Research collaborations that cross national, institutional, disciplinary and sector boundaries are important to the advancement of knowledge worldwide. Such collaborations present special challenges for the responsible conduct of research, because they may involve substantial differences in regulatory and legal systems, organizational and funding structures, research cultures, and approaches to training. It is critically important, therefore, that researchers be aware of and able to address such differences, as well as issues related to integrity that might arise in cross-boundary research collaborations. Researchers should adhere to the professional responsibilities set forth in the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity. In addition, the following responsibilities are particularly relevant to collaborating partners at the individual and institutional levels and fundamental to the integrity of collaborative research. Fostering the integrity of collaborative research is the responsibility of all individual and institutional partners.
Responsibilities of Individual and Institutional Partners in Cross-Boundary Research Collaborations
General Collaborative Responsibilities
1. Integrity. Collaborating partners should take collective responsibility for the trustworthiness of the overall collaborative research and individual responsibility for the trustworthiness of their own contributions
2. Trust. The behavior of each collaborating partner should be worthy of the trust of all other partners. Responsibility for establishing and maintaining this level of trust lies with all collaborating partners.
3. Purpose. Collaborative research should be initiated and conducted for purposes that advance knowledge to the benefit of humankind.
4. Goals. Collaborating partners should agree at the outset on the goals of the research. Changes in goals should be negotiated and agreed to by all partners.
Responsibilities in Establishing and Managing the Collaboration
5. Communication. Collaborating partners should communicate with each other as frequently and openly as necessary to foster full, mutual understanding of the research.
6. Agreements. Agreements that govern collaborative research should be understood and ratified by all collaborating partners. Agreements that unduly or unnecessarily restrict dissemination of data, findings or other research products should be avoided.
7. Compliance with Laws, Policies and Regulations. The collaboration as a whole should be in compliance with all laws, policies and regulations to which it is subject. Collaborating partners should promptly determine how to address conflicting laws, policies or regulations that apply to the research.
8. Costs and Rewards. The costs and rewards of collaborative research should be distributed fairly among collaborating partners.
9. Transparency. Collaborative research should be conducted and its results disseminated transparently and honestly, with as much openness as possible under existing agreements. Sources of funding should be fully and openly declared.
10. Resource Management. Collaborating partners should use human, animal, financial and other resources responsibly.
11. Monitoring. Collaborating partners should monitor the progress of research projects to foster the integrity and the timely completion and dissemination of the work.
Responsibilities in Collaborative Relationships
12. Roles and Responsibilities. Collaborating partners should come to mutual understandings about their roles and responsibilities in the planning, conduct and dissemination of research. Such understandings should be renegotiated when roles or responsibilities change.
13. Customary Practices and Assumptions. Collaborating partners should openly discuss their customary practices and assumptions related to the research. Diversity of perspectives, expertise and methods, and differences in customary practices, standards and assumptions that could compromise the integrity of the research should be addressed openly.
14. Conflict. Collaborating partners should seek prompt resolution of conflicts, disagreements and misunderstandings at the individual or institutional level.
15. Authority of Representation. Collaborating partners should come to agreement on who has authority to speak on behalf of the collaboration.
Responsibilities for Outcomes of Research
16. Data, Intellectual Property and Research Records. Collaborating partners should come to agreement, at the outset and later as needed, on the use, management, sharing and ownership of data, intellectual property, and research records.
17. Publication. Collaborating partners should come to agreement, at the outset and later as needed, on how publication and other dissemination decisions will be made.
18. Authorship and Acknowledgement. Collaborating partners should come to agreement, at the outset and later as needed, on standards for authorship and acknowledgement of joint research products. The contributions of all partners, especially junior partners, should receive full and appropriate recognition. Publications and other products should state the contributions of all contributing parties.
19. Responding to Irresponsible Research Practices. The collaboration as a whole should have procedures in place for responding to allegations of misconduct or other irresponsible research practice by any of its members. Collaborating partners should promptly take appropriate action when misconduct or other irresponsible research practice by any partner is suspected or confirmed.
20. Accountability. Collaborating partners should be accountable to each other, to funders and to other stakeholders in the accomplishment of the research.