Poster Open Access

Responsible Conduct of Research in the Changing Landscape of Science

Laine, Heidi

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is a concept that encompasses both good and bad behaviour in the scientific domain. RCR has been coined in numerous statements and guidelines. There are also a variety of national approaches to handling cases of alleged and confirmed research misconduct. Many of them rest on the principle of academic autonomy and are based on self-regulation.

The landscape of scientific research is changing due to digitalization. Some even call it  a paradigm shift. Concepts such as Science 2.0 and eScience refer to the new technical possibilities digitalization is providing for scientific research. Open Science is a movement inside the research community, that aims at making both the scientific process and scientific knowledge more transparent and accessible in the digital domain. I argue that the key documents defining RCR and it's breaches were created with the "Science 1.0" in mind: for a world where research is conducted using more or less local and institution specific infrastructures, that are usually closed for outsiders and where research processes are mostly kept private. Do the RCR guidelines need to be updated and if so, how, is one of the questions I aim at answering in my dissertation.

I ask also what effect do the RCR guidelines and policies have? How have they come to being, whose voice speaks in them? How adaptable are they to changes in the scientific landscape? I approach these questions through a series of case studies:

  • Forming and implementing RCR bottom-up: RCR in the context of open research collaboration, cases Polymath Project, NMR Lipids blog and SOMUS project
  • Forming RCR top-down: the case of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity and its RCR guideline
  • Implementing RCR top-down: the case of the Finnish research community and its process for handling suspected research misconduct

I am committed to the principles of Open Science and have adopted an open-by-default attitude towards the outputs of my research. Since a significant part of my data is non-anonymized interview data, being open requires sensitivity and thorough reflection concerning ethical issues. There is very little precedent in open qualitative non-anonymized human data, meaning that there are many issues to be tackled. For example according to the Finnish Data Protection Ombudsmans interpretation of the Finnish law, so called broad consent given by research subjects to use data related to them for unspecified further research, is not legally valid. This makes it currently impossible for me to archive and share my data in Finland. I am planning on challenging this interpretation which, if allowed to stand, will significantly hinder researchers of contemporary history from participating in the open data community and its discussions.

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