Developing and Validating the Competency Profile for Teaching and Learning Research Integrity
Since research integrity is not external to research but an integral part of it, it should be integrated into research training. However, several hindrances regarding contemporary research integrity education exist. To address them, we have developed a competency profile for teaching and learning research integrity based on four assumptions: 1) to include all levels of study (BA, MA, and PhD); 2) to integrate research integrity into research education itself; 3) to address research integrity issues in context-specific practices; and 4) to pay particular attention to the ‘grey zone’ or questionable research practices. To assess the validity of the content of the competency profile and to determine if some adjustments to the profile are needed, we translated the competencies of the profile into items of a measurement instrument (a questionnaire) and conducted a survey amongst University of Ljubljana students that allowed us to 1) obtain information about students’ attitudes toward issues of integrity in research; 2) analyse differences in these attitudes among BA, MA, and PhD students; and 3) statistically validate the competency profile and suggest possible improvements. The results showed that 1) students are highly aware of research integrity issues, as scores were high on all items assessed. However, there were some deviations to lower scores, especially in relation to questionable research practises, confirming our assumption that the ‘grey zone’ issues are those that should be particularly addressed and given special attention in contemporary research integrity education. 2) The differences in the attitudes of BA, MA, and PhD students showed that higher-level students showed significantly more awareness of integrity issues than lower-level students did, suggesting that research integrity issues should be given special attention at the BA study level. 3) The measurement characteristics showed that the reliability of the questionnaire was very high, suggesting a good overall structure of the competency profile. The principal component analysis also confirmed the four-field structure of the Competency profile (Values and Principles, Research Practise, Publication and Dissemination, and Violations). However, the analysis also showed that the substructure of the four main areas of the profile did not fully match the results of the factor analysis, suggesting that the distribution of competencies in the competency profile could be reconsidered, especially in the area of Research Practice. The most recent developments in the field of research integrity also suggest that the competency profile should be updated with issues regarding the impact of artificial intelligence on research integrity.
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