Investigation of misconduct in Finland
The Finnish model of self-regulation
In Europe, there are several different national approaches available for investigating violations of research integrity. There are also countries which still do not have any national framework. There are basically two courses of action in determining scientific misconduct, investigating allegations and imposing sanctions: a model based on legislation and a self-regulation model by the scientific community. When a research misconduct investigation leans on national legislation, serious research misconduct is, in this case, also a crime. It is not so within the self-regulation framework. Instead, the scientific community itself will rectify the situation, following academic practices, and will consequently carry out an investigation and impose sanctions, using mutually agreed rules.
Finland employs a self-regulation framework which is based on the national guidelines, first published in 1994, on the identification and investigation of responsible conduct of research (RCR) violations. In addition to the internal regulations within the scientific community, its starting point is the openness and transparency of science as well as the mutual trust between researchers and research organisations. The model of self-regulation works well in democracies akin to Finland.
Guidelines for the responsible conduct of research (RCR)
The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK, which is appointed by The Ministry of Education and Culture, has published guidelines for the responsible conduct of research and for handling alleged violations of conduct (the RCR guidelines) in co-operation with the Finnish research community. The objective is to promote the responsible conduct of research (in Finnish hyvä tieteellinen käytäntö) while ensuring that the alleged violations are handled with competence, fairness and expediency.
- Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland. Guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity 2012 (pdf) (in Finnish, Swedish & English)
The RCR guidelines provide researchers with a model for the responsible conduct of research. The effectiveness of these guidelines is based on a voluntary commitment by the research community to adhere to them, and to increase awareness of the principles of research integrity. The RCR guidelines apply to all academic disciplines in Finland, and a list of the organisations committed to these guidelines can be found on TENK’s website. (See Finnish page Sitoutuneet organisaatiot).
The objective of these guidelines is to promote the responsible conduct of research and to prevent misconduct in research in all organisations involved in research work, such as universities, research institutes and universities of applied sciences. These guidelines are also to be adhered to, whenever applicable, when co-operating with enterprises and other partners, either nationally or internationally.
The premise of the RCR guidelines is that promoting the responsible conduct of research and handling alleged violations are primarily the responsibility of the organisations conducting research. When alleged misconduct has been reported and the report has been finalised by the organisation, the party dissatisfied with the ruling may request a statement from TENK. In its other activities, TENK focuses on promoting the responsible conduct of research, as well as formulating and publicising common guidelines in co-operation with the research organisations.
In addition to the RCR guidelines, TENK has published the guidelines entitled "Ethical principles of research in the humanities and social and behavioural sciences and proposals for ethical review" and, in co-operation with the research community, has formulated a model CV for researchers, Template for researcher's curriculum vitae.
The current RCR guidelines have been applied since March 1, 2013. Earlier RCR guidelines (2002) are used for handling of missconduct cases before March 1, 2013. (See TENK Guidelines)