- 1 Introduction
- 2 How to establish good scientific practice
- 3 General values and considerations
- 4 Key topics
- 5 Special requirements for certain research projects
The terms ‘responsible conduct of research’ or ‘good scientific practice’ represent the standards that apply to scientific activities. These standards are continuously being developed within the individual sciences. Good scientific practice is 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 research misconduct.
In Denmark, the individual research institutions are expected to carry out preventive and ongoing work to ensure compliance with good scientific practice. This is described in detail in the article about safeguarding the responsible conduct of research at Danish universities. Since the 1990s, public committees have been empowered to hear many cases of research misconduct – previously the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), now the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct (DCRM). Some cases of research misconduct have also been brought before the Danish courts.
The Act on Research Misconduct, etc. now lays down the framework for dealing with breaches of responsible research practice in Denmark. In this connection, the Act distinguishes between questionable research practice and research misconduct as follows, cf. section 3 of the Act:
- Questionable research practice is understood to mean: “breach of generally accepted standards for responsible research practice, including the standards contained in the Danish Code of Integrity in Research and other applicable institutional, national and international practices and guidelines for integrity in research.”
- Research misconduct is understood to mean: “fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that has been committed intentionally or with gross negligence in the planning, execution or reporting of research.”
The delimitation of research misconduct is based on the following definitions of fabrication, forgery and plagiarism (“FFP”), cf. section 3 (1) of the Act. 1, items 2-4:
- Fabrication: Undisclosed construction of data or substitution with fictitious data.
- Falsification: Manipulation of research material, equipment or processes, or the alteration or omission of data or results, through which research results are presented in a misleading manner.
- Plagiarism: Purloining of other people’s ideas, processes, results, text or special concepts without providing proper attribution.
You can read more about this in the article on research misconduct.
How to establish good scientific practice
The standards for good scientific practice are continuously being developed within the individual sciences and in various national and international fora. There is currently no single authoritative description of all standards of good scientific practice, but a series of guidelines and recommendations may be found in the following documents:
- The Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, which was drawn up by a working group under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and Danish Universities:
- The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (revised edition 2017), which is published by ALL European Academics (ALLEA). It replaces a previous edition from 2011.
- The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity (2010)
- The Montreal Statement on Research Integrity in Cross-Boundary Research Collaborations (2013)
- See also the website World Conferences on Research Integrity
The Danish Committee on Research Misconduct
Another important source for establishing and developing standards for the responsible conduct of research are the rulings of the Danish Committee on Research Misconduct, which has replaced the previous Danish Committees for Scientific Misconduct (DCSD). These rulings, which concern questions of research misconduct, are described in more detail on the website of the Committee.
In 2009, the then DCSD published a set of Guidelines for Good Scientific Practice with special focus on health science, natural science and technical science, which is now referred to as a “historical document” on the DCSD website.
Research institutions’ principles of good scientific practice
Danish universities have laid down a number of guidelines, etc. on the responsible conduct of research, both individually and through the national collaboration ‘Danish Universities’. These guidelines, etc. include:
- University of Copenhagen
- Aarhus University
- DTU – Technical University of Denmark
The Danish universities have also established special internal bodies that provide decisions and information about the responsible conduct of research. Read more about this in the article on safeguarding of the responsible conduct of research at Danish universities.
The Danish Council of Ethics
The Council advises and creates debate on biotechnology that affects human life, our nature, the environment, and food. The Council also works with ethical issues related to the health care sector. This is done in collaboration with the Central Research Ethics Committee (see the article on the Danish research ethics committees).
In some areas ethical aspects are subject to codification. See the following articles:
- Research that involves personal data (GDPR)
- Danish research ethics committees
- Register-based research
- Experiments involving animals
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
- 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 of research freedom and freedom of expression and consideration for the persons or object to which the research relates or may impact.
In the following, we discuss some central topics in relation to responsible research practice.
Planning and execution of research
Researchers are responsible for the planning and conduct of their research, and must ensure that the research is planned and performed in accordance with the standards that apply to the particular area of research. This includes for example obtaining the necessary permits and compiling 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 towards the planning and execution of research in the following articles on Forskerportalen:
- Research that involves personal data
- Danish research ethics committees
- Register-based research
- Experiments involving animals
Provision and processing of research data (data administration)
Proper handling of research data contributes significantly to ensuring 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 (p. 10 f.) 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 researchers involved, 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:
- General information about publication
- Good quotation practice and reproduction of artistic works, etc.
- Overlapping publications and self-plagiarism
- Dissemination and freedom of expression
Research collaborations can give rise to a number of legal research and research ethics issues. You can read more about this in the article General information on research collaborations.
Conflicts of interests
You can read more under conflicts of interest.
Special requirements for certain research projects
Health research projects
A research ethics committee system has been established in Denmark to ensure that health research projects are conducted in an ethically responsible manner. You can read more about this here.
Experiments involving animals
Specific legal rules apply to animal experiments. Read more in the article on animal experimentation.