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Interdisciplinary research project supports ethical decision-making in science

A three-year project that will reinforce efforts to promote adherence to the highest standards of research ethics and integrity and prevent research misconduct began in January 2023.

Led by The University of Oslo, “Beyond Bad Apples: Towards a Behavioural and Evidence-based Approach to Promote Research Ethics (RE) and Integrity (RI) in Europe” (acronym BEYOND) is outstanding as it wishes to explore in depth why scientific misconduct occurs, whether various RI/RE trainings are effective and how to improve them. The project also tackles the issue of how to shape an organisational culture and scientific environment that favours adherence to the principles of RI/RE. 

“Ethics and integrity are key dimensions of excellence in research and crucial for public trust in science,” said Kadri Simm, Associate Professor of Practical Philosophy and the principal investigator of the project. She added that BEYOND examines and develops different ways (e.g. educational, regulatory, including “nudging”) to support ethical decision-making at institutional and individual level. 

The research team at the University of Tartu is interdisciplinary, with about half of the project carried out by the Institute of Psychology, where Professor of Experimental Psychology Kairi Kreegipuu and Associate Professor of Affective Psychology Andero Uusberg are senior research staff. The contribution of psychologists is to develop so-called nudging methods. Anu Tammeleht, Methodologist-Trainer of Research Ethics at the Centre for Ethics, is also a contributor to the project. 

To achieve its goals, BEYOND will explore the existing literature on behavioural ethics and moral psychology as well as the socio-economic consequences of research misconduct (RM) and engage all involved stakeholders in a public consultation. To guide and equip all stakeholders in the research ecosystem, BEYOND will utilise this knowledge to develop: 

  1. psychologically informed contextual interventions to promote RE/RI and prevent RM from the perspective of individual and institutional responsibilities; 
  2. methodologies to measure the short-, medium- and long-term impact of RE/RI trainings on attitudes and behaviours of students and researchers; 
  3. a best practice manual and guidelines to supplement standard operating procedures from a complex research ecosystemic perspective as well as a 2030 roadmap towards improving the RE/RI culture and 
  4. new training materials and tools to supplement existing educational efforts. 

BEYOND consists of 13 partners from ten European countries and it will mobilise all stakeholders via three thematic networks involved in the consortium (ENRIO, EUREC, The Guild) and the stakeholder advisory board to ensure widespread dissemination of the results and facilitate their institutional uptake and embedding. 

The full title of this project is “Beyond Bad Apples: Towards a Behavioural and Evidence-based Approach to Promote Research Ethics and Integrity in Europe”. This project has received funding from Horizon Europe, the European Union framework programme for funding research and innovation under the grant agreement No 101094714.

 

Cover photo: Giuseppe Cuzzocrea, unsplash.com

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