The world’s largest multidisciplinary survey on research integrity is in danger of falling short of its goals after two-thirds of invited institutions declined to collaborate, citing the sensitivity of the subject and fearing negative publicity. That left researchers leading the Dutch National Survey on Research Integrity on their own to scrape many email addresses and solicit responses. The survey will close on 7 December, but the team has gathered responses from less than 15% of 40,000 targeted participants.
This story is a useful demonstration of why institutions should participate in studies like this. Being able to analyse complete data could provide a much better insight into what’s happening at the research coal face.
Lex Bouter, who studies research methods and integrity at the Free University of Amsterdam (VU), began to plan the survey in 2016 to address a lack of data about questionable research practices and scientific misconduct. He wanted to ask all working academics in the Netherlands not just about how they conduct their research, but also about work habits, pressures, and other aspects of academic life. Bouter, a former VU president himself, assured the heads of other universities that the survey would not generate an institutional ranking of misbehavior.