Our vision on technology transfer
We believe in the vision of the ‘two translational gaps’ that researchers have to cross: from the lab to clinical trials, and from scientific publication to routine care. The common view is that once the thesis is defended, or the paper is published, most of the work has been done. We believe it’s not. If you develop a tool or a treatment that’s not actually used in patient care, the work is unfinished, in particular if the research has been funded by public money.
Our long-term objective is to improve the lives of people with chronic diseases. Therefore, we need to involve companies at an early stage to ensure the implementation of our research findings. The collaboration with companies, following the applicable rules and regulation, also has the secondary benefit of facilitating funding of academic research.
· Patient benefit must be the ultimate aim of cancer research.
· Your responsibility does not stop with a published paper.
· Throwing a paper over the fence and hope that it will be taken over by a company for patient care is naïve and wrong.
· When your research has been funded by public money you have the ethical and moral obligation to ensure it is taken over by a company, an existing one or a company that you launch.
Our ten rules in case of potential conflict of interest
In our department we are following this document since 2018, inspired by other universities.
Here are ten rules:
- Any work for a third party should be approved and disclosed in accordance to university rules. These rules should be checked for updates regularly.
- Academic and company work should be separated by a virtual Chinese Wall. In cases where a topic is studied in both the company and academic environments (not an open source software), a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) should always be signed by the Head of School after approval has been given by the legal department of the university.
- The relationship between both legal entities should be covered by documents approved by the legal department of UM and signed by the school director (e.g. material transfer agreements, research contracts, consortium agreements, license agreements, etc.).
- The scientist linked to the company should, a-priori, not have access to raw data nor perform any analysis on the overlapping topic(s). If he is it should be under supervision with a set of original data kept in the back-up system.
- A senior and independent scientist should always be involved in the analysis of overlapping topics. Furthermore, every manuscript and the corresponding workflows/computer code/experiment set-up/data analysis/data curation processes should be quality controlled by the independent senior scientist.
- The results (even negative ones) should be published in a journal that includes a thorough, independent peer review. In other words, academic independence should be maintained at all times without restriction.
- All the data and workflows should be kept “frozen” (e.g. in the DataHub) after completion of a project for a possible secondary analysis.
- Any work for a third party should be disclosed on all presentations and publications as per local, national and international rules.
- Before starting any project that has a potential conflict of interest, an independent quality manager should be identified in order to verify that the above-mentioned rules are followed. In case of a breach, the assigned quality manager has an obligation to mention it to the school director.
- The school director or its representative should be informed (who are the scientists involved who is the quality manager) and they are free to audit any of the processes at any moment, without warning.
Disclosures of potential conflict of interest
All the work for third parties should be registered and approved on the intranet of Maastricht university (Employee Service System (ESS)). Furthermore the work for third parties of professor must be made publicly available once approved:
Prof. Philippe Lambin: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/philippe.lambin/work-for-third-parties
The Dpt of Precision Medicine adheres to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity as the guiding principle for its integrity policy (1 October 2018).
The Code of Conduct defines five principles of research integrity and 61 standards for good research practices and duties of care for the institutions. This Code of Conduct ensures that the Dpt of Precision Medicine keeps up with international developments regarding research integrity. Some aspecst of the codes are regularly discussed during th emonthmy meeting of the Dpt. (more information and acces to the code: https://www.nwo.nl/en/netherlands-code-conduct-research-integrity & https://www.nwo.nl/sites/nwo/files/documents/Netherlands%2BCode%2Bof%2BConduct%2Bfor%2BResearch%2BIntegrity_2018_UK.pdf ).
Participating to several European grants, we also follow the European code of conduct for research integrity (https://www.allea.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ALLEA-European-Code-of-Conduct-for-Research-Integrity-2017.pdf )
2. What is the purpose of the Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: The purpose of the Code for Scientific Integrity is to ensure that research is conducted in an honest, transparent, and ethical manner and to promote trust in science.
3. Who is responsible for adhering to the Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: All researchers, including students, professors, and other research staff, are responsible for adhering to the Code for Scientific Integrity.
4. What are some examples of scientific misconduct that the Code addresses? Answer: Examples of scientific misconduct addressed by the Code include falsification, fabrication, plagiarism, and failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
5. What are the consequences of violating the Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: The consequences of violating the Code for Scientific Integrity can include damage to reputation, loss of funding, and potential legal consequences.
6. How does the Code for Scientific Integrity promote transparency in research? Answer: The Code promotes transparency in research by requiring that all data and methods used in a study are made available to other researchers.
7. What is the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity? Answer: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is a set of guidelines that promote ethical and responsible conduct in research throughout Europe.
8. What are the key principles of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity? Answer: The key principles of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity include honesty, reliability, objectivity, fairness, and respect for intellectual property.
9. How does the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity promote responsible conduct in research? Answer: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity promotes responsible conduct in research by providing guidelines for ethical decision-making and by encouraging open communication and collaboration among researchers.
10. Who is responsible for enforcing the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity? Answer: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is not enforced by a specific regulatory body, but rather it is the responsibility of individual researchers, institutions, and funders to ensure that the guidelines are followed.
11. How does the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity relate to the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: The Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity is largely based on the principles outlined in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.
12. What is the role of research institutions in promoting responsible conduct in research? Answer: Research institutions play a key role in promoting responsible conduct in research by establishing policies and procedures for addressing ethical issues, providing training and support for researchers, and fostering a culture of integrity.
13. What is the role of funders in promoting responsible conduct in research? Answer: Funders play a key role in promoting responsible conduct in research by requiring that grant recipients adhere to ethical standards and by providing funding for research integrity initiatives.
14. What is the role of journals and publishers in promoting responsible conduct in research? Answer: Journals and publishers play a key role in promoting responsible conduct in research by requiring that authors adhere to ethical standards and by providing guidelines for responsible conduct in research.
15. How can researchers ensure that they are adhering to the Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: Researchers can ensure that they are adhering to the Code for Scientific Integrity by familiarizing themselves with the guidelines, seeking guidance from institutional resources when necessary, and regularly engaging in self-reflection and ethical decision-making.
2. What are some examples of "don'ts" when it comes to adhering to the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity? Answer: Examples of "don'ts" include fabricating data, falsifying results, plagiarizing others' work, omitting as coauthor scientists having had a key contribution in the project, engaging in conflicts of interest, and misrepresenting the scope or significance of research findings.
3. Is it acceptable to manipulate data to make research findings more significant? Answer: No, it is not acceptable to manipulate data to make research findings more significant. This violates the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity and is considered scientific misconduct.
4. Is it appropriate to publish the same research findings in multiple publications? Answer: No, publishing the same research findings in multiple publications is considered redundant publication and is a violation of the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity.
5. Is it acceptable to suppress data that does not support research findings? Answer: No, suppressing data that does not support research findings is a violation of the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity. All data, regardless of whether it supports the researcher's hypothesis, should be reported.
6. Can researchers pressure their co-authors to include their name on a publication? Answer: No, researchers should not pressure their co-authors to include their name on a publication if they have had no significant contribution to the work. This is considered authorship manipulation and is a violation of the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity.
7. What is considered as a significant contribution to a scientific publication justifying being co-author? Answer: The criteria for determining what constitutes a significant contribution to a scientific publication may vary depending on the field, the orgnaisation and the specific research project, but generally speaking, a co-author on a publication is someone who has made a substantial intellectual contribution to the work.
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) provides some general guidance on authorship criteria, which is widely used across different fields. According to the ICMJE guidelines, authors should meet the following criteria:
a) Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work (e.g. grant writing)
b) Substantial contribution to the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work.
c) Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
d) Final approval of the version to be published.
e) Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Note that simply providing technical or administrative assistance, funding without intellectual contribution, or materials for a project does not necessarily justify co-authorship. In general, co-authors are expected to have made a significant intellectual contribution to the project, such as by designing experiments, analyzing data, or contributing to the writing of the manuscript.
It is important for researchers to carefully consider the contribution of each individual involved in a research project, and to ensure that authorship is assigned based on objective criteria and not personal relationships or biases. This can help to promote transparency and accountability in scientific research, and to ensure that credit is appropriately assigned to those who have made significant contributions.
8. Does those rules of authorship also apply to abstract of conference and posters? Answer: Yes, the same principles and criteria for authorship that apply to scientific publications also generally apply to conference abstracts and posters. In other words, individuals who have made significant intellectual contributions to the project, such as by contributing to the design, analysis, or interpretation of data, may be considered for authorship on an abstract or poster. It is important for researchers to carefully consider the contribution of each individual involved in a project, and to ensure that authorship is assigned based on objective criteria and not personal relationships or biases. This can help to promote transparency and fairness in scientific research, and to ensure that credit is appropriately assigned to those who have made significant contributions. It is worth noting that some conference organizers or journals may have specific guidelines or criteria for authorship on abstracts or posters, so researchers should be sure to review these guidelines carefully and follow them as appropriate. Additionally, some conference abstracts or posters may be considered less substantial contributions than full scientific publications, and therefore may have different standards for authorship.
9. Should researchers report their findings honestly, even if the results are negative? Answer: Yes, researchers should report their findings honestly, even if the results are not what they were hoping for. This is a key principle of the Dutch Code for Scientific Integrity and is essential for maintaining the integrity of scientific research.
10. Is resubmission of a grant previously rejected allowed according to the european code of of conduct of scientific integrity?
Answer: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, which outlines principles of responsible research conduct, does not specifically address the issue of resubmitting a grant that has been previously rejected. However, many funding agencies have their own policies on grant resubmission, which may take into account issues related to scientific integrity. For example, some funding agencies, such as KWF, may require that any revisions made to a grant proposal be clearly documented and explained in the resubmission, in order to ensure transparency and integrity in the review process. It is important for researchers to carefully review the policies and guidelines of the funding agency they are applying to, and to adhere to ethical principles of research conduct when resubmitting a grant. This includes ensuring that the research proposal is based on sound scientific principles, that any previous feedback or criticism is carefully considered and addressed, and that any data or results presented in the proposal are accurate and transparently reported.
11. Is criticising colleague allowed according to the code of scientific integrity? Answer: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity emphasizes the importance of promoting open and constructive dialogue within the scientific community, which can include criticism of colleagues and their work. However, it is important to ensure that any criticism is made in a constructive and respectful manner, and that it is based on sound scientific principles rather than personal animosity or bias. Criticism should be directed at the ideas and methods presented in a colleague's work, rather than the individual themselves. Additionally, researchers should be aware of their ethical responsibilities regarding confidentiality and privacy when discussing the work of colleagues. While constructive criticism is encouraged, researchers should avoid making derogatory or defamatory comments, and should refrain from sharing confidential or sensitive information without appropriate consent. Overall, the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity promotes a culture of open and constructive communication within the scientific community, where criticism can be an important tool for improving the quality and integrity of scientific research. However, it is important that criticism is made in a responsible and respectful manner, and that ethical principles of research conduct are carefully observed.
Healthy work culture
Having a healthy work culture in a professional organization, such as an academic research department, means creating an environment that fosters collaboration, job satifcation, productivity, and a sense of well-being among its members. A healthy work culture encourages employees to feel valued, respected, and supported in their roles, and it promotes positive communication, transparency, and a shared commitment to the organization's goals.
Here are some key elements (this is a non exhaustive list) that contribute to a healthy work culture in an academic research department:
1. Respectful Communication: A culture of respectful communication encourages open and honest dialogue among team members, as well as respectful and considerate interactions with others in the organization.
2. Shared Vision: Having a shared vision or mission statement that outlines the values, goals, and objectives of the department creates a sense of purpose and direction, and helps to align everyone's efforts.
3. Supportive Environment: A supportive environment provides resources, training, and mentoring for employees to achieve their goals, and recognizes and rewards their achievements.
4. Work-Life Balance: A healthy work culture recognizes the importance of work-life balance and offers flexible scheduling, remote work options, and time off to support employees' personal needs.
5. Diversity and Inclusion: A culture of diversity and inclusion promotes a sense of belonging for all employees, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other characteristic.
6. Professional Development: Encouraging professional development and continuing education opportunities helps employees to build new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest research trends and technologies.
7. Wellness and Health: Fostering a wholesome work environment involves encouraging staff members to engage in physical activity, and utilize stress-reducing methods. Additionally, it includes facilitating the smooth reentry of employees who have recovered from illness.
As a department that was launched in July 2019, our team has grown rapidly to include over 50 people in few years. However, the COVID-19 lockdown has had a significant impact on our department. As a result, we have made the decision in 2022 to prioritize investing in a healthy work culture.
In summary, an academic research department's healthy work culture entails open communication, a shared vision, a supportive environment, work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, professional development, and wellness and health. These factors promote employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction, benefiting the entire organization.