Organizational structures and processes for research ethics and integrity: case study by the European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) Alliance

Keywords: research ethics, research integrity, SEA-EU Alliance, good science, research infrastructure, research funding-expenditures


Aim: To explore the structures and processes for research ethics and integrity among the universities that are a part of the European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) Alliance.

Methods: Data from the public websites or experts from the six universities of the European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) Alliance: University of Cádiz (Spain), University of Western Brittany in Brest (France), University of Kiel (Germany), University of Gdańsk (Poland), University of Split (Croatia) and University of Malta (Malta) were collected. We followed the approach of the EC Mutual Learning Exercise on Research Integrity and the country report cards at The Embassy of Good Science.

Results: We identified similarities and differences regarding research infrastructure, funding, strategy, research governance, compliance, integrity, regulations, and measures to promote good scientific practices and open science at the country level. The universities that are partners in the SEA-EU Alliance differed in the research capacity, expressed as the number of higher education institutions in the country, number of full-time researchers, gross expenditure on research and development, number of grants as well as in the structures and processes at the institutional and national levels for research ethics and research integrity. The differences in the research ethics and integrity frameworks at individual universities were related to the national legislation but also to the national and institutional incentives to promote responsible research.

Conclusions: In collaborative research, it is necessary that partner universities respect the differences between their organizational and national ethical and integrity frameworks, and establish the processes for ethics approval at the level of the Alliance in order to carry out joint research activities in accordance/conformity with ethical standards for scientific research and good scientific and publishing practice. The same is true for the investigation of research misconduct allegations at the Alliance level.

Research Articles