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The Embassy of Good Science


If you want more information about the NSRI, here you can find Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the National Survey on Research Integrity about?

The NSRI is the first ever nation-wide online survey targeting researchers of all universities and university medical centres in The Netherlands. NSRI aims to report on factors that promote or hinder Responsible Research Practices (RRPs). These factors cover for instance perceptions of organizational justice, scientific norms, work pressure, mentoring and social support. It is possible that these factors play different roles in different disciplinary fields: biomedical, natural and engineering sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Similarly the importance of the factors may vary over the career stages of a researcher. The NSRI is designed to be large enough to look separately at subgroups.

The survey also reported on the frequency of Responsible Research Practices (RRPs) and Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) in each of the four disciplinary fields. Because of its unique methodology and its nationwide target across all disciplinary fields, NSRI can provide solid data to identify driving factors that promote or hinder Responsible Research Practices (RRP).

  • Which research institutions supported the NSRI?

Five universities (University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen, Tilburg University and Maastricht University) and three university medical centers (Amsterdam UMC, Radboud UMC and Maastricht UMC) actively supported the NSRI by providing the e-mail addresses of their researchers, recommending them to respond, and co-creating effective institutional support to foster research integrity based on the NSRI results. The five participating universities also contribute financially to the NSRI.

  • Who conducted the NSRI?

The principle investigator of the NSRI is Prof Lex Bouter, heading a core team of researchers comprising Prof. Jelte Wicherts, Associate Prof Gerben ter Riet, Dr. Maarten Cruyff and Dr. Gowri Gopalakrishna. Supporting this core team is a seven member steering committee consisting of national and international experts covering a broad range of expertise in research integrity, survey methodology, social science research and statistics.

  • What type of questions were asked in the NSRI?

The survey comprises of questions which ask about self-reported behaviour and on perceived behaviour of others as well as a few basic background questions on one’s major field of research and academic rank. A set of questions on
explanatory factors that may promote or hinder responsible conduct of research focusing on perceptions concerning organizational justice, individual and group norms, work pressure, mentoring and social support, and likelihood of detection were also asked.

  • How was the privacy of participants joining the NSRI guaranteed?

Our privacy protection measures included:

  1. No personal identifying data was collected except disciplinary field and academic rank.
  2. All data was collected by a trusted third party, Kantar Public so the research team never received directly any personal data. The research team only received anonymized data by disciplinary field and academic rank.
  3. E-mail addresses were only used for sending the invitation and reminders and deleted after the response or refusal to participate was received. IP addresses were never stored by Kantar Public.

Because of these measures, no data can be analysed or published that can be traced to individual participants or specific research institutions.

  • What additional privacy protection did we offer for the most sensitive questions?

NSRI employed the Randomized Response Technique. This is a valid method to measure undesirable behaviour that has been used already extensively in the study of financial fraud and doping in sports. Find out more by watching this short video explaining how the method works. Read more here: Meta-Analysis of Randomized Response Research- Thirty-Five Years of Validation. Sociological Methods & Research 2005; 33 (3): 319-348).

  • What makes this survey different from other surveys?

The National Survey of Research Integrity (NSRI) is unique in a number of ways:

  1. It targets the entire population of academic researchers in The Netherlands.
  2. The survey will employ a technique known as the Randomized Response (RR) which has shown to elicit more honest answers around sensitive topics.
  3. It will examine an extensive range of factors that may impact scholars engagement in Responsible Research Practices and Questionable Research Practices.
  • What do we mean by Responsible Research Practices (RRPs) and Questionable Research Practices (QRP)?

In the NSRI we have intentionally chosen to use the terms RRPs and QRPs for research behaviors. We have chosen to use the term QRPs as a “misbehavior” in one disciplinary field may not necessarily be a misbehavior in another field. For example, not publishing a valid negative study is not relevant in the field of qualitative research where there are no such explicit distinctions between “positive” and “negative” results. For this reason, the term QRP is more applicable to all disciplinary fields the NSRI targets than using the term detrimental as what is ‘detrimental’ may differ by disciplinary field.

Chapter 3 of Dutch code of conduct for Research Integrity offers a perspectives and definitions the NSRI uses in our survey.

  • What do we mean when we talk about research integrity?

For this we refer to the website of the World Conferences on Research Integrity Foundation.

  • Why is the NSRI in English?

The survey is intended for all academic researchers in The Netherlands, many of whom are PhDs. Given that the number of international academics in the Netherlands has grown steadily over the years (more than 40% of PhD graduates and nearly 20% of professors are non-Dutch according to the Young Academy that was published in 2018, we felt English would be the most appropriate, inclusive language of choice for this study.

  • Why use a survey design for a complex topic like research integrity?

To optimally address all 40,000 academic researchers in The Netherlands, a survey instrument was the most fitting choice for this project. While it has its drawbacks especially when studying a complex topic such as research integrity, the primary goal of this survey was to get concrete estimates of RRP, QRPs and their associated factors for these practices across disciplines. Balancing time to answer such a survey, while protecting privacy and a sample size of about 40,000 researchers, a survey tool was most appropriate. This does not exclude us from exploring themes that will arise from the survey results through more detailed focus groups discussions at the next stage of this project.