Allegations of a violation of responsible conduct of research (RCR) are always investigated within the organisation in which the suspected violation occurred or where the person against whom the allegation is made was working when it occurred. Once the allegation has first been addressed under the organisation’s process for investigating alleged violations of responsible conduct of research (the RCR process), the parties may, if they wish, request a statement on the matter from the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK.
TENK’s statement on the RCR matter is based on the RCR guidelines from 2012 “Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland" (PDF) which Finnish research organisations have undertaken to follow. The organisation signing up to the guidelines obliges people working in the organisation’s research community to comply with the guidelines.
The RCR guidelines are available in Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian, Chinese and Spanish on the page Advice and Materials.
Who can request a statement from TENK?
A statement from TENK may be requested by the instigator of the allegation or the person against whom the allegation was brought if the said party is dissatisfied with:
- the decision made by the rector or head of the institution at the end of the RCR process,
- the procedures adopted in the preliminary inquiry or in the investigation proper, or
- the conclusions of the investigation team’s final report.
If there is more than one instigator or person alleged to have committed an RCR violation, they may request a statement either jointly or each independently on their own behalf.
Reasons for making the request must be provided and the request must include the specific questions on which TENK is requested to make a statement.
When can a statement be requested?
A statement must be requested no later than six months after the organisation has made its final decision.
A statement may not be requested if the RCR process regarding the matter is still in progress. TENK does not deal with allegations that have not previously been investigated in an RCR process.
Nor does TENK accept new notifications of alleged violations of responsible conduct of research.
TENK processes requests for a statement on the basis of the documents with which it has been provided within five months following receipt of the request for a statement at the latest. (EDIT April 15 2021: Due to the large number of statement requests, TENK may presently exceed the time limit of 5 months.)
Statements are decided at TENK meetings. TENK meets 6–7 times a year.
On what matters can TENK provide an opinion or not provide an opinion?
TENK restricts its statement to questions of research integrity. Therefore its statements only state whether an RCR investigation has been performed in accordance with the RCR guidelines and whether there has been a violation of responsible conduct of research.
Correspondingly, TENK does not in its statements issue an opinion on, e.g.
- differences of scientific or artistic opinion or different schools of thought
- legal factors such as violations of the copyright law or patent law
- questions of professional ethics
- problems in the workplace community
- filling duties or appointments
- evaluating theses or the course of the dissertation process
- violations of norms in a particular discipline, unless this also involves a violation referred to in the RCR guidelines.
Nor does TENK in its statements issue an opinion on the reasons for, or the consequences of, a potential violation of RCR.
What happens after requesting a statement?
Once TENK has received the request for a statement, TENK requests responses from those involved and from the organisation that conducted the investigation. The person requesting the statement has an opportunity to comment on these responses.
TENK makes its statement on the basis of the documents and responses that it has been provided with. TENK does not itself carry out an additional investigation in the case and nor does it conduct hearings.
The statement issued by TENK is sent both to the person requesting the statement and to the rector or head of the organisation and the other parties.
Sanctions regarding confirmed RCR violations are not part of TENK’s remit. Potential consequences caused by the action are decided by the rector or head of the research or funding organisation (see point 9 of the RCR process as set out in the RCR guidelines for more details).However, the RCR guidelines include a duty to inform the parties concerned of the conclusions of TENK’s statement (see points 10–12 of the RCR process for more details).
Sometimes the preliminary inquiry conducted by the organisation does not find an RCR violation but in TENK’s opinion the possibility of an RCR violation cannot be ruled out. In such cases, TENK may return the matter back to the organisation for an RCR investigation proper.
The request for a statement, its appendices and other documents in the processing of the case are public once the statement has been issued (apart from any data that must remain confidential by law).
TENK does not publish its statements. On TENK’s website, summaries of cases are provided which remove the names of the parties and the organisations.
TENK may also decide not to issue a statement.
No appeals may be made against TENK’s statement.
How to request a statement?
- A request for a statement must be entitled "request for a statement" and addressed to the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK (not personally to the Secretary General or the Chair).
- The request for a statement must include the date and the name and contact details of the person making the request. Requests for a statement may not be made anonymously.
- A statement may only be requested regarding whether an RCR investigation has been performed in accordance with the RCR guidelines and whether there has been a violation of responsible conduct of research in the light of the definitions in the RCR guidelines.
- The request for a statement must specify and provide reasons for all the questions on which TENK is requested to respond. In its statement, TENK only responds to the questions with which it has been presented.
- The request for a statement must be accompanied by 1) the notification of alleged RCR misconduct, that started the RCR process in the research organisation, and 2) the decision made by the rector or head of the institution in the case and the associated preliminary inquiry report or the final report of the investigation team.
- Other material central to the case that the person requesting a statement wishes TENK to be aware of may be appended to the request for a statement.
- Appended documents must be numbered and must be referred to by these numbers in the text. If there are several appendices, a numbered list should be added at the end of the request for a statement.
- The appended files must be named clearly, e.g. “Request for a statement SURNAME appendix 1”.
- Note: The request for a statement with its appended documents is a public document once the statement has been issued.
- A request for a statement should be sent to TENK electronically (e.g. as a PDF file) to the e-mail address tenk(at)tenk.fi. It is also possible to submit a request for a statement by post, see contact details.