Exploring Research Integrity Policies and Practices in the Houses of Science - ETHOS

Name of applicant

Lise Degn


Aarhus University


DKK 4,645,569



Type of grant

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Responsible conduct of research has moved to the forefront of the political agenda, no least due to a number of high-profile scandals: in Denmark for instance the Penkowa case and recently the so-called 'meat scandal'. To address these scandals and perceived problems of integrity, policies and guidelines have been developed both on supranational, national and organisational levels, but we still know very little about integrity practices 'on the floor' of the academic institutions. The ETHOS project aims to explore how the everyday lives and practices of researchers are affected by integrity policies and norms. By identifying tensions in the processes of turning integrity policies into practice, ETHOS investigates how academics 'live with integrity' in their daily work.


Research integrity is increasingly seen as both an individual and institutional responsibility, and one which impacts society's trust in science at a time where it is most needed. The 'anti-vax' movement - which has gained further ground during the COVID-19 pandemic, still finds its roots and some of its main arguments in a prominent research misconduct case relating vaccines to autism. While literature on research integrity has recently expanded rapidly, it has so far been narrowly focused, and based on assumptions of either 'rotten apples' (individual pathologies) or 'rotten systems' (perverse incentives, policy pressures etc.). ETHOS contributes with a novel view on how research integrity emerges in and influences academic and organisational practices.


Through three distinct, but interrelated work packages, the project seeks to answer the overall question: How do the academic and public discourses shape the problem of research integrity and how do such problematizations affect academic practices and perceptions? To this end, the project team will (i) perform elaborate, computationally assisted, literature review to identify how RI emerges as a problem and where potential solutions are located: (ii) map existing RI policy instruments to assess how RI is translated in a policy concern: and (iii) conduct ethnographic case studies at three European research institutes to assess how researchers translate formal RI policies into their daily research practices.

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