Masterclass Scientific Integrity 2014

101_2313 (2)

“Good start to a discussion that will be an important topic for years” – participant

What would you do if you found out that you made a mistake during data collection that may have affected your significant results, but you don’t have time to collect new data and need a publication for your thesis? What if one of your co-authors wants you to leave out some of the results you have found, because it makes the overall result fit better with the hypothesis you were testing, and would increase the likelihood of getting your paper published?

Recently, Utrecht University published their scientific code of conduct (available in Dutch only). It stresses the importance of scientific integrity, and aims to increase transparency in science. However, it is not always clear which decisions you need to make to ensure you act in a scientifically integer way. To clarify these matters, PrOUt and Proneri, in collaboration with the RIVM Academy,  organised a masterclass ‘Scientific Integrity’ on Thursday the 19th of June 2014.

Chairman of the evening rector magnificus Prof. dr. Bert van der Zwaan (UU) gave an introduction to the topic, after which the approximately 40 participating PhD candidates split up into groups and started the discussion. They played the dilemma game that was developed by the Erasmus University Rotterdam. This game contains many common integrity issues that scientists may encounter, and assists in the initiation of the discussion by having participants select their solution to the problem from several options, and explaining to the other players why they chose that option.


Each group had its own chair, amongst whom were Prof. dr. Ton Hol, president of the Committee for Academic Integrity (UU), Prof. dr. Wiel Hoekstra (confidential advisor on scientific integrity, RIVM), Prof. dr. Flemming Cassee (RIVM), Prof. dr. Jos van der Meer of the Supervisory Committee (RIVM), and Raymond Neutra (California Department of Public Health – visiting RIVM at the time). After an hour of heated discussion, the master class ended with a plenary summary led by the rector magnificus, with drinks afterwards to cool down again.


Participants thought the masterclass was “useful, helpful, and an eye-opener”, and even remarked that it was “an eye-opening discussion game that should be obligatory to everyone, ranging from PhD students to professors.” After all, as Prof. Wiel Hoekstra said “Today’s PhD candidate is tomorrow’s promoter!” Of the participating PhD candidates who rated the master class afterwards (N= 25), 96% indicated that they had enjoyed the master class. More importantly, 92% said that the master class helped them to better understand the issues surrounding scientific integrity, that they would recommend the master class to fellow PhD candidates, and that they would speak to fellow PhD candidates more often about scientific integrity after attending the master class.

Remarks from participating PhD candidates:

“This master class was helpful in discussing your own, but also your colleagues professional behavior in the academic environment.”

“Scientific integrity is a relevant issue and maybe even a bigger problem than I had previously imagined.”

“It was a nice and interactive way to learn other opinions on scientific integrity and it was good to think about it yourself.”

“A skillful way of uncovering values”

“An eye-opening discussion game that should be obligatory to everyone, ranging from PhD students to professors.”


When June 19th 2014, 17:30
Where Faculty Club (Achter de Dom 7, Utrecht)