Research code UMCG

Prevention and management of research misconduct

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Lack of academic integrity undermines the scientific contribution to truth-finding. Among other things, it can lead to:

  • Invalid scientific results that hinder the progress of science
  • Damage to the trust that fellow researchers, patients, research organisations, and society have in UMCG researchers and the UMCG
  • Harm to the health of patients and to healthcare in general

While scientific misconduct can provide reputational gains for individual researchers in the short term, the long-term consequences can be disastrous.

The UMCG wants to prevent misconduct in research where possible and correct it if it does occur.

Types of misconduct

The most obvious violations of academic integrity are:



making up research data or results and pretending they are real



manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes to alter, withhold, or delete data or results without justification



using other people’s ideas, methods, results, or texts without appropriate recognition

The UMCG endorses the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018 UNL, which sets out 61 standards of good research practice for the design and implementation phase of a study (see Regulations and ethical scientific research and Handling research data), the reporting and communication of the study (see Publication and dissemination of results), and the assessment of other people’s work (see Peer review of manuscripts and research proposals). For each of these rules, failure to comply is considered research misconduct.

With regard to misconduct, the following rules must be observed:

  • Fear of reputational damage or other political considerations are not grounds for insufficient investigation of reports of misconduct.
  • No unjustified allegations of research misconduct are made.

Prevention of misconduct

While research misconduct can never be completely ruled out, it is important to take preventive measures by creating a culture that encourages academic integrity and minimises the risk of misconduct. The UMCG as a whole, its departments and research groups, and individual researchers, are all responsible for this.

In accordance with Chapter 4 of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018 UNL, the UMCG wants to create a working environment that promotes and safeguards good research practice by:

  • Guaranteeing training and supervision opportunities for junior researchers (see Supervising and being supervised: mutual responsibilities)
  • Offering courses in supervising junior researchers
  • Fostering a research culture that promotes integrity (see Types of misconduct)
  • Stimulating adequate data management
  • Ensuring balanced communication and dissemination of research results
  • Implementing ethical standards and procedures by continuously training researchers in integrity and responsible scientific methods

Department heads and leaders of research groups must:

  • Ensure an open, safe, and inclusive culture (see also Well-being at work), including by providing a place in research meetings for researchers to discuss dilemmas, concerns, and possible mistakes without fear of negative reactions or sanctions.
  • Refrain from taking any action that leads to researchers not complying with integrity standards.
  • Inform junior researchers of relevant scientific guidelines, protocols, and instructions on academic integrity and ensure that they are understood and complied with.
  • Encourage collaboration between researchers. Working solo is a risk factor for misconduct.
  • Organise regular audits of studies to check whether they are performed properly and in accordance with the applicable legislation and regulations.
  • Encourage researchers to present their data to a different or larger podium than their immediate colleagues.
  • Not impede or delay the work of researchers in an improper manner.
  • Ensure that research funds are only used for the purposes described in the application.

Individual researchers must take responsibility for the results and be transparent about the methods and calculations underlying them by:

  • Properly documenting the data, sources, scripts, research progress, and decisions made so that the work can be understood, verified, and reproduced by others.
  • Storing the data and associated documentation securely and transparently, taking into account the fact that they are the property of the UMCG (see Handling research data).
  • Displaying openness to other researchers about their own research and any dilemmas regarding academic integrity. If certain parts of the research cannot be discussed openly, this must be discussed with managers, or a confidential adviser can be contacted informally (see Complaints about research misconduct).
  • Correctly crediting the work of other researchers when it used (see Citations). Predecessors whose work is being built upon are entitled to recognition of their contribution.

Complaints about research misconduct

Prevention of research misconduct is a high priority, and any suspicion and report in this area must be carefully investigated. For this purpose, staff members can contact the Confidential Advisers for Research Integrity, the CWI, and the Ombuds Officer of the UG (see Ombuds Officer). 

Confidential advisers for academic integrity

The Confidential Adviser for Academic Integrity acts as the first port of call for questions and complaints about academic integrity.
Staff members who wish to confidentially ask a question about academic integrity and suspicions of misconduct, as well as those accused of research misconduct, can present their situation to one of the Confidential Advisers of the UMCG.

Academic Integrity Committee (CWI)

Staff members of the UMCG can submit a formal complaint
to the CWI of the UG through the dean or directly. In that case, the procedure described in the Complaints Procedure Academic Integrity is followed. The CWI issues advice to the Board of the UG. The complainant, the accused, and other interested parties may seek advice from the LOWI about the CWI’s preliminary opinion. The final opinion of the Board of the University is published anonymously on the UNL Website.

Ombuds Officer

In addition, the UG has an independent Ombuds Officer. The Ombuds Officer identifies patterns of behaviour that threaten a healthy and safe research environment and provides guidance to prevent or eliminate these patterns. The Ombuds Officer studies policy reports and, if desired, conducts internal investigations, but they are also open to individual complaints about unacceptable situations. Where necessary, the Ombuds Officer can act as a moderator or process supervisor. See Regulations Ombuds Officer University of Groningen 2021.

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Elizabeth Koier Policy Advisor Research Office