:

Provision and processing of research data (data administration)

Proper handling of research data contributes significantly to ensure the credibility and transparency of the research, which is further discussed in the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, p. 9 f.

Read more about the requirements for this in the article on administration of research data.

Publication and dissemination of research results

The Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity lists the following standards for publication of research:

 i. Research results should be published in an honest, transparent, and accurate manner

ii.  Publishing the same results in more than one publication should only occur under particular, clearly explained and fully disclosed circumstances.

iii. Recycling or re-use of primary materials, data, interpretations or results should be clearly disclosed.

iv. If access to and analysis of all data are subject to limitations, this should be declared
in a clear manner to the readers of the publication. Detailed information about any role of the study sponsor concerning research design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, and publication decisions should be provided in the manuscript.

v. When using one’s own work and the work of other researchers in a publication, appropriate
and accurate references to such work should be provided.

vi. The right of researchers to unrestricted publication of their research should be respected.

These obligations are the responsibility of the involved researchers, but research institutions also have a duty to support the researchers’ compliance with this obligation, see more in the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, page 11.

Please refer to the articles on:

Research collaborations

Research collaborations can give rise to a number of legal research and research ethics issues. You can read more about this in General information on research collaborations.

Conflicts of interests

You can read more at conflicts of interest .

Special requirements for certain research projects

Health research projects

To ensure that health research projects are conducted in an ethically responsible manner, a scientific ethical committee system has been established in Denmark. You can read more about this here.

Experiments involving animals

Specific legal rules apply to animal experiments. Read more about these legal bounds of research here

Socially responsible research

See also