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The Danish Board on Research Misconduct

The Danish Board on Research Misconduct replaced the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty on 1 July 2017. The Board will take over the task of dealing with research misconduct cases in Danish research.

Law on research misconduct etc.

The Danish parliament has passed a law on research misconduct with new definitions in the area and a larger degree of involvement from the Danish research institutions in dealing with research misconduct and questionable research practice. The law came into force on 1 July 2017.

With the law, the Danish Board on Research Misconduct are established as a replacement for the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD).

One purpose of the law is to have a more clear division of responsibility between the central national misconduct body (the Danish Board on Research Misconduct) and the Danish research institutions. The law determines that the Danish Board on Research Misconduct handle all cases of research misconduct where as the instances of questionable research practice will be handled by the research institution in question.

What is research misconduct and questionable research practice

The law defines research misconduct as

Fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism committed wilfully or gross negligent in planning, performing, or reporting of research.

  • Fabrication: Undisclosed construction of data or substitution with fictitious data.
  • Falsification: Manipulation of research material, equipment or process as well as changing or omitting data or results making the research misleading.
  • Plagiarism: Appropriation of others' ideas, processes, results, texts or specific terms without rightfull crediting."

The law defines questionabel research practice as

"Breaches of current standards on responsible conduct of research, including those of the Danish code of conduct, and other applicable institutional, national and international practices and guidelines on research integrity."

Tasks of the Danish Board on Research Misconduct

The Board handles Danish cases of research misconduct. As a general rule a case is raised via a complaint handed in at the research institution where the research in question was carried out. If there is no such Danish research institution or a research institution wants to raise a case themselves complaints may be brought directly before the Committee.

The Board has to publish an annual report regarding the Board on Research Miscounduct and an annual report regarding questionable research practice, in Denmark. The annual report regarding questionable research practice has to be based on annual reporting from the institutions to the Board.

Thus the Board works toward strengthening the credibility of Danish research, prevent research misconduct and support the efforts on research integrity as expressed in the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

The former Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) has in 2009 published a set of guidelines for good scientific practice. These previous guidelines can still be accessed as a historical document.

Scope and jurisdiction for the Board

All Danish cases of research misconduct are handled by the Danish Board on Research Misconduct. It is within the jurisdiction of the Board to deal with cases concerning public funded research and research carried out at a public Danish research institution. If the case concerns sheer privately funded research, the Board can deal with the case if the private company or similar consents.

The scope and jurisdiction of the Board is determined in the following regulations:

The Board's organisation

The Danish Board on Research Misconduct consists of a chairman and 8-10 academic members jointly representing broad experience with different scientific disciplines. For each academic member there is an alternate who can enter the Board in case absence or when otherwise relevant. 

The academic members and alternates are recognized scientists who are appointed by the Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science following and open call and consultation with the Independent Research Fund Denmark. The Chairman is a high court judge and appointed by the Minister following a nomination from the Danish courts.

Procedures for investigations

For the Board to begin an investigation of an allegation of research misconduct, the matter must fall within the mandate of the Board as defined in the relevant regulations. In particular, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The allegation must relate to a scientific product, for example a scientific paper, a PhD thesis or similar.
  2. The case must concern a researcher who has contributed to the scientific product.
  3. The case must concern "research misconduct".  Questions about scientific disagreements or the quality of research is outside the mandate of the Committee.

When a complaint is handed in at the relevant research institution, the institution assess whether or not the information listed above is present in the case. If so the institution must compose a report on the facts of the case and send the case and the report to the Board which will open an investigation based on the material from the institution.

As part of the investigation, the Board must ensure that the case is adequately informed and obtain all necessary further information required for the Board's decision in the matter. This means that the Board has to carry out consultations in accordance with the Danish Act on public administration giving the accused a chance to provide a statement.

If there is a specific need in a case, the Board may obtain expert advise, e.g. external expert or expert knowledge from an alternate or others.

The decision

The decisions of the Board are sent directly to the parties involved in the case, that is in general the accused researcher and the research institution involved. Decisions are also made available in anonymous form on this web page.

Annual reports

The Board publishes annual reports on cases of research misconduct and the status of questionable research practice in Denmark.

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The Danish Board on Research Misconduct
last modified July 10, 2024