In Europe, there are several different national approaches available for investigating violations of research integrity. There are also countries which still do not have any national framework. There are basically two courses of action in determining scientific misconduct, investigating allegations and imposing sanctions: a model based on legislation and a self-regulation model by the scientific community.
When a research misconduct investigation leans on national legislation, serious research misconduct is, in this case, also a crime. It is not so within the self-regulation framework. Instead, the scientific community itself will rectify the situation, following academic practices, and will consequently carry out an investigation and impose sanctions, using mutually agreed rules.
Finland employs a self-regulation framework which is based on the national guidelines, first published in 1994, on the identification and investigation of responsible conduct of research (RCR) violations. In addition to the internal regulations within the scientific community, its starting point is the openness and transparency of science as well as the mutual trust between researchers and research organisations. The model of self-regulation works well in democracies akin to Finland.
Guidelines for the responsible conduct of research (RCR)
In Finland, the defining of responsible conduct of research and investigating cases are based on Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland or the RCR guidelines by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK. The guidelines were drafted in cooperation with the scientific community. Finland has over 20 years’ experience in the application and functionality of the guidelines, and they were last updated in 2012.
- Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland. Guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity 2012 (PDF) (in Finnish, Swedish & English)
The effectiveness of these guidelines is based on a voluntary commitment to adhere to them by all universities, universities of applied sciences and other research organisations in the sphere of public funding as well as the most important financers.