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Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SOPs4RI (Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-03-31

The overall objective of the Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI) project is to promote excellent research that aligns with the principles and norms of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and to counter research misconduct and questionable research practices.

SOPs4RI addresses problems and challenges related to the way research is practiced and organised. Lack of reproducibility, non-trivial prevalence of questionable research practices, research waste due to inadequate research designs and biases, and dysfunctional incentive and reward systems have recently emerged as major areas of concern, which may have severe impact on the validity of research-based knowledge claims as well as societal trust in research results. Research performing organisations (RPOs) and research funding organisations (RFOs) play a crucial role in empowering and enabling researchers to act responsibly in their research practices, and in detecting and handling breaches to the principles of research integrity conveyed by the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

SOPs4RI aims to stimulate transformational processes across European RPOs and RFOs. SOPs4RI will deliver an online, freely accessible and easy-to-use ‘toolbox’ that can help organisations develop Research Integrity Promotion Plans (RIPPs) tailored to the organisational needs and disciplinary context. The end product of SOPs4RI thus contributes to solving problems related to research integrity and enabling positive change.
Through comprehensive empirical research and inclusion of core user groups, SOPs4RI will develop an array of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines that are sensitive to the organisational context and the academic domain in which they will be applied. The sequential implementation of qualitative, quantitative, and co-creative parts of the empirical research programme will enable iterative refinement of the properties of the SOPs and guidelines. SOPs4RI includes a pilot programme, in which selected RPOs and RFOs apply the SOPs and guidelines in local practices.

Empirical elements of the project include literature scoping reviews, expert interviews, Delphi surveys, focus groups across academic disciplines, a survey of researchers across 31 countries, Co-creation workshops engaging stakeholders, and pilot implementation. During the 1st reporting period, the scoping reviews, expert interviews, and Delphi surveys have been completed, the focus group study is well-advanced, and the Co-creation workshops are being prepared. The technical report summarizes progress across all Work Packages and provides details of the concluded elements of the project.
Carrying out research of the highest quality and integrity are goals shared by the overwhelming majority of researchers and the institutions in which they work. SOPs4RI aims to enhance the ability of RPOs and RFOs to realise these goals through the development of a toolbox of SOPs and guidelines that can be used to create research integrity policies that are grounded in principles, which are both widely shared and underpinned by an empirical evidence base. The toolbox will be grounded in deep understanding of the constraints and opportunities faced by researchers and organisations and provide novel, practically-oriented resources to enhance research integrity and promote good research practice, as well as reduce malpractice and provide procedures for dealing with misconduct.

To maximise the feasibility and impact of the project’s outcomes, SOPs4RI engages in extensive consultation of key stakeholders in an iterative development and real world validation of the toolbox of SOPs and guidelines.
The SOPs4RI consortium at the 2nd General Assembly in Split