Key role for Denmark in major European project on responsible conduct of studies and research – University of Copenhagen

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03 April 2019

Key role for Denmark in major European project on responsible conduct of studies and research

ETHICS

A lack of awareness among youth and increasing pressure on the individual researcher in the world of science demands training in responsible study and research practices. University of Copenhagen researchers will identify needs and help develop educational tools to be used in European countries, including Denmark.

For the past eight years, the University of Copenhagen has had a focus on teaching responsible research conduct, initially at the PhD level, and most recently, at the bachelor’s level. A new component of the UCPH effort is to address high school students, so that they don't bring any bad habits or misunderstandings about good study and research conduct along with them to university.


University of Copenhagen researchers will contribute to a major new European research project by the name of 'Integrity'. The project's primary objective is to develop knowledge and tools for high school and university educators to apply when teaching good and responsible study and research conduct. As the University of Copenhagen has significant experience in the area, UCPH researchers will play an important role.

"As a result of the Penkowa case, we implemented a number of initiatives eight years ago, to promote good research conduct at the University of Copenhagen. This explains our head start regarding know-how and competencies compared with many EU nations, and puts us in a position to play a central role in the project," says Professor Peter Sandøe, who heads the Danish contribution.

Among other things, Danish researchers will assemble knowledge about youth practices and understandings through qualitative interviews with high school, bachelor’s and doctoral level students in Denmark, Hungary and Ireland. They will also design a survey that will be sent out to these same groups in each of the nine participating countries.

“In this part of the project, we will need to find out how students and young researchers perceive good and bad vis-a-vis their own study and research practices. We must find out where their understandings fall short, so as to equip them with the skills needed to act responsibly in the world of education and research," says Peter Sandøe.  

Youth are naive about cheating
The project will provide a number of tools and materials, including web-based learning games, that can be used for teaching across all nine EU nations. The project is targeted at high school and bachelors level students, as well as doctoral researchers.

For the past eight years, the University of Copenhagen has had a focus on teaching responsible research conduct, initially at the PhD level, and most recently, at the bachelor’s level. A new component of the UCPH effort is to address high school students, so that they don't bring any bad habits or misunderstandings about good study and research conduct along with them to university.

"We know that navigating with good conduct is a challenge for many students when completing their assignments. In fact, there are many who don’t entirely grasp plagiary. For example, they believe that it is perfectly fine to rewrite a text that they have found online," according to Sandøe.

Increasing pressure on researchers
Professor Sandøe also points to the growing publishing requirements for individual researchers as a pitfall that might tempt some to cut corners and compromise on the quality and credibility of their research. This poses a danger for science and universities.

"If universities end up conducting poor research, confidence is eroded in the institution itself. People’s confidence in researchers is vital for a university," concludes Sandøe. 

The project has been granted 2.4 million Euro as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. The Danish research team consists of: Associate Professor Mikkel Willum Johansen, Assistant Professor Mads Paludan Goddiksen, Associate Professor Thomas Bøker Lund and Professor Peter Sandøe.

Read more about the project 

Read more about responsible conduct of research