Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 23–41 | Cite as

Reactively, Proactively, Implicitly, Explicitly? Academics’ Pedagogical Conceptions of how to Promote Research Ethics and Integrity

  • Heidi HyytinenEmail author
  • Erika Löfström


This article focuses on academics’ conceptions of teaching research ethics and integrity. Seventeen academics from a Finnish research intensive university participated in this qualitative study. The data were collected using a qualitative multi-method approach, including think-aloud and interview data. The material was scrutinized using thematic analysis, with both deductive and inductive approaches. The results revealed variation in academics’ views on the responsibility for teaching research integrity, the methods employed to teach it and the necessity of intervening when misconduct occurs. The academics emphasized the responsibility of the individual teacher and the student to foster integrity as well as the shared responsibility of all members of the academic community. However, many academics felt that they themselves needed pedagogical training. Most shared the view that practices of responsible conduct in research can be explicitly and intentionally taught through demonstration, explanation, and practice. However, the academics also noted that learning research integrity and ethics takes place implicitly. A few questioned the need for and the utility of training in the form of courses or through an explicitly addressed topic included in, for instance, methods courses. Their views on the question of how to deal with alleged cases of misconduct varied. While many academics considered a proactive approach the best way to prevent misconduct, some trusted more in a reactive approach. The results show that, while in general academics agree on the importance of research ethics, their conceptions of teaching it vary. The teaching conception bears consequences for the teaching methods chosen, assignment of responsibility for both teaching and students learning, and for the way in which teachers believe that misconduct should be responded to.


Research ethics Research integrity Ethics training Preventing misconduct Teaching conceptions 



This work was funded by the Academy of Finland with a grant (number 252813) to Erika Löfström. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Elisa Huotari for assistance in the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research and Development of Higher Education, Institute of Behavioural Sciencesthe University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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