Experiences

Promoting preventive measures has been given high priority by the National Committee. General information on ethics in research and publication has been disseminated to relevant institutions, and the Committee has cooperated with university faculties on the teaching and content of doctoral courses, seminars, and lectures. The topics of dishonesty, ethics, and good publication practice are now included in the compulsory coursework for doctorates in Norway.

The Committee has arranged open conferences on Scholarly publication -the author's responsibility and merits and on Good and bad practices in researcher training. Ethical problems in the relationship between supervisor and research fellow have been given specific attention. Conflicts in this field often revolve around authorship and the ownership of data.

National guidelines for the implementation of research projects related to medicine and health have been produced and distributed to researchers and research institutions. The objective of these guidelines is to prevent disagreements among project participants and prevent doubts from being raised about the implementation of a project.

From September 1994 to September 2000 a total of 11 cases of alleged dishonesty were accepted for investigation (see Box 10.1 at the end of this chapter). One case was withdrawn and another case has been referred to the National Committee in Denmark because of conflicts of interest among the members of the Norwegian Committee. Investigations have been undertaken by ad hoc committees reporting to the National Committee, which decides on a conclusion. To increase the educational and preventive values of the decisions, a practice has developed not only to base the conclusions on a dishonesty/non-dishonesty judgment, but also to describe explicitly in what way a non-dishonest practice is found to deviate from good scientific practice.

Eight cases have been closed. In two cases the accused was completely cleared, in three cases minor deviations from accepted ethical research were found, and in two cases the committee concluded that scientific dishonesty had taken place.

In addition to the formal complaints the Committee as well as its individual members have been consulted in several instances by researchers and institutions on issues regarding research and publication ethics.

The national committees on scientific dishonesty in the Nordic countries cooperate closely, and, even though there are slight differences in working procedures and the definition of dishonesty, the experiences are fairly similar.6

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