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The Embassy of Good Science

The Project

Nationa Survey Research Integrity

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 will also report on the prevalence of RRPs, Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) and research misconduct (defined as falsification and fabrication) in each of the four disciplinary fields and across three academic ranks. Because of its unique methodology and its nationwide target of approximately 40,000 researchers across all disciplinary fields, NSRI can provide solid data to identify driving factors that promote or hinder RRP.

Why is it important?

Many researchers work in environments that stimulate responsible behavior. However, scholarly environments are also complex and full of competition. Competition can stimulate people to work hard, but may also have downsides. What are optimal research environments? What working conditions are detrimental to good research practices? Fostering responsible research and preventing questionable practices is important. However, the causes behind the variability in engagement in responsible and questionable practices and research misconduct are largely unknown. Once known, strategies to enhance responsible research practices while reducing questionable practices can be developed and evaluated. The NSRI attempts to play an important role in solving this. Watch this two-minute video on why research integrity matters to every one of us in society.

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 the privacy and the target 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 group discussions at the next stage of this project.

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

  • It aims to provide valid disciplinary field-specific estimates on the occurrence of responsible research practices and questionable research practices across the biomedical sciences, the humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and the social and behavioral sciences.
  • It targets the entire population of academic researchers in The Netherlands; the largest sample ever studied in research integrity to-date.
  • The survey will employ a technique known as the Randomized Response (RR) which has shown to elicit more honest answers around sensitive topics.
  • It will examine a broad range of factors that may impact on scholars engagement in responsible research practices and questionable research practices.