"We are convinced that a transparent and comprehensible set of rules is needed when commissioning, creating and using commissioned studies", said the two institute directors Martin Kocher and Christoph Badelt. "With this joint initiative, IHS and WIFO have paved the way for consolidating Good Scientific Practice in the Austrian research landscape. We are pleased about every other institute that joins this memorandum". A condition for this is also the membership in the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity.
Above all, the question of the publication of studies is discussed time and again, especially if they are financed by tax money. "In principle, IHS and WIFO publish all research work for clients. Exceptions should be justified in a comprehensible manner when the contract is assigned", IHS Director Martin Kocher and WIFO Director Christoph Badelt quoted their memorandum.
According to the memorandum, contract research will only be undertaken where the institutes bear sole responsibility for the research results. If completed research and analysis results are actively communicated to the public, the underlying publications must also be submitted in full to the public in order to ensure the traceability of the results.
"The Austrian Agency for Research Integrity (ÖAWI) was pleased to contribute its expertise and experience in the preparation of the memorandum and will continue to be available in the future to clarify questions regarding compliance with Good Scientific Practice", says ÖAWI Managing Director Nicole Föger. The initiative will also be accompanied by individual consultations, prevention workshops and awareness training. In case of suspected violations of Good Scientific Practice, the international commission of the ÖAWI can be called upon to investigate such cases as an independent authority.
The memorandum comprises a total of 15 principles, which are divided into three areas
order acceptance and commissioning,
carrying out studies and
using the results of commissioned studies for policy advice and public debate.
A central point in the research process is to ensure the traceability of the research results. WIFO and IHS implement this by storing all documents relevant to the study over the long term and clearly identifying all ideas and work that originates from others. In addition, conflicts of interest and all financiers of the study are disclosed. All persons who have made their own contribution are named as co-authors of the publication. The responsibility for adherence to the standards of good scientific practice is not only a fundamental duty of every researcher, but is also clearly anchored and institutionalized at the institutes.
Economic and socio-politically relevant results and recommendations are based on the critical review of broad empirical evidence, which will be screened for the robustness of the underlying methodological approach. Limits of the validity of the evidence and any assumptions behind the available evidence are made transparent without being asked. The researchers of the institutes as well as the clients are aware that the statements of an individual commissioned work are only one component in the development of political measures, since the latter require a broad evidence base as well as further discussion processes in which, for example, potentially affected persons can participate.
The full text of the Memorandum of Understanding is available here.
Further information on the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity is available at https://oeawi.at/.