NMBU research ethics forum

(Norsk her)

According to the research ethics act (Lov om organisering av forskningsetisk arbeid) the research institutions have the main responsibility for research integrity. The institutions shall promote good and ethically responsible science, and treat cases concerning possible misconduct. However, a recent report by Riksrevisjonen, from 2021, concludes that there is insufficient knowledge about research ethics in academic institutions, and that one needs to make ethics a priority.

"Role models, as supervisors and research leaders, seem to have more influence than us who work in research ethics... We need to create an academic culture where being a good researcher also means to have good moral integrity."

Bjørn Hofmann, Professor in medical ethics (read more)

In a national study of research integrity in Norway (RINO), 40% of 7000 researchers answer that they have been involved in one or more 'questionable research practices' in the last 3 years. 60% answer that they got little or no training in research ethics. 31% says they changed a study after pressure from stakeholders. 1/3 answers that they have been involved in including co-authors who didn't meet the criteria for authorship.

One might have some questions:

  • What counts as scientific misconduct?
  • Is research ethics a legal or moral matter? Where are the boundaries?
  • Research should be carried out in accordance with national and international norms for  and research ethics guidelines. What are these, and where can I find more information about them?
  • How does PhD-supervision with co-authorship differ from PhD-supervision without co-authorship?
  • What to do when a project requires ethical approval before publication or when applying for funding?

This forum is the place to learn more about research ethics and to share experiences and dilemmas that one encounters as researcher. Bring your Phd-candidate, your Postdoc, your colleague or your supervisor with you to the forum!

Send us tips on themes you would like us to include in the program to rani.anjum@nmbu.no.



Meetings will take place in 'Innsikten' (University Library, Veterinary building) 5-6 times a year.

  • Tuesday 23. August 12:00 - 13:30 Questionable practice, sloppiness or misconduct? What is what, and why does it matter? with Vidar Enebakk
  • Tuesday 06. September 12.30 – 13.30 Philosophical bias in science as sources of expert disagreement and barriers for interdisciplinarity, with Rani Anjum (Philosophy of Science)
  • New date TBA! Ethical publishing in the age of open access, predatory journals, and career evaluation, with Curt Rice
  • Tuesday 08. November 12.00 – 13.00 (Research Ethics theme, to be announced)
  • Tuesday 06. December 12.00 – 13.00 (Philosophy of Science theme, to be announced)
Tuesday 23. August 2022, 12:00 (12:15) - 13:30 (mingling with cookies, tea and coffee the first 15 minutes)

Questionable practice, sloppiness or misconduct? What is what, and why does it matter in research ethics?

Local and national commissions (granskingsutvalg) are responsible for carrying out investigations of possible scientific misconduct in research institutions. But what exactly falls under that category? It possible that poor execution of research is mistaken for misconduct? In this meeting we discuss some important distinctions within research ethics and ask whether it is always clear what is what. To join us, we have invited Vidar Enebakk, Director of the National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH).

"A distinction can be drawn between fraud or cheating on the one hand and negligence, blunders or plain errors on the other, or between questionable research and plain sloppiness or poor execution (Kalleberg 2003). Another way of expressing largely the same idea, and more in line with internationally recognised or used concepts, is to distinguish between serious breaches of good research practice (misconduct) and less serious breaches. The term 'Questionable Research Practices' or unintended research practices refers to dubious, blameworthy or controversial research practices. Here we cannot speak of clear lines of distinction, but of considerable grey areas. In addition to these, there are accidental errors and similar that will tend to be excluded from the definition."

"Questionable research practices may include omission of data, failure to store data, omission of contradictory or negative observations, use of the same data or results in two or more publications without declaring this, splitting of continuous scientific articles into small parts (so-called 'salami slicing') inclusion of numerous authors in publications to which not all of them have made a de facto contribution etc. A number of these questionable practices may be associated with increasing pressure/competition. In this context, reference is often made to so-called 'rotten incentives' which may have the effect of promoting unethical or questionable research practices. It has also been noted that questionable research practices may lead to more serious breaches of good research practice..."

Source: 'Scientific misconduct: fraud and plagiarism', by Torkild Vinther 2016, forskningsetikk.no (EN) (NO)

New date TBA! (mingling with cookies, tea and coffee the first 15 minutes)

How to think about ethical publishing in the age of open access, predatory journals, and career evaluation?

Why do we publish? How does publishing advance science? What does open access actually mean and how did it get started? Is the initial vision for open access publishing still relevant or has our focus changed? What are predatory journals and how can we distinguish them from journals that merely focus on making a profit at a level that would inspire the envy of any oil company CEO?

In this meeting, NMBU rector Curt Rice attempts to answer some of these questions, delving into some of the ethical issues related to scientific publication. He will outline some features of what might actually be an ethical system – something he sees as only vanishingly visible on the distant horizon at this point. He also discusses the academic protest against the business practices of Elsevier journals.


Open Access publishing (FEK 2016): Should articles in academic journals be openly available on the Internet free of charge? What dilemmas does this raise, and which interests are involved in the question of open access to research? Read more.

Identify trusted publishers for your research (Think. Check. Submit): Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications. Think. Check. Submit. helps researchers identify trusted journals and publishers for their research. Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications. Read more.

Predatory publishing (COPE - Committee on Publication Ethics 2016): The COPE predatory publishing discussion document introduces issues, and analyses potential solutions, around predatory publications. COPE presents 30 insightful suggestions to tackle, avoid, and raise awareness of the problem of predatory journals. Read more.

Avoiding predatory publishers (COPE - Committee on Publication Ethics 2022): Deceptive or predatory journals charge authors but have no intention of providing the services or practices expected from a trustworthy publisher. As a result, potentially valuable research outputs are published, but cannot easily be found and are at risk of being lost. Authors that realise they have been tricked into submitting their work to a predatory publisher may then face a large retraction fee if they want to withdraw their article. These authors are likely to struggle to be able to publish their research in a more trustworthy journal that will not publish work that has already been published. What's more, the presence of a predatory journal on their publication list could permanently damage their academic reputation. Read more.

Boycott of Elsevier Journals: Can New Ideas Reduce the Cost for Scientific Publications? (Enago Academy 2018): Recently, researchers in Germany, Peru, and Taiwan found themselves without access to many online scientific journals. Negotiations with Elsevier, a major scientific journal publisher in The Netherlands, have broken down and without contracts in place, scientists temporarily lost access to the thousands of journals produced by Elsevier. How did we get to this situation? Will other scientists also lose access to journals? How can this issue be resolved? Read more.

Published 11. May 2022 - 13:16 - Updated 11. August 2022 - 12:43