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INTEGRITY: empowering students through evidence-based, scaffolded learning of Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INTEGRITY (INTEGRITY: empowering students through evidence-based, scaffolded learning of Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR))

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

INTEGRITY takes an innovative approach to empower students in responsible research and stimulate a critical awareness regarding integrity issues in research practice. This is vital and innovative because today’s students will encounter ethical dilemmas that current practice cannot yet see, so they must learn to reflect and account for their actions in order to be able to anticipate what research integrity will entail in the future. It is our deepest conviction that education in research integrity needs to be done in a scaffolded manner: capacity building will start at high school level; it will be furthered during the undergraduate phase and advanced during the early research career phase. Our programme will therefore focus on three target groups: high school students, undergraduate students (BA) and early career researchers (RMA, and PhD). The project will also explicitly cover the full range of scholarly disciplines, including computer sciences, technical studies, social sciences and humanities.

Taking Transparency, Honesty and Responsibility as core values, we will develop a teaching philosophy that utilizes the concept of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and will set an international standard that is evidence-based and tailored to the needs of students in various study phases and disciplines. The standard is a benchmark in this project to develop and test innovative tools via an interactive curriculum with new, compelling and effective tools which will be co-created with students and teaching staff.

INTEGRITY will take an evidence-based approach, both in taking current blind spots and needs of students in 10 countries in Europe as a starting point to design new educational tools for formal and informal education, as well as in testing innovative curricula within teaching programs. Also, the project will make use of behavioural insights, like nudging techniques to experiment how research excellence can be stimulated in educational settings.

INTEGRITY focuses on five main objectives. It will:

1. develop an evidence-based analysis of student needs, blind-spots, and expectations regarding research integrity across 10 European countries;
2. map, categorize and analyse current teachings in research integrity to better detect and mitigate blind spots in teaching, and to help build tailor-made curricula for students in the whole range of research areas and in three levels of studies;
3. develop a teaching philosophy on RCR that takes capacity building of students as its main aim, using three core values (Transparency, Honesty and Responsibility) and incorporating the ‘QRP’ approach and FFP topics;
4. develop, test and disseminate innovative tools in an evidence-based, co-creative process, and design and test experimental nudges to prompt effectiveness;
5. design, test and disseminate complementary tools for key influencers (teachers, senior researchers) to catalyse their roles as teachers, mentor and coaches.
In the reporting period, the focus has been on objectives one and two, and a start is made with objective three. Objective one is worked on in WP2 and objective 2 in WP3. In order to develop an evidence-based analysis of student needs, blind spots and expectations, we developed a survey in WP2, that currently runs across 9 countries. 72 qualitative interviews have been held in the WP2 as preparation to the survey. The results of the qualitative interviews and the pilot of the survey have been described in deliverable D2.1. In the same period, in WP3 a survey amongst teachers in Europe has been conducted to map and categorize current teachings in research integrity in order to better mitigate blind spots in teaching and to help build tailor-made curricula. This survey was conducted in July 2019 and the results are presented in deliverable D3.2. Also, WP3 has analysed the literature on what types of RCR teaching are reported in journals and what types of assessment are commonly used. The results of these findings are described in the deliverables D3.3 and D3.4 of which a Quality Check List shows an overview of findings in the literature.

Besides these substantial deliverables, in WP1, WP7 and WP8 we have been working on a Data Management Plan (D1.2) a Quality Assessment Plan (D1.1) on the Dissemination and Communication Plan (D7.1) on the project website (D7.3) project events (D7.6 & D7.7) and on the Development and Exploitation Plan (D7.4). In WP8, we continue to keep track of ethical requirements, and we have on file the approvals of ethics committees for the surveys in WP2 and WP3. A Data Protection Officer has been appointed and contact details are submitted in the portal.
Besides project activities in each of the WPs, the project has been presented at several conferences (like the 6th World Conference on Research Integrity in Hong Kong) and meetings (see WP7), and collaboration between other EU projects (like Path2Integrity and VIRT2UE) has been initiated (resulting in e.g. joint symposia at conferences). Several consortium partners have been successful to start collaborations within their own institution or together with other institutes to disseminate the online tools of the project. For example, the Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN) has established a working group on developing educational tools, of which the coordinator of this project is the chair.