BMC Medical Ethics (May 2021)

Stakeholders' perspectives on research integrity training practices: a qualitative study

  • Daniel Pizzolato,
  • Kris Dierickx

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


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Abstract Background Even though research integrity (RI) training programs have been developed in the last decades, it is argued that current training practices are not always able to increase RI-related awareness within the scientific community. Defining and understanding the capacities and lacunas of existing RI training are becoming extremely important for developing up-to-date educational practices to tackle present-day challenges. Recommendations on how to implement RI education have been primarily made by selected people with specific RI-related expertise. Those recommendations were developed mainly without consulting a broader audience with no specific RI expertise. Moreover, the academic literature lacks qualitative studies on RI training practices. For these reasons, performing in-depth focus groups with non-RI expert stakeholders are of a primary necessity to understand and outline how RI education should be implemented. Methods In this qualitative analysis, different focus groups were conducted to examine stakeholders’ perspectives on RI training practices. Five stakeholders' groups, namely publishers and peer reviewers, researchers on RI, RI trainers, PhDs and postdoctoral researchers, and research administrators working within academia, have been identified to have a broader overview of state of the art. Results A total of 39 participants participated in five focus group sessions. Eight training-related themes were highlighted during the focus group discussions. The training goals, timing and frequency, customisation, format and teaching approach, mentoring, compulsoriness, certification and evaluation, and RI-related responsibilities were discussed. Although confirming what was already proposed by research integrity experts in terms of timing, frequency, duration, and target audience in organising RI education, participants proposed other possible implementations strategies concerning the teaching approach, researchers' obligations, and development an evaluation-certification system. Conclusions This research aims to be a starting point for a better understanding of necessary, definitive, and consistent ways of structuring RI education. The research gives an overview of what has to be considered needed in planning RI training sessions regarding objectives, organisation, and teaching approach.