There is no exact definition of “good research practice” or corresponding terms in other languages. The term “misconduct in research” also lacks a globally accepted definition, but in a new law that entered into force in January 2020 “research misconduct” is defined as “a serious deviation from good research practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that is committed intentionally or through gross negligence when planning, conducting or reporting research”. Also other deviations from good research practice may be considered serious.

Information på svenska om god sed och oredlighet i forskning

Good research practice

Misconduct in research

Managing suspicions of misconduct

Reporting misconduct

Questions about good research practice and research misconduct

Good research practice

According to the Higher Education Act (Högskolelagen (1992:1434)), higher education institutions shall uphold academic credibility and good research practice in the course of their operations (3a§). There is no exact definition of “good research practice” or corresponding terms in other languages. It could be described as the moral practice that develops as a result of critical reflection by different actors in science and society (cf. SOU 1999:4) or as “the collective ethical criteria on how good research should be conducted” (Good Research Practice, VR, 2017:17). This is often taken to include demands on objectivity, impartiality, and independence; honesty in communication; transparency with respect to methods and results; recognition and management of potential harms, risks, and conflicts of interest. (See also The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity).

Misconduct in research

The term “misconduct in research” also lacks a globally accepted definition (as do other, near-equivalent terms), but it is usually taken to refer to especially grave deviations from good research practice. The core cases are commonly defined in terms of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism (abbreviated as “FFP”; cf. OECD 2008), but misconduct in research can also be taken to include things like theft, wrongful claim of authorship, hindering scientific review, conducting research without the required ethical permissions, breach of confidentiality, dishonesty in reporting to funding agencies, suppression of undesired results, and dissemination of false or distorted results. Intent or gross negligence is usually required in order for a deviation from good practice to count as misconduct.

The Act on responsibility for good research practice and the examination of research misconduct (lagen (2019:504) om ansvar för god forskningssed och prövning av oredlighet i forskning), which entered into force on January 1st 2020, defines “research misconduct” as "a serious deviation from of good research practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that is committed intentionally or with gross negligence when planning, conducting or reporting research”. You may wish to read the government committee report where the act was proposed, and the subsequent government bill.

Managing suspicions of misconduct

According to the Act on responsibility for good research practice and the examination of research misconduct (see above), from January 1st 2020 suspicions of research misconduct shall be investigated by a national board, Nämnden för prövning av oredlighet i forskning. Other deviations from good research practice than those fitting the definition of research misconduct shall be handled by the higher education institutions themselves. At Stockholm University, the Council for Good Research Practice (Rådet för god forskningssed, formerly named the Ethics Council/Etiska rådet) is responsible for investigating suspicions of such deviations. The council consists of the deputy vice-presidents, the deans of the human science area, the pro-dean of the science area, and the teacher representatives of the University Board. The Council can also call on external expertise for participation or advice. The Rules of procedure for the Council for Good Research Practice can be found here. The University Procedure for handling suspicion of deviation from good research practice can be found here.

Reporting misconduct

Cases of alleged research misconduct at Stockholm University should be reported (preferably in writing) to the President. A report made to any other employee at Stockholm University should be forwarded to the President without delay. 

Suspicions of deviations from good research practice at Stockholm University shall be reported (preferably in writing) to the President. A report made to any other employee at Stockholm University shall be forwarded to the President without delay. 
From January 1st 2020, Stockholm University will hand over cases concerning suspected deviations from good research practice fitting the new definition of research misconduct (see above) to the national board for investigation of research misconduct. It is also possible to report suspicions of research misconduct directly to the board, see contact information here.

Questions about good research practice and research misconduct 

If you have more general questions about good research practice or misconduct in research, you are welcome to contact the ethics support function at the Office för Research, Engagement and Innovation Services, etik@fs.su.se