According to ”Act on Ethics and Integrity in Research” entered into force in July 2007 research institutes (universities etc.) have the primary responsibility for preventing and handling allegations concerning research misconduct.
However, the mentioned law introduced a new body to investigate research misconduct: The National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct (Granskingsutvalget).
Institutions may redirect an investigation to the Commission if, for example, a case is deemed particularly complicated, has received considerable public attention or due to possible conflicts of interest . The Commission may also decide to investigate a case under authority of the law on misconduct at its own initiative.
The law defines scientific misconduct as “falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and other serious breaches of good scientific practice that have been committed wilfully or through gross negligence when planning, carrying out or reporting on research”.
The remit of the National Commission is to assess allegations of serious research misconduct and issue a statement on whether any scientific misconduct has occurred or not. The commission covers all research fields and deals with research carried out by Norwegian research institutions private or public. It can also investigate cases abroad, if the research has been carried out by researchers employed by a Norwegian institution or if a substantial part of the funding stems from Norway.
The commission is composed of seven members and four substitutes who all are nominated for a period of four years (renewable not more than once). The members cover different fields of research. The commission is independent but the members are appointed by the Ministry of Research following the proposition of the Norwegian Research Council.
At least one of the members should be from abroad. The chair of the commission should have a judicial background.
The commission deals with serious cases of research misconduct which are brought to its attention (there are several policies protecting the confidentiality of whistleblowers) but it can also launch investigations on its own initiative. The commission decides whether cases need further investigations or are judged baseless. The commission can draw on external, national or foreign, expertise to deal with particular cases.
The responsibility for sanctions rests with the research institutions.
Appeals against statements of the National Commission for the Investigation of Research Misconduct can be addressed to the Ministry of Research, which appoint an ad hoc commission to deal with the appeal.
The commission is expected to give advice to individuals and/or research institutes and to be a kind of a knowledge base for questions and experience concerning research misconduct in Norway and other countries. The commission is cooperating with similar organizations abroad.
On a national level the commission cooperates with the National Committees for Research Ethics especially on prevention of research misconduct. The Commission staff, so far one person, is based in the same building as the staff for the research ethics committees.
The commission is publishing an annual report describing cases anonymously.
Director Torkild Vinther, phone +47 23 31 83 24
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