(G06)
Integrity: personal virtue, remedy for fraud, object of governance?
Location Bowland North Seminar Room 7
Date and Start Time 28 Jul, 2018 at 09:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Govert Valkenburg (Leiden University) email
  • Sarah de Rijcke (Leiden University) email
  • Barend van der Meulen (Rathenau Instituut) email
  • Bart Penders (Maastricht University) email

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Chair Bart Penders (Maastricht University) and Govert Valkenburg (Leiden University)

Short abstract

Integrity can among other things be understood as a virtue, as a policy and governance objective, and as a remedy against fraudulent and irresponsible research. This panel invites perspectives on integrity and on the transformations the concept undergoes under social and institutional changes.

Long abstract

Traditionally, integrity has been reckoned a virtue of the individual scientist, possibly inscribed in professional codes and discussed in the realm of professional ethics. In recent years, the notion increasingly emerges as an object for (academic) governance, a criterion for assessment and advancement, and a value in defense of scientific authority.

This shift has consequences for how accountability is attributed. Also, it may lead to novel way of mobilizing the notion in public debate and public media, as well as in more specific and contained discourses such as responsible research and innovation. In those cases, it is likely to entangle with complex constructions of truth, safety and technological efficacy. Alternatively, calls for integrity may serve the imposition of more rigid methodological frameworks, which raises the question which paradigms (e.g. from medical sciences, or social sciences and humanities) prevail. In a broader sense, novel forms of 'integrity management' may rearrange research practices. Finally, researching integrity is inherently reflexive: if the conceptualisation and construction of integrity in researched practices change, how does this protrude into what social-scientific researchers reckon their responsibility and integrity?

This panel welcomes papers discussing integrity and how it transforms under the influence of current changes in organizational, professional and societal arrangements, and how it is negotiated vis-à-vis socio-economic pressures on the research and innovation system. We invite conceptual and empirical contributions presenting novel perspectives on integrity and related values as concepts that are transformed, enacted and circulated.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Building cultures of integrity: the interaction between promotion structures and research integrity

Author: Govert Valkenburg (Leiden University) email
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Short abstract

Integrity emerges (or not) in a context of organizational culture. This paper discusses integrity in relation to one part of that culture, namely the promotion and assessment procedures by which researchers' careers are steered. The study focuses on University Medical Centers in the Netherlands.

Long abstract

Integrity as a value or virtue is not something established in a vacuum but realised in a context. In the context of research, integrity is realised (or not) in negotiation with other institutional factors such as policies, institutional cultures, and disciplinary standards. Contextual factors such as publication and career pressure have been mentioned widely as potential impediments for research integrity to be maintained. This paper investigates how the realisation of integrity in medical research practices relates to the contextual factor of assessment and promotion of researchers, and whether and how such promotion practices help to nourish integrity. The paper pays explicit attention to the notion of integrity culture, as a site where collective and individual notions of integrity are negotiated, and which is partly built through such promotion strategies. The paper is empirically centred on the Netherlands, and builds on empirical material, chiefly interviews and focus groups, acquired in the 8 University Medical Centers in the country.

How institutions think: governing research integrity in university environments

Authors: Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna) email
Florentine Frantz (University of Vienna) email
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Short abstract

Building on a document analysis of research integrity policy papers of Austrian universities and interviews with those responsible for their translation into institutional practice, we aim to show the different models of governance at work and what imagination of contemporary research they perform.

Long abstract

Over the last decades, we witnessed a growing concern over issues of research integrity within contemporary research systems. This was triggered by the perception that numbers of "obvious" transgressions of acceptable academic practice were rising, by concerns around the number of retractions of academic papers and obvious flaws in the peer review system, by undue influence of those funding studies on their epistemic outcomes, but also by the recent concerns captured by the label of "reproducibility crisis".

How do research institutions, in particular universities, react to these challenges and try to adapt/extend the governance processes accordingly? This question will be at the core of our presentation. Building on a document analysis of research integrity policy papers of Austrian universities and interviews with those responsible for their translation into institutional practice, we aim to show the different models of governance at work and what imagination of contemporary research they perform. Furthermore, we will reflect the relation between ideals of excellent science and institutional practices of assuring research integrity. In short, we want to understand better how institutions of research "think" about the research practices they are supposed to foster and the responsibility they have to assure integrity in knowledge production.

This paper will build on research undertaken in the framework of the project "Borderlands of good scientific practice" funded by the Research Fund of the Austrian National Bank and carried out at the research platform "Responsible Research and Innovation in Academic Practice" at the University of Vienna.

Research integrity as translation work: assumptions and practices of authorship in nutrition science

Author: Bart Penders (Maastricht University) email
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Short abstract

Codes of conduct and research integrity guidelines harbour many assumptions on research practice. This paper focusses on assumptions in authorship criteria in nutrition science. It studies the organisation of research and asks whether assumptions fit the plural practices of nutrition science.

Long abstract

Research integrity can be conceived as a series of prescriptions governing the conduct of scientists. Prescriptions on how to behave as a scientist in order to uphold research integrity contain assumptions on how that practice is organised, how responsibility and power in that practice is distributed and on evaluations of worth as they exist in research. This is especially clear in the context of data and authorship, where strict rule-based behaviours are assuming an academic context. This context exhibits a very specific distributions of tasks, responsibilities and power.

This paper draws from a serious of interviews with Dutch nutrition scientists in academia and industry on authorship and asks whether and how the assumptions embodied in formal and informal authorship criteria fit the research practices in which they are employed. In doing so, it focusses on the organisation of work in general and task interdependence, research governance structures and valuation cultures in particular. The paper links literature on authorship and authorship criteria with that on the social organisation of research labour and collaboration. It aims to differentiate prescriptive and descriptive structures in research integrity through the example of authorship and argues that the organisation of work in commercial laboratories does not fit assumptions embedded in authorship criteria. The different organisation of work allows for alternative articulations of authorship, creative distributions of credibility and problematic distributions of responsibility.

Situating integrity: locating policy concepts in practice

Authors: Katrine Lindvig (University of Copenhagen) email
Sarah Davies (University of Copenhagen) email
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Short abstract

In this paper, we explore what happens to the meaning of integrity when the concept is applied to research as a whole? If the aim is responsible research, where does integrity reside, and who bears responsibility for ensuring it?

Long abstract

Integrity is a prevailing concept in current research policy, along with terms such as 'innovation',' sustainability' and 'interdisciplinarity. While these concepts have been employed as bench marks, measuring tools, and devices for standardisation across national, institutional and disciplinary boundaries, they are highly performative in that their meanings and definitions vary across sites and are implicated in the coproduction of specific local practices.

Integrity originally referred to wholeness, consistency of character and was construed as an individual trait. Current discourse around research (mis)conduct, however, frames integrity not only as a personal quality, but a characteristic of particular kinds of scholarship. But what happens to the meaning of integrity when the concept is applied to research as a whole? If the aim is responsible research, where does integrity reside, and who bears responsibility for ensuring it?

We explore these questions with reference to two data sets: one a study of 'interdisciplinarity' in practice, and the other of scientists' talk about integrity. In both cases we are interested in how potentially abstract policy concepts are realised at the level of practice. In the case of integrity, informants repeatedly pointed to the wider context of science as being behind misconduct and questionable practice. Insecurity of employment and the need to chase funding were understood as ethical problems in and of themselves. Here integrity was indeed a function of the system of science, rather than of individuals - meaning that efforts to ensure integrity aimed at individual scientists were understood as unneccessary or problematic.

The bureaucratization of research integrity

Author: Barend van der Meulen (Rathenau Instituut) email
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Short abstract

This paper studies research integrity as a new object of management. Cases of alleged misconduct have led to new bureaucratic infrastructures. Such infrastructures formalize what used to be implicit within practices of doing science and, as a result, create new understandings of research integrity.

Long abstract

The creation of scientific integrity committees, integrity officers, codes of conducts, etc. can be seen as a new area of bureaucratization of professional conduct. Such bureaucratization often includes several logics. One is the framing of professional values as organizational values, which within universities imply standardization of disciplinary differences. Another logic is boundary work, defining what conduct is scientific and what not, and distinguishing misconduct from questionable practices. A third logic is the creation of new hierarchies and responsibilities for maintaining the order, especially through the creation of new centres of control at the interface of organization and profession. Last but not least through bureaucratization the relation with society is reframed.

Our focus will be on the Netherlands, where after 2011 an infrastructure for managing research integrity rapidly emerged. Some of these new practices, or revitalized practices, are embedded within the organizational structure of the university, others like PhD courses by Graduate Schools can be understood as attempts to embed professional understandings of research integrity within the discipline.

The paper maps the development for each of the four logics and assesses the impact on how the understanding of research integrity has developed. In the conclusions the findings are used to critically assess dynamics of bureaucratisation and professionalization in science, and the reflect on research integrity in relation to different forms of knowledge production.

Too much, too soon? Emerging domains of science and the logic of reproducibility

Author: Peter Darch (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) email
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Short abstract

Many stakeholders regard pursuing reproducibility as essential for enhancing scientific integrity. However, requirements for reproducibility implicate a logic at odds with practices in emerging domains of science. This logic has the potential to harm these domains' long-term prospects.

Long abstract

A growing movement of key scientific stakeholders is promoting reproducibility (the ability to reproduce published scientific findings by replicating the steps in the original analysis) as essential for enhancing scientific integrity. Requirements for reproducibility include use of open source software or code written by researchers themselves, willingness and ability of researchers to share code and data they use, and provision of digital infrastructure for code and data circulation. However, these requirements implicate a "logic of reproducibility" at odds with practices in emerging domains of science, and that could harm these domains' long-term prospects.

This paper presents a five-year study of an emerging domain, subseafloor biosphere research, that involves multidisciplinary studies of seafloor microbial life. Typical of many emerging domains, subseafloor biosphere research is characterized by methodological heterogeneity, limited access to data, disparate approaches to data management, and even disagreement about what is considered "data." Many research workflows are exploratory, drawing together diverse datasets from multiple sources and employing an array of methods. The logic of reproducibility risks impeding domain researchers: digital data infrastructure may encode and impose standards prematurely; researchers often lack the means or rights to share data, or may be unwilling to share data that are scarce and hard-won; and they sometimes have to use proprietary software either because no relevant open source software exists or they cannot write their own code. If scientific integrity comes to entail reproducibility, the credibility and maturation of subseafloor biosphere research could be harmed. Instead, conceptions of integrity should remain pluralistic.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.