4.2.3 Responsible conduct of research

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​​​​​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions​

This item refers to one of the Core Requirements (Core Requirement 5 - "The research unit must have a procedure to act upon concerns of potential misconduct") and is, therefore, considered as essential.

Please see Toolbox item Research integrity for background and definitions.

​B. Guidance & Expectations

The research unit (or the research organization to which the research unit belongs to) must have a uniform and robust procedure in place to deal with potential research misconduct:

  • A central and known to all researchers "speak up" mechanism for research misconduct concerns must be in place.
    • This could be an ombudsperson or research integrity officer or an anonymous mailbox or a confidential electronic "hotline" from where concerns are triaged to a dedicated person.​​
    • This could be a person of trust identified in the neighboring research unit or organization and who would be in a position to deal with violations and allegations of misconduct in agreement with the national or institutional guidelines. Please see also the FAQ​ section.
  • In general, allegations of misconduct are handled by a standing or ad hoc investigation committee taking into account the required expertise and potential conflict of interest.
    • The ENRIO handbook on Recommentations for the Investigation of Research Misconduct is a good resource for practical recommendations.​

It is advised that the procedure, including the speak-up (anonymous reporting, whistleblower policy) and the investigation mechanism, is described and documented in a single file in the Dossier and the research unit informed about it via Email or in group meetings.​


  • Research misconduct is a sensitive topic and has to be handled with maximal care, fairness, and integrity
  • To provide training on research integrity and document it
  • To make sure that every member of the research unit knows how to report potential misconduct

C. Resources

Essential reading:

Training and learning resources:

Examples and guidance on building institutional policies:

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