We look at how research and higher education institutions implement academic ethics measures

The Office presents the results of an e-survey on the implementation of academic ethics measures by research and higher education institutions (RHEI) conducted in January-February 2022. The survey results provide a systematic assessment of the academic ethics measures implemented by RHEIs and the extent to which they comply with academic ethics provisions. This is the third time that such a survey has been carried out (previously they were carried out in 2020 and 2021). 44 out of 54 RHEIs (81%) participated in this year’s survey.

The survey study examines how well RHEIs have performed in 2021 in communicating the Guidelines to their community and/or in embedding the Guidelines into their internal documents, and to what extent RHEIs plan to focus on this in 2022. The study also examines how RHEIs are implementing the recommendations of the Office’s Guidelines for Ethical Review, published in 2020, to establish Institutional Review Boards for each RHEI. Where possible, the results of the 2022 survey are compared with those of previous years.

The survey results show that RHEIs, especially universities and colleges (universities of applied sciences), have made significant progress in recent years in making their communities aware of the various guidelines on academic ethics and integrating them into their activities. The 2019 Guidelines on Publication Ethics developed by the Lithuanian University Rectors’ Conference and the 2020 Recommendations on the Preparation, Adaptation and Implementation of Academic Ethics Codes by RHEIs by the Office remain among the most relevant guidelines for the RHEIs’ community. As can be expected during the pandemic period in 2021, the RHEIs, in particular higher education institutions, have focused on the implementation of the Office’s 2020 Guidelines on ensuring academic ethics in distance learning organising.

It is noteworthy that a significant proportion of RHEIs (25%) have formed Institutional Reviews Boards in a relatively short period of time, and a similar number (27%) plan to do so in 2022. This shows that RHEIs are paying increasing attention to ensuring research ethics in its scientific activities. It should be noted that the embedding of guidelines (in particular, the Guidelines for Ethical Review and the Recommendations on the Preparation, Adaptation and Implementation of Academic Ethics Codes by RHEIs) is often a time-consuming, resource and time-intensive process.

According to the survey results, the number of complaints handled by the RHEI Ethics committees regarding breaches of academic ethics has been steadily increasing over the past year. This is an indication of the RHEI community’s effective engagement with unethical behaviour, particularly in some universities and colleges (universities of applied sciences). Looking ahead, it would be worthwhile to further strengthen the academic ethics infrastructure in RHEIs, especially in research institutes.