Research Integrity Supervision Practices and Institutional Support: A Qualitative Study

Journal of Academic Ethics 21 (3):427-448 (2023)
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Abstract

Scientific malpractice is not just due to researchers having bad intentions, but also due to a lack of education concerning research integrity practices. Besides the importance of institutionalised trainings on research integrity, research supervisors play an important role in translating what doctoral students learn during research integrity formal sessions. Supervision practices and role modelling influence directly and indirectly supervisees’ attitudes and behaviour toward responsible research. Research supervisors can not be left alone in this effort. Research institutions are responsible for supporting supervisors in being more aware of their RI function, and in supporting responsible supervision practices to have a positive cascading effect on supervisees’ research practices. We interviewed 22 European research supervisors to investigate how they perceive their role as research integrity trainers and their real-life supervision practices. Moreover, we investigated their points of view concerning the role of research institutions in supporting supervision practices. Although there are different commonalities in supervisors’ perception of their research integrity-related role, differences are emphasised depending on the supervisors’ characteristics such as academic domain, seniority, working country and gender. In addition, supervisors’ way of mentoring depend also on supervisees’ learning curve. Overall, all supervisors agreed on institutions playing an important role in support their supervision effort and practices. This study aims to be a starting point for better understanding research integrity supervision practices and the role of institutions in supporting them. Moreover, it puts the basis to further investigate differences in supervision practices depending on supervisors’ characteristics.

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