Research code UMCG

For whom?

The UMCG Research Code 2023 is intended for all staff members who are directly or indirectly involved in scientific research at the UMCG, including students, guest staff, support staff, and management, and for UMCG staff members who conduct scientific research outside the UMCG. As of 1 November 2023, this research code replaces the previous version from 2018, and compliance with this code is mandatory. The links provided in this document will support the researcher in achieving this goal. This research code is a living document that can be adapted to changing insights if necessary. In the event of substantial changes, staff members will be informed.

Principles for ethical scientific research

Academic freedom, the principle that scientists can freely conduct research and publish their findings, is essential for good scientific practice in an open knowledge society (Academische Vrijheid in Nederland, 2021 (KNAW)). This freedom is not boundless: It is limited by the professional standards of scientific practice laid down in the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, 2018 (UNL), to which the UMCG has expressed its commitment. In short, the five basic principles of this Code of Conduct are:

1. Honesty
Only make founded claims, report accurately on the research process, do not invent or falsify data or sources, take alternative views and counterarguments seriously, be open about the margins of uncertainty, and do not present results as more favourable or unfavourable than they are.

2. Scrupulousness
Use scientific methods and exercise maximal precision in the design, conduct, and reporting of the research and the dissemination of results.

3. Transparency
Provide clarity on the research data that you have used, how it has been obtained, what results have been achieved and how, and the role of external stakeholders, all in a way that is verifiable by peers. If the data or research are not fully accessible, there should be a clear justification for why this is not possible.

4. Independence
Do not allow non-scientific considerations play a role in the choice of method, the assessment of data, the weighting of alternative explanations, and the assessment of the research or the research proposals of others.

5. Responsibility
Take into account the legitimate interests of the people and animals involved in the research, any clients and funders, and the environment. Conduct research that is scientifically and/or socially relevant.

In addition to these basic principles, there are also legal and other agreements that must be observed, e.g. those laid down in the WMO and the Code of Conduct for Health Research, 2022 (Coreon). In the UMCG Research Code, these principles and departure points have been codified as a number of concrete rules of conduct.

The role of the UMCG

Academic integrity and compliance with applicable legislation and regulations are the obligations of every researcher and research staff member. To this end, the UMCG supports staff members by:

  • Drafting this code and making it available to all staff members.
  • Appointing confidential advisers, including a Confidential Adviser for Academic Integrity.
  • Offering courses, for example in the fields of academic integrity, legislation and regulations in research, data management, and supervising junior researchers.
  • Offering support in every phase of academic research: from funding advice to data management and from ethical review to communication.
  • Drawing up clear, transparent assessment criteria and procedures, for example for dissertations and promotions.
  • Organising meetings where researchers can exchange ideas about academic integrity and challenging related situations.

All this serves to create a working environment that is safe, inclusive and open where researchers feel responsible, supported and able to discuss dilemmas and mistakes without fear of repercussions (blame-free reporting).

In addition, as an academic institution, the UMCG has a responsibility to guarantee academic freedom by not interfering in the research any more than is reasonable and to protect its researchers from coercion and pressure from external stakeholders (Academische Vrijheid in Nederland 2021 [KNAW]).

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Elizabeth Koier Policy Advisor Research Office