Responsible unit: Research Support Office

Contact: Jonas Åkerman

1. Introduction and legal context

The purpose of these rules of procedure is to regulate the overall handling of suspicions of deviations from good research practice for which the Council for good research practice is responsible, and to contribute to transparency in that handling. The main recipients are the Council for Good Research Practice and others affected by this handling.

Chapter 1 of the Higher Education Act (Högskolelagen (1992:1434)) prescribes that scientific credibility and good research practice shall be upheld in higher education institutions (3 a §) and that operations shall be adapted to achieve high quality in education and research (4 §).
The Act on responsibility for good research practice and the examination of research misconduct (lagen (2019:504) om ansvar för god forskningssed och prövning av oredlighet i forskning, hereafter referred to as the LAO) prescribes that the researcher is responsible for upholding good research practice in his or her research (4 §), while the research principal has the overall responsibility for ensuring that research is conducted in accordance with good research practice (5 §). Furthermore, the LAO prescribes that if it can be suspected that research misconduct has taken place in the course of the operations of a research principal, the research principal must hand over documents concerning the case to the national board for investigation of research misconduct (Nämnden för prövning av oredlighet i forskning) for investigation (6-7 §§). In the LAO, research misconduct is defined as a serious deviation from good research practice in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism that is committed intentionally or through gross negligence when planning, conducting or reporting research (2 §). In these rules of procedure this definition is applied throughout. Since universities with the State as principal fall within the area of application of the act (3 §), the LAO is applied to research conducted at Stockholm University, provided that the research is not covered by exemptions prescribed or decided by the Government in accordance with the last paragraph of 3 § LAO.

Chapter 1, 17 §, of the Higher Education Ordinance (Högskoleförordningen (1993:100)) prescribes that a higher education institution shall investigate suspected deviations from good research practice other than those that shall be investigated specifically in accordance with the LAO, and that a higher education institution shall establish guidelines for its investigations of suspected deviations from good research practice.
Chapter 1, 16 §, of the Higher Education Ordinance prescribes that a higher education institution shall ensure that employees can get advice and support on issues concerning good research practice and deviations from such practice. In the Government bill 2018/19:58, it was pointed out that the system for handling research misconduct must be clear, legally secure and provide protection for all involved (p. 13). The need for support structures within the research principals’ organisations was also stressed (p. 80).
In accordance with the previous order suspected research misconduct was to be investigated by the higher education institutions. At Stockholm University, the Ethics Council, established 2014-07-01 by the President, had the overall responsibility for such investigations. From 2020-01-01 such cases shall be handed over to the national board for investigation of research misconduct.  Consequently, a substantial part of the Council’s previous tasks no longer falls within the mandate of the University. Nevertheless, the Council remains and maintains its previous composition albeit under a new name. From 2020-01-01 it is called the “Council for Good Research Practice”. The role of the Council within the new order is set out in these rules of procedure and in the University’s Procedure for handling suspicions of deviations from good research practice (ref. no.  SU FV-1.2.1-4382-19).

2. The Council’s tasks and composition

In terms of organisation, the Council for Good Research Practice is independent and reports directly to the President. The Council is responsible for Stockholm University’s investigations of suspected deviations from good research practice other than those that are to be investigated specifically according to the LAO, and it assists with evaluations in accordance with the University’s Procedure for handling suspicions of deviations from good research practice (ref. no. SU FV-1.2.1-4382-19). To some extent, the Council also has an advisory function vis-à-vis the University leadership and operations at the University in matters concerning good research practice, primarily in collaboration with the ethics support function at the Research Support Office.
In the work of the Council, applicable rules of the Administrative Procedure Act (Förvaltningslagen (2017:900)) are to be considered. Issues concerning disqualification on conflict-of-interest grounds shall be handled in accordance with 16-18 §§ of the Administrative Procedure Act. A person aware of circumstances that may be presumed to make him or her disqualified shall immediately report this to the Council.
The Council consists of the three Deputy Vice Presidents, the Deans within the Human Science Area, the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science and the University Board teacher representatives. A person serving any of these functions automatically becomes a member of the Council. If needed, the President can appoint additional members for a limited period.
The council may co-opt persons with attendance and speaking rights. If needed, persons may be summoned to be heard by the Council. The Council members are not remunerated. Experts appointed by the Council may be remunerated.
In cases where the reporting or the reported person is a doctoral student, the University Student Union shall be given the opportunity to appoint a student representative with attendance and speaking rights.
The Council is led by a Chair. This position will alternate between the Deputy Vice Presidents every six months. During an ongoing investigation of suspected deviations from good research practice, the chairmanship shall be held by one of the Deputy Vice Presidents whose organisational area the case does not belong to. The Chair is appointed by the Council in accordance with these principles.
A research officer from the Research Support Office and a legal counsel from the Office of the President serve as a secretariat with administrative and day-to-day responsibilities.

3. Routines for Council meetings

The Council convenes when needed, though no less than twice a year. In urgent cases, the Chair can decide to hold an extra meeting. The secretariat proposes an agenda which is then determined by the Chair. The secretariat is responsible for sending the meeting invitation, the agenda and case materials to the members of the Council before the meeting. This is normally done via email one week before the meeting. A member who is unable to attend a meeting notifies the secretariat.
The Council forms a quorum when at least half of the members, including the Chair, are present. Decisions are made by acclamation, unless a vote is requested. Voting must be open, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act 29 §. The result is determined by simple majority. The Chair’s vote is decisive in case of a tie. In cases processed in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, each member who is present is obliged to vote for one of the alternatives. 
The Council’s cases are normally prepared by the Chair and the secretariat. However, the same Deputy Vice President should normally be responsible for a case throughout the whole handling by the Council. Cases shall be determined subsequent to reporting by the Research Support Office or the Office of the President. Decisions taken at Council meetings are recorded by the secretariat. The minutes are approved in close connection to the meeting by the Chair and the person appointed attestant by the Council at each meeting. If the dispatch of a certain case is urgent, the relevant decision point can be approved immediately. The secretariat is responsible for dispatching decided cases to the concerned parties after approval of the minutes.
In urgent cases, when there is no time to call a meeting and no member objects, the case may be determined by means of the Chair conveying a proposed decision to all members. However, all members must support the decision. The decision must be reported at the next meeting. 
A member participating in the Council’s decision can, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act 30 §, make a reservation against the decision by registering a dissenting opinion. A member who does not make such a reservation is considered to have supported the decision. The rapporteur and other officials present during the final process without participating in the decision have the right to have a dissenting opinion registered. A dissenting opinion must be reported before the decision is dispatched or otherwise made externally accessible. If the decision is not to be made externally accessible, the dissenting opinion must be registered at the latest when the decision is finalized through approval of the minutes or similar.