Research Integrity and the HBP Ombudsperson

The European Commission recognises The European Code of Conduct for Research integrity (2017) as the reference document for research integrity in all EU-funded research projects and as a model for organisations and researchers across Europe.

“Good research practices are based on fundamental principles of research integrity. They guide researchers in their work as well as in their engagement with the practical, ethical and intellectual challenges inherent in research.” 

Opening statement of the first part “Principles”, ALLEA European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

  • Reliability in ensuring the quality of research, reflected in the design, the methodology, the analysis and the use of resources.
  • Honesty in developing, undertaking, reviewing, reporting and communicating research in a transparent fair, full and unbiased way.
  • Respect for colleagues, research participants, society, ecosystems, cultural heritage and the environment.
  • Accountability for the research from idea to publication, for its management and organisation, for training, supervision and mentoring, and for its wider impacts.

This translates, in the HBP, by not only embracing those principles in the way we work and perform science, but also by implementing mechanisms that support best-practices. One key component that the HBP has set up is to provide a safe and confidential support mechanism for reporting research integrity concerns.

The HBP Ombudsperson (OP) is an independent and neutral person who can assist in resolving issues related to research integrity as defined in the ALLEA European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, by offering a protected environment for the reporting of emerging issues. 

Anyone involved with the HBP who has a serious concern, which they do not want to address via the standard reporting systems can contact the HBP OP using the dedicated email address: research-integrity@ebrains.eu

The HBP Ombudsperson

The HBP Ombudsperson is Krista Varantola, Chancellor emerita, University of Tampere.

The HBP Ombudsperson is providing their time on a voluntary basis and will carry out their work independently of the HBP Consortium. The activities of the Ombudsperson are independent, but they are administratively supported by the Governance Task of the HBP (Task T7.2). 


To support the OP and to provide a safe space for individuals, the HBP has identified a contact person responsible for handling the communications through the research-integrity@ebrains.eu email address: Manuel Guerrero. Manuel is a member of the Ethics and RRI team. In his research-integrity-supporting role, he is committed to handling all concerns confidentially. He will be interacting only with the Ombudsperson and is released from any duty to report to the governing bodies. Claims and concerns submitted through this channel are handled on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the OP.

The OP is free to interact with the HBP in whichever way he or she wishes. Below is a description of an OP intervention that may occur and that gives an indication of possible activity. 

  • The OP is alerted on an issue through the dedicated address: research-integrity@ebrains.eu or upon request from a Governing Body.
  • The identified contact point, Manuel Guerrero, assesses whether this is a Research Integrity matter and attributes a level of criticality to the request. Notwithstanding the level, all claims will be treated with the appropriate level of confidentiality and all will be forwarded to the OP. 
  • The OP agrees whether the issue falls within their remit.
  • The OP may request information from affected HBP Partners to clarify the issue.
  • The OP may convene meetings to prepare a proposal, if required.
  • The OP formulates a proposal on how to address the issue.
  • The OP can consult with relevant parties on the proposal.
  • The OP submits the resolution proposal to relevant governance body.
  • The relevant governance body accepts the proposal or, if not, provides justification for a diverging view and enters in mediation with the OP.

Reference documents

The ALLEA European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity:

Read the Code of Conduct
 
HBP Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA):

HBP FPA

 

Sources

Source of images: Tips & Tricks cards created and designed by Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), in collaboration with ENoLL Thess-Ahall - https://newhorrizon.eu/tips-tricks-cards-for-rri/)