The National Survey on Research Integrity (NSRI) is being distributed to nearly 40,000 researchers in the Netherlands starting today. The survey marks the starts of not only the largest study ever conducted, worldwide,on research integrity, but also the first and largest study to target the entire research communityin the Netherlands, acrossall disciplines.
The survey seeks to sketch as accurate and complete a picture as possible of theissues that can foster or hinder research integrity, such as open science practices, competitiveness, trust in published studies, work pressure, and questionable and responsible research practices.
“We are living in a time when scientific research and outcomes are essential to making decisions that affect the general populationand our country’s welfare,” said professor Lex Bouter, project leader for the NSRI. “There is much at stake, and it is imperative that those who are relying on science can also trust our research practices.”
The NSRI is one ofthe projects in the Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP) programme, conducting “research about research”and underwritten by the Dutch organisations ZonMw, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and their partners. ZonMw, NWO and their partners are investing a total of 3.8 million euros over five years to realise the four pillars of the FRRP programme, of which the NSRI is one of.
According to FRRP: “By means of the NSRI, we will gain insight into the nature and causes of questionable research practices. The results will be used to implement substantiated improvements.
Different to ethics, research integrity generally refers to the principles and standards whose purpose it is to ensure validity and trustworthiness of research,” according to Gowri Gopalakrishna, the post-doc researcher on the NSRI team. “It has become an urgent topic not only in the Netherlands, but also worldwide, especially with the open science movement.”
Accelerated scientific publishing during the Covid-19 pandemic is an example that Bouter, Gopalakrishna and their team have cited as a reason to bring research integrity topics to the front of researchers’ attention, noting that the first four months of the pandemic resultedin muchmore related scientific publishing than in 2003 with the outbreak of SARS.
“The rapidly increasing number of publications combined with the urgency to quickly understand the new pathogen presents a significant challenge for maintaining the integrity of the underlying evidence base, and to ensure that research is conducted according to global standards of research integrity,” Gopalakrishna and Bouterargue in a commentarywritten in June 2020 for British Medical Journal Opinion.