Prof. Lex Bouter is professor of Methodology and Integrity at Amsterdam University Medical Centers (AUMC) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). He is chair of the 6th World Conference on Research Integrity, Hong Kong and chairs the WCRI Foundation. Prof. Bouter was VU's former Rector Magnificus. He is the founding chair of the Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN) as well as project leader of the NSRI.
We asked him to share some of his thoughts on the NSRI:
Lex Bouter, you are the project leader for the NSRI. How did the survey project come about?
It was one of the first ideas I had while reading about research integrity during my sabbatical in 2013. It resonated in the committee that prepared the ZonMw Responsible Research Practices program and a grant was awarded in 2018. Without the help of a diverse group of motivated and clever colleagues this had never been possible.
If you look back at this project in the future, how will the NSRI have been a success?
When many researchers participate, which in itself would show that the topic is perceived as being important. And also when subsequently the findings will help the research community to strengthen responsible research practices.
What is your background, and how was your interest in improving research integrity sparked?
My academic trade was originally epidemiology, which concerns the methods of public health and clinical research. After having the privilege to serve my university as rector for 7 years I changed tack a bit and my chair was relabeled as methodology and integrity. The interest was sparked during my 12 years on the Netherlands Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects and by some saddening research misconduct cases that crossed my path while being a rector.
What is your personal vision when it comes to research integrity?
To me the essence is doing research of high quality, like for the large majority of my colleagues. The aim should be to engage in responsible research practices and not be distracted by other interests than truth-finding and delivering results that are trustworthy. In short: research integrity is about navigating the dilemma’s of being a researcher well.
One last question: you work within international networks of researchers on this topic. What is something that stands out to you when it comes to research being conducted in the Netherlands? (alternative version of this question: what are some interesting initiatives on this topic being done in other countries?)
Helped by the availability of some national and European funding in the last few years a research-on-research-integrity community in the Netherlands emerged that consists of highly motivated and amazingly talented early career researchers. This is happening in some other countries as well but the new field is still in its infancy and highly dependent on a continuation of funding.