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§). According to the Higher Education Ordinance (Högskoleförordningen (1993:100)), a higher education institution  that becomes aware of suspected misconduct in research, artistic research or development work at the higher education institution shall investigate the suspicions (16§). What, then, is good research practice? And what does misconduct in research amount to? Follow the links below and learn more.

Good research practice

Misconduct in research

Managing suspicions of misconduct

Reporting misconduct

New law

Good research practice

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.

Managing suspicions of misconduct

At Stockholm University, cases of suspected misconduct in research are investigated by the Ethics Council (Etiska Rådet), consisting 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 Ethics Council can also call on external expertise for participation or advice. 

Reporting misconduct

Cases of suspected misconduct in research 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 immediately. 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 Research Support Office, etik@fs.su.se

New law

On January 1st 2020 a new law on responsibility for good research practice and investigations of research misconduct enters into force . The law defines “research misconduct” as “serious breaches of good scientific practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that are committed intentionally or with gross negligence in the planning, performance or reporting of research”. The law provides that suspicions of research misconduct shall be investigated by a new independent national board, while universities will keep managing suspicions of other breaches of good scientific practice.