The issue of research integrity has become increasingly topical in recent years. A number of high-profile cases of researchers who do not always respect the scientific and moral standards of research have surfaced in various countries.
Research integrity is closely linked but not quite identical to research ethics. Integrity specifically involves those aspects that are linked to the quality of research practice and its results. Ethics is primarily about standards and values to be taken into account by the researcher to protect the well-being of humans and animals involved in research and the results thereof. A researcher may falsify data without immediately putting humans or animals at risk. Such a researcher does not act with integrity, for the results of his research are unreliable, but he does not engage in direct unethical conduct with respect to humans, animals and their environment. However, the fact that the use of such manipulated results may eventually cause harm to humans, animals and their environment, shows that integrity and ethics can never be completely separated. From a broad ethical point of view, falsification of research data or otherwise tampering with research data is, of course, unacceptable. Therefore, it may be better to consider research integrity as a special dimension of research ethics.
As the organisation in charge of research funding in Flanders, the FWO has a great responsibility in preventing and, where necessary, combating infringements of research ethics. It intends to fully shoulder this responsibility by implementing actions both within and outside the walls of the FWO.