Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

In September 2018, the new version of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity was launched. It is a revised and expanded version of the code of conduct that was first introduced in 2004, reflecting international developments in the field of academic integrity that have taken place since then. The code was developed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Associated Applied Research Institutes (TO2), Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), and entered into force on 1 October 2018.

Tim van der Hagen, TU Delft Rector Magnificus/President of the Executive Board stresses the importance of the new Code of Conduct, which provides researchers with standards to guide their day-to-day activities in practice. “It also remains crucial that we continue to talk about the dilemmas we face in our work.” The Executive Board has established the ‘TU Delft Vision on Integrity’ on 25 September 2018: various proposals in that Vision are related to the Institutions’ duties of care as described in Chapter 4 of the Netherlands Code of Conduct.

  • The new Code of Conduct is written in such a way that it can apply to both public and public-private scientific and scholarly research in the Netherlands.
  • The Code of Conduct specifically allows for collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches, as it takes into account the differences between different institutions. The Code of Conduct defines five principles of research integrity and 61 standards for good research practices and duties of care for the institutions.
  • The institutions’ duties of care are new additions to this Code of Conduct. With these, the research organizations show that they are responsible for providing a working environment that promotes and safeguards good research practices.
  • Moreover, the new Code of Conduct for Research Integrity distinguishes between research misconduct, questionable research practices, and minor shortcomings.
  • The final chapter describes how an institution must address potential research misconduct.
  • On the one hand, the Code of Conduct grants institutions adequate scope to deliver a balanced verdict regarding potential research misconduct, while on the other hand it explicitly states the criteria that play a role in such a scenario. The final point clearly shows how the Code of Conduct should be viewed: as a helping hand that researchers and institutions can and will apply themselves.

A collective Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is of huge importance for scientific research and is therefore fully supported by TU Delft. The new Netherlands Code of Conduct states amongst others that in the event of an investigation into alleged research misconduct, all relevant research and data will be made available for verification subject to the confidentiality safeguards established by the Executive Board (Art. 3.2, norm 12a). TU Delft values this provision highly. TU Delft will abandon the exception mentioned in norm 12b of article 3.2, and will not use the possibility mentioned in this norm to not disclose components of the research, including data, to an investigation into alleged research misconduct in highly exceptional cases. In two years, the newly established Code of Conduct will be evaluated. Thereby special attention will be paid to the application of norm 12b.

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice (2014 revision) is revoked on 1 October 2018, except in respect of a. research completed before the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity entered into force, and b. research activities initiated before the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity entered into force and not yet completed when it did so.