Integrating Integrity: The Organizational Translation of Policies on Research Integrity

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Responsible conduct of research and research integrity has become a key concern in both research policy and public media resulting in a number of soft law documents, such as codes of conduct at national and supranational levels. This article zooms in on the institutions that are supposed to translate these overall policies and guidelines into workable and recognizable structures for researchers, that is, the mediating layer between the policy articulations and the individual researchers and research groups; a perspective which has been notably lacking in the literature on research integrity. Document analysis demonstrated how research organizations translated and integrated demands for research integrity measures differently, and interviews explored how department heads made sense of these organizational efforts. Results show that department heads did not seem to use organizational policies in their sensemaking around research integrity. To a much larger degree, they used disciplinary norms, systemic pressures and other cues to construct the meaning of integrity. The heads of department articulated integrity as a “non-problem” in their own local context, rather, it was other departments and other countries that experienced lack of research integrity. This meant that the origin of the problem of integrity is located in the system, but to a large extent the department heads describe the solution of the problem to be in the culture of research. The implications of this dis-location and externalizing of integrity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Pages (from-to)3167-3182
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Management
  • Policy
  • Research integrity
  • Translation


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