Today, on 1 November, at the international symposium in Tallinn (Suur-Ameerika 1), Estonian research institutions and the Estonian Research Council will sign the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement. The symposium is organised by the Centre for Ethics at the University of Tartu in cooperation with the European Commission, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Estonian Research Council.
By joining the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement, the research institutions confirm that they respect the main values of research and the principles of action described in the text of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity finalised in 2017 in cooperation between Estonian research institutions, the Estonian Academy of Sciences, the Estonian Research Council, and the Ministry of Education and Research. Every research institution retains the right to decide how to raise its members’ awareness of these principles, how to ensure their observance and how to establish procedural rules for dealing with cases of misconduct.
Before signing the agreement, Estonian research and development institutions finalised the content of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity during a national feedback round. “Lively discussion has shown that different research disciplines and research institutions still have different understandings of what is permitted and what is not,” Professor Margit Sutrop, Head of the Centre for Ethics at the University of Tartu, said. “Joint drafting of the document enabled us to compare and to unify these understandings; during the last round of consultations there were more than 100 suggestions for improvement.”
The Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity differs from the Code of Ethics for Estonian Researchers adopted in 2002, as the current document describes both individual researchers’ and research institutions’ responsibilities. Therefore, it is especially important that the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement is signed namely by research institutions, who recognise their responsibility for ensuring the integrity of research.
As Professor Margit Sutrop said, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission has called the Estonian initiative to conclude the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement between all research institutions exemplary. “Signing the Agreement at the seminar of the Forum of National Ethics Councils taking place in Tallinn is not an accident. Thereby, the European Commission wishes to encourage other European states to follow the Estonian example.”
The proposal to sign the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement was made to all positively evaluated research and development institutions in Estonia. The names of all the signatories will be published alongside the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement on the homepage of the Estonian Research Council. “Once the document is signed, it is necessary to think how research institutions, individually or in cooperation, could help researchers in practice so that they would have the best conditions for doing their work in an ethically appropriate way. The institutions must also be ready to deal with possible cases of misconduct,” Professor Sutrop explained.
The signing ceremony of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity Agreement will take place on 1 November 2017 at the international research integrity symposium Research integrity: individual and collective responsibility in the building of four ministries (Suur-Ameerika 1). The symposium is organised as a part of the 22nd Forum of National Ethics Councils (NEC).
The seminar programme: http://www.eetika.ee/et/workshop-research-integrity-individual-and-collective-responsibility
The full text of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity: http://www.eetika.ee/et/estonian-code-conduct-research-integrity
The Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity has been created as a framework document that provides guidelines to all Estonian research institutions and the researchers working there. The Estonian Research Council initiated the creation of the Code of Conduct for Research Integrity early in 2016 by forming a work group that included representatives from the Ministry of Education and Research, the Estonian Research Council, the Estonian Academy of Sciences, and research institutions. The Estonian Research Council entrusted the drafting of the text to the Centre for Ethics at the University of Tartu, which had already started preparing the research integrity document for the University of Tartu; therefore, the two initiatives were combined.
Professor Margit Sutrop
Head of the Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu
Director General of the Estonian Research Council