The aim of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is to support knowledge about, acceptance and entrenchment of research integrity in the Estonian research community. The Code of Conduct for Research Integrity describes the conduct expected from researchers and the responsibility of research institutions in ensuring research integrity, thus contributing to the increase of credibility of research in the eyes of the individual and the public.
On 31st of January 2020 the senate of the University of Tartu accepted instructions for applying the Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.
If university members have questions about adhering to the principles of research integrity or suspect that research integrity has been violated, it is advisable to turn to the research integrity counsellor. Each faculty of the university has at least one research integrity counsellor who has been appointed by the dean of the faculty.
For examples, who to turn to and how to ask help, read the general instructions for inquiries.
In the University of Tartu, the questions regarding the code of conduct for reseach integrity should be sent to
Read the Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
Annex I: Glossary
Annex II: Explanations of Values
Annex III: Examples of Cases
The Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is meant to complement the Code of Ethics of Estonian Scientists adopted in 2002. The new document is needed because the development of research has brought forth new themes and perspectives not reflected in the code of ethics, and added new points for consideration. The current document also places greater emphasis on the activities of research institutions, separately pointing out the responsibility of researchers and research institutions, which helps to emphasise that responsibility for ethical research lies with everyone who is active in research. Researchers alone cannot ensure research integrity. So that researchers could behave ethically, the necessary conditions have to be created at the level of the organisation and the system.
The Code of Conduct for Research Integrity has been created as a framework document which provides guidelines to all Estonian research institutions and the researchers working there. The task of the research institution is to elaborate detailed procedural rules which help to increase awareness in the organisation about the principles of research integrity, to monitor the research environment and, if necessary, to interfere and to deal with the cases of misconduct. To ensure as equal treatment of members of different research institutions as possible, research institutions cooperate closely in drafting procedural rules and regulations.
The creation of the document of research integrity was initiated by the Estonian Research Council early in 2016 by forming a work group that included representatives from the Estonian Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Research Council. The Estonian Research Council entrusted the drafting of the text to the Centre for Ethics at University of Tartu, which had earlier already started writing the research integrity document for the University of Tartu; therefore, the two initiatives were united.
The document of research integrity consists of the list of main values of research integrity and principles of action. The chapter on principles of action is divided according to stages of research: planning of research, conduct of research, publishing and application of research results and participation in the research community.
The list of names of people in the work groups can be found in Ethicsweb
The most essential values of research integrity are freedom, responsibility, honesty and objectivity, respect and caring, justice, openness and cooperation. It should be kept in mind that none of these values is absolute – they may come into conflict between one another and, depending on the situation, researchers have to choose which of the conflicting values are more essential in the particular situation. After moral considerations, balance should be found between different values. By setting one of the conflicting values higher in the hierarchy, the protection of the less important value should still be ensured.
1. Freedom means that the researcher
2. Responsibility means that the researcher
3. Honesty and objectivity mean that the researcher
4. Respect and caring mean that the researcher
5. Justice means that the researcher
6. Openness and cooperation mean that the researcher
The principles of research integrity concentrate on what researchers or research institutions should do to follow the values of research integrity. At the same time, it should be remembered that the activities of individual researchers and research institutions are influenced by many other institutions (e.g. financers and assessors) and the environment where they operate. Researchers can do research in research groups with many partners from home and abroad who can have different objectives and interests. In research groups, each of their members is responsible for following research integrity. Although the leader of the research group may have greater responsibility for the conduct and coordination of research, this does not diminish the responsibility of other group members.
Research integrity contains principles of different concreteness or generality by which conduct of research should be guided. The more concretely formulated principles are those about which there is greater unanimity among the research community or which are derived from valid laws and international agreements. In the case of more generally worded principles, the researcher and the research institution have more freedom to decide how to best achieve the formulated ideal. It should also be considered that actual life is often more complex and diverse than a document that envisages ideals can describe. In the case of conflicts between principles and novel situations not covered by the research integrity document, researchers and research institutions have leeway to make the best possible choice in a complicated situation.
The principles of research integrity give instructions how to make choices in research so that they would not harm the reliability of the researcher, the research institution or research as a whole. In such situations, it may be difficult to give a clear and unambiguous assessment of the ethicality of actions and choices. It is essential that all choices would be well-weighed, substantiated and based on the values of research integrity.