Research integrity (RI) is defined as adherence to ethical principles, deontological duties, and professional standards necessary for responsible conduct of scientific research. Early training on RI, especially for early-career researchers, could be useful to help develop good standards of conduct and prevent research misconduct (RM).
The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a training course on RI, by mapping the attitudes of early-career researchers on this topic through a questionnaire built upon the revised version of the Scientific Misconduct Questionnaire and administered to all participants at the beginning and at the end of the course.
Results show that after the course, participants reporting a high understanding of the rules and procedures related to RM significantly increased (pre-course: 38.5%, post-course: 61.5%), together with the percentage of those reporting a lack of awareness on the extent of misconduct (pre-course: 46.2%, post-course: 69.2%), and of those who believe that the lack of research ethics consultation services strongly affects RM (pre-course: 15.4%, post-course: 61.5%). Early-career researchers agree on the importance to share with peers and superiors any ethical concern that may arise in research, and to create a work environment that fosters RI awareness.
As a whole, results suggest the effectiveness of the course. Institutions should introduce RI training for early-career researchers, together with research methodology, integrity and ethics consultation services to support them. Senior scientists should promote RI into their research practices, and should stimulate engagement in peer-to-peer dialogue to develop good practices based on RI principles.